Trading the Mission District for the Garden District, NoLa-inspired Alba Ray's is now open in the space built out for Hapa Ramen and most recently occupied by Citizen Fox at 2293 Mission Street. The team, chef/partner Adam Rosenblum and partner Alvin Garcia, already behind the Marina's Causwells and burger joints Popsons, announced they'd snagged the space last May, and we learned a bit more last month about their arrival.
Rosenblum's time in The Big Easy — under James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link of Herbsaint and Cochon, no less — is on display, as are chef de cuisine Matt Woods's New Orleans roots, in a menu studded with classics from grits to gumbo. In addition to the obvious — beignets for dessert, these with a caramel sauce plus a dusting of powdered sugar — jambalaya is good order. That comes either with creole chicken and pork ($17 per person) or smoked eggplant and carrot ($15.50 per person). It's all in the roux, as my mother used to say, but give thanks also to the "holy trinity," the combination of onions, bell peppers, and celery, that forms the basis for this dish and much other creole cooking. Mixed tableside so everyone gets the good, crispy bits of rice, both versions of the dish are smoky and mildly spicy (there's Crystal hot sauce on the table for extra kick, of course).
The redesigned space on Mission Street from Arcsine of Oakland is reminiscent of another restaurant they're responsible for there, Duende. Touches of ornate ironwork and hanging plants let you mentally project yourself into the Quarter, and there's also plenty of room with 100 seats, including booths and the redesigned bar area which now includes high tables. Speaking of that bar, classic Sazeracs, hurricanes, and Vieux Carrés from bar manager Mike Henderson will make you wish we had "go cups" in San Francisco. Alas.
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