Irene’s Cuisine

Last week, I met my cousins and some of their friends for some impromptu dinner and drinks. We walked into the lounge in Le Richelieu Hotel and my notoriously late cousins hadn’t arrived but a cool woman sitting at the bar greeted me. She’d met my cousin’s dear friend during the mass exodus of Katrina and they’d stayed friends since.

She was a fascinating woman, the kind you take seriously. I’m still learning to talk about my job here so I answered her questions about my career awkwardly and failed to ask probing questions about her livelihood. Once home, I found her on the internet and was fascinated to see she’s a fairly famous artist, Dawn DeDeaux. She’s exhibited at many museums including the Whitney and was selected as “one of the 8 most important artists working today by the 1996 Olympics Cultural Committee” which premiered one of her works at the Atlanta Olympics.

Perhaps most fascinating (and my biggest regret in not probing more into her life), she turns out be the 1976 winner of the Demolition Derby in New Orleans as well as the only female driver there.

One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles and working in the film/TV industry was the opportunity to meet people I’d never meet any other way. Over and over, that’s true of this city too.

Le Richelieu Hotel, it should be noted, features a salty water pool and of their 65 employees, 55 of them have been there more than 10 years. I’m guessing the rest of the staff is just as friendly, patient and efficient as our bartender was.

Once we’d all gathered, we walked through the French Quarter to Irene’s Cuisine. Irene’s is an Italian restaurant heavy on meat and seafood and light on pasta. We were seated by the faux fireplace, and though the tables are a bit squished together, the environment is very homey and inviting. The food is serious but the environment wavers between romantic and boisterous.

I had delicious prosciutto and tangy marinated baby artichokes with mixed greens and an amazing lump crab meat au gratin. I also tried the ossobuco, a paella-type seafood dish, and I devoured the super-tender filet mignon.

Unfortunately, Irene’s has no website and often has a very long wait even for those with reservations, but the food and service make it worth the effort.

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Filed under entertainment industry, Local Cuisine, moving, walking

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