Four Seasons, first look: New restaurant, bar set stage for luxury hotel's New Orleans debut
This week marks the official opening of the Four Seasons New Orleans, transforming the historic World Trade Center at the foot of Canal Street into a high-rise complex of luxury hotel lodging, private condominiums and hospitality spaces.
Rooms are now available to book, and the hotel’s lobby bar, the Chandelier Bar, and Alon Shaya‘s restaurant Miss River are open to the public.
A second restaurant from chef Donald Link, called Chemin à la Mer, will open in the fall along with the hotel’s pool and spa.
What follows is a first look at what visitors will find at the restaurant and bar now, and the latest on Link’s restaurant to follow.
For months, the myriad components for Miss River have been coming together within the Four Seasons New Orleans Hotel, a mosaic of marble, antiqued mirror, pearlescent tile and burnished brass.
However, chef Alon Shaya says the ideas inspiring this new restaurant have been coalescing for many years — a blend of flavors, traditions, social rituals and personal experience pursuing food in Louisiana.
“This restaurant is a dream for me,” Shaya said while showing visitors around Miss River. “I’ve spent so long studying the food culture here, and now we have a way to turn these experiences into a place where people can come celebrate. That’s just incredible to me.”
Creating the Four Seasons New Orleans has entailed a long stretch of heavy renovations behind construction barriers. It has been hard for most people to get a read on just what a sweeping undertaking this has been, and the new destination it brings to New Orleans.
Miss River and the Chandelier Bar are poised to give the public the first taste.
To visit now feels like raising a curtain on a grand production, in more ways than one. A sense of the theatrical is woven across the space and even into its menu concepts and service approach — including its unique “food stage” and sommelier station.
Miss River is a contemporary, upscale Louisiana restaurant with next-generation renditions of dishes from redfish courtbouillon to oyster patties to barbecue shrimp. Whole fried chicken, clay pot dirty rice with duck breast and salt-crusted whole red snapper share the menu with chilled seafood platters, baked Alaska and, at lunch, muffulettas and oyster po-boys.
Lux and lush in design, the concept behind Miss River is equally ambitious. Shaya frames it as a “love letter” to Louisiana cuisine and a modern read on the grand dining traditions of New Orleans.
Arriving at the Four Seasons, you first see the Chandelier Bar, where a constellation of artisan glass is suspended above.
The cocktail menu was created by hotel beverage director Hadi Ktiri, a longtime New Orleans bartender who made his name at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. The Chandelier Bar pours a wide range of Champagnes and sparkling wines and its food menu, developed by Shaya’s team, includes dishes like deviled eggs with trout roe, Louisiana-made foie gras and caviar.
Just past the check-in desk, you find the entrance to Miss River, a pair of heavy, tinted glass doors, giving a veiled glimpse inside.
The restaurant within was designed with a mix of art deco contours and a vintage maritime motif, like a space imagined by a Jazz Age version of Jules Verne.
The doors open to a narrow vestibule lined with cases of fine spirits and prestige Champagne. The room gradually opens through a lounge to a pink marble-topped bar. The dining room progresses through a number of distinct spaces united by the style and details that London-based Alexander Waterworth Interiors worked into its design here.
The “food stage” offers a different take on tableside preparations. Built like a cooking show demonstration kitchen, it holds a central space in the dining room where people can watch as dishes are finished or carved, bringing some of the energy of the culinary process into view.
Next to this, the sommelier table is a kiosk-sized nook with a stand-up station where guests can informally visit with the restaurant’s wine staff. It’s at once a more casual and individualized way to explore the restaurant’s wine program.
These are parts of what Shaya calls “moments of engagement,” opportunities to interact within the restaurant beyond your table and the menu.
“We wanted natural opportunities to engage with the people here, with the staff, with the other guests,” he said.
Miss River certainly is high-end and opulent. But Shaya eschews the label of fine dining. He sees it as something more indulgent and freewheeling, a sumptuous setting for celebration.
There’s a mix of paved areas for outdoor seating and a garden terrace area. It’s a multifaceted outdoor space that can be used for events and gatherings when it’s finished this fall.
Four Seasons developed Miss River in partnership with Pomegranate Hospitality. That’s the company Shaya and his wife Emily founded in 2017, following his departure from what was then called the Besh Restaurant Group (the chef is no longer affiliated with the Uptown restaurant Shaya).
Today, Pomegranate runs Saba, the modern Israeli restaurant uptown, and its sibling restaurant Safta, in Denver.
While those restaurants draw from the Israeli-born chef’s own heritage, Miss River traces a thread through New Orleans and Louisiana. To start developing their menu Shaya and Kelley Schmidt, the hotel’s executive chef, undertook a series of eating tours around the city and the region. The result folds in influences from French Creole grand dames to Jazz Fest food booths to the area’s Vietnamese community.
At lunch, there’s even red beans and rice, from the recipe that won Emily Shaya first place at the citywide Bean Madness cooking competition a few years back.
“This is all an expression of what we love about Louisiana cuisine, and a modern lens on what we love so much about grand New Orleans dining,” Shaya said.
Miss River (2 Canal St., 504-434-5100) serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and accepts reservations through opentable.com. When Chemin à la Mer opens this fall it will take over breakfast service while Miss River will add brunch.
The new restaurant from Donald Link now taking shape inside the Four Seasons New Orleans hotel will have a menu mixing classic and contemporary flavors inspired by France and Louisiana. It will have an oyster bar, and it will field a separate menu for the hotel’s adjacent pool and cabana terrace.
It will also have a deck that is shaping up to be a front porch for the Mississippi River.
The new restaurant is built around a view, and it is one that feels timeless and revealing all at once.
Link’s new restaurant is called Chemin à la Mer, French for path to the sea, and it is now slated to open in the fall.
f you like the name, you can thank Jimmy Buffett. Link is buddies with the legendary musician, whose fondness for all things French is right up there with his affinity for the sea.
When Link asked Buffett to help him brainstorm names for the new venture, they landed on Chemin à la Mer.
“It clicked for everyone,” Link said.
The restaurant’s future home is still a construction zone, but even now the name’s resonance is clear. The dining room is fronted by a wall of windows leading to a deck overlooking Spanish Plaza and the Mississippi River, coursing endlessly toward the Gulf.
“This is what sold me on the deal,” Link said, gazing over the deck one recent morning.
For all the ways the river has shaped New Orleans’ life and history, the city has scant places to really take it in. Chemin à la Mer will add one perch in a hospitality setting for a view that is captivating and also narrative.
The restaurant is in a newly built addition to the historic high-rise. It sits on the fifth floor, giving the room and deck a mast-height vantage.
Look across the river and you can see the sharp tip of Algiers Point jutting out, and, on the other side, the sweeping curve along the banks of the French Quarter that help give New Orleans its Crescent City nickname.
At Chemin à la Mer, Link said he is excited to unveil a restaurant with a careful interplay of design, art and cuisine. While the menu is still in development, he outlined an approach that blends contemporary and classic ideas of French and Louisiana cooking. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
The restaurant is next to the hotel’s pool, with a row of cabanas available for the public to reserve. The restaurant will serve a different menu of light dishes and snacks specifically for the pool terrace.