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Jfood back in NOLA - Brigtsens, Commanders, K-Pauls, Camellia Grill, et. al. (long)


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Jfood back in NOLA - Brigtsens, Commanders, K-Pauls, Camellia Grill, et. al. (long)

jfood | | Oct 2, 2007 08:30 AM

So the Jfoods returned to NOLA and began with a relaxing walk from our hotel to the FQ for an afternoon snack of beignets and iced coffee at Café du Monde. The Jfoods just love that place, three visits in three days on this trip. Once again it was fantastic, a three-beignet order split between M&M Jfood (you can guess who ate two) and on the first visit, they listened to a great duet named “Sister” (even bought their CD). This was a great way to start the food adventure in NOLA. Now all the Jfoods needed was a leisurely walk to get ready for Brigtsens. On a subsequent visit they brown-bagged it and watched a fantastic three-man dance team called something Dragon. They were very entertaining both with their humor directed at the crowd and their break dance routines.

On to Brigtsen’s and once again Chef Frank nailed it. Jfood went for an adventurous menu (it was real hard not ordering the duck w cherry sauce, his favorite). This time he started with the sweetbreads with potato leek cake and merliton corn relish and ordered the braised venison with roasted vegetables and apple cider pan gravy for his entrée. Both dishes were off the chart great. Chef Frank placed the sliced venison over a fantastic sweet potato and corn hash that was divine and was a perfect compliment to the venison. Jfood was a little disappointed that he did not have Chef Frank’s perfect mashed potatoes (Mrs. Jfood saw that “look” and offered some from her plate, actually almost all of them, he just loves her). J Then M&M Jfood split the double chocolate cake once again, well almost split. Mrs. Jfood took a break to chat with little Jfood and when she returned to the cake it mysteriously disappeared. Gee, wonder where it went? J Thank you so much Chef Frank for yet another perfect meal.

Saturday brought another nice stroll through the FQ and we hit the eastern half just in time (imagine how lucky that timing was) to grab a Muffuletta at Central Grocers. This is still one of the great sandwich creations in America. It was quite a scene with Tulane playing LSU up the street at the Super Dome and Tulane scoring to take the lead 9-7 (LSU eventually won the game by over 20 points.) The Jfoods decided to split a half a sandwich, more than enough for a normal appetite. The bread was already nicely soaked with oil, and it was a 20-napkin event to eat just a half. The olive salad had a nice tang and did not overwhelm those great meats, and the cheese had nice sharpness to compliment it all. Remember to use lots of napkins and lean forward when biting or the drip will land in your lap.

Jfood visit to K-Paul’s was not a positive memory. They decided to try this resto since Jfood thought little Jfood would like the extra heat in the food and it’s a landmark. She did enjoy her spinach salad and blackened drum. But Jfood thought the resto has major room to improve. Other than a pretty good server, everything in this resto was, at best, mediocre. First touch point was the hostess and she was very nasty. What is so difficult in asking if the customer prefers the first or second floor? And please do not take offense if a customer wants to stay on the first floor since some of the appeal of K-Paul’s is being a part of the “action” on the first floor. They were finally seated and Jfood was able to watch the open kitchen. The kitchen staff looked bored and robotic and did not look like they were enjoying preparing the food. And the food showed it, as it arrived with no love. Jfood started with the turtle soup and upon delivery a runner arrived and basically threw some sherry into the soup, not very professional at all. Jfood's entrée was the special rabbit with jambalaya. The rabbit was merely breaded and sautéed with very little flavor (think chicken cutlet) with some jambalaya, which was tasty, but was overcooked. Mrs. Jfood ordered a salad and when she asked for it lightly dressed was told that they do not dress salad, that they are all delivered sauce on the side, huh? The salad arrived and it looked like someone reached into a pile of greens at the grocer and threw them on a plate. And the taste was not much better. When she ordered her entrée, duck and shrimp, she asked if the duck could be cooked through, not rare as the case in many restos. She was told that the kitchen cooks it only one way and she would be happy. Wrong. It was cooked for hours and was beyond overcooked. It was basically inedible. After tasting both hers, and mine she sent hers back and decided to order nothing else. The server did the appropriate thing and removed Mrs. Jfood’s dish from the bill. Unfortunately, to add insult to injury they actually charge $1.50 for refills on soda. At $30 per entrée, the resto should absorb the $0.25 of syrup, totally classless. Jfood knows that many told him this was a tourist trap, but it was not event hat good. K-Paul’s is officially on the Do Not Return list.

But victory was pulled out of the jaws defeat and after they dropped off little Jfood back at the dorm the Jfoods went to Brigtsens. Mrs. Brigtsen opened her arms to them and after a slight wait; the Jfoods sat and ate a glorious mini-meal. A wonderfully prepared salad and the shrimp and rice cake for Mrs. Jfood and a nice cup of butternut squash bisque with shrimp for Jfood. Let’s not forget a wonderful dessert of double chocolate layer cake and a visit with Chef Frank. What a great man. He spent the whole dessert chatting with the Jfoods. It was once again perfect food and perfect company.

Camellia Grill – Jfood loves the energy at this place at what a scene the Jfoods walked into. As you may know there are two grills to service the crowd. On this day there seemed to have been an issue between one of the cooks and the owner and the cook disappeared out the front door, so there was a one-cook situation for the whole resto. The hostess on this trip was very pleasant and even let the Jfoods pick their seats so their favorite server, Word, could take care of them. Jfood loves that guy. So the Jfoods order their normal bacon-cheeseburger with mayo and a dry BLT. Suddenly, the remaining cook, seeing his partner leave, points his spatula at the owner standing at the front door and asks for more money. You could see the waiters listening carefully with one ear to see if they may also benefit from this situation. It was quite a scene, and the cook settled down after the owner whispered something in his ear. But the food was great. The bacon-cheeseburger was perfect, the fries crispy and golden and the chocolate freeze for Jfood reminded Jfood of those from his youth. It doesn’t get better than this. And then when you thought that the scene had calmed down, one of the other waiters said something to piss off the remaining cook. The cook stared at him and said “I ain’t cookin’ your food now.” Sheer silence ensued. The Jfoods had finished their meal, got up and left at this point. Never piss off the cook.

Commanders Palace – the Jfoods decided for their last meal in NOLA to hit one of their favorites, Commanders Palace. It is still a beautiful resto. It is beginning to get a little stuffy though and it needs to be more consistent in acceptable attire. Jfood arrived with college Jfood wearing a nice blouse over shorts. The resto would not seat them (the Jfoods ran back to the dorm to change and returned) as their policy is “no shorts.” It’s their resto and they can do as they please but they need to be a little more consistent given that the college boy at the next table was wearing beat up jeans and a T-shirt hanging out of his jeans. Go figure. The food on this visit was not up to par with the last two times Jfood ate here. Jfood ordered the Turtle Soup, the Pan Seared Flounder and the bread pudding soufflé. The turtle soup was very good and much better than the one at K-Paul’s. And the service to add the sherry to the bowl was nicely performed. The wait was a little too long in Jfood's opinion between app and entrée, bordering 35 minutes, but it is NOLA, but little Jfood needed to get back to school to study. The flounder was served over a bed of onions and tomatoes, very light and delicate. Mrs. Jfood ordered the Drum over a bed of sweet potatoes and she told Jfood it was very good as well, but just did not have the zip as the last two visits. College Jfood ordered the Shrimp with black pepper in sauce and she loved it. Custos should be aware that they serve one of the shrimp with the head still attached if that is an issue for anyone. She asked Jfood to remove the head and when he cut it off he did notice that the shrimp was slightly undercooked near the head. He spied carefully as college Jfood cut hers, but they were better cooked. Then the soufflé arrived and this is still Jfood's favorite dish in NOLA. For some reason tonight’s was just a little off, maybe because it was a Sunday and the pastry chef might have had the night off, but it did not jump as much as previous soufflés Jfood has eaten there. And it seemed a little over-baked. Likewise Jfood ordered a cup of herbal tea and they had none. But overall a very good meal at Commanders once again, but there was room for improvement.

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