So yesterday was my birthday, and what I wanted to do more than anything was go to Stella!. I made our reservation weeks ago, and couldn't wait!
The verdict: Good, but not as good as it could be due to some jarring missteps.
We got there a little before our reservation time of 8:30 and were directed to the bar, as our table wasn't ready yet. After much dithering over their excellent looking cocktail menu (and getting called out by the bartender as being cocktail nerds) I settled on a Bijou, since I'd never had it before. It had gin, chartreuse, and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. Since I love Carpano Antica, I was pleased to find that the Bijou really highlighted the vermouth flavor - it was a very enjoyable cocktail.
We started with an amuse of 4 different summer vegetable/fruit salads: cherry tomato with scallion & olive oil; red pepper and cucumber with sesame oil; radish and cucumber with some sort of vinaigrette, and a watermelon "kimchee." Very nice.
For appetizers, Tom had the "Roasted Potato and Parmesan Gnocchi with Fennel Fronds, Grilled Corn, Asparagus, Scallions, Lemon Zest and Tomato Confit" which I didn't get a picture of, but he liked it. According to him, it was good, but not mind-blowing. I had the "Foie Gras ”BLT” with Duck Paté, Truffle Mayo, Plaquemines Figs and Australian Black Winter Truffles" which was, as our waiter said, LIFE CHANGING. Highly recommended.
I decided to have a salad course, although Tom declined. But how could one resist a salad course described thusly: "Soup, Salad and Sandwich ~ Iberico Bellota Ham Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Truffle Potato Puree, Arugula Salad with Baby Beets and Balsamic Reduction"? The grilled cheese sandwich was divine, the soup and the beets were really delicious, and the arugula salad was... oversalted to the point of inedibility. I didn't make a fuss, because everything else was so good, though I did mention it (in an understated fashion) to the waiter when he cleared our plates (with the arugula still on mine), but it was really the thing that Tom remembered the most from the entire meal, which is really, really unfortunate. Because in a town like New Orleans, where there are so many wonderful choices, something like that will impact our dining decisions in the future.
Entrees: I had the famous Duck Five Ways: "Duck Five Ways ~ Szechwan Seared Breast, Lacquered Leg and Thigh, Moo Shoo Pancake Stir-Fry, Duck Miso Broth, Crisp Foie Gras Won Tons and Currant Cassis Reduction " The laquered leg and thigh was excellent- my favorite of the five. The soup, breast, and wontons were also really good. I didn't love the Moo Shoo pancake thing though. It was awkward to eat and didn't really add anything flavor-wise to the overall dish.
Tom had the "Tandoori Roasted Tasmanian King Salmon and Coconut Shrimp Basmati Fried Rice with Crisp Vegetable Spring Rolls, Indian Flatbread and Spicy Mango Cashew Butter" which sounded Indian in flavor profile but was actually more Chinese in execution. He did not love the salmon. I had a bite, and the texture was off-putting to me (very... wet.), but then again, I'm not a huge salmon fan. Tom finished his, and he really liked the fried rice and spring rolls, though. Also the bok choi. According to him, the salmon was very weak. The fish itself was bland and the rest of the dish, while tasty, was basically American-Chinese food. The flavor profile definitely differed from what he was expecting from the menu description which, again, unfortunate, because while I loved my food, it's not looking good that I'll be able to tempt Tom into coming back to try again and drop another $250-$300 in doing so.
For dessert, we had the Plaquemines Parish peaches with lemon verbana semifreddo, raspberry "caviar," local honey, and some sort of almond "paper." They brought out the dish with a birthday sparkler which was very sweet of them. The peaches were divine. I loved this dessert. After that, I sipped on a cappuccino and enjoyed the lagniappe mignardise: strawberry marshmallow, ginger chocolate truffle, meyer lemon mousse in dark chocolate cup, pistachio puff , and a salted caramel/nut/toffee thing. Mmm.
Service- top notch. Cocktails, beers, non-alcoholic beverages, wines by the glass- excellent. I want to go back and do the tasting menu, but don't know if I'll be able to talk Tom into it...
1032 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116