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Restaurants & Bars

A Local's Weekend of Eating

James | Mar 20, 200508:03 PM

A foodie friend of mine was visiting from NYC this weekend and I used the opportunity to visit many of the restaurants I love. I've been to all these places before, but thought I'd tell you about my most recent experiences . . .

Thursday night -- Port of Call -- Got there around 5pm . . . had to wait about 30 minutues (not bad). What can I say? I'm partial to this place b/c I live so close. The burgers are big, but extremely well cooked and dressed. Very generous with the mushrooms. And spring for the Mansoon . . . it's worth the $8. Service was friendly but not annoying. I wouldn't wait three hours to eat here and it's nothing more than a hamburger joint . . . but I still believe it's the best of its kind and a New Orleans institution.

Friday morning -- Elizabeth's -- No wait. Was greeted by Heidi and told to sit anywhere we wanted. The service was very informal but also extremely friendly. We were treated liked guests and I really appreciate that. My friend had the eggs and grits with fried catfish strips. I wanted to try one but they were gone before I could ask. I had the smothered pork chop with gravy, a biscuit, grits and scrambled eggs. A true Southern breakfast that I devoured. We also split an order of the famous praline bacon. I wish the slices were a bit bigger but they tasted even better than I expected. Not overly sweet and retaining the smoky flavor of the bacon. Best breakfast I've eaten in New Orleans. Only caveat: I wish the menu was just a tad longer. Not too many choices. With the amazing things Heidi and co. have done to breakfast I'd like to see them experiment even more.

Friday night -- Dick & Jenny's -- Arrived at 5:45 and was greeted with an apologetic decree that there was already an hour wait. No problem b/c the waiting room is so beautiful. I would honestly be disappointed if we didn't have a small wait. Ordered some wine and even served some complimentary oysters. Classy. Seated about 45 minutes later in the charming dining room. Service was unobtrusive but always around when we needed them. The food here was magical out-of-this-world! There was a time when our conversation completely subsided as we couldn't take our minds off the food in front of us. We started with the crawfish cheesecake with a side of fried crab claws. For an entree I ordered the lamb chops on a bed of cabbage wrapped in sweetbreads. Just perfect. My friend had the short ribs marinated in abita beer over some sort of white bean mixture. She said this was the best thing she ate the whole trip. We finished up with some delicious port and ice wine. A truly stunning meal in a lively but romantic atmosphere.

Saturday night -- Jacques-Imo's -- Now I know some people have a bone to pick with this place. And to a certain extent I agree with it. It's obviously not authentic New Orleans cuisine. But I have to admit, the food is fun, original, and delicious. We had a terrific time. Arrived just as they opened and were alerted it would be a 45 minute wait. Sat at the bar and had some beers and enjoyed the local color of this place. Seated exactly 45 minutes later. Our service was the best of the trip. And I'm not saying this just b/c she payed for dessert. Though it certainly helped. I started with the oyster and artichoke cakes. Very rich but wonderful. I almost licked the plate. My friend had the duck and sausage gumbo. Hands down the best gumbo I've tasted since I arrived in New Orleans (and I am a huge fan of Herbsain't version). For entrees she ordered the seafood bouillabaisse which looked terrific. I ordered the smothered rabbit, but they were out of it so I got the reccomended paneed rabit instead. I wasn't confident of this substitution, but quickly changed my mind when it was set down in front of me. Perfectly pounded and fried. I never had such yummy tasting rabbit. Served over a sort of pesto macaroni mixed with oysters. Yummy Yummy! For dessert we had some bread pudding which was tasty but forgettable but also free so I'm not going to complain.

All in all not a bad apple in the lot. My friend was very impressed, as was I. New Orleans truly has the best restaurant scene in the country!

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