St. Paul and New Orleans are connected by the Mississippi River and now a new jazz spot in the saintly city hopes to bring a bit of that “Nawlins” flavor up north.
Newly opened Vieux Carre, 408 St. Peter, is the latest incarnation of Dakota Jazz Club owner, Lowell Pickett. The intimate spot in the lower level of the Hamm Building was once the well-known Artists Quarter. According to Pickett, Vieux Carre pays tribute to both New Orleans and the Artists Quarter.
“Vieux Carre (which is French) is actually the name of the French Quarter in New Orleans,” said Pickett. “It translates to mean ‘old quarter,’ and what was here before … the old Artists Quarter, so that’s how the name was chosen. This location has a tremendous history, so we’re happy to be a continuation of that history.”
An intimate space, Vieux Carre’s walls are lined with varying photographs of New Orleans, furthering the connection of North and South. The menu also pays homage to the Crescent City. According to Pickett, the menu will rotate from time to time, but current selections include Gumbo, Cajun shrimp, a shrimp and lobster po’ boy and oysters Rockefeller.
A craft cocktail bar, Vieux Carre bottles its namesake cocktail, a four week oak barrel aged blend of rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and Peychaud’s angostura.
“We’re going for a speakeasy feel with good music, good drink and good food,” said Pickett.
Derik Moran, the executive chef at the Dakota will also serve in the same role at Vieux Carre.
St. Paul is familiar territory for the people associated with the Dakota. Prior to the jazz club being in downtown Minneapolis, the Dakota called St. Paul home.
“We are so excited to be in St. Paul again in this space and make it rich again with music and life,” said Martina Praidka, general manger to both the Dakota and Vieux Carre.
Praidka said homegrown singers and musicians will be the lifeblood of Vieux Carre. Closed on Sundays and Mondays, Vieux Carre will offer traditional jazz on Tuesdays and Fridays, acoustic artists on Wednesdays and a mix of soul, blues and jazz on Thursdays and Saturdays.
–Harry Colbert, Jr.