My girlfriend and I were in New Orleans last week and we packed in a fair amount in our four days. Monday we had lunch at Acme (still one of my N.O. favorites). A pound of crawfish (always a treat for northerners), half a dozen excellent oysters, a side of the red beans and rice (I still like Popeyes the best, but these were good) and a cold Dixie draft. We walked around the Quarter and had beignets at Café Du Monde and fantastic pralines at the place on Decatur St with the plastic slits over the doorway to keep out the heat (I forget the name of it, it was between Canal St and the shops by Jax brewery). Had to have a hurricane at Pat OBriens and then back to the hotel for a nap and change of clothes (the N.O. heat/humidity makes for multiple ensemble days).
For dinner, we went to Mothers for half a Ferdie special (very good and sloppy, similar in some ways to a Chicago Italian beef), a cup of turtle soup and a cup of gumbo. I dont know if Mothers turtle soup is highly regarded, but Ive never had any before and thought this was very tasty. We walked back to the Quarter and had ice cream and gelato at Le Crepery (sp?). It is on Bourbon, just before Iberville and I think its associated with the restaurant on that corner. The shucker at Acme recommended it and we werent disappointed. Chocolate ice cream and crème brule gelato (all house made) were excellent.
Tuesday we took the trolley out to Camellia Grill for the best breakfast in years. Marvin the counterman (he personally guaranteed the Pistons win over L.A.) was worth the trip himself, and the cook Jerome remembered EVERY order when I could barely remember my own. The chefs special omelet (the kitchen sink, with chili on the side) was enough for three people, but was still fairly light (blended with the milkshake machine). I loved that Camellia didnt fool around with home fries. If you wanted potatoes, it was fries. And Id never seen deep fried bacon or sausage. Per Marvin, we had to finish with the grilled pecan pie. We left to waddle off to the zoo.
In the evening, it was back to Acme for more oysters and the sushi fried oysters. Three fried oysters on sushi rice were very good and made a nice snack before we went to Parkway Bakery & Tavern. I wouldnt have known about Parkway if not for Chowhound and Im glad I read about it. We took the trolley to the City Park end and walked down Moss Street to St Peter to Hagan. It seems we could have gotten off at Canal and Jeff Davis for a shorter walk. We had a shrimp/oyster po boy (not actually on the menu but they were more than happy to mix them) and a hot sausage po boy (no mayo). Both were very good (you cannot get bread like that in Wash. D.C.) and made better buy a couple bottles of Abita.
Wednesday we had breakfast at Elizabeths. We took the trolley to Esplanade in the Quarter and hoofed it down Chartres to Gallier to build an appetite. Elizabeths was another place I wouldnt have known about except here and it was a gem. The praline bacon was delicious and addictive. The waiter called it pork candy. We had the Loula May breakfast po boy (scrambled eggs, hot sausage, cheese, dressed on French bread - easily enough for two) and the crab/crawfish omelet, along with steamed hash browns (potato chunks really) and biscuits. Though ridiculously full, that didnt stop us from sharing a cup of the banana rum walnut chocolate chunk ice cream (all ice creams house made). I cant recommend Elizabeths enough, if for nothing more than the praline bacon and the ice cream.
For dinner we rode the trolley one stop past Camellia for the two block walk to Brigtsens. We decided on three appetizers and an entrée and were pleased that the waitress and hostess agreed with our plan. We started with the shrimp Remoulade with deviled egg, guacamole, & mirliton corn relish and the butternut shrimp bisque. I think the remoulade was lost on my plebian palate, but everything had intense flavor and you could tell that Frank Brigtsen truly enjoys cooking. The bisque was sinfully good and I absolutely recommend it to anyone going to Brigtsens. Next we had the sauteed softshell crab with spiced pecans & lemon bordelaise sauce. This was not only one of the biggest softshell Ive ever had, it was one of the best. Plenty of meat in the body, perfectly done, and the bordelaise sauce was very flavorful. For the entrée we had to go with the seafood platter. I liked most everything on the platter, but the standout was the grilled drum fish. Not overdone or over spiced, I probably could have had just the drum as an entrée. For dessert, we ordered the berries in champagne vanilla sabayon (I guess this is the N.O. way to spell zabaglione) and the pecan pie with caramel sauce. The sabayon would have been a great light ending to the meal with the fresh firm berries and the not too sweet custard, but we had to go for both barrels with the pecan pie. I liked this pie much more than Camellia Grills, maybe as the pecan pieces were much smaller. I thought the caramel sauce was a little burnt, but that may be how it should be, and Im used to sauce more sweet but perhaps wrongly made. I tend to go to less upscale places in N.O. but thought Brigtsens was excellent and still a little homey as compared to Galatories or Commanders Palace (I know, not really the same style of restaurant). Well definitely go back to Brigtsens
I had wanted to go to Domilises Thursday but while waiting for the trolley, we were told it broke down. We walked to the Quarter and promptly split a Lucky Dog (cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast). A pretty good dog with a bit of spice in the chili and a bit of a N.O. institution. We then walked down to Central Grocery and split a mufaletta. I know theres debate as to the best mufaletta, but Ive always liked Central and my girlfriend had never been. And I still cant see eating one hot, but I guess Id have to try it to be sure. We then stopped at Café Beignet for the worst beignet Ive ever had (the ones at the airport three years ago were far superior). Cafe Beignet had been on Rachel Rays $40 a day show, but the one across from Café Du Monde was horrible. We went back to Café Du Monde for one more proper beignet and then took the trolley to Canal and Carrolton to buy New Orleans rum in a grocery store.
The amber New Orleans rum was $28.50 in a shop near Canal and Camp, but was $12.49 in the Sav-a-Lot on Carrolton. Neither Wynn Dixie nor Sav-a-Lot had the cane rum, so I went to the Roberts Market on the corner of Canal and Carrolton. I thought Roberts was a fancy, upscale store based on the big sign in the parking lot, but the homeless doorman told me otherwise. It was clean though and they had the Rex Creole mustard much cheaper than in the Quarter. No cane rum though, so it was the trolley back to near Café Du Monde were I got a bottle of cane rum for $21 on Decatur St. Probably would've been $17 in a grocery store.
We finished eating at Deanies in the Quarter. Ive never seen boiled potatoes instead of bread at the start of a meal and the spice on the potato snuck up on me in a good way. We started with the shrimp remoulade and it was more what I thought it would be like (medium shrimp on a bed of lettuce with the remoulade on the side) than at Brigtsens. We followed this with bbq shrimp. Im sure there are many places to get better bbq shrimp, but we loved these. Big, perfectly done shrimp with the heads on and a mini loaf of French bread for dipping. We followed this with the sauteed soft shell dinner, which was probably a mistake after Brigtsens. The crabs were good and had a nice flavor, but were a little small. I know some like the smaller ones, but these seemed to be way under the limit. I know opinion varies on Deanies and the one in Bucktown is supposed to be better, but we had a pretty good last hurrah at the one in the Quarter.
I look forward to coming back for Casamentos, Uglesichs, Domilises and Dick and Jennys among others.
Thanks to the NoLa hounds for some great suggestions,