While in New Orleans Oct. 15-20, my friend and I had two really incredible meals, two great meals, and a few others that varied from good to "real clunkers".
The incredible meals were at Gabrielle and the Upperline. My friend and I went to Gabrielle for their prix fixe Friday lunch. Three courses for $16.95 (what a deal!!) I started with a green salad with pears and cheddar cheese and a satsuma vinaigrette. My friend had a cup of creamy oyster, fennel and mushroom soup. Both were wonderful. For an entree I had rabbit with smothered greens, pink-eyed peas and okra. It came with a delicious rich demi-glace sauce. Incredibly flavorful. He had poached halibut with crab fingers and a fontina encrusted potato cake. Also delicious. For dessert I had an incredible satsuma pudding cake (which was light as a souffle and very subtley orangy in flavor) served with a pecan lace cookie. Delicious!! My friend had caramel ice-cream, which was the only part of our meal that was just okay.
We went to the Upperline for my birthday dinner. And what a dinner it was! I had the "early fall" prix fixe dinner ($28.) I chose a cup of duck and andouille gumbo to start with. So rich and flavorful!! For an entree I had duck confit with greens and white beans. Scrumptious! It also came with a sweet potato and smoked bacon calla, which was perfectly made- crispy on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside. For dessert, because I was just so full of wonderful rich food, I had mango sorbet. Very nice. My friend had the "Taste of New Orleans" prix fixe dinner ($36.) This was a seven course tasting menu. It included the same gumbo I had, turtle soup, duck etouffe on corncakes, spicy shrimp on cornbread, fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, and orange glazed duck with spiced peach sauce. For dessert, bread pudding with caramel sauce. He said everything was outstanding, except for the duck etouffe, which somehow fell a little short.
We had great meals at Uglesich's and Cafe Atchafalaya. Despite what I've read here recently about Uglesich's, I would still heartily recommend eating there. Yes, it's a small dumpy neighborhood joint. But that's part of its charm. The food we had there was great! For appetizers we had bacon wrapped shrimp with a sweet potato "souffle" (more like whipped sweet potatoes with lots of brown sugar- but still delicious and a wonderful complement to the salty bacon/shrimp) and deep fried blue cheese oysters. For entrees, barbequed oysters (lots of olive oil and garlic- yum!!) and "Paul's Ecstacy"- fried trout with sauteed shrimp and potatoes and delicious homemade tartar sauce. At Cafe Atchafalaya we had more trout. My pal had Trout Pontchartrain- grilled trout topped with a fried softshell crab and meuniere sauce. I had Trout Caribe- grilled trout with sauteed shrimp and lemon buerre blanc. Mine came with a side of baked tomatoes and a dish of beans with some kind of fresh herb. Unfortunately, I don't remember what accompanied the other trout dish. We also shared bread pudding for dessert, which was good, but not as good as the Upperline's!
The rest of our meals were good to middlin'. We went to Elizabeth's for brunch. As much as I was prepared to love this place, I have to say I was a tad bit disappointed. We ended up getting three of the appetizers and one basic eggs/potatoes/bacon platter. We got baked goat cheese stuffed tomatoes (which were very good), an oyster cornbread stuffed mirliton (which my friend liked better than I did) and callas, which were doughy and pasty in the middle. We did get the praline bacon- bacon topped with brown sugar and pecans. Talk about gilding the lily!! I would still recommend going there, but you might want to stick more to the specials. We also ate at Dunbar's. It was solidly decent soul food (and LOTS of it). We had fried chicken- which I liked a lot- red beans and rice, cornbread, salad and a side of greens (which, unfortunately, had a very strong scorched flavor.)
One late morning we went to Surrey's, thinking we would try the muffalettas there (on a recommendation from someone on this board.) We were surprised to find that they served only a vegetarian version with grilled eggplant. My friend got this and thought it was decent. I got a breakfast special- puff pastry topped with a decadently creamy brie sauce, flaked crab meat and asparagus! Delicious!!
I had a clunker of a lunch at Joey K's. I ordered the Jambalaya because it was on the specials menu. It was awful! It hadn't been made fresh that day- I could tell it had been microwaved because it was scorchingly hot in some spots and lukewarm in others. It was swimming in oil, had teeny little shrimp and a few chunks of andouille in it and was basically just icky. My friend had an oyster po' boy which was decent. We also shared a salad of lettuce (iceberg- who uses iceberg anymore??) and steamed veggies. The salad dressing was good however- a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette. We also ate dinner one night at Shiro's, a place that was conveniently near our B&B. I had grilled catfish and he had seafood etouffe, which to me was a whole lotta tasteless brown gravy with not much in it. It was cheap and the food was passable in a Perkin's kind of way (we had nice green salads, too), but I'd never go back there. Oh well, live and learn.
Oh yes. And we did get a Central Grocery muffaletta for the ride home. I'm one of the people that thinks the olive salad overpowers everything else. Too salty!
All in all, a wonderful trip full of great food!! I can't wait to come back and try all the other places on my list.