we dined there on a weeknite last week. when we arrived all the tables were full so we hit Pelican Club across the street for some cucumber mojitos, then returned.
boy am i glad we did.
on this warm evening we began with a cold soup, the Watermelon Ginger with Avocado and Jumbo Lump Crabmeat. this was *amazing*. this was one of the best soups ive ever had. sweet from the watermelon, tang from the ginger, cream from the avocado, and generous meaty love from the jumbo lump. it really is a special dish that i dont think i could ever have too much of.
next we had the half -order Wedge Salad: shrimp, jumbo lump crab, radishes, cucumber, hearts of palm, hearts of romaine, eggs, crumbled bacon, romano cheese and green goddess dressing. this was delicious and perfectly dressed, not too heavy not too light. more crab was a big win for me.
for an appetizer we had “The Daytripper” Crawfish Cakes - topped with crushed avocado, romesco sauce, and wasabi caviar. now, usually i find crawfish cakes pretty boring substitutes for crabcakes, often little more than breading and a few tails. Not so here. these cakes were *delectable*!! the dollops of wasabi caviar gave them a richly textured bite which was then cooled by the avocado. the effect was playful and imaginative.
next came the entrees. she had the “Spooky” Blue Corn Crepes - a crepe made with huitlacoche, a rare Aztec corn fungus, corn, mushrooms and brandy ragout, porcini salt and butter. this looked very unusual...and it was -- pleasantly unusual! we dine often, and neither of us had ever tasted anything like huitlacoche. it was earthy, rich, full of aroma. complimented well by the mushroom & porchini flavors. it appeared deceptively small, but with the butter it didnt fail to satisfy. I had the Crispy Pasta Pillows & Jumbo Lump Crabmeat
- baked angel hair with green tea vegetable broth, fried shallots and blue crab (detecting a theme!?). this was probably the least wow-inspiring dish; basically fine angel hair pasta in a wet broth with crab protein.
finally, dessert. we decided we wanted to run the full gambit, so in an usual move we opted for two desserts. i had a Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with hazelnut chocolate sauce. this was rather small and the sweet potato wasnt in as much full force as i had hoped. she had the Lemon Parfait - lemon curd layered with whipped cream, crumbled Angelo Brocato cookies & marionberry puree, frozen. definitely the better of the two; a tall, tarty icy treat.
...finally, we were sated!
througout the meal proprietor and dinner chef Chris DeBarr would make appearances at the table as he served us particular dishes, and two things became apparent: 1) His jovial, humorous and intelligent personality. 2) That his menu is a creative work born out of his personal love for the food. he experiments and thinks outside the box -- the normal, beloved creole cliches that i often welcome were not present, but at the same time the local ingredients we've come to expect were. Crab, crawfish and gulf shrimp all made their appearances, but in unusual ways that you dont often experience them. pair this with some really wild stuff that definitely isnt from the region..and to us, youve got a combo which proved wonderfully successful.
the three tenets then:
*Food* -- very good. not your standard New Olreans fare, but familar elements are included.
*Atmosphere* -- small, creative, quirky, no room to hide anything. remarkable conversion of a taco counter.
*Service* -- our waiter was on the spot, and the chef's personal touch made the evening special.
...as you can see we loved the meal. the restaurant is small, the experience intimate. we look forward to sharing more meals with Mr. DeBarr.
307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130