Thanks to all the NOLA chowhounds for their recos and advice. Thought it proper to report back on the trip to bring little jfood to college.
Nola (Emeril’s FQ establishment):
Our first night in NOLA was reserved for a resto that could offer flexibility in the reso in case the flight was delayed. NOLA seemed like a good choice.
Staff - The staff at Nola were delightful. The server was from the lower Ninth Ward and explained his adventures during Katrina. He was also very conversant in all the dishes and was very capable of describing the dish as well as give personal impressions. The table is staffed with a group of three and they are always available for replenishing water, bread and the senior server knew every dish inside and out. At first we were a little skeptical because they were so young, but they were fantastic. The restaurant décor is also quite nice, more a bistro feel. It also has an open kitchen on the first floor and jfood had a bird’s-eye view of the staff going through their rounds. After watching Hell’s Kitchen for the past several months it was interesting to see one in action in real time.
Food - The food was “very good” but jfood cannot give it a great. The highlight of the meal is the bread (both a nice and a sad statement). The choice of cornbread (with a little spice included, a baguette (very good) or a seasoned roll (outstanding) almost caused us to eat too much of the bread. Jfood started with the “NOLA Caesar of Baby Green & Red Romaine Lettuces with Focaccia Croutons, Shaved Reggiano Parmesan and Dijon Anchovy Vinaigrette”. It was a decent size, not too small or large. The chef used romaine plus baby greens, which jfood liked, some focaccia croutons that were a nice touch and parmesan with Dijon anchovy vinaigrette. Jfood likes a heavily dressed salad and this definitely was heavily dressed, in fact too heavily dressed, almost soppy. Likewise the parmesan (grated not shaved) was heavily applied. These last two aspects took away from the dish. Jfood gives the salad a 5.
For an entrée jfood ordered the “Garlic Crusted Texas Redfish Cooked in the Wood Burning Oven with Brabant Potatoes, Wild Mushrooms, Bacon and Sauce Beurre Rouge” and Mrs Jfood & little jfood each ordered the “Shrimp & Grits" Sautéed Gulf Shrimp, Grilled Green Onions, Smoked Cheddar Grits, Apple Smoked Bacon, Crimini Mushrooms, Creole Tomato Glaze and Red Chili-Abita Butter Sauce”. Although the fish was cooked perfectly, the side dish of potatoes and mushrooms was too heavily salted. Jfood can rate this dish a 6. The shrimp and grits was also very good but not great, and once again the chef was very heavy handed at the last stop of plating (the BAM is a TV thing and should be kept to a minimum in the resto). Jfood will be generous in rating this dish with a 6. For dessert the jfoods split a “NOLA Banana Pudding Layer Cake with a Graham Cracker Crust, Homemade Vanilla Wafers and a Warm Fudge Drizzle” and a “NOLA Buzz Bomb: Flourless Chocolate Torte with Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse and Brandied Apricots wrapped in Chocolate Ganache”. The cake was OK and Jfood would rate this a 6 and the Torte was disappointing and they forgot to include the chocolate covered apricots. Jfood can only rate this a 4. The jfoods will not have this resto on the “return to” list.
Overall; Food = 6; Service = 9; Surroundings = 7.