So I'm back from my trip down to NOLA. As always, it was a great time and I already miss being there. I had asked for some tips about where to eat before, and as a way of giving back, I figured I'd write up a quick recap.
Mother's: Went here for breakfast. Everyone I went with loved it. I went with the simple eggs, grits and ham. We don't get a lot of grits in Boston (I love grits) so it was a treat for me. Others got the crawfish etouffee, sausage, etc. All of it was really good. Good solid breakfast.
Franky & Johnny's: Went here for the crawfish boil. Also got the shrimp, and seafood platter. Someone mentioned to me on the flight over, that this year's crawfish season isn't going so well. They seemed a little softer than I remembered for this time of year. This was fine since I've had some crawfish at the later part of the season, and that's always a little painful with their hard shells. We also had the boiled shrimp. One of my companions wasn't thrilled the shrimp were cold. All agreed they were tasty. Another companion liked the horseradish that came with it. So did I. Something to keep in mind the next time I serve up some shrimp.
Jazz Fest Fairgrounds: tried to hit up a bunch of different places. The two that stood out for taste were the Cochon de Lait Po-boys and the Soft Shell Crab Po-boys. I thought the Cochon de Lait was a nice pulled pork, but the mustard coleslaw under it was really good. The Soft Shell Crabs were really good too. I got them a couple of times at various times of the day. It seemed like later on the day, they were just trying to get rid of them and doubled up. This was a nice bonus because our dinner reservations were late (9:30).
It was nice to have the crawfish etouffee again at the fairgrounds. It was where my love of crawfish began. Also had the Cracklings. Yummy, but it was a little hard for some to get past at how unhealthy they probably are. For drinks I mostly concentrated on the various flavored iced teas and strawberry lemonade. Do they use freeze dried strawberries in the lemonade? They sorta had that texture. It's a nice garnish for a lemonade, but I think I'll use the regular strawberries in mine. ;)
Dante's Kitchen: Hands down the favorite restaurant by all. We had dinner here on Friday. Liked it so much we went back on Sunday for brunch. We had the patio seating on Friday. The only complaint I had the whole night was that it was a touch dark and made reading the menus difficult. For food, we had the shrimp and grits (more grits for me whooo!), diver scallops, mussels provencal, roasted duck, blueberry cake, and some strawberry dessert with creole cream cheese gelato (sorbet?).
The shrimp and grits were awesome. The sauce that came with it converted a few to grits lovers. The shrimp themselves were grilled to perfection. The diver scallops were huge. A little too big for one of the diners, but they were nice and tender. The beluga lentils and fennel citrus salad were a nice touch. The duck may have been the weakest component to the night. They were still delicious, but I didn't care for the sauce too much. The rest were really good too. Although it was probably a good thing to be in the dark with the blueberry cake. It's just a little odd to see such a dark blue cake.
Also had a pitcher of their punch(?). It was made with cucumbers, strawberries, prosseco, and some other alcohol. I forget the name of it.
Brunch was really good as well. Had the shrimp and grits again, but had some of the bread pudding french toast. It's an awesome idea! It's a dessert dressed up as a regular meal. AWESOME!
Cochon: I feel like I was a little disappointed with it, probably because my expectations were so high. The best dish was the oyster appetizer. I had the ribs appetizer which was sweet and tangy, cooked perfectly. I also had the signature cochon entree. This is probably were I was disappointed. It was basically pulled pork formed up nicely on top of some really good veggies with a piece of crackling on top. The crackling was definitely better than the fairgrounds, but I didn't feel like the cochon/pulled pork was anything special. Had the upside down pineapple cake for dessert which was very good.
Emeril's: Food wise, probably not as good as Cochon, but the expectations were much lower too. I knew Emeril wasn't going to be in the kitchen yelling Bam! Had been here the last time I was here in NOLA (pre-Katrina). I had the BBQ Shrimp appetizer, pork chop entree, and peanut butter pie for dessert. The shrimp were cooked very well and had a nice taste to them. The pork chop was huge! Seriously, Barry Bonds' steroids huge. Unfortunately it lacked flavor. I wasn't a real fan of the sauce on top of it. I asked for it to be medium, but it tasted a little dry to me. I would guess that something that thick would be hard to cook up evenly without having it go dry. Personally, I feel like I can make a better pork chop. The peanut butter pie was good, but nothing to really write home about. Oh, we also had probably the worst seats in the restaurant (right behind the host/hostess stand). One benefit was that one of the diners was able to watch the news about bin Laden. Also, service seemed a little off, and they seemed a little scatter brained (we weren't given an menus when seated, changing of plates when nothing was on the plate, and staff reaching over patrons to serve other patrons). This maybe the Jazz Fest effect on service staff though.
That's basically about it. All in all a wonderful trip down to NOLA. It really is a wonderful place and I'll definitely be down there again.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130
800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130
736 Dante Street, New Orleans, LA 70118
Franky & Johnny's Restaurant
321 Arabella St, New Orleans, LA 70115