This view inspired Donald Link’s restaurant in the Four Seasons; Jimmy Buffett helped name it
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 the 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.
As the new restaurant continues to take shape, more details about what people will find here have been finalized, that at last includes its name.
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, a bit after the hotel’s planned official opening on Sept. 1.
If 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 affiliation with 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 towards the sea.
“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.
The Four Seasons hotel has been years in the making, transforming the historic World Trade Center at the foot of Canal Street into luxury accommodations.
Its boosters also believe it will be a hub of hospitality at a critical juncture for New Orleans.
The Four Seasons brand is known for attention to detail, and a well-heeled clientele. The project has been touted as a key for reviving this part of New Orleans and the riverfront. The Four Seasons will have 341 guest rooms, 92 private residences and various events spaces, including in the distinctive copula topping the tower.
The hotel is technically in a pre-opening phase right now, with a handful of rooms booked even as construction continues across the property.
Other amenities will begin opening to the public on Aug. 17, a few weeks before the hotel opens its rooms for booking.
That includes the hotel’s lobby bar, dubbed the Chandelier Bar for the magnificent constellation of glass suspended above it.
Four Seasons has also partnered with chef Alon Shaya for another restaurant in the hotel, this one called Miss River. Shaya has described this as a celebration of New Orleans’ grand dining experience and evolving culinary influences. Miss River is also set to open Aug. 17.
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.
Link has been approached many times through the years about possible hotel partnerships. The Four Seasons is the only one he has pursued. What made the difference, he said, was the brand’s reputation for quality, and also the personal leadership of Mali Carow, manager of the New Orleans Hotel.
“I want to be part of something that’s going to be good for New Orleans,” Link said. “And this will be good for New Orleans.”