September 29, 2022

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Travel Finishes First

Southern Hotel opens new restaurant the Gloriette, elegant addition to north shore dining | One Tammany

6 min read

The flank of flounder was thickly encrusted with crab and torn morsels of brioche, with a lacy pattern of fresh herbs and black pepper. It tasted immediately of Louisiana, it harkened to old school French, and it was served in a dining room just as sumptuous as the flavors of the buttery fish. It signaled a new start for a destination restaurant in Covington.







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Flounder with crab and Grenobloise butter over brabant potatoes at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


This was dinner at the Gloriette, the new restaurant in the Southern Hotel.

It quietly opened just after Mardi Gras and has begun introducing itself to a circle of regulars at the historic hotel which, across its various public spaces, can feel as much like a downtown clubhouse for locals as lodgings for travelers.







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The dining room of the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel, has a theme of garden verdure worked into its design and windows framing nearby oaks. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


The Gloriette takes the place of Oxlot 9, which Amy and Jeffrey Hansell ran for seven years before closing last summer. That couple now has a restaurant in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the Thorny Oyster, in the newly built Pearl Hotel.







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The Cypress Bar at the Southern Hotel is adjacent to its restaurant, the Gloriette, and draws a regular clientele of locals starting early in the evening. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


The Southern Hotel now runs the restaurant itself, along with all the other food and drink in the property, including the luminous, mural-covered Cypress Bar, connected via corridors to the restaurant. For months, conversations around that bar fixated on what the new restaurant might be.

Refined and rustic







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A garden theme continues across the design at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Even at a glimpse, it’s clear the answer is quite different from its predecessor. A major renovation to the bright, window-lined dining room evokes a formal garden (The Gloriette takes its name from a French term for a garden pavilion). A sylvan theme plays out through the design.

The executive chef is Steven Marsella, a veteran of the local culinary scene who is bringing fresh energy to the new endeavor.







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Steven Marsella, a veteran New Orleans chef, at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


The menu is French-inspired with Louisiana flavors worked in and a few dishes that come straight from the chef’s own experiences, signatures he’s been eager to introduce to more people.

One that jumps off the menu is pork and clams Alentejana, an entrée that arrives as a platter-sized rustic feast. It starts with a gorgeously garlicky tomato sauce, strongly reminiscent of shrimp Creole sauce, plumped with white beans and gilded with olive oil. This serves as a base for the marine tang of littleneck clams, in the shell. Intersperse bites of this with slices of the seared pork tenderloin in the center.







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Pork and clams is a rustic Portuguese inspired dish on the menu at the Gloriette, the restaurant in the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


It’s a dish from coastal Portugal that also has a second home in the Portuguese communities of southern New England, where Marsella grew up.

He’s a native of Providence, Rhode Island, where he attended culinary school and started his career at one of the city’s most ambitious seafood restaurants. In New Orleans, he was part of the crew that opened Emeril’s Restaurant in 1990. Most recently, he was corporate chef for local group Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, with a hand in running many different kitchens and developing new restaurants.







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A garden theme continues across the design at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Now he’s focused on one kitchen at The Gloriette, and adding to the ranks destination-worthy north shore restaurants.

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“I thought there was a void for this style of cuisine here,” he told me.

French, Louisiana and robust

At its heart, The Gloriette’s menu is about dishes with classic roots and a chef’s own touch. This doesn’t seem like a restaurant to start with gumbo, but this one is instructive of the style.







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Crab gumbo with lumps of crabmeat and potato salad at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


It’s a crab gumbo, deeply chocolatey brown, with gleaming lumps of sweet crabmeat next to smoky coins of andouille (from the Cajun butchers at Poche’s in Breaux Bridge). There’s a cool scoop of yellow, mustardy potato salad instead of rice. The crab lumps and velvet texture of the roux makes this gumbo feel elegant, but its flavor is far too deep and robust to be called frou-frou.







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Oyster stew is served with a cornbread madeleine on the side at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Another soup, the oyster stew, tastes purely of cream and oyster brine, dappled with green onion oil for a delicate twist, and the eye-catching touch of a cornbread Madeline next to it.

Marsella’s opening menu runs through well-traveled French bistro classics, like steak tartare and steamed mussels with Calvados, and dishes that bring a more local accent — like the fried oysters with brie fondue and a crawfish tagliatelle.







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Flounder with crab and Grenobloise butter over brabant potatoes at the Gloriette, the restaurant at the Southern Hotel in Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


The flounder I mentioned up top made such a strong impression for weaving together the two influences. The buttery sauce with capers and parsley and lemon was classic Grenobloise, the exuberance of the crabmeat and the Brabant potatoes suggested French Creole. The subtle touch of the brioche croutons added an unexpected layer of texture, and another vehicle for that sauce.







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Apple galette is a French classic on the menu at the Gloriette, the restaurant in the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Of the desserts, the apple galette has all the homey appeal of a pie cooling on a farmhouse windowsill, but drawn to more graceful lines and topped with salted caramel ice cream (from New Orleans maker Quintin’s). The strawberry trifle is a cocktail-sized swirl of fruit and cream, a playful riff on the seasonal harvest you see bursting from roadside stands around St. Tammany Parish right now.







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Strawberry trifle spins a seasonal harvest into a cocktail-sized dessert at the Gloriette, the restaurant in the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


A refined rendering of the rustic runs through The Gloriette’s design. It’s a room of white tile floors, baby blue walls and lattice, with images of blooms and garden scenes adding gentle color. Two coves create enveloping banquette booths.







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A fire crackles in an alcove off the courtyard at the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Broad windows frame a view of oaks across the street, and in the early evening light these can seem like an extension of the verdure in the dining room.

The Gloriette

428 E. Boston St., Covington, (985) 202-8090

Dinner Tue.-Sat., brunch Sat., Sun. (breakfast and lunch hours to come)

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