Nina Compton, a native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, came to New Orleans a few years ago to compete in the Top Chef television series. She didn’t win the culinary slugfest, but New Orleans came out ahead—a short time later she returned to set down roots by opening Compère Lapin, a charming, brick-accented restaurant in a hotel that's a reasonable stroll from the French Quarter. It’s good to get there early to grab a drink at the bar, which treats its libations with the same seriousness as the kitchen does its food. (A frozen drink… with chartreuse.) The dishes are alive with creative Caribbean flavors—among the more memorable plates are the seafood pepper pot, black drum, and curried goat.
It feels like uptown is gaining ground. Definitely stop at Compere Lapin for cocktails. The bartenders know what they're doing AND they're friendly, they'll give you suggestions in a non-patronizing way if you're not sure what you'd like.