Carnival kicks it up a notch with Emeril restaurant

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Emeril's Bistro 1396 will serve items such as fried oyster po-boy sandwiches, muffaletta sandwiches, seafood ceviche and Emeril's signature barbecue shrimp.
Emeril's Bistro 1396 will serve items such as fried oyster po-boy sandwiches, muffaletta sandwiches, seafood ceviche and Emeril's signature barbecue shrimp.

Renowned New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse will open his first restaurant at sea in the French Quarter zone of Carnival Cruise Line's new Mardi Gras ship.

To be called Emeril's Bistro 1396, the restaurant will serve items such as fried oyster po-boy sandwiches, muffaletta sandwiches, seafood ceviche and Emeril's signature barbecue shrimp.

The 66-seat restaurant is the first featured attraction to be announced for the French Quarter, a new concept not currently on other Carnival ships. Pricing will be a la carte from $2 for starters to $12 for entrees.

"It's open to the promenade in the same way that Bonsai Sushi is, and gives people the option while they're eating to still be part of the action in the surrounding space," Carnival president Christine Duffy said.

Lagasse will bring a pedigree to Carnival's Cajun culinary efforts, plus lots of experience opening eateries in tourist-friendly locations such as Orlando and Las Vegas.

"To create my first restaurant at sea -- on a ship named Mardi Gras with its own French Quarter, no less -- was an opportunity I simply could not pass up." -- Emeril Lagasse
"To create my first restaurant at sea -- on a ship named Mardi Gras with its own French Quarter, no less -- was an opportunity I simply could not pass up." -- Emeril Lagasse

Born in Massachusetts to a French-Canadian father, he originally earned his kitchen stripes by succeeding Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of Commander's Palace, one of the best-known restaurants in New Orleans.

After eight years, he left to open Emeril's restaurant in New Orleans in 1990 and now is the proprietor of 11 restaurants. Lagasse has starred in several TV cooking shows and his name is on a variety of pasta sauces, spice blends, rib rubs and kitchen knives.

"I've developed restaurants all over the country, but to create my first restaurant at sea -- on a ship named Mardi Gras with its own French Quarter, no less -- was an opportunity I simply could not pass up," said Lagasse. 

In addition to New Orleans-style entrees, the menu for Emeril's Bistro 1396 includes desserts such as Bananas Foster and lemon ice box pie. Sides include Creole potato salad with diced scallions and red beans and "jazz-man" rice. A breakfast will also be served with a shrimp Creole omelet or shrimp and grits.

The 1396 in the name of the restaurant is a reference to the hull number of the Mardi Gras at the Meyer Turku shipyard, Carnival said. 

Lagasse is one in a spate of name-brand chefs to be announced by cruise lines in recent weeks. Celebrity Cruises struck a partnership with New York chef Daniel Boulud in February. MSC Cruises recently reeled in Raymond Blanc, chef at the Michelin two-star Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons hotel restaurant in Oxford, England. 

Now under construction, the 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras is due for delivery in August 2020.

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