Tips from Chowhound as well as others were very useful in planning our eating ventures for the 4 days we were in N.O. First night, Acme Oyster House, where my partner, who doesn't fancy oysters much, was battling me for them and we settled that by ordering another dozen. So fresh. Definitely great with Abita Amber beer. Also very tasty were the fried shrimp, served sushi style. I also had the Cajun sampler, which consisted of red beans and rice with andouille sausage, gumbo, and jumbalaya. The jumbalaya was a bit salty. The bread pudding was fantastic. No complaints about the bill either, which came in at under $40 for all that, including a couple of beers.
The following morning, we walked over to Cafe du Monde, where the beignets and au lait were better than I remembered. We can't get food like this in L.A. at all, so we were easy to please, but the beignets were wonderful. Even though the Quarter is pretty dead in mid-January, the major advantage to chowhounds is NO LINES ANYWHERE, particularly during the week. We walked into du MOnde and sat down.
For reasons not relevant to this post, we "wasted" a lunch opportunity at the River Cafe, just down Decatur street. I had decent gumbo, but the shrimp poboy was indifferent at best.
However, dinner at Stella! that night was fantastic. Stella! was recommended to us by an N.O. native who has 2 family members with hotels and B&Bs in N.O. Apparently, it is not well known yet by out-of-towners, but it will be.
The menu is what? Nouvelle Cajun-Creole Asian? Here's what we had: to start, parmesan gnocchi with Maine Lobster, Edamame, White Truffle OIl and Shellfish Cognac Cream. Yes, lots of flavors, but so subtle that each tasted on its own as well as in concert with the others. I had the Risotto with pancetta, three types of mushrooms (King Imperial, Abalone, and Oyster), green onions, and brie. Utterly fantastic. The daily soup, which I didn't try, sounded remarkable: smoked wood pheasant and andouille sausage gumbo. Entrees we ate were: Lobster scented red fish with Mediterranean pearl pasta, Kalamat Olive Tapanade and Saffron Butter. Again, flavors you'd think could be a disaster, but not when in the hands of this master chef, Scott Boswell. We got a whole little history on the red fish from our very capable and amiable young server. We also had Marinated and then seared Breast of Moullard Duck with Foie Gras Won Tons, Mooshu Pancake Stir Fry and Currant Cassis reduction. We had glasses of Morgan Pinot Noir with the duck and Hanna Sauvignon Blanc with the fish. There is an excellent wine list. Luckily, the kitchen waits long enough between courses for one to have room for dessert (we're petite chowhounds). And we had two of those, as well: Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake with warm chocolate ganach, toasted hazelnuts and white chocolate ice cream, and a trio of sorbets, which I believe were pear, louisiana blackberry and mango. Every bite of every dish was heaven. I cannot recommend this place enough. Even the salads that went by smelled heavenly.
Next day, breakfast at Mother's--eggs and debris and ham and biscuits--and grits!! Very filling--the ham is excellent, the breakfast was very pleasant. I just needed to be filled up for my trip to the Museum that day. Great bus ride up the Esplanade, passing by Gabrielle's (where we did not eat, but will next time.)
If you're in town before the end of February, the Egyptian art exhibit is a wonderful side trip between meals.
After several hours at the museum, the old craving returned -- for oysters from Acme! So back I went, taking a stool at the bar, where I ate 2 dozen, along with a large plate of red beans, rice and sausage and a couple of Abita Ambers. Again, NO WAIT at this place where the line I hear, can stretch around the corner. The counter is a very congenial spot -- our oyster man was able to slash the oysters, converse with patrons, and flirt with every single female that passed by his large window. This guy could multitask.
The evening's dinner at Lemongrass was a disappointment. We've had much better ASian fusion food in our own city, at places much less heralded than this one. And I didn't like the faux funky atmosphere, either.
Next day, I was on my own again, piled into some beignets for breakfast (it was Saturday so this time there was a mild wait), and picked up several Muffalettas at Central Grocery to share with friends for lunch. Each of these things is the size of a medium small pizza. I could only down a quarter of it, but it was good...
That night, a large group (7) of us went to Jacques-Imo's, way uptown. I had made a reservation before we got to N.O., which is key. ONly thing is, they won't make reservations for parties less than 5. But they were ready for us at 6:45 PM, our appointed time. This place is a lot of fun, as well as serving wonderful food (he's opening a place in NY, by the way!) The oyster bisque was superb, and I could have had several bowls. IT was served in a small sourdough bread bowl. Fried oysters were wonderful. I ordered crawfish etouffee--they brought me shrimp instead, but I ate it anyway and it was very good. Most of our table ordered blackened redfish and the plates were literally scraped clean. By the time we left, the wait to eat was at least 2 hours, so I highly recommend taking some friends ( or making some ) and making a reservation!
Sunday was our last day in N.O. We actually sort of skipped breakfast to go shopping on Magazine street. By noon we were starving, and taxied to the Quarter, where we ordered several pounds of boiled crawfish at the French Market Restaurant. Be careful, as this is across Decatur street from the FRench Market Cafe, which is on the river, and has the band. don't go there. Go to the French Market Restaurant across the street, sit outside upstairs, and you'll get the benefit of excellent food, atmosphere and the music from the mediocre place across the street! Their crab cakes were as good as any I've had, and I've had lots. Needless to say I could have eaten more than 4 pounds of crawfish, but we had to fly home to L.A.
What a great place to eat!!!!!
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