It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and my husband and I finally found time to celebrate our 15th anniversary– 3 months late.
The main objective was to go to a local restaurant, the kind where you can linger for a few hours, preferably outside due to ongoing Covid concerns.
We had a long list of old favorites, but were eager to try something new. N7, a friend told us. Try to get a reservation at N7 local foodies recommended on social media when I asked. “Ooh you should go to N7!” our former neighbor/babysitter/good friend Robin said.
I went to the N7 website and tried to book a reservation for two on Resy. Nothing was available until December! Darn!
On a whim, I decided to email the address listed on the N7 website (there’s no phone number). I explained that it was our 15th anniversary, that we never ever go out, and that we were dying to try their restaurant. I didn’t expect to hear back. So we made a reservation at another spot and I started getting ready (ditched the sweatpants and actually put on some makeup!).
A few hours later, on our way to drop the kids off at Robin’s house, I checked email on my phone. N7 responded and they had a table for two for us. Score!!!
So we canceled our other reservation and made a beeline for the Bywater restaurant on 1117 Montegut Street, one unassuming block off of St. Claude Ave. A security guard checked our vaccination cards in front of a tall wooden fence before we were allowed inside the gate.
Stepping through the gate at N7 reveals a large courtyard with lush tropical plants, shimmering candles, quiet conversations, and an old red Citroen car off to the side. I instantly knew how Lucy felt when she stumbled upon the snowy woods of Narnia in the The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe: utterly mesmerized.
Our feet crunched on gravel, evoking the calm of a Japanese rock garden as the hostess led us to our reserved table in a French-style cottage featuring a few other couples seated around a sizable bar. With windows opened to the cool autumn air of the courtyard, the cottage was certainly inviting, but I had my eye on one table outside.
“Is that table available?” I asked, pointing to a lonely table for two surrounded by ginger plants.
“Yes, certainly, follow me!”
And so our journey to this new realm continued. In a thick French accent, a waitress appeared and wished us a happy anniversary before instructing us how to use a QR code to view the menu.
Detailed below are some of the highlights of our experience, and why you should visit N7 for your next date, dinner party, or weekend brunch.
What makes it different
New Orleans is a city with more amazing restaurants per capita than most. So how and why does N7 stand apart? For one, its French and Japanese vibe is chiefly apparent in its menu, with small plates such as the Sake Cured Salmon Tartine, Escargot Tempura, and the Smoked Mackerel Charcuterie. There’s even a Soy Sauce Creme Brûlée. At the same time, there are quintessentially French dishes Duck Liver Pate and Steamed Mussels. The wine menu is probably the largest I’ve ever seen, and according to the N7 website, “…features small European winemakers who adhere to a natural, handmade approach to winemaking: little or no added sulfites, natural yeasts and the use of no pesticides.”
Do you have to love French and Japanese foods and wine to love N7? Definitely not! The menu also features Moroccan Chicken, Grilled Gulf Shrimp, and for vegetarians, there’s vegetable dishes such as Grilled Bok Choy and Fried Cauliflower. The drinks menu also features sake, shochu, a variety of liquors, and beer.
The meticulous attention to details in flavoring and presentation are apparent in every bite, no matter what you order. Our meal at N7 is hands-down the most delicious dining experience we’ve ever had (and that also includes many non-anniversary meals out).
Although N7 is distinctly different from the New Orleans outside its walls, I can’t imagine it existing anywhere else– its private, otherworldly aura is perfectly suited for a formerly French city of hidden passageways and courtyards. Like New Orleans, N7 is relaxed and unassuming. While you can’t get gumbo or a po-boy here, you’ll definitely feel at home as you nestle in between the banana trees and palmettos and enjoy every indelible bite.
Past and Present
N7 opened in late 2015 and is owned by filmmaker Aaron Walker and chef Yuki Yamaguchi, (formerly of Yuki Izakaya in the Marigny).
The name N7 originates from the former French Nationale 7(“N7”) highway that once stretched from Paris to the Italian border. The restaurant website explains that this highway, once known as “Route des Vacanes,” would lead Parisians to vacations south of their city while the Michelin Guide would show them the way to small farmhouse and hotel restaurants that started appearing along the way. This is “the origin of the Michelin Star,” the website explains. (The Michelin Star is a prestigious award given to restaurants of a particularly high standard.)
The French-cottage on-site was once home to a tire shop, and before that, it was a horse stable. It’s quaint, unpretentious atmosphere fits in perfectly with the Big Easy, and like most places in our city, you’ll be comfortable dressed up (in makeup and heels like me) or laid back (in sweatpants or shorts). Just be sure to leave the kids at home (no one under the age of 18 is admitted).
N7’s relaxed ambience invites the long, uninterrupted conversations of another era (this is definitely helped along by its exclusively adult guests). Using your cell phone feels intrusive here (when not using it to view the menu that is). A visit here compels you to take the time to truly savor each morsel and sip, and to fully appreciate the person (or people) who are here sharing it with you.
N7 serves brunch on Fri and Sat. from 11:30-2:30. Dinner is served Mon-Thurs. 5-9pm; Fri. and Sat. 5-10pm.