Sep 5, 201309:59 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Thoughts on Habana Outpost and More Reflections

A Habana Outpost location in New York.

There are a lot of things I think about when I'm deciding what to cook, but usually texture isn't the primary concern. That changed recently when my wife had emergency root canal surgery and could only eat soft foods.


Cooking for someone who's just had serious dental surgery is less fun than it sounds. When Eve called me to tell me she was going to have surgery, I was pretty excited about the possibilities where soft food were concerned, but what I'd forgotten from my own recent experience is that really bad pain tends to take the edge off of one's appetite.


So I've cooked some soups, some pastas and some stews. I've cooked mashed potatoes and used the pressure cooker. I've done what I could, I think, but to paraphrase a silly expression, I can't cook the pain away.


In restaurant news, it appears that the Habana Outpost at the edge of the Quarter is, at least temporarily, going forward. WWL reports that the Vieux Carre commission approved the development's plans.


I admit: Until a few days ago I'd never heard of Habana Outpost or the controversy surrounding the plans for the corner of Esplanade and North Rampart. I have to admit as well that I find some of the videos I've seen at Habana Outpost's website amusing in ways that, I think, the folks behind them did not intend. I also have to admit that I find the guy behind the development, Sean Meenan, pretty interesting. I've never met the guy, and it's not likely I will, but I like the fact that he's come here and put down roots, and I like the fact that he's able to articulate his position, and I like the idea that he's planning on putting some use to that particular corner.


I've lived in this city all of my life, and I don't recall that corner being anything but derelict. I guess I don't really deserve to take a position, having never lived at that intersection, but I'm having a hard time understanding why, assuming Meenan is willing to be reasonable, a restaurant is worse than a vacant lot. Is it a fedora thing?


If you feel differently, I'd really love to hear your thoughts. I mean, I'd probably love to hear your thoughts; I guess it depends on your thoughts? I don't really want to hear your thoughts if your thoughts involve skinning me alive and using my skin to make a handbag. Or, you know, if you want to skin me for any other reason. Let's leave “skinning Robert” off the table for thoughts generally, okay?


Pretty much anything else is on the table, though.

Reader Comments:
Sep 5, 2013 02:37 pm
 Posted by  Paul A. Greenberg

The objections to Habana Outpost are from a small group of neighborhood residents who fear the new business will upset the quiet of the neighborhood and further complicate the street parking situation. However, I live in Treme, just three blocks from that corner and I am all for it...The more life we can breathe into the corner of Rampart and Esplanade, the more likely our property values will increase incrementally. Just a couple blocks toward the river from this corner are Port of Call and Buffas restaurants, and they have always been assets in the neighborhood. The Vieux Carre commission made the right decision in alowing Sean Meenan to proceed with his plans.

Sep 5, 2013 03:06 pm
 Posted by  Billsd

Anything to brighten up that corner. It has been an attractor of crime and source of blight for that area for decades. Hopefully Habana Outpost will have late hours, be brightly lit and attract foot traffic. Esplanade and Elysian Fields are the two primary entrances to the French Quarter and need something to generate a feeling of safety and attractiveness to their entry points. Now if something could be done with the parking lots on the periphery of the Quarter along Elysian Fields just before you get to the Mint. They are much better than the blight that was there before, but at night you still do not have a feeling of security there and are uneasy. Maybe intense lighting there would help and a food truck or two would help.

Sep 6, 2013 05:41 am
 Posted by  coralme

My husband and I lived on Esplanade February 1 through May 1 2012. We lived in the block between Burgundy and Rampart, on the Marigny side. We walked to Louis Armstrong Park many times, passing the corner where Mr. Meenah wants to build his restaurant. The abandoned building there now is not a pleasant sight. I can't see how a restaurant in it's place could be objectionable. When we decided to spend part of our time in NOLA we were concerned about safety. Having Buffa's and Port of Call nearby added to pedestrian traffic, making the area safer for evening walking. Also great to have dining choices so close by. We noticed all the "NO HABANA" signs that were posted around the neighborhood and asked several residents what they meant. Many did not know but we were finally told that someone wanted to build a restaurant on that corner. While I admit it might add to parking issues I feel that for the most part Habana Outpost will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. When we first started visiting NOLA in the early 90's we would not have walked past Dauphine Street. Now we feel comfortable walking on North Rampart. You have a lovely city, friendly and welcoming city. I am happy your Vieux Carre Commission voted for continued improvement. We are looking forward to February and returning to New Orleans. If it were possible I would be a full-time resident.

Sep 6, 2013 10:09 am
 Posted by  piggy1717

Last year I was in New York City - and Café Habana was highly recommended to me.
It is a small establishment, contained within a one floor building. There I no resemblance to the photos that have been circulating recently.
I'd be happy to send you photos of the NYC location if you send me a site to send do.
Can't wait to have another taste of their delicious corn on the cob. Beyond "yummy!"

Sep 6, 2013 10:31 am
 Posted by  cwayne

I've lived in the 1000 block of Esplanade for 26 years and as all of my neighbors will agree, business in that corner would be most welcome. The problem that many home owners have with this proposed restaurant is the size and scope of the project which is a legitimate concern. But now that the project seems to be going forward, I'm glad there will be no more crime issues and the young single ladies that stood before the commissioners can have a sanctuary to have their sandwiches and knock back a few tequilas. As far as property values, I guess we'll see and hope for the best.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website,, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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