All restaurants promise customers a culinary adventure but only Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans delivers a journey through both time and taste. Located inside the iconic Royal Sonesta hotel, this fine-dining powerhouse deals out sinfully delicious takes on some of the Big Easy’s favorite foods. And while some chefs can take experimentation a step too far, R’evolution has found the perfect way to blend creativity with the classics.
For you to fully appreciate their unyielding devotion to an immersive dining experience and reinventing Louisiana staples like gumbo, beignets, and po-boys, a brief history lesson is in order. When the citizens of seven nations (Native Americans, French, Spanish, Germans, English, Africans and Italians) all found themselves living in the same area, everyone’s favorite southern city, New Orleans, came to be. Naturally, their cuisines and cultures started to blend together with experimentation taking root and forming what we now have come to know as Cajun or Creole food. It’s the best of all worlds and unique unto itself. Chef’s John Folse and Rick Tramonto have made it their mission to respect the past while presenting a new and revolutionary style of Louisiana food to contemporary diners…and their mission has been accomplished. The food is an enchanting blend of flavors and even the design of R’evolution gives a gracious nod to the past that has brought us to the present.
Diners can enjoy their meals in one of five rooms ranging from the Bienville Room (designed to emulate sitting on a southern front porch and watching the world go by), to the Storyville Parlor (which tells the tale of the seven nations via beautiful hand-painted murals), to The Market Room (which is based on the iconic Solari’s Meat Market). Diners will also find a cozy bar, the wine room and a courtyard room. All the dining spaces at R’evolution have their own unique atmospheres and can be closed off for private parties.
I was lucky enough to have dinner at a table that was in the Bienville room but looked into the Market Room so I could watch the flurry of activity in and around the kitchen. And they take the kitchen very seriously. Not only do they cure and dry-age their own salumi in-house with up to 19 meats curing at a time, but R’evolution even has their Iberico ham raised to their own specifications. That means they control what that little piggy was fed before it went to market, ensuring perfection every time. Salumi is just the beginning when it comes to an almost OCD level of attention to detail at R’evolution (and I say that with the upmost admiration). All the ranges and cooktops in the kitchen are Viking brand. It’s also a silent kitchen, meaning the chefs use walkie-talkies to communicate from various stations so they are able to focus on their work without the chaos of your typical back-of-house. All glassware and decanters in the restaurant are Ridel, so you’re enjoying your wine out of some of the finest glassware available. Speaking of wine, every bottle from their 15,000 bottle cellar is opened and sampled before being served to guests to ensure its freshness and quality. I’m not sure whose job that is but I’m jealous. Something else unique about R’evolution—on top of everything else—is the ability to rent the Chef’s office, complete with an amazing wooden puzzle table that expands to seat private parties of up to 12.
Now, I have to back it up for a second before we dive into the dishes and talk about the glue that holds this whole thing together. The staff. Let me tell you, the passion that flows out of this place is absolutely contagious. From the host, to my amazing and genuine team of Travis, Kendal and Rory, I felt amongst family the entire time. Professional and courteous, they are also fun and personable, enhancing an already fantastic meal. Travis in particular was incredibly informative and kind, always ready to impress with the next course and it was very clear that he takes immense pride in his job.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU TRY?
A signature, not-to-miss dish is undoubtedly the Fried Crab Beignets. Made with creole cream cheese, marscapone cheese, fresh crab and served with coleslaw and a white and red pepper remoulade, these little bites are a blast of flavor. Another must-have is the infamous and aforementioned salumi. The soppressata and calabrese were my particular favorites but it’s hard to say when you have everything from their award-winning hogshead cheese to bacon-wrapped country pate, all of it made in house. Add to that 4 accoutrements like sauerkraut, red onions, mustard and apricot mostarda and you can create an intense variety of flavor combinations.
Libations are a must and our recommendation for the cocktail lovers is The Saint-sation. It’s their less-sugary take on a cosmopolitan, inspired by the New Orleans Saints cheerleaders who spent an evening dining here. For wine lovers, Rory was an absolute perfectionist when it came to what wine to serve with which course, in this case the Syrah Rose ‘Sybel’ below. But with a cellar of 15,00 bottles, Rory will always be there to help you pick a winner based on your tastes.
With so many unique menu items, it can be a challenge to narrow it down so I’ll do my best to help and whittle it down to my top 3. I can’t put them in any particular order because they were all amazing and for different reasons.
1. Death By Gumbo
Gumbo lovers, rejoice. This dish won “Best Gumbo” in the city in 2012 and 2013, a pretty big accolade for a city where the dish was invented. And the best part? Those were the only two years they won because those were the only two years they entered. This bowl of magic begins with a quail stuffed with andouille sausage, rice and oysters, which is then smothered table-side in a smoky, salty broth. It really is to die for.
Recommended Wine Pairing: Westwood Pinot Noir
2. Sheep Ricotta Gnocchi with Lobster
This dish is also something special, I truly have never had anything like it in my entire life. The gnocchi in this dish are made from sheep’s milk ricotta instead of the usual potato and there are distinct notes of lemon and vanilla. My main man, Travis, nailed it when he excitedly exclaimed, ‘doesn’t it taste like wedding cake??!’. Yes, yes it does. Delicious, creamy, wedding cake. Mixed with giant chunks of lobster. You may not think the two sound like they go well together but I must say this was the most delightfully unexpected dish of the night. My mind couldn’t comprehend the combination of those flavors but…it just WORKED. I highly recommend this to the adventurous diners who are looking for something truly outside the norm.
Recommended Wine Pairing: Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc
3. Seared Sea Scallops and Foie Gras
This is one decadent dish. Scallops served with bacon vinaigrette, white bean puree, black truffle shavings and topped with seared Hudson Valley foie gras. Rich, buttery, and heavenly, this is the dish for seafood lovers!
Recommended Wine Pairing: Macon Villages White Burgundy
Creole Cream Cheese Bread Pudding Crème Brûlée
It sounds like a mouthful, right? Well, it is. This delicious little finisher packs the right punch to end your meal. But, R’evolution isn’t done yet. At the end of every meal, diners are presented with The Mignardise, which mean’s ‘small treat’. It’s a fantastic box, reminiscent of a jewelry box, where each drawers contains a little something extra to surprise and delight. The contents change on the whim of the Chef but you can expect anything from prosecco truffles to pralines with applewood smoked bacon. If you aren’t bursting with happiness by this point, you might need to see your doctor.
Eating at Restaurant R’evolution is no small treat, in fact it is a great honor. The quality of service and the attention to detail are as impressive as the food and I would never hesitate to point diners looking for a special culinary experience in their direction. I look forward to my next visit and until then, you will find me dreaming of fried crab beignets and treat-filled boxes.
For more information or for reservations, call (504) 553-2277 or visit www.revolutionnola.com