Traveling through New Orleans one cannot help but be in awe of the architecture. The various styles of buildings, houses, cottages all add to the richness of New Orleans. Nestled in the Marigny neighborhood a few minutes from Frenchmen street is the former church of St. Peter and Paul. Originally built in 1853 and kept its doors open until 1993, this strong heartly building got a facelift and was renovated into a hotel. In fact, a very successful hotel,( Travel & Leisure listed it as one of the best new hotels in the world for 2019.) Now you may be wondering why I would be writing about a hotel in a B&B blog. Well, one of the key components to the hotel is located in the former church rectory: The Elysian Bar.
Finding the door to the Elysian bar can be tricky as it took me a few tries until I realized the “Rectory” door is the entrance. Once inside you immediately feel relaxed, and intrigued as the layout is slightly different than many restaurants. Smaller, intimate rooms with little nooks for quiet conversation as well as a good sized patio. The bar is deeper into the restaurant and seats about 10-12. Looking at the drink menu and seeing the daily aperitivo happy hour, I got the feeling, Elysian Bar was a place to relax for a little or a long while. Aperiitivo in Latin means “to open,” or begin and in Italy the Aperitivo is a time before dinner, when folks sit and enjoy cocktails, and snacks. Both are intended to stir and awaken the appetite. The cocktails are usually lower ABV(Alcohol By volume,) but the intention is to awaken to deaden. This is from Elysian Bar’s website: “Our aperitivo cocktails are low ABV selections that showcase regional European ingredients and taste profiles through local styles of aperitivi, vermouths and digestivi.” The restaurant is run by the folks over at Bacchanal Wine, another must see in the Bywater, but that’s another day, so the wine list is a real treat, not large but well rounded and delicious with everything by the glass.
The Kitchen is helmed by Alex Harrell of Sylvain and Angeline fame, and menu follows the aperitivo idea of shareable portions. Most dishes are larger than appetizers and not quite entree size. During my visit I was seduced my the whipped ricotta with marinated local squash and flatbread for scooping, and the Heirloom Red Grits tomato braised mushrooms, poached egg, fried shallots. The grits were some of the best I have ever eaten and the fried shallots added texture to the rich unami of the mushrooms. And I felt like it was ok to eat a breakfasty thing at 9:30 at night. Harrell is a humble artist among in the food scene embracing local ingredients and southern food culture in a simple yet elevated way that relaxes, nourishes and excites.
If you are looking for something in between or need a break from Frenchmen Street, think about checking out Elysian Bar. You won’t we disappointed.