Our first trip to NO went well. We had a great time and had some memorable experiences making friends and seeing great musicians and even making friends with some great musicians! Food-wise I was looking for new flavors (new to me that is), especially ones that I can recreate at home or at least be inspired by. For the most part we found the food we tried was straightforward and simple which is always a plus in my book, with a few more interesting things that will keep me happy in the kitchen for a while.
The perfect meal for me would consist of each of the courses demanding my full attention to the point that if a server were to ask during a bite how everything was, I couldn’t even acknowledge their presence, much less make any kind of sound or motion (which is what actually happened at Peche while I was eating their baked drum; thankfully my wife was not similarly incapacitated and told our waitress I liked it). We did not piece together a meal like that on this trip, but enjoyed good to great dishes everywhere, a few clunkers notwithstanding. Maybe of relevance is that we are from Ft Lauderdale and have easy access to fresh-caught seafood in restaurants, markets, and the ocean. Full reviews coming later, but to summarize . . .
No question our favorite experience was the Friday lunch at Galatoire’s. I noticed there is a thread currently going over the finer (as well as the less fine) attractions of the Friday lunch, http://www.chowhound.com/post/ahhh-pl... and had to laugh at how accurate the descriptions were. I feel the faint-at-heart will be fine, but the not-so-faint-at-heart will have a blast, as we did at our nearly 5 hour lunch (on the Friday before Mardi Gras weekend). My cheeks were sore from smiling for 5 hours, and my hand was sore from all the handshakes and back-pats. As a bonus my (off menu) fish entree was exceptional.
We had some food at:
A new friend’s house (Cajun hospitality at its finest!)
The dishes which drove us to distraction were:
Butternut Squash – keeps company with the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I only had one bite! It was only the second time I saw my wife close her eyes after each bite.
Foie Gras Trio – fortunately this was able to nearly keep up with my wife’s squash or there would have been hurt feelings. The most thoughtful and delightful preparation I’ve had, ordered from savory to sweet.
Poached Pear with Corn Fritters – An extremely fine desert for me, a brilliant combination and flawless execution.
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo – miles ahead of any other gumbo I’ve tried, and I may need to write a poem about it. At first I though there were several whole cows in my bowl, but evidently that is the dark roux!? I’ll be staying busy in the kitchen trying to recreate this, and may be calling 504 for help.
Baked Drum: Unique and incredibly well balanced fish dish considering the strong flavors involved. Belated New Year’s resolution: make this dish in 2016! First I’ll have to master the Herbsaint roux, because I have a feeling some of that magic is in the mushroom sauce in this dish.
Pompano Meuniére Amandine: The pompano was not even running very large. An outstanding piece of fish and an outstanding simple preparation. (I added crawfish Yvonne, but while good, it was completely unnecessary).
Chef’s foie gras preparation: At brunch there is something called a foie gras sticky bun which to me sounds as appetizing as a fondue skewer. I asked if the chef could serve me just a piece of foie gras and what I received was a “brunch special” par excellence.
Most of the rest was good to very good, with just a few disappointments, which I'll bury in the report as I feel they were probably explicable.
The pictures are in the order listed above, the first one is a shot at Galatoire's friday lunch.
Edit: I notice this new site randomly crops photos (if I can see them at all). Yet another challange to using the new Chowhound. How is it the internet seems to be getting worse?