Restaurant R’evolution NOLA is the exquisite masterpiece collaboration of Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto that opened in 2012 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. When Steve asked me where I wanted to dine on our actual anniversary my response was immediate. Restaurant R’evolution was on my radar since it opened a few years ago.
As defined in the dictionary, the word revolution is “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something”. For these two chefs, this meant taking the number one instruction in Creole cooking to heart. First, begin with the roux. Folse and Tramonto also did a deep dive into Louisiana history. This included exploring the culinary contributions of each of the seven nations that lived in Louisiana each bringing raw ingredients along with their gastronomic traditions. Cultures and cuisines constantly evolve.
The menu at Restaurant R’evolution NOLA is both Creole and Cajun. However, it is becoming more difficult to distinguish the Cajuns from the Creoles so it is important to understand the foundation of Cajun and Creole cuisine to understand the direction Louisiana Cuisine has taken. The Creoles were born in New Orleans to European aristocrats who were enticed to come to settle in the New World by the Spanish in the late 17th Century.
Today the term Creole in New Orleans represents the native-born children of the intermarriage of the early cultures which settled New Orleans. These include the Native American, French, Spanish, English, African, German and Italian and also defines the Creole cuisine that came from this intermarriage of cultures.
Perfect examples of this are Creole gumbo which is derived from Bouillabaisse from France and Jambalaya which came from the Spaniard’s Paella. The Germans brought charcuterie which led to fine sausages. The West Indies and Haiti gave Louisiana exotic vegetables and unique cooking techniques. And of course, Native Americans introduced the settlers to local produce, wildlife, and seafood. Ingredients like corn, sassafras leaves, filé powder, and bay leaves were important additions to this culinary melting pot.
On the other side of the coin, the cuisine of the Cajuns is a mirror image of their unique history which reflects their ingenuity, creativity, adaptability, and survival. When the Canadian French exiles came to South Louisiana in 1755 they were already well versed in survival. The French Canadians found a new home in French-influenced Louisiana. which had similar customs from France. The Cajuns made their homes in the swamps and bayous embracing their joy of living from the land. The utilized foods that were indigenous to the area. None of the exotic spices of Europe were available to the Cajuns but they were happy to live off the land with its abundance of fish, shellfish, wild vegetation, local herbs, and wild game.
Chef John Folse is one of the country’s renowned expert on Louisiana Cuisine and one of the two partners of Restaurant R’evolution. The other partner is Rick Tramonto. And together they also own Seafood R’evolution in Mississippi.
Restaurant R’evolution NOLA is composed of seven distinct dining rooms and we were thrilled to see them all along with a fabulous kitchen tour. The vast kitchens are quite impressive! We were delighted to be dining in the most elegant room of the seven, The Storyville Parlor. We sat in a cozy corner banquette where we were able to enjoy the magnificent hand-painted mural depicting the seven nations that contributed to Creole and Cajun cuisine. It is also the only room, other than the private dining room, that has tablecloths.
And now for our meal. Steve and I decided that we wanted to taste as many items as possible so we went with all appetizers. Our server did a fabulous job of curating our tasting menu which allowed us to savor our dishes in an appropriate order. We were certainly in no rush for our 50th Anniversary dinner to end. We started off by being treated to a split of Prosecco by our server. Nothing can beat a glass of bubbly to set the celebratory mood. Next up were a lovely amuse bouche and our lovely bottle of red wine. Our actual first course was The Pig Out Board (actually a half order as suggested by our server) and fabulous Black Truffle Beef Tartare. These dishes were accompanied by two different types of grilled bread and many accouterments, as you can see.
This course was followed by our wonderful Cajun-fried Oyster Salad with Crisp Bacon, Blue Cheese Dressing which was a play on a wedge salad. And then we were served the Death by Gumbo with flare!
Our seafood course consisted of Fire Roasted Oysters with Bienville Butter and the amazing Beer Battered Crab Beignet with two Remoulades. Again our server had steered us to a half order because he knew we had way too much food. We found it very refreshing that he was actually down selling instead of the usual upsell. And he was so right because we barely had room for dessert, let alone the multiple desserts we were served!
And finally, our desserts were so delicious that we ate every morsel and spoonful. I think we waddled through the vast restaurant and kitchens on our tour. It was an absolutely exquisite dining experience which was perfect to celebrate 50 beautifully years together.