Sam Kogos left New Orleans for the best — maybe the only — reason: a woman. His wife, a St. Louis native, wanted to be closer to her family. We should all be grateful. Last year Kogos, who'd owned a restaurant in New Orleans for fifteen years, opened Riverbend Restaurant & Bar in a corner spot just south of the Anheuser-Busch fortress. It's an unassuming spot, cozy and inexpensive, but the Creole and Cajun cuisine here is serious business. Consider the cochon de lait po'boy, stacked high with roasted pork so tender and flavorful that the bread and condiments are superfluous. Crawfish fans can enjoy the crustacean in elegant étouffée form or bathed in a beautifully rough-hewn, spicy Creole tomato sauce. In the New Orleans tradition, red beans and rice is available only on Monday; the spicy smoked sausage and plump beans therein provide the ideal foundation for another long workweek.
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