The ‘Name’ in Spain Falls Mainly On… A New Restaurant at International House


No passport required: Make your way to the most European boutique hotel in the heart of the most European city in America – New Orleans. The gorgeously idiosyncratic International House has been anointed with an opulent redesign at the hands of designer LM Pagano, whose private clients include Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage. She has created a sanctuary for forward-thinking urbanites by matching lustrous, jewel-tone furnishings and seductive accents that embrace the city’s European, African, and Caribbean heritage. An enticing new addition to the hotel is the Basque-influenced restaurant, Rambla, headed up by acclaimed New Orleans restaurateur Kenneth LaCour of Restaurants Cuvée and Dakota, which promises to be the perfect lagniappe to an already exemplary destination.

Rambla, with its alluring French and Spanish menu, was inspired by the charming tapas bars that decorate the streets of the legendary eponymous corner of Barcelona, in the heart of Catalonia. An appropriately bohemian-contemporary backdrop sequesters several communal tables flanked by private gathering spots that provide a setting for a compelling mix of personalities, professions, pedigrees, and nationalities. What’s most interesting about LaCour’s new venture is that it’s not quite a wine bar [no specific bar area;] it’s not quite a restaurant [seating just 90 and serving mostly small plates;] and despite its comfortable seating it is not quite a club. What is certain is that Rambla will set a new trend in casual dining for New Orleans with its extensive wine offerings, inventive cuisine, and conversational setting.

The restaurant exudes rusticity with an edgy sensibility that transfers to the presentations on the small and large plates prepared by Chef Fernando Echeverri, wine and food pairings that are tempting, seasonal and adventurous. The cultural basis of the cuisine plays strongly in the tapas and petit plats. As with other international cuisines in recent years, our country is now discovering the foods of Spain, and Rambla will be opening a door to new flavors for New Orleans. Explore the distinctive tastes in these savory dishes: Medjool Dates with Smoked Bacon, Marcona and Valdeon; Potato-Sweet Onion Tortilla; Grilled Octopus with Lemon Oil; and the Pecan-Andouille filled Calamari with Olive-Tomato Concassée.

Allowing your palate to experiment more, choose from the tempting array of flat breads: Serrano Ham, Fig, Cabrales; Spinach, Tomato, Chèvre; and Alsatian Onion. And don’t stop there as the house-cured charcuterie selection has been aged to perfection.

Looking for the exception to the rule, the wine list, comprised of selections from boutique producers, has been developed not to follow the norm, but to expand your knowledge and experience with wines. The list pays close attention to the strong flavors found in the saltiness of cured and dried organic meats and the distinctive oils and flavors of the fresh regional fish and seafood dishes. Rambla’s list will be full of surprises – wines from the Rioja, Rias Baixas, Penedés, and Priorat regions of Spain and the Languedoc, Pic St. Loup, and Rhone appellations of France as well as select areas of North America.

Rambla presents a whole new convivial dining perspective, where the atmosphere is free from pretention and guests are at leisure to explore the Spanish and French fare. The constant arrival of small plates keeps an energetic pace with the flowing sangria and libations. The rhythm of the dining room heightens your impression of the spirit of this European-style experience. Conversations will ensue about the city, the food, the comfort, the music, and most importantly, captures the growing desire to connect. What will make this creative scene in New Orleans so hyper-cool is how communal it is! Everybody seems to know everyone and everyone’s collaborating. Being just opened on October 1, 2008, Rambla will initially be serving dinner Monday-Sunday from 5:30 to 11:00 pm (midnight on weekends), and will be offering lunch, as well, beginning in the coming weeks. Lunch will be offered Monday- Friday from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm.

Direct phone number for Rambla is 504.587. 7720.