620 Chartres St., New Orleans
FOUR STARS (out of four)
Doris Metropolitan opened late last year in the middle of the French Quarter but with virtually no ties to Creole cooking or New Orleans standards. Instead, this cool, modern place combines a Mediterranean-inspired steakhouse with an upscale, international bistro. The result is fascinating and often fantastically delicious. Note that the name is pronounced “dor-e,” after one of the two Israeli men who own the restaurant.
Some people will remember this address from its years as the Alpine, but in the dining room few would recognize it today as that old spot today. The design is very modern, with an open kitchen and a large bar and walls lined with a series of distinctive horizontal wine racks. In the corner, large slabs of beef sit in the glass enclosed dry-aging room, making a stunning visual. More of that super-premium meat is on display at a small retail butcher shop the restaurant maintains by the bar. There is a small courtyard for outdoor dining as well.
Service seems professional and plainspoken, especially for a restaurant that emanates such contemporary style and works in such a different vein of cuisine. If a creative attitude pervades the place, no attitude seems to make it to the table.
Doris Metropolitan lets you know you’re in for something different from the typical steakhouse experience right from the start. Even the bread service is remarkable, with a selection of interesting, crusty loaves and crisp flatbread and an artfully swirled olive oil and balsamic vinegar combination. Forget the usual wedge salad, here you’re getting endive salad arranged like an edible bouquet and a heart-shaped roasted beet filled with a blend of smooth, tangy cheeses. The calamari salad and sweetbreads are more decadent choices. The steak tartare is the closest to familiar classics that you’ll find up front.
You already had an eyeful of the steaks in the dry-aging room on your way to your table, so let’s start there. Dry aging does two things to steaks: it makes them very expensive, and it makes them irresistibly complex and delicious. Essentially the process reduces and intensifies the meat, so your rib eye or strip will taste markedly different here. They don’t stick with conventional cuts, however. The “classified cut” is just that: your servers won’t tell you just what it is, and they might not even know. It’s delightfully chewy, very flavorful and worth trying out, whatever it is.
You order sides a la carte (I like the unique mix making up the roasted vegetable plate, garnished with yogurt). But Doris Metropolitan is more than a steakhouse and also fields complete, composed entrees that are often just as artfully done as the appetizers. Demi glace and cauliflower cream escort the grilled tuna, succulent chicken thighs arrive in a rich, bacon-imbued jus and the giant beef short rib is as tender as filet mignon by the time it gets to the table.
More Mediterranean flavors emerge at dessert, with the sesame seed pasta halva worked into an ice cream sundae and a mellow panna cotta set off by bulbs of balsamic vinegar and candied eggplant.
Cocktails are fairly conventional, though it’s the wine list that has most of the surprises, including a strong sideline in distinctive Israeli wines. The bar also stocks a deep array of bourbon and scotch.
Very expensive and in line with the typical high-end steakhouse, you still seem to get a little more for your money here thanks to the creative dishes and sometimes dazzling presentations. A couple should be prepared to spend about $200 when ordering steaks and drinks.
Doris Metropolitan is daringly different, especially considering what an easy sell upscale Creole cuisine would have been for its address near Jackson Square. But this restaurant is not aiming for the gumbo-seeking visitor. It’s offering an original and exciting perspective on internationally-informed modern cuisine. Decadent, individualistic and seductive, it’s a fine addition to the restaurant scene.