Just got back from a fabulous 4 days in the Crescent City. Many memorable meals, and 1 disgusting one!
First...the bad news: AVOID MULATE's LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
What a horrible ripoff tourist trap. I had heard the name...saw a nice writeup in a restaurant mag and it was in walking distance from our B&B. I shoulda known something wasn't right when they gave me a beeper for our 30 minute wait. We were actually seated much quicker, but that only meant that misery was that much sooner to come.
We ordered fried crawfish tails, shrimp remolaude, oyster/shrimp/bacon brochettes and a salad.
First problem was when my wife put a shrimp in her mouth. It was rotten...and they are only 50 feet from the Mississippi for chrissakes! While they did replace the dish the shrimp were woefully over cooked...remoulade was decent. The crawfish were also overcooked and cold to boot. We had the waitress take them back and remove them from the bill. The salad was OK with remoulade on it, but somebody needs to train their kitchen staff how to properly wash and drain greens...a nice puddle of water in the bottom of the bowl by the time we were halfway through.
Only the brochettes and drinks were worth a damn. Our tab came to $50...a total waste of time and money...I was extremely pissed having "wasted" a meal in NO....it was made worse in that we walked past Emeril's both to and from...gotta get there next trip!
Despite our complaints the restaurant merely offered a free dessert...given the abysmal quality of the other dishes on the table we declined. Ripping them to shreds on the web will be far more satisfying!
Now on to the good stuff: MOTHER's is AWESOME!
Also within walking distance, we arrived early for lunch. Service and ordering is enigmatic, but the food makes up for any lack of efficiency. Their specialty sandwich is the Ferdi (called a Ralph when you add cheese). A totally killer Poboy with roast beef, baked ham and debris gravy (more like shredded beef stew). Simply dressed with cabbage, mayo and both Creole and yellow mustards...served on excellent bread. Add some of their homemade pepper sauce (more piquant than spicy) and you have a MAJOR YUM!
We returned for another lunch with my bro-in-law who moved to NO a couple of years ago. He had never been to Mother's and was pissed that we had found such a killer place that he didn't know about. I had a Ralph this time...the wife had a shrimp Poboy. We also had gumbo and red beans and rice, both extraordinarily good. BTW...their Bloody Mary's rock too.
The handyman at our B&B told us about their ham trimmings. They advertise that they have the best baked ham and it is no brag. Every morning they sell off the trimmings for 55 cents a bag, including tax! Because they slowcook the ham most of the fat burns off, so you are getting mostly meat...everything they trim off so the hams will fit in their slicer. We got the last 4 bags...close to 7 pounds of killer baked ham...for a couple of bucks!
We had hoped to return to pick up a couple of Ferdi's for the flights home, but the line out the door was way too long...we'll know better next time and get the sandwiches the same time we get our ham trimmings.
We paid a second visit to BRIGTSEN's, after our first impressive meal last November. This was a favorite place of a dear departed friend of mine...easy to see why as both our meals were killer.
We started with a fried catfish appetizer, served on a bed of jalapeño cheese grits with sauce piquante, black bean salsa and avocado sour cream. A wonderful progression of flavors and textures.
We then split their Italian salad...greens with ricotta salata, olive salad and a lovely balsamic vinaigrette. Very nice, but I prefer the house salad.
My wife went for the veal, prepared with aspargus, shiitakes and oysters in a lemon garlic butter sauce. Superb!
I opted for the seafood platter, an ever-changing assortment of marvelously prepared seafoods. My wife had it on our first visit and was quite pleased...my version would be no different. The plate offered a grilled drum filet with shrimp in a smoked paprika sauce, a couple of different baked oyster prepartions, sea scallops cooked perfectly in a ginger/red peppercorn sauce and an absolutely killer crawfish gratin. The tails were cooked perfectly (unlike the disgusting Mulate's) and the gratin tasted totally of the swamp.
For dessert my wife's trio of sorbets proved to be wonderfully refreshing, especially the Dreamsicle...a perfect rendition. I had to try the Cafe Au Lait Creme Brulee, one of their specialties. It was really nice...nowhere close to my favorite (at La Frite in Studio City, CA) but a killer rendition nonetheless.
Other meals were at the hidden jewel known as Begue's in the Royal Sonesta hotel. Normally I would not be caught dead in a hotel dining room...and wouldn't usually think of one in New Orleans. But Begue's is quite special. The room itself is gorgeous, and because there is no street access it is never crowded...perfect for a quiet meal.
We arrived on Sunday March 17 and there was a special St Patrick's Day menu. We had just come from a family event in Houston with a sendoff brunch, so we were not looking for a full meal. We started off with a plate of mussels, perfectly prepared with a caper/garlic mayo. In the center of the plate was a chiffonade of sorrel with a yummy garlic foam...a perfect foil for the richness of the mussels.
The special soup was a Potato Buttermilk Chowder with Applewood smoked bacon. It was so good we scooped up every last drop with their homemade Irish soda bread.
We had to go back for larger meal, so the very next night we were back again. We started with Oyster Begue's, one of the best baked oyster presentations I've ever had. They are breaded in a spicy cornmeal blend, served on a bed of creamy leek confit, topped with a slice of Parmagiana Reggiano. KILLER!
On to the soups...we had to have more of the Potato Buttermilk mentioned above, as well as their tomato soup with tasso and creme fraiche. Both were awesome...we had to fight each other for last drops of both.
Knowing that their portions are quite generous we chose to split an entree...a lovely bowtie pasta with shimp, asparagus, shiitakes, red onions and a garlic cream sauce. FABOO!
Our last meal before flying out was a lunch with an industry friend of mine in Metairie. He had us meet him at Drago's, known for the specialty of charcoal broiled oysters. The restaurant owns their own oyster beds, and according to my buddy they are the best in town. He went for a dozen raw while we had the charcoal broiled jobs. They are prepared with garlic butter, lemon juice, parsley and a dusting of parmesan...grilled over charcoal until they are perfectly done...the smell alone is intoxicating, but wait until you taste them!
I also had a lovely spinach/oyster soup and an order of perfectly fried crab claws. My bud had a killer looking Stuffed Artichoke soup (as good as mine was I wished I had ordered that!) and onion rings and the Mrs. enjoyed their fried ravioli in crawfish cream sauce...I enjoyed it too as I was able to finagle a couple of bites.
After 2 visits in 5 months it will be awhile before we return, but we eagerly look forward to each trip. Places like Brigtsen's, Mother's and Drago's will always
get repeat business from us and we look forward to other awesome meals too.