Restaurants & Bars

"We make everything into food here"

lintsao | Mar 29, 200401:03 PM    

I wanted to send out a thank you to the Louisiana 'hounds. Information that I gleaned from this board enhanced my visit last week not just chow-wise but also in terms of taking me to corners of the city I otherwise would not have experienced. There are some things that I would not have had any other source of information for, like a mental note I made from a post a while ago that you can get a po' boy made of the boiled brisket with that deliciously intense, sinus-clearing sauce at the bar at Tujague’s in lieu of a whole dinner. (This is huge, by the way. One person could not eat it by themselves.)

Herewith are some other random comments, starting with a list of places since this post has gotten longer than I expected: Franky and Johnny’s, Marigny Brasserie, Rose Nicaud, Southern Candymakers, Le Croissant d’Or, Feelings Café, Elizabeth’s, Brigtsen’s, Camellia Grill.

On St. Joseph’s Day I asked the proprietor of the B&B where we were staying about Altars. He told us about the Altar in the French Market with breads baked in the form of Louisiana critters: an alligator, turtle, crawfish, shrimp, etc. With a sudden inspired intensity he said “We make everything into food here. That’s why we’all so FAT!” Well I had to smile. I loved seeing the breads, and doing the Lindy there later in the evening to bands performing Louis Prima covers was a blast too.

We also visited the St. Joseph’s Day Altar in the garden of St. Louis Cathedral and were given lunch as they were distributing the food. The food was good and the ladies there were very enthusiastic about having us taste everything, this was such a treat. There were some cookies about like a walnut, full of buttery flavor and chopped pecans with a soft white sugar coating; and some thin sesame cookies in the shape of a trapezoid – wonderful! And of course we have our lucky beans now.

Other sweets we sampled were the delicious oatmeal cookies at ROSE NICAUD on Frenchmen St. They have an almost toffee-like flavor and buttery crunch. Also, on our last trip I had pralines at some place that put me off them, as they were nothing but sweet. This time we wandered into SOUTHERN CANDYMAKERS on Decatur Street and I was converted. Their pralines are rich and creamy and the nuts toasty. Yum! Their almond toffee was delicious too. I ate way too many of these!

We loved the boiled crawfish and perfectly fried soft-shelled crab at FRANKY AND JOHNNY’S. The sides were not great, and the alligator pie tasted mostly of celery, onion and pepper. I haven’t had alligator pie before so I don’t know whether it’s supposed to be like that, but the aromatic vegetables really overpowered the flavor of the meat. Still it was such a great place to go for boiled crawfish, we were so happy eating there.

We ended up one night eating at MARIGNY BRASSERIE which was not great. I had pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes that was just bland. Had a grilled porkchop sandwich sold off the back of a truck at the Super Sunday Mardi Gras Indians parade the next day that beat the pants off that tenderloin.

Our favorite breakfast place was LE CROISSANT D’OR. They have delicious brioche, a quiet atmosphere, a peaceful courtyard and a nattily dressed and bead-festooned version of Brussels’ Mannekin Pis.

The lovely courtyard at FEELINGS CAFE was a romantic place for a cocktail on a warm Saturday evening. We actually had it entirely to ourselves for the better part of an hour, just marvelous! And another place I probably would not have found without chowhound.

I’d made a mental note some months back about praline bacon at ELIZABETH’S. I really think that could be good if a balance of sweet/salt/smoke were attained, but unfortunately at Elizabeth’s it is not. It was bacon cooked and served at room temperature (fat congealed), with a thick layer of candy on it. Pretty yucky. But again, this was part of the city I probably would not have visited except for chowhounding which made it worthwhile. Interesting walking back – it’s something like NYC’s Red Hook (or at least like Red Hook a few years ago), a mix of derelict waterfront industry, artists’ enterprises and really threatening dogs which were obviously there for a reason.

We could afford one fancy dinner and went to BRIGTSEN’S. Unfortunately I found it somewhat disappointing. Butternut and shrimp bisque to start was excellent. Then I got the seafood plate. What seemed good on the menu turned out to be too much on the plate – too many little things, few of which were memorable. There were two oyster preparations and a ramekin of crawfish which were Eh. The only really delicious thing were three barbecued shrimp on top of a piece of sheepshead. The sheepshead was a bit overcooked but the shrimp were great (how I wished for a whole plate of those!). There was something else but I just don’t remember which says something. The bread pudding was a very homogenous scoop of stuff (I guess my taste in bread pudding runs to a rougher texture) with some sautéed banana slices and caramel drizzled through a crème à l’anglaise sauce. The bananas had a strong flavor of nutmeg that was cloying and the light caramel dittoed that effect. It really needed something darker, like darkly caramelized sweet plaintain slices or something like that.

Also in Riverbend we went to CAMELLIA GRILL on our way to see some music. I don’t get what people see in it – to me a great local diner has something local. Like, a Polish diner will have grilled kielbasa or a diner in New England will have clam rolls. Greasy cheeseburgers are universal but I didn’t find these ones to be good. Chacun à son goût I guess.

I left many stones unturned which will have to wait for the next trip: I would have loved to go to for tapas on the terrace at Marisol but our path didn’t go that way before the weather cooled off. I was interested in Restaurant Mandich and Mandina’s, but depending on city buses I didn’t want my husband to feel dragged around too much in the name of chowhounding (he’s very game – he was picking at his lucky bean saying “do I peel this to eat it?” – but there are limits). So I have something to look forward to next time! Thanks again.

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