Bayou Wine Garden, New Olreans
One thing I've quickly grown to love about New Orleans is all the outdoor patio action. Many restaurants and bars have a courtyard, backyard, deck or a simple bench against the building wall. Granted, we are having an atypical warm winter across the country, but I hear the recent temps aren't too far off the norm. Several days of 40 degree weather shifts to 60s or even low 70s and sunshine for a few days. Perfect for hanging around outside. I've been warned the summers are brutal. I'm sure. But I am a seventh generation Floridian, after all, and the first 18 years of my life weathered well the hot and sticky of sea-level swamp.
Earlier this week I wrote about Sylvain in the French Quarter, a favorite spot in my new town. I didn't mention the restaurant's courtyard, but it is famously popular in its own right. And now, a newcomer already on my "yes list," The Bayou Wine Garden, opened last Saturday, behind sister-restaurant, Bayou Beer Garden in Mid-City, just off the Lafitte Greenway. My friends and neighbors The Rosens and I biked along the Greenway to Parkway Bakery and Tavern for poboys, High Lifes and Bloody Marys before cruising down the street to check out the new garden venture specializing in wine on tap. It was a perfect day, sunny, 60-something degrees, easy.
The Bayou Wine Garden far exceeded my expectations, with wine selections that represent some of the more interesting and forward thinking producers in the U.S. and beyond. Several wine on-tap offerings from Red Hook Winery caught my eye, and Caroline and I tried a cabernet franc rosé and a white blend of pinot blanc-albarino-muscat, all grown on Long Island. The winery opened in 2008, a few months after I left NYC, so I never made it over there. Until now I haven't had an opportunity to taste the wines, made by California cult winemakers Abe Schoener and Robert Foley. A couple of Schoener's Scholium Project bottlings are also available on tap. By the glass prices range from $5 to over $10. The bottle list features several of my favorites, including the always delicious and versatile Southern French red Les Hérétiques, D. Ventura Viña Caneiro from Ribeira Sacra, Spain, and Domaine de Pallus Chinon (my heart). A few fall below the $25 line but most are priced in the $30 to $45 range. The Menu features a selection of house-cured meats and imported cheeses, sandwiches, appetizers and, through crawfish season, crawfish by the pound. The beer garden flows into the wine garden, the one almost indistinguishable from the other, with seating open to all. Sixteen wines on tap at the patio bar with a view of the large screen television showed New Orleans native Peyton Manning leading the Broncos to a 20-18 win over the Patriots and a bid to Super Bowl 50. Half as many selections on tap are available at the inside bar where the decor is rustic-chic and cozy. I'll definitely be returning.
Bayou Wine Garden - 315 North Rendon St. - New Orleans - (504) 826-2925
Thank you to Caroline Rosen for contributing photography for this post.