After a 6-year, $275 million makeover, the 1,193-room Hyatt Regency New Orleans reopens on October 19. It is the last hotel to be rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and it marks a special point in the city’s rebirth because the Hyatt was base camp for the Mayor’s Office, FEMA and the National Guard during the months right after the storm.
Just announced last week after months of speculation, James Beard award-winning New Orleans chef John Besh will open his next restaurant Borgne inside the Hyatt. The menu will showcase casual Louisiana seafood with mild Spanish influences. Chef Brian Landry is chef de cuisine, who manned the ovens for years at the iconic Galatoire’s in the French Quarter.
For breakfast and lunch, the 360-seat 8 Block Kitchen & Bar pays homage to the eight blocks that constitute Upper Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. The restaurant fuses classic New Orleans style cooking with international flair and a farm-to-fork mentality, such as fried oyster Eggs Benedict with Papa Tom stone-ground grits and classic New Orleans beignets. Lunch dishes include more NOLA staples such as: She Crab soup; rotisserie Coq au Coin farm chicken gumbo; pepper crusted Gulf shrimp, Belgium endive & frisée salad with bayou duck confit; grilled Cajun Black Drum fish and the city’s famed Muffaletta sandwich. Both an exhibition kitchen and a pastry station create an enjoyable breakfast experience no matter where your group may be sitting.
Whole Hog Café brings groups the best in barbeque, creating lip smacking dishes in their 2,000-pound smoker. The result is juicy pulled pork, succulent smoked chicken and baby back ribs. Their sandwiches are available in other eateries throughout the hotel, and offsite catering is also available.
For the beer and baseball crowd, Vitascope Hall features 25 flat-screen TVs and modern American cuisine. This isn’t your typical beer and burger joint, though. Named after the world’s first for-profit movie theater, built in New Orleans in 1896, the 210-pax restaurant offers specialty sandwiches including a signature Vitascope Hall Burger–an 8-ounce custom ground Angus/Kobe beef burger served with brie and caramelized onions. The menu also features a slow cook pork belly sandwich and po-boy’s with choice of shrimp, fried oysters, BBQ beef or BBQ pulled pork.
The menu’s raw bar looks to be outstanding, offering a variety of locally sourced Louisiana seafood and top-quality sushi, sashimi and nigiri. The bar plans to launch an interactive iPhone and Android application also, where you can keep up with the latest food and cocktail specials, post answers to topic discussions and become the bar’s digital guest DJ for the night.