R'evolutionary restaurant

by Mary Tutwiler

Jambalaya stuffed in a crepe for breakfast? Turtle cappuccino with truffle spuma and cubes of sherry gelée? Let's just say I remain curiously skeptical. The chef's a little out there too. Rick Tramonto, a James Beard Award-winning chef, formerly of Tru and Tramonto's Steak & Seafood in Chicago, is teaming up with Louisiana chef John Folse to open Restaurant R'evolution, in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street in the summer of 2011.

Tramanto was interviewed by Chicago Magazine on his plans for revolutionizing iconic Louisiana dishes like gumbo and turtle soup. Before we jump in, note that Tramanto refers to himself in the third person throughout the interview. Will his ideas be a revolutionary cooking game changer? I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, look for a new verb to enter the culinary canon: Tramonto-ized.

Here's the Q & A. (D. stands for Dish Flash):

D: Tell us about R'evolution.
RT: We're taking the multiple cultures of Cajun/Creoleinspired food and now bringing in Rick Tramonto and what Rick Tramonto does with that food. It will become our own food revolution in that property.

D: What does that mean?
RT: The bar will have lots of little plates, but the dining room will be pretty upscale as far as refinement and service and cheese programs. And the menu will have an icon dish section-New Orleans étouffée, turtle soup, gumbos-but with our spin. Rick Tramonto-ized, if you will.

D: What would be your spin on turtle soup?
RT: Turtle cappuccino with truffle spuma and cubes of sherry gelée, which melt in and give that sherry flavor.

D: Will the room be equally modern?
RT: The feel of the room will be almost like the revolution of design. Like an old French mansion, with pocket doors and crown molding separating rooms, but with an open state-of-the-art kitchen. Two chef tables, a glassed-in wine room. A salumi cave. At Tru, we had contemporary museumquality artwork; here there will be museum-quality artifacts from Louisiana. John has this incredible American Indian collection of some of the first knives that were found. And the first pontoon boat that was carved by hand out of balsa wood.

D: Should we know who John Folse is?
RT: He's a pretty fascinating guy from southern Louisiana. An amazing chef, a historian with 11 cookbooks, 15 years on PBS. He has a food manufacturing company that does all the dairy for Whole Foods. Has his own culinary school at Nicholls State University [in Louisiana].

D: So you're done with Chicago?
RT: I'll spend the next year in New Orleans. I will go back and forth somewhat, but 75 percent of my time will be there. I'm still trying to do my restaurant company, my steak house, and osterias in another city. But my home base becomes New Orleans.