Where’s the Beef?

It’s definitely here, with two new exciting steakhouses to check out and another on the way.

In the city where Ruth’s Chris’ sizzling steaks were born and neighborhood favorites from Crescent City to Charlie’s and the Steak Knife have fed New Orleanians for generations, I’m excited to share that there’s something new to chew.

Murat Nalcioglu brings many years of restaurant knowledge to Gaia, a “New Age” steakhouse on St. Charles Avenue that opened in late September. After 20 years in the hospitality business in Las Vegas, Dallas and Atlanta, Nalcioglu decided to call New Orleans home.

“I love this city. The culture and food are unlike anywhere else,” he said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to add something substantial to the food scene here.”

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Named for a Greek goddess of the earth, Gaia introduces the city to a luxury experience that begins at the front door. Every detail is designed to dazzle inside Gaia’s intimate booths and private dining areas. Dry-aging beef doubles as art, towering over a lighted, glowing marble bar. 

While more interactive art lines the walls, the real theater takes place in the dining room. All Gaia’s cuts are carved for diners right before their eyes, including steaks grilled tableside in butter and the showstopping gilded Tomahawk. Gaia sources Wagyu shipped directly from Japan while other cuts are from the highest quality American prime.

Besides steaks, the menu includes locally sourced Gulf seafood and deep purple mashed potatoes straight from Peru. Whether your meal begins with a lychee and rose Nitro Martini adorned in crushed, frozen rose petals, or finishes with a lofty cotton candy sculpture worthy of Marie Antoinette, Gaia offers an experience most New Orleans diners have never seen.

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Further Uptown on Magazine Street, another newcomer, Medium Rare, has been offering a completely different experience since opening at the end of August.

Many years ago, Mark Bucher experienced true steak frites in a tiny Parisian bistro famous for just that: steak and fries as only the French offer. It was an experience he never forgot, inspiring the seasoned restaurateur to create his own version in America.

Bucher founded the Medium Rare brand in 2011 in Washington, D.C., with simplicity as the key.

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“We make too many decisions during a normal day,” he mused. “When you come for dinner, just tell us how you want your steak cooked and let us take care of the rest.” The popular concept expanded to Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia, before coming south to New Orleans.

Medium Rare’s three-course, prix fixe menu includes a green salad dressed with Dijon vinaigrette followed by classic steak frites and dessert, astonishingly all for less than $30.

And just as Bucher experienced in the tiny bistro in Paris, there are seconds.

“I don’t want you eating my steak cold” he stated, explaining why more piping hot meat and crispy fries are magically delivered without prompting halfway through the meal.

Cooked to order, the only cut Medium Rare serves is coulotte, a well-marbled, seldom utilized ribeye cap that arrives sliced and finished with a secret sauce that has stumped the competition for years. With hints of mustard, black pepper, and a mysterious umami, “It took us a year to develop,” said Bucher.

Sometime in the middle of next year, a third new steakhouse concept will call New Orleans home thanks to local restaurateur Billy Blatty, who previously enlisted The Culinary Creative Group’s consulting help in opening Sofia, his downtown Italian eatery named Best New Restaurant by New Orleans Magazine in 2019. Their relationship blossomed, and earlier this year, Blatty merged his hospitality group with Culinary Creative, making big plans to expand several of their popular brands here.

One of those brands, Denver’s A5 Steakhouse has garnered a following for its fun and funky atmosphere, great steaks, and Asian-influenced sides and sauces, in barely two years. A New Orleans incarnation of A5, located on Carondelet Street, will include a raw bar featuring local seafood and innovative menu items like Chef Max Mackissock’s bacon-wrapped Wagyu meatloaf with curry ketchup.

New Orleans meat lovers, sharpen your knives! Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!

Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.

Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.


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