Farm-to-table dining with flair in NOLA
At the elegant M Bistro, inside The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, you’ll find a seasonal Southern-inspired menu that is a draw, even in a city as renowned for its culinary fortitude as New Orleans. A dining experience here feels like a regal dinner party at one of the Garden District mansions nearby — only jackets are not required. The dress code is, in fact, more along the lines of country club casual, in keeping with the city’s relaxed, bons temps vibe.
Located on the third floor of the hotel, the French Quarter restaurant is just steps past the beloved Davenport Lounge, an especially swell spot during evenings, when you can take in the tunes from headliner Jeremy Davenport from your dinner table.
The handsome space feels like a place where you might find gentlemen smoking pipes or playing a raucous game of poker — it’s both refined and playful thanks to the chandeliers that drip from the ceiling and George Rodrigue’s blue dog art that adorns the walls. Here, rich leather chairs wrap around wood tables and the dark lighting seems to invite secret telling.
For the ultimate discreet dining option, three velvet-draped “cheater booths” line the back wall, or there’s a completely private wine room where small groups can take in a meal or meeting. Tip: You’ll need advanced reservations for each, as they’re quite popular.
In a city that’s so heavily influenced by the French, it’s only appropriate that executive chef Thierry Connault takes a nod from his native Normandy to create the Southern-style farm-to-table dishes with ingredients sourced from farmers in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
You can wake up to healthy breakfast options, but when in New Orleans, you’d be remiss not to sample the NOLA breakfast made with andouille sausage, farm-fresh eggs, dressed grits and airy beignets. Come lunchtime, nattily dressed business folks and well-heeled hotel guests tuck into chopped seafood salads or crabmeat- and crawfish-drenched gumbo.
Evening hours often start with charbroiled oysters or barbecue shrimp and grits, then progress to a housemade pappardelle with jumbo lump crab, oyster mushrooms and corn butter sauce, or a filet mignon served alongside hand-cut truffle fries, sautéed zucchini and cauliflower puree. And you can never underestimate the power of an excellent burger — M Bistro’s is served with aged cheddar, pecan-smoked bacon and comeback sauce.
The New Orleans restaurant shares a sophisticated bar with Davenport Lounge — situated between each space — where a full cocktail menu is served. It’s here that you’d want to pop in for the requisite pre-dinner Sazerac.
At M Bistro, though, it’s the wine list that shines. Boasting a 2015 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, the list is extensive, but not overwhelming. There’s a terrific selection of wines by the glass and bottle, and the “Bin Adieu” section. The cheeky name pays homage to the limited quantities of varietals that are sold only for a short amount of time before they’re bid adieu, forever.