King Cake Hub to celebrate Carnival season and its return to Zony Mash

Now that the holiday season is out of the way, Carnival season is fast approaching, and, of course, that means king cake. There’s no better spot to get your king cake fix than King Cake Hub, which offers a wide variety of king cakes in one place. This year, the Hub’s selection will include more than 70 cakes from local bakeries including Bittersweet, Breads on Oak, Brennan’s, Bywater Bakery, Caluda’s, Cannata’s, Caywood and Randazzo Bakery, District, Hi Do Bakery, Gracious, Joe Gambino’s Bakery, NOCCA, Sugar Love, Nolita, Mad Matter Bakery and Marguerite’s King Cakes. Several king cake-related sweets and other merchandise will also be available. 

King Cake Hub was founded in 2019 by Will and Jennifer Samuels. The couple got their first taste of the king cake business by selling their own king cake at their gelato shop, La Dolce NOLA, on Metairie Road.

The New Orleans Thanksgiving table: Oyster dressing, rice, bread stuffing or mac ‘n’ cheese?

By Kristine Froeba, Uptown Messenger

Our New Orleans elders and those who respect the old guard serve oyster dressing with their roast turkey. I wouldn’t dream of Thanksgiving without it. However, an influx of newcomers might be changing the menu. In old New Orleans, as in the present, gumbo, turtle soup or oyster soup is served first, followed by the roast turkey and oyster dressing. A myriad of dishes follow, but another expected dish is rice dressing.

Calliope Beer Works on Oak preparing to pour its own brews

By Jeanne D’Arcy, Uptown Messenger

There’s a new restaurant — and soon a new craft brewery — on Oak Street. Calliope Beer Works took over the space vacated by Cowbell, where Oak Street meets the river levee, in August. Calliope’s premiere brews are fermenting, and the first four craft beers are expected to be on tap the first weekend in November. Calliope Beer Works is the brainchild of brew master Richard “Rich” Szydlo, who re-located to New Orleans from Chicago. “I have been brewing beer, and before I moved here, I sold my own products but I never had my own brewery,” Szydlo said. 

That next step for Szydlo is Calliope Beer Works, at 8801 Oak Street.

Neutral Ground Coffee House planning move to Carrollton area

Neutral Ground Coffee House owners Caroline “Phant” Williams and James Naylor were driving through the Carrollton neighborhood recently in their quest to find a new home for the city’s oldest coffeehouse and entertainment venue. They had decided Carrollton would good fit for the Neutral Ground, exiled since it lost its lease on its longtime Danneel Street space in April. At the corner of Oak and Adams, the partners noticed an empty, dilapidated commercial building. “There’s just something very attractive about this building,” Williams said. “So we stopped and were like, ‘Wow, wouldn’t this be a great spot!’”

After a Google search failed to turn up any information on the building, they dropped the idea.

Uptowners don’t need to travel far for a COOLinary meal

Let’s face it — August in New Orleans, especially with seemingly endless record heat, can be brutal. All the more reason to escape to your favorite restaurant, or that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, to indulge your taste buds with a COOLinary meal. During the 19th annual August COOLinary, some of the city’s finest dining establishments are offering specially curated prix-fixe menus at unbeatable prices. During COOLinary New Orleans, restaurant goers can enjoy two- and three-course lunch menus for $25 or less and three-course dinner and brunch menus for $50 or less from 109 restaurants citywide. Participants include some of the city’s longstanding and iconic Creole and Cajun restaurants as well as new places featuring New Orleans cuisine incorporating international inspirations.

On Magazine Street, Restaurant Week specials plus a Block Party

The Magazine Street Merchants Association offers some ideas for beating the summer doldrums. This week is Restaurant Week along the corridor. Then on Aug. 3,  a Block Party will take place. In honor of Restaurant Week — Monday (July 17) to Sunday (July 23) — restaurants, bars, coffee shops and sweet shops along Magazine have created special menus with tempting prices, ranging from $15 to $50. The Merchants Association is sweetening the deals by offering a Restaurant Week Passport.

Planning Commission rejects plan for Bohemia outdoor restaurant on Freret

A proposed open-air restaurant complex on the Freret Street corridor received a thumbs-down from the City Planning Commission on Tuesday (May 23)

The large vacant lot on Freret and Upperline Street is envisioned as Bohemia Gardens, an outdoor recreational space with a bar and three restaurants featuring up-and-coming chefs, the developer told the CPC. In its report, the Planning Commission staff objected to the project’s design, stating it did not fit the character of the neighborhood. “The historical development pattern of the Freret Street mixed-use corridor is what makes Freret a vibrant and walkable neighborhood,” the staff states. “The proposed design strategy drastically departs from the character of Freret Street in that current layout of the structures breaks the rhythm and fabric of the street by not providing building facades to the edge of the sidewalk.”

The CPC asked the developers and their architect to bring the building facades to the sidewalk and combine the small structures into one larger building to anchor the corner of Freret and Upperline. After meetings with the CPC staff, a redesign and three deferrals, the Bohemia group had not brought the plans into compliance.

At Pasta on the Fly, build your own meal with fresh pasta and toppings

By Marielle Songy, Uptown Messenger

New Orleans native Ryan O’Connor owns Pasta on the Fly, a new Maple Street restaurant that allows diners to build their perfect pasta bowl. O’Connor was working at the Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He relocated to California, where he worked as general manager of the Michelin-starred Rustic Canyon restaurant in Santa Monica.   

At Rustic Canyon, O’Connor learned from master pasta maker Evan Funke. “He has the softest touch when it comes to pasta; he rolls out everything by hand,” he said. “That was a turning point for me.