The other night we decided to search out a new eating establishment. Living in New Orleans is like living in an eater’s paradise. There are wonderful discoveries to be made around just about every corner of the city. This evening ultimately found my husband and I at the uptown establishment known as Johnny V’s. How lucky we were to have made this delightful discovery.
Johnny V's Bisto
Johnny V’s is a newly opened restaurant specializing in French/American/Creole cuisine. More on that later. This is a new fine dining restaurant adjacent to the Monkey Hill Bar on Magazine Street in the heart of uptown New Orleans. The name is derived from Johnny Vodanovich who formerly managed the famous Clancy’s. After a long stint there he recruited long time maitre d’, Nash Laurent, also of Clancy’s and former Café Degas chef Ryan Hughes to join him in this latest venture. Johnny V’s is positioned next to his Monkey Hill Bar which serves as the restaurant’s lounge. You can enjoy tapas at the bar if your not hungry enough for dining at the upscale eatery.
Ryan Hughes spent six years at the helm of the kitchen at Café Degas where he established quite a reputation for himself. His formal training came from the Culinary School at Johnson Wales University, Charlotte, N.C. Interestingly, Hughes, who speaks no French, was instructed by French speaking instructors. Upon graduation he met world famous chef Emeril Lagasse who persuaded him to locate in New Orleans. Ryan fell in love with the city and has been here ever since after first working a Brennans on Royal Street, Bayona with Chef Susan Spicer and Lagasse’s Delmonico’s on St. Charles Avenue.
You will be surprised when you enter the place which is at once recognizable as an upscale establishment. It is much bigger than it appears from the outside. Vaulted ceilings with faux patios and a “starlit” sky add to the feeling that you are in an open patio somewhere in the French Quarter. Gas lanterns and lights further adorn the dining room and lend to it’s ambiance. The main dining room will accommodate 120 people at white table clothed tables. There is room for an additional 25 people at the indoor brick patio available for private parties.
Johnny V’s is owned by three partners. They are Johnny Vodanovich, Nash Laurent and Ryan Hughes. All are active in the everyday running of the place and are determined to see that you have a most memorable dining experience. Upon entry you are greeted by a most affable Maitre d’ Hotel, Nash Laurent. He is extremely charming in a friendly New Orleans kind of way. Once seated it is not uncommon for him to visit your table and chat and generally make sure that you are enjoying yourself. The wait staff is also friendly and very knowledgeable. I was impressed by the Sommelier, Buck Williams, who has built quite a cellar and offers exceptional wines by the bottle as well as by the glass. The wine selection is tailored in the spirit of the City’s old world European roots and is constantly being expanded. Don’t be surprised to see Executive Chef Ryan Hughes making his way among the tables to ensure everything is satisfactory despite his busy kitchen.
The menu is ever changing and on any given night you are sure to find something that will excite your palate. All food is made with the finest ingredients that are delivered fresh daily. Memorable for me was a jumbo local (the best kind) shrimp and braised celery root with white remoulade and baby greens for an appetiser. Just superb! I selected for an entrée pork shank osso bucco, San Marzano tomatoes, Cerignola olives, Hoppin’ John’s organic stone ground grits and ricotta salata. It is a rare occasion that I indulge in desserts but upon learning that home made chocolate ice cream topped with a rich raspberry sauce was available, well, I was hooked. It did not disappoint.
Johnny V’s Bistro is located at 6106 Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans, phone 504.899.4814. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 - 10:30 pm. For more into go to the website.