By Kathleen DeMajo
Canal St Bistro is located at 3903 Canal St in Mid-City. Records exist of this building dating back to the 1960s. The building’s history reflects the neighborhood’s changing trends. Originally a residence, the building was split in the 1970s, and the other half became commercial. Some of the business that occupied that building in the past are: ABC Credit Plan, Courtesy Finance, Arrow Loan Co, Algiers Finance, The Mid-City secretarial service, The Mid-City Legal Group, and several doctors, although I am unsure if they we’re residents of the building.
Addresses of the buildings surrounding 3903 Canal appear and disappear frequently suggesting abandoned buildings, possible economic difficulties, or symptoms of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. However, through the years, we can see a steady source of revenue flow through 3903 Canal, which makes it an object of interest to those interested in the changing neighborhood.
Then and Now: Canal St
1950s and 2012
Carrollton and Canal Intersection 1950s and 2012
The setting: The neighborhood has a colorful mixture of buildings and architecture as well as things which have come to be known as typical New Orleans. Conveniently, Monica’s hotel, The Canal St Inn, is located a block away, making it the perfect distance for a leisurely stroll to the restaurant for any meal of the day. The streets are lined with palm trees and oak trees. The funeral home next door, something that would normally be considered unappetizing, is bright orange and so lovely that it becomes a landmark for people unfamiliar to the neighborhood as well as neutralizes death among life and food as part of our everyday lives.
Then and Now: 1950s and 2012 The Neighbors
3909 Canal is large and pink with an element of playfulness, sophistication, and social awareness. There is pleasant outdoor seating which gives the option of being a participant of the neighborhood as you watch people walk by. The decor of the building is clean and fresh feeling. There is a sense of class and relevance among the white walls lined with local art, and the comfortably cushioned wood and wicker chairs. There is music so soft that it is a whisper. The margarita, the Bistro’s signature drink, is made from the fresh locally grown ingredients. These drinks are so fresh and perfectly balanced with top shelf alcohol.
When entering the restaurant I was welcomed warmly by the owner, Monica Ramsey.
She is very involved with her restaurant and personally greets and seats her customers. She creates relationships with the neighborhood and going to her restaurant is like going to a friend’s house. To read more about Monica’s accomplishments in environmentally progressive business practices, check out this blog, from where I borrowed the picture above.
Food: Although well above my price range (the poor college student), I actually considered going into debt to be able eat at Canal St Bistro on a regular basis. When trying to think of a word to describe this restaurant, several come to mind: clean, pure, fresh, whole, balanced, savory, creative, and lets not forget delicious. Executive Chef Guirllermo Peters, specializes in mesoamerican cuisine. he is a charismatic and wise man who has an intense passion for food. He enjoys being in an environment where he gets to design each dish from start to finish. Chef creates each dish purely for the art of the food itself. He has specific recipes of his own that he uses and customers do not ask for substitutions in their foods because they are there for what chef wants to make for them, not what they want chef to make. Such great respect comes from knowing that out of everyone, chef has the highest expectations for the foods. He proudly explains to us that when trucks of fish or produce come to deliver at the restaurant, if the items do not meet Chef’s standards, he will send them away. The quality of the food is always his number one priority.
I would like to give a special thanks to Seth Gray (Front of House Manager) who was an exceptional help in providing information about the resteraunt and the neighborhood.