PHOTOS BY HELEN FREUND
Bakkafrost salmon with farro and heirloom tomato salad is served at Curio, which opened Monday on Royal Street.
(301 Royal St., 504-717-4198), the newest restaurant in the ever-expanding Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts empire, opened Monday in the French Quarter.
The owners describe Curio as an “eclectic bistro” and the sprawling 150-seat space features modern accents and walls adorned with paintings commissioned by Tony Mose, who owns the Esom Gallery on Magazine Street. On the ground floor, there's a long bar and dining room, and the upstairs space has a wraparound covered balcony overlooking Royal Street.
The name is a reference to the building’s inhabitants in the 1800s — a curio shop, where “curiosities could be found from all over the world,” according to a press release from the restaurant’s owners. The space later became a meat market and deli and underwent significant renovations before opening as a restaurant.
Helming the restaurant’s kitchen is Hayley Vanvleet, who was formerly the sous chef at Kingfish, and spent time cooking at Cochon Butcher, Broussard’s and Peche. Vanvleet cut her teeth at restaurants in Minnesota and Seattle before moving to New Orleans five years ago, and she says she developed a love for cooking at a young age.
“Since I was 16, it’s always been a dream of mine, to run a restaurant in New Orleans,” Vanvleet said. She describes her food as a "meeting of West Coast and New Orleans cuisine." The opening menu has appetizers including white cheddar grits that get fashioned into crispy "grit tots" served with a tangy roasted red pepper couils. Tuna and scallop carpaccio is drizzled with ginger-citrus vinaigrette, mint and jalapeno gremolata. Steamed mussels are served with coconut ginger broth and shaved fennel salad.
Crispy grit tots are served with roasted red pepper coulis.
Sandwiches include a fried oyster BLT served on an onion bun with horseradish mayonnaise and Beeler’s bacon, and a shrimp Reuben with “pastrami shrimp,” Swiss cheese, Thousand Island relish, roasted garlic mayonnaise and shredded cabbage.
For larger plates, an entree of grilled Bakkafrost salmon is served with farro and heirloom tomato salad, lemon-shallot vinaigrette and a smoked pine cone oil. Springer Mountain Farms chicken confit is served with chicory, arugula, white beans, bacon, tomato, lemon and fennel dressing. Grilled rib-eye steak comes with a kale salsa verde, charred onion and garlic frites.
For dessert, there’s brown butter rum pound cake with a coconut semifreddo, caramelized pineapple and a cayenne caramel sauce, and lemon curd sorbet with fresh berries.
Brown butter rum pound cake is served with a coconut semifreddo, caramelized pineapple and a cayenne caramel sauce
Curio is open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily and brunch Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit the restaurant’s website here.