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Restaurants & Bars 4

My NO report

Etcetera | Feb 28, 200508:05 AM

I just got back from a week in N'awlins, and wanted to post my thoughts!

Mother's: Suprisingly good for what it is. I had the Ferdi special and the "seafood combo". The Ferdi was surprisingly good. A "hero" roll with ham, brisket and an amazing concoction called "debris" (the best I could describe this is the meat shreds and gravy you would get if you ran a slotted spoon through the bottom of a pot roast pan). With the exception of some real po' boys, it may have been the best sandwich I've had in years. The seafood combo was adequate: Jambalaya, crawfish etoufee and fried oysters, shrimps and a fish filet (catfish). Nothing spectacular here, but good eats anyway. The greens were fair, and needed a bit of extra seasoning to bring them up to snuff.

Mulate's: Ate here in a pinch. It was fair. The fried oyster po' boy was good. Oyster's were fresh and tasty. The duck and andouille gumbo was a ripoff for 6$ a cup for some decent gumbo with a few chunks of sausage and a few shreds of duck. Greens were adequate at best. I would not go back.

Herbsaint: Overrated. The only memorable dish was the Shrimp and Green Chile grit cake, which was excellent. Frog's legs were a bit greasy and salty. The gumbo was adequate, but not special. I was really disappointed. Maybe I just ordered the wrong stuff.

Jacques-Imo's: Underrated. Maybe we went on a good night, but I was surprised. Many postings reported that this place is going downhill. If that is true, I wish I had gone earlier, because it was exceptional 4 days ago! Went with some foodie friends, so got to taste/share a bunch. Apps: Shrimp and 'gator sausage cheescake: mouth-meltingly rich, perfectly seasoned. The fried grit cake with shrimp and tasso was great. Incredibly rich sauce with a perfect hunk of fried grits. Yum! Eggplant Jacques-Imo: A real surprise. One of the bunch is allergic to shrimp, so we ordered this for him. He only got two bites before we picked away the rest. A surprisingly complex little dish. Not what I would have expected from this place. As a lark, we ordered the fried roast beef po’ boy. This was a heart attack on a plate. A small roast beef and cheese po’ boy that was breaded and fried. It was great, but I feel like I need to schedule an appointment with my cardiologist! We got fried chicken (one white, and one dark). There was so much hype about it that I was a bit disappointed. It was certainly good, and blows away any fast food chicken joint I get here above the Mason-Dixon line. It was crispy but moist on the inside. Very nice. The greens served with the chicken were excellent. The corn Maque-choux, on the other hand, was not spectacular. Good, but not great. The overall experience was great, especially as we ate in the dark and smoky bar. It was nice to meet Jack, too. He even bought us a round of beers!

Emeril’s: Now ok, I am a fan of his show, but I promised that I would not let this jade my opinion of his restaurant. I went for lunch and for dinner. Lunch was a bowl of seafood gumbo and the pecan crusted redfish (also offered at dinner). The gumbo was excellent. Smooth, rich, well-seasoned, and a touch of spice. Really very nice. The Redfish was excellent. I wasn’t sure that it would go with the veggie ragout that it was served on, but it was an excellent match. It was a great lunch.
Dinner was a bit more extravagant. The BBQ shrimp appetizer was excellent. I sucked the sauce off of the shells, and wiped up every drop. The andouille and boudin blanc sausages were good, probably the least impressive part of the meal. Still very good. I can’t often say much about salads, but the andouille vinaigrette on the spinach salad was worth a mention. Entrees were the breast of chicken (over an amazing mushroom-barley risotto), and the duck with onion bread pudding. The duck was perfectly prepared, and the bread pudding was mind-blowing. Really excellent! Deserts were all good. The banana bread pudding was the least impressive, but the banana cream pie and the peanut butter pie were just amazing. I don’t care if people are put off by the ‘celebrity’ of this place. This restaurant presented seriously good food with a local influence, with incredible service.

Commander’s Palace: Soups were all very nice. The gumbo was missing something…but the turtle soup was a stand out! Rich and flavorful, and worth eating turtles! The Tasso Shrimp appetizer was excellent, spicy and sweet, with perfectly prepared shrimp. The winner, though, was the oysters and Cajun caviar. Perfectly prepared oysters, with a beautifully prepared cream sauce and local fish eggs. Really a special dish. The redfish court-bouillion was a bit disappointing. The first serving was brought out cold. A replacement took about 10 minutes to make, and came out hot, but not as nicely plated as the first. It was nice, but was essentially seafood creole: slightly sweet tomato sauce with some nice seafood. The pecan crusted redfish, however, was just perfect. A very tasty combination of fresh red drum with lump crab. This is definitely the recommendation for an entrée here. Friends had the shrimp and the steak, and reported that they were both quite good. The Pecan pie ala mode was a great wrap up.

Redfish grill: stay away. I should have known by the big fake palm trees. So much good food in this town, I can’t believe that we ended up here. The oyster po’ boy was a greasy mess. The meatloaf platter was not bad.

Surprise of the week: The food court at Riverwalk. In a rush for some chow between meetings at the convention center, we ended up here. In addition to the usual fare (Chinese, Italian, etc) there were a couple of places to get local food. I do not recall the name of the place, but it is the next ‘island’ in from the frozen drink dispensary. On different days, I got a shrimp po’ boy and a crawfish po’ boy. They were both excellent, although the crawfish was tastier than the shrimp. Even better were the greens that they served! Rich and smoky with just the right amount of spicy/tangy taste. I am embarrassed to confess that these were the best greens I had the entire week!

I can’t wait to go back!

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