NEW ORLEANS Restaurant R’evolution, the first joint venture of award-winning chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto, will offer modern reinterpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine when it opens later this year at Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans.
A longtime fan and a new resident of New Orleans, James Beard Award-winning Chef Tramonto will foray into Southern cuisine with the opening of Restaurant R’evolution, in partnership with celebrated Louisiana native Chef Folse. Friends for more than a decade, the two chefs deepened their bond in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when Folse asked Tramonto to join his efforts to feed survivors and rescuers across the region.
That experience reinforced Tramonto’s respect for the city’s unshakable spirit and laid the foundation for the establishment of Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development LLC in August 2010. Restaurant R’evolution will be the first of several joint projects for the two chefs.
“John and I are eager to introduce Restaurant R’evolution to the world in the coming year, and we’re grateful to the Royal Sonesta for their investment in our first joint project,” Tramonto says. “New Orleans has long been recognized as a gastronomic paradise and is celebrated the world over for its unique cuisine—I’m excited to be a part of its future.”
The menu at Restaurant R’evolution will boast not only the chefs’ interpretations of New Orleans classics such as gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp and grits and beignets, but also new creations using ingredients from what Folse refers to as “the swamp floor pantry” of Louisiana. Classical New Orleans ingredients such as Gulf shrimp and oysters, andouille sausage and catfish will appear alongside alligator, frog, crawfish, kumquats, sassafras and persimmons, indigenous ingredients that have defined Louisiana cooking for centuries.
Soups will include “Death by Gumbo,” quail gumbo served with a whole, semi-boneless quail stuffed with oysters, andouille sausage and rice. Appetizers will showcase selections such as Burrata cheese and choupique caviar with black olive oil, as well as roasted sea scallop with truffled cauliflower purée and beef cheek debris. Homemade pastas will also be offered.
Signature items will feature playful and unique presentations such as “A Tale of Three Fishes,” which offers diners a study of three seafood stews from three of the seven nations that settled Louisiana, including French bouillabaisse, Spanish zarzuela and Tuscan cacciucco served in three separate courses. The “Triptych of Pork” will present grilled belly, smoked tail and crispy ear, for a head-to-tail tribute to the Louisiana boucherie.
Louisiana’s renowned seafood will be prominently showcased in dishes such as grilled striped bass with lemon verbena broth, Swiss chard, caramel-poached turnips, fried root vegetables and turnip lemon powder. A flounder napoleon, stuffed with Louisiana crawfish and shrimp mousse and cooked sous vide, will be served with artichoke and Gulf oyster stew and a crisp crawfish ball.
Wild game will also appear on the Restaurant R’evolution menu, reflecting the important role that hunting and outdoorsmanship play in Louisiana’s “Sportsman’s Paradise.” The “Bird in a Cage” will feature smoked Guinea fowl with homemade sauerkraut, Creole mustard spaetzle and caramelized onion sauce in a caraway “cage,” a dish reflective of Louisiana’s rich German heritage. The menu will also feature a large selection of premium steaks and chops with a wide array of sauces, crusts and toppers, including tomahawk rib eye for two with blue cheese crust; Wagyu sirloin strip served three ways and bone-in filet with foie gras butter. Since its origins, Louisiana has been a meat-eating culture, with the Spanish first introducing cattle to the colony; steaks have long been a component of the Louisiana menu.
Desserts will showcase classical New Orleans sweets done in a new and contemporary way. “Coffee and Beignets” will present chicory mocha pots de crème with coffee-infused beignets and black fig jam. The chefs’ spin on a “Root Beer Float” will layer locally made Abita root beer and vanilla semifreddo in a glass, topped with vanilla ginger foam, and served with a gingersnap tuile straw.
Service will highlight tableside components for many dishes, promoting engagement with diners about the history of the dishes they are enjoying. Restaurant R’evolution will also feature extensive charcuterie and cheese programs, a large wine list and seasonal, market-fresh mixology.
Restaurant R’evolution is being designed by The Johnson Studio in Atlanta, led by Bill Johnson, who is lauded for his vision and highly personalized designs. The Johnson Studio’s client list includes Tru and Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood in Chicago, Eiffel Tower II at Paris Las Vegas, Barbounia and Gabriela’s in New York, Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton and Ecco and Shaun’s in Atlanta.
“In a city so rich with history and tradition, there is no lack of inspiration,” Johnson says. “However, this restaurant will present history and tradition in a way that is definitely ‘now.’ We have enjoyed creating a space rich in the grace and style that abounds in the city’s heritage, but with a decidedly current vibe that represents the dynamic cosmopolitan city that, today, is New Orleans.”
The setting will reflect the antique architectural details and warm, comfortable décor typical of many of the grand homes and properties in the historic French Quarter. Custom pocket doors will open to reveal seven unique dining spaces, each depicting a different room in a Creole mansion, including the parlor, gallery and pantry. The designs of the Market dining room and the Exposition Kitchen dining room are inspired by the old Solari’s Delicatessen in the French Quarter. Even the bar nods to the fundamental French Quarter carriageway, featuring custom gas lanterns designed by a local lighting manufacturer. The bar front will feature lit, cut-glass panels emblazoned with the fleur-de-lis and other iconic symbols of New Orleans. Local wood species including pecky cypress and black cypress will be incorporated into the design, and gleaming glass cases will display culinary and historical artifacts from Folse’s personal collection.
Although rooted in and celebrating New Orleans history, the restaurant will not be a museum. A magnificent antique chandelier will glisten alongside contemporary cut glass pendants and innovative, in-floor LED track fixtures. Just as the chefs intend to revolutionize Creole and Cajun cuisine, the design will fuse the historic references with an exciting, current look.
The 200-seat restaurant will take over more than 6,000 sq. ft. of street-level space in the Royal Sonesta, overlooking charming Bienville Street. When complete, Restaurant R’evolution will represent a multi-million dollar investment by Sonesta International.