We just got back from NOLA for French Quarter Festival Weekend and had one wonderful culinary experience after another…We were a group of 8 from NYC and ate our way from one side of NO to the other.
Port of Call – Wonderful cheeseburgers, chargrilled that you can smell from outside, drinks are killer and considering it’s dive the wine list though very limited isn’t as bad as I thought (ok my standard here was boxed wine or jug wine and they had Blackstone)…and those loaded baked potatoes are simply decadent…only downside the bacon bits on the potato were imitation (not good).
Emeril Delmonico – elegant space, cute bar area with ½ price drinks from 5-7 during the week and good small plates. Pork cheek was to die for, very tender but crisp at the same time…just great. Risotto was mediocre at best, too hard (risotto shouldn’t be al dente) and not that flavorful, disappointing. Delmonico was very good, however, we live in NYC right near Jakes Steakhouse and their Cowboy Ribeye runs circles around Delmonico’s. Service generally good…but one waiter was inappropriate with one of ladies at the table and made a huge deal about her finishing her food and shined a mini flashlight on her plate. Not cool, not done to me, but not cool and I would’ve asked to see a mgr. Won’t go back, but if you have to do an Emeril spot it’s hand over foot better than NOLA’s both in food, service and class.
FQ festival – Booth food was just that – but the shrimp and grits helped soak future alcohol and the crawfish booth at the Franklin mint had super fresh crawfish and was a great bargain. The Vietnamese spring rolls were wonderful from Amy’s Vietnamese.
Dinner at Cochon – AMAZING, in so many levels. The food there always brings someone back to their childhood, last time the rabbit and dumplings brought tears to my eyes (much to my mother’s delight) because the dish gave me a flash back to when I was a child and ate my mom’s chicken and dumplings. This time my father had a flash back of his mom’s dinner rolls. The food was great, from appetizer to dessert (the lane cake tasted homemade). Cochon just really brings me to a place of extreme comfort that I’ve never gotten before (or after) from a restaurant.
Btw, we went to Butcher the next day. Despite what some Hounders say on the Cochon Butcher post, the sandwiches are big enough and the meats are AMAZING, I took 3 types of blood sausage home with me. And the butchers are LOVELY and kept bringing my mother and I free samples of all kinds of cured meats! Wine list is very innovative in butcher as well (not a large list but obscure).
Bayona Lunch was the best overall meal I’ve ever had in NOLA. The price can’t be beat $25 for a 3 course meal on a Saturday???? We had 4 lunch dishes a cheese course and a chocolate mango bomb that made me want to lick the plate. The entire meal was incredible and we can’t wait to come back to NOLA to go to dinner there (and lunch again). Susan Spicer is truly my heroine.
Dinner at August – well Besh doesn’t disappoint. The Amuse was so innovative and wasn’t over “truffled” though there was a hint of truffle. My appetizer of the heirloom beet salad with crab was in a word…perfect, and my mother (who isn’t a huge pasta fan) was swooning over her crawfish with pasta, and our friend couldn’t praise the oyster 3 ways enough. Main courses were good, not amazing but good. Perfectly executed rabbit, duck, and baby sheep…but no wow factor; not innovative or original or even a cut above. Just good, really I was disappointed considering the price and the hype around anything Besh, I could’ve gotten just as good rabbit at any decent restaurant. But he made it up with my dessert. The napoleon was amazing, the texture, flavor and presentation were SPOT on and oh so original…the other desserts (rum cake and chocolate trio) had dry cakes but the flavor was great…not our best meal but certainly not our worst.
Lunch on Sunday at La Pinache (we stayed in the Marginy) – good neighborhood spot with good red beans and rice and fried oysters, beats the prices and lines for places of that sort in the FQ…so good if you are around there, if not I wouldn’t haul over to get it.
Dinner at LOLA – So good, so casual, so perfect for a laid back night, BYOB with a $5 corkage! Fiduea was so flavorful…that garlic packed such a punch. The cheese plate took me back to Barcelona. Really such a nice find, I’d go back in a heartbeat. It’s no Casa Mono or Boqueria but it doesn’t need to be. Really simple very very well prepared food.
One last note, I didn’t go but all of the guys in our party went to Elizabeth’s for breakfast one morning and said it was worth the wait…they also made the “mistake” of going to Mothers another morning and said they wouldn’t repeat that experience or the wait there.