The Pontchartrain Hotel: A Historic Garden District Gem's Revival

It is hard to find a native New Orleanian who does not have a memory of The Ponchartrain Hotel. Christmas Eve dinners celebrated and first dates had between bites of Mile High Pie and Crab remick. The hotel became a part of the local culture, from the Silver Whistle Cafe's blueberry muffins becoming a morning must to being the site where the New Orleans Saints were officially created. After an extensive renovation in the summer of 2016, the Pontchartrain Hotel has been restored to recapture its storied elegance.

Chicago-based real estate company AJ Capital Partners and John Besh’s Our House Hospitality — the Besh Group food and beverage management team — were behind the project, which was first announced late last year.

Named after Louis XIV court's Count de Ponchartrain, The Pontchartrain Hotel originally opened as a residential hotel in 1927. In 1948, owner Lyle Aschaffenburg refashioned the property as a luxury hotel and it became a magnet for prominent who's who, both local and visitor alike. The hotel has hosted storied guests such as Frank Sinatra, Truman Capote, presidents Gerald Ford and George H. Bush, and not to mention Tennessee Williams, who worked on "A Streetcar Named Desire" while staying at the hotel.

The Besh Group is now running all food and beverage amenities at the hotel, which includes the hotel's storied Caribbean Room, the Bayou Bar, the Silver Whistle Cafe and a brand new rooftop bar and lounge, Hot Tin, which features panoramic views of downtown and uptown New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

The hotel's rooftop lounge, Hot Tin, offers a panoramic view of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

Chef Chris Lusk, formerly of Restaurant R’evolution, is overseeing the menus throughout the hotel. For the historic Caribbean Room, he says he wants to recapture the nostalgia of an earlier era: guests can expect a refined, white tablecloth experience with embroidered linen and silverware stamped with the hotel's name. In a nod to the days of dinner coats, The Caribbean Room demands that men wear coats (and has a rack of loaners tailored by Billy Reid, just in case).

Menu items include the storied restaurant’s signature dishes such as shrimp Saki, Filet de Boef and Mile High Pie, as well as new items like a pepper-roasted rack of lamb served fava beans and curried carrots and Wagyu beef and beet tartare with puffed beef tendon and preserved orange. 

At the more laid-back Bayou Bar (which reportedly was a hangout for Sinatra and Capote and is the site where the New Orleans Saints were created) guests can expect a casual tavern-style experience. There’s an expansive whiskey and beer list and a streamlined bar menu of snacks and small plates.

The hotel’s breakfast and lunch spot, The Silver Whistle Café, features the hotel’s iconic blueberry muffins, coffee and several breakfast dishes including a breakfast po-boy filled with scrambled eggs, andouille sausage, white cheddar and Sriracha hollandaise, and pecan waffles with bourbon cane syrup and smoked butter. 

The hotel's newest bar is quickly becoming one of the hottest spots in the city. Upstairs at the rooftop bar and lounge, Hot Tin, guests will find an extensive cocktail and champagne list as well as delicious small plates and light snacks.  The real draw, however, is the unmatched view of the Mississippi River and downtown New Orleans. 

We hope you will find time to stop by The Ponchartrain Hotel and experience this true New Orleans gem.  Share with us your visit using #SoloNOLA. 

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