Opening of Donald Link’s Way to the Sea at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans

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On Friday, November 26, the opening day of his last restaurant, New Orleans chef Donald Link radiated an almost supernatural calm. After 38 years in the company, part of that comes from the feeling that he has nothing more to prove. He has won awards, traveled the charity and festival circuits, created a foundation and developed a business that has survived through the most difficult times. “What really matters to me now is making good food. Creativity, the sport of it. That’s what matters to me, ”says Link.

This distillation of objectives animates its new restaurant Chemin à la Mer, in French “chemin vers la mer”. Boasting spectacular front row views of the Mississippi River, the restaurant is located on the fifth floor of the 34-story Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, the long-awaited luxury hotel that debuted in August. The partnership with the world-renowned hotel brand marks Link’s first affiliation outside of his Link Restaurant Group (LRG), which is behind Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Pêche, La Boulangerie and two-year-old Gianna.

“I’ve been approached a number of times in the past, but something has always stopped me,” says the chef, whose flagship restaurant Herbsaint won him a 2007 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South. Link and his business partner Stephen Stryjewski have built a reputation for collaborative management and internal promotion – most of the chefs and managers of the restaurant group are from within the company. Collaboration was also key to the Four Seasons deal; once he meets GM Mali Carow and his team, Link says he’s been sold. “There is so much professional talent behind this restaurant. They trusted me, which really means a lot.

The restaurant’s design is inspired by the natural landscape of the Mississippi River, from the geological streaks on the marble bar and wallpaper reflecting the current of the river to the stunning portraits by artist John Alexander of purple blackbirds, herons and pink spoonbills that feed along its banks. A wall of windows ensures every table has a view of the Mississippi, with outdoor seating along the wraparound deck offering views of ships cruising the White Curve along the famous river crescent.

Everything about Chemin à la Mer is personal, especially the menu from Link’s gastronomic journeys retracing the roots and paths of Creole cuisine across the Caribbean and Europe. Forever influenced by the Cajun and Southern cuisine of his grandparents, the Louisiana native treats the foods of his childhood – seafood okra, peeled and eaten shrimp, white beans, oatmeal – with worthy French techniques and presentations. of a five-star restaurant.

He deliberated on the menu description of his okra, rich in Gulf seafood. “I’ve been making okra my whole life,” Link says, but “this one is thickened with slowly roasted okra instead of the usual roux.” It is inspired by an okra made by Miss Alzina Toups, a legendary Cajun cook (now retired) from Galliano, Louisiana, to Bayou Lafourche. “It amazes people that there is no red, there is so much flavor,” he says. Ultimately, it’s listed on the menu as a simple seafood okra, along with crab, shrimp, oysters, okra, and Louisiana rice.

There is plenty of seafood on the menu; much – but not all – comes from the Gulf. “I also like west coast oysters, so I didn’t want to limit the origin of our seafood,” explains the chef. Currently, oysters from Murder Point and Dauphine Island in Alabama are in the spotlight at raw sea bass, but the list changes regularly. Link’s version of a West Indian crab salad is bright and fresh, enhanced with fresh mint, cilantro and thinly sliced ​​jalapenos, and dressed in a tangy Guadalupe vinegar. Pan-seared jumbo prawns sit on white beans in a rich pesto sauce, combining two of his childhood staples.

For the steak offerings, Link and his team were inspired by the Clover Grill in Paris, a French steakhouse by chef Jean Françoise Piege. “This is a great French restaurant with some amazing steaks,” says Link. “This is also our vision. Served à la carte, the beef offerings at Chemin include a Kobe strip loin, a pan-roasted filet mignon, a pan-seared sirloin coulette and a prime rib – a rib eye with bone and hat sliced ​​at the table, which costs $ 180 for four offers the best steak price per person on the menu. Steak lovers will notice the magnificent Perceval knives with green handles that slice meat like butter. “I saw them in Italy and I must have had them,” Link says.

Prime rib
Chris Granger / Official

Skillet-roasted Ora King salmon with lentils, beef tartare, and a vegetarian grit cake with wild mushrooms and rapini are a few other menu options. The plan is for the bread and desserts to come from La Boulangerie co-owner and LRG Pastry Chef Maggie Scales, as the restaurant prepares for a busy holiday season. “I tried to balance the menu,” says the chef, with the restaurant’s entrees range in the $ 12 to $ 38 range and individual entrees starting at $ 25 and climbing all the way to $ 80.

Seared Ora King Salmon
Chris Granger / Official

Chemin also serves breakfast and has a casual menu that includes a burger and cheese plate served at the bar and poolside; lunch will be added in the coming weeks. LRG Beverage Manager Cary Palmer and Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans Beverage Manager Hadi Ktiri. designed the cocktail menu, which includes an invigorating Ti ‘Punch made from aromatic Martinique rum and the wonderfully named Melonious Funk, a blend of vodka, cantaloupe shrub, lemon and seltzer. Bourbon-powered Chemin de Fer, Forthave coffee-infused aperitif and Fey Anme Forrest bitters are perfect for warding off a winter chill.

For now, Link is capping nightly bookings at 100 to allow the kitchen and staff to adjust as business grows. Judging by the flood of loyal customers who have stopped by to wish Link the best of luck on opening day, growth can be expected, as well as great food – for the sport.


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