Spaces & Design: Where there’s smoke …
The smoldering new restaurant Couvant Bar & Brasserie that opened inside The Eliza Jane Hotel offers a New Orleans atmosphere with a modern French bistro vibe.
The Eliza Jane Hotel in the Central Business District recently unveiled its French bistro-inspired restaurant dubbed Couvant, a French word which means “smoldering.” Located inside a building that once housed the original Peychaud Cocktail Bitters factory, the space features a casual atmosphere, while the cuisine would easily be suitable for white-linen tablecloths.
New York City architecture and design firm Stonehill Taylor handled the design for both The Eliza Jane and Couvant. “We wanted Couvant to be a destination restaurant,” says Sherry Dennis, senior interiors associate at Stonehill Taylor. “It needed to have its own identity so the design focus was a little bit different from the hotel.” With this in mind, the design firm successfully blended elements of New Orleans with that of a modern French bistro.
Diners are drawn into the space with black and white checkered tiles that frame one end of the polished concrete dining floor. A 300-square-foot oak bar stretches the length of the space, sporting re-purposed newel posts salvaged from the building’s original staircases. Guests can wait for a table and sip cocktails, while gazing through multi-paned, historic windows looking out onto Magazine Street.
Along with the ubiquitous exposed brick walls, there’s a mosaic tile pattern accenting the walls around the bar that are similar to the floor tiles in the hotel’s foyer, a pattern that any New Orleanian would recognize from other parts of the city. In keeping with the bistro spirit, saddle brown leather channel-tufted banquettes line the wall across from the bar peppered with butcher block tables and simple, cross-back dining chairs. Amidst all of this openness, Couvant also features a cozy, semi-private dining space that lives under one of the building’s still-intact, yet purposeless historic staircases.
Because it just wouldn’t be a New Orleans restaurant without fresh seafood, Couvant also offers a small, quartz-topped oyster bar with oak and tile accents that seats six. Guests can watch while their dinner is shucked and served chilled with accompaniments on a silver platter. Diners can also enjoy their meal outside in The Eliza Jane’s lush, brick courtyard, a common yet beloved feature found in many of the finest local restaurants and hotels.
Mississippi-born Brad McDonald helms the kitchen at Couvant, a skilled chef who has worked in kitchens like the acclaimed City Grocery in Oxford, Per Se in New York and Noma in Copenhagen. He also owned his own upscale American restaurant, dubbed Shotgun, in London. McDonald has prepared a menu offering traditional French bistro fare from salad lyonnaise and steak tartare to redfish a la Niçoise and foie gras au torchon. 315 Magazine St., (504) 324-5400, couvant.com