Nestled in the National World War II Museum's sprawling 6-acre campus is The American Sector (945 Magazine St., 504-528-1940; www.nationalww2museum.org/american-sector), a museum restaurant serving creative takes on classic American fare. As the restaurant approaches the one-year anniversary of its transition from Besh Restaurant Group management to Centerplace Corporation, chef de cuisine Eric Cook jokes that the first major hurdle of the shift was letting people know that American Sector was still open. "[The transition was] one of the greatest challenges of my career," Cook says.
Along with executive chef Raymond St. Pierre Jr., Cook is meeting the challenge with the menu's third iteration. The offerings nod to the 1940s by using canned and pickled food and local produce. A former Marine, Cook channels the Greatest Generation's Victory Gardens by sourcing food locally and partnering with regional purveyors.
"The goal for me is to intertwine the museum and its history with our restaurant to make it one campus with one goal and one mission," says Cook, who was born and raised in New Orleans.
His Southern roots make a mark on the menu. "I get to go back in time and remember where I came from ... and use these great classic New Orleans dishes and classic French techniques that underlie everything on our menu," he says.
Hidden under the "Snacks and Small Plates" section of the menu is his grandmother's oyster dressing, served on The Peacemaker, with P&J oysters and applewood-smoked bacon. Other dishes include Mississippi rabbit fricasee with stewed tomatoes, popcorn rice and blackened cornbread, and the Local Farm Pork Chop: acorn-fed pork from Chappapeela Farm served with dirty rice, green apple glaze and cracklings.
The American Sector boasts a large patio, dining room and bar seating. Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily and features specials on drinks and small plates.
Through a partnership with New Orleans Ice Cream Company, the sole ice cream supplier for both American Sector and the Jeri Nims Soda Shop, an exclusive dessert is in the works. The "Po-boy" will feature Creole cream cheese ice cream sandwiched between two cookie bars hand-dipped in ganache. This dessert will join other sweets such as cheesecake with lemon, cream cheese, graham cracker crust and Victory Garden Preserves and Wartime Poundcake topped with berries and vanilla ice cream.
A number of special events are on the horizon. On Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the restaurant offers Dinner + History: The WWII Museum After Dark. Customers receive a "ration card" that grants access to the museum's newest exhibit, "The Road to Berlin."
Dinner After Dark is a monthly dining series where a five-course menu pairs cocktails featuring the spirit of the month. "[It's] a great way to have an intimate evening with friends," Cook says. "The menu showcases the level of culinary experience that we still have at the Sector and never let go of."