Broussard's Reopens for a New Chapter
By Ian McNulty | theneworleansadvocate.com
The French Creole “grand dame” restaurants are celebrated as timeless stalwarts of tradition. But that mantle hasn’t really fit as well at Broussard’s Restaurant (819 Conti St., 504-581-3866; broussards.com), where the story has been more about a succession of epochs under different owners since the sprawling French Quarter restaurant first opened in 1920.
Over the past few years in particular, it became harder to say just where Broussard’s was headed as different promotions and restaurant trends cycled through the program. But last spring Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, the same local company that opened the impressive new restaurant Kingfish (337 Chartres St., 504-598-5005; kingfishneworleans.com), purchased Broussard’s from the Preuss family, who had operated it since 1984. After closing for a summer of renovations, they officially unveil the restaurant’s next chapter this week.
“We’re going back to the grand old ways of dining,” said Chris Ycaza, a veteran of New Orleans fine dining restaurants who is now Broussard’s general manager.
The new chef, Guy Reinbolt, received formal training in his native France and his menu for Broussard’s combines Creole flavors and Continental specialties. Dover sole is served tableside, for instance, and waiters prepare flambéed desserts in the dining room. Other dishes range from redfish, dry-aged steaks and broiled oysters to roasted pheasant and ostrich filet.
“The new Broussard’s has to have life, an identity of its own,” said Ycaza. “You won’t succeed by hoping people say it’s good as it used to be. We want people to feel that it’s better than ever.”
The heavy lifting of the renovation work went on behind the scenes, in the kitchen and building systems, while plenty of small but thoughtful design touches across the dining rooms and courtyard are more about polishing the old property’s historic elegance than making sweeping change.
If anything, the old building’s bona fides as a Creole mansion are easier to see now. Walking in from the hurly burly of the French Quarter, you first find a long entry way with a luxury of uncluttered space, leading straight back to the bar and views of the lush, freshly landscaped courtyard beyond.
The bar, now dubbed the Empire Bar, opens to a cloistered portion of the courtyard covered by a living, green canopy of rambling old wisteria.
Broussard’s officially reopens for nightly dinner service on Friday. Sunday brunch is coming soon and Ycaza expects to begin serving lunch by December, just in time for those holiday outings to the French Quarter.
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