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Restaurants Now: Green Goddess, Don Dae Gam, Permanent Brunch

08.21.09
In this week’s roundup, we visit an eclectic addition to New Orleans’ French Quarter; a New York City restaurant where it’s all brunch, all the time; and a Korean pork palace in Los Angeles.
restaurants now

New Orleans: Green Goddess

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, yet worlds away from the main tourist drags, this pedestrian-only, back-alley spot seems both blessed and cursed in the local restaurant scene. In recent years the compact storefront has housed a cake bakery and a Honduran taco joint, and has served as the launching pad for several ambitious young talents. Since May, it’s been home to chefs Chris DeBarr and Paul Artigues, both of whom arrived with their own enthusiastic followings (DeBarr came from Delachaise Wine Bar; Artigues was a veteran of Surrey’s Juice Bar). Working the dinner shift, DeBarr pursues a style that’s aggressively eclectic, incorporating exotic ingredients from every conceivable culinary culture into a wide-ranging menu. Griddle-seared boudin patties sneak into a ploughman’s lunch, along with locally made chorizo and a chunk of Manchego; his “Cochon du Lait/Lei” is a banana-leaf packet filled with tender pulled pork and served with sesame seed–encrusted sweet potatoes and a pile of adobo-laced collard greens. Artigues, who runs the lunch and brunch shifts, helped DeBarr develop a cocktail list (alcoholic and non) that matches the tiny kitchen’s inventive streak. Cashew fruit juice, for example, anchors a savory-sweet rum drink chilled with coconut juice ice cubes; the Bloody Mary is made with roasted Creole tomato purée. Until the weather cools, diners have a delicate choice: Opt for indoor seating and you’ll get AC but very little personal space (the four tables are essentially elbow to elbow) or choose the alleyway experience if you prefer open-air dining in the city’s sultry historic center. 307 Exchange Alley, New Orleans (504-301-3347; greengoddessnola.com) —Pableaux Johnson

New York City: Permanent Brunch

With a name like Permanent Brunch, you would expect this place to be a little quirky. And it is. To start with, for some elusive reason all of the chairs and tables are bar height, so you feel a bit childlike, what with the dangling legs and all. Then there’s the wine list: two reds and two whites, plus some sparkling wine cocktails. But, hey, isn’t that what you want at the quintessential comfort food meal? And this really is brunch food. The menu offers variations on the usual suspects, from chicken and waffles (heavy on the chicken, which is very nice when you’re actually having dinner) to steak and eggs (with a side of rye panzanella) and buttermilk pancakes (in addition to the expected Vermont maple syrup they feature crème fraîche and Bing cherries). If you like Monte Cristo sandwiches, you’ll appreciate the French toast stuffed with smoked ham and Cheddar; if you’re feeling ravenous, you might go for the baked eggs, which arrive with a braised short rib ragù and fingerling potatoes cooked in duck fat. There’s also the artisanal bacon selection, which includes the wonderful Hungarian Kolozsvári bacon from Illinois. An added bonus: In a modern version of the jukebox, you can tune in to the restaurant’s music program on your iPhone or iPod and vote on songs that are currently playing, as well as slip your own selections into the queue. 95 1st Ave., New York City (212-533-3315; www.permanentbrunch.com) —John Willoughby

Los Angeles: Don Dae Gam

Don Dae Gam, a brand-new offshoot of L.A.’s esteemed beef-centered Park’s Barbeque, is a restaurant that takes the original’s reputation for grilled prime-meat selections and focuses that same level of attention on the pig. Located in a Koreatown strip mall and patterned after the pork-and-soju joints that are the latest rage in Seoul, Don Dae Gam is all about lean pork neck meat, marinated deboned pork ribs, ribbons of pork belly, and pork intestine (spiced just seconds before hitting the grill, it’s so delicious it should be given a different name so as not to be passed over by the innards-phobic). You cook your meats on gas-powered charcoal braziers set into the small, round tables that somehow give the place an air of late-night café cheeriness. (Long tables for larger parties dot a separate room.) A Combo #1—three types of pork for grilling, a nightly selection of banchan (customary little side dishes), kimchi jigae (a bubbling, bright red stew), and a choice of soju or beer—costs $39.99 and can feed two to three people. “There are so many all-you-can-eat places in Koreatown right now, but they don’t serve high quality,” says owner Jenny Kim. “That’s who I’m targeting.” 1145 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles (323-373-0700) —Margy Rochlin



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