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Restaurants & Bars 1

Trip report: 4/4 to 4/8

Janbo | Apr 9, 200509:39 AM

We had a great time in N'Awlins this week! We're sorry to have missed the French Quarter Fest this weekend, but we didn't know how much fun it would be! We're already making plans to go back. Here's our food report (almost as important as a music report, but that's a whole 'nother board, I suspect!)

Monday night found us at GW Fins (I wanted to start out eating lightly!). We shared an appetizer of lobster dumplings. Hubby liked them, I thought they were fair. We moved on to sharing the sauteed Maryland rockfish w/ seared foie gras, red onion confit, merlot sauce, Yukon gold potatoes, spinach. Very yummy. The very friendly waiter knew we were sharing and had the chef split the dish in the kitchen. More than enough for us (I'm dieting and he's not a big eater). No room for dessert (not even their signature apple pie w/ cheese straw top crust) tempted us, but we made up for it in wine. The menu has a marvelous wine list on the back. We had a glass of the Sokol Blosser pinot gris, an excellent choice for the appetizer, and with the fish, we had the Franciscan Oakville estate merlot, since the reduction sauce was made from the same. Great meal, great waitstaff, and the bread IS addictive! It tastes very similar to Bisquick, but in a kicked-up kind of way. We would go back here next time.

Tuesday we went to Brigsten's and had the early bird special. Great waitstaff, cozy, intimate place to dine. The eggplant & shrimp bisque was divine and sublime (other choice was a tossed salad w/ feta, pine nuts, marinated cucumber, green olive salad and avocado vinaigrette)! We both had the pan-roasted chicken w/ stone ground jalapeno cheese grits and andouille pan gravy over the broiled gulf fish with crawfish Diane sauce, and it was tasty, tasty, with just a hint of heat. Couldn't finish it, however. Wayyyy too much food! Both the appetizer and entree went well with the bottle of Viognier we split. For dessert, hubby had the banana bread pudding with banana custard sauce and I had the Louisiana strawberry shortcake. I'm in search of the perfect strawberry, and this came close. In Ohio here, our strawberries don't peak until around June, so these were "good enough" for an Ohio palate. Hubby thought the eggplant & shrimp bisque was one of the best things he put in his mouth this week and I'll have to agree. We will definitely come back.

Wednesday was the highlight for both of us. We went to Herbsaint. All I can say is, my. My. MY. We started with the charcuterie platter and a couple of cocktails (the waiter recommded the Herbsaint champagne cocktail -- I ended up having 2). YUM. The pate, onions, and salami were all very tasty. Oh yes, and that fig wrapped in bacon. We almost had a fist-fight over that! (Great bread, too, btw.) We each had a salad. Hubby had the mixed greens w/ dried figs, walnuts, blue cheese and sherry vinaigrette and I had hearts of romaine w/ garlic parmesan dressing and anchovies. Both were fabulous. No clear winner here. We both loved them both. The salads were dressed to perfection. Not being an anchovy lover, I pushed the two to the side and could tell where they had been on the salad... not a big deal. For the main course, we split the muscovy duck leg w/ dirty rice and citrus gastrique. This may VERY well be the BEST thing we put into our mouths this week! Oh my. The crispy skin was worth the price of admission here, and I'm salivating as I type this just thinking about it. The dirty rice was excellent. We found ourselves wanting to lick the plate. We did get as much of the sauce as we could with our bread at the end. Fa-bu-LOUS. The brown butter banana tart just be the best dessert I've ever had. And I'm a chocoholic! I just wanted another one after we finished! Wow. Melts in your mouth. This restaurant was definitely the highlight of our trip. GREAT, knowledgeable waitstaff (even though they forgot to bring out a side of fries; we decided we didn't need them. I wanted to taste them because they come highly recommended from this board!) We want to go back again, and again. We may never try any other place. (kidding, of course!)

Thursday night found us at Irene's. We waited in line for the doors to open at 5:30, and had a ball talking with the people standing in line. I had been here in '98 and have talked about it ever since. Hubby & I split a rosemary chicken entree. It was as wonderful as I remember it, even though my palate has clearly changed in 7 years. (We make a superb roasted chicken out of the Zuni Cookbook, and we both agreed ours is better!) The dessert (strawberries and chocolate gelato) was good, but again, the strawberries were not quite up to speed.

A few other notes: go to Napoleon's for cocktails. I had my first, and second, Pimm's cup there. Very nice place to hang out -- a quiet oasis from the noisy bars elsewhere (it had an older, adult feel to it). Petunia's is great for breakfast. We split a very large crepe w/ ham, asparagus and hollandaise sauce... perfect for 2! We went to Johnny's for a po-boy. We can check that off our list -- don't need to do that again! NOLA was a bit disappointing. Went there for lunch the first day. We were so looking forward to the roast garlic creme soup, but it was wayyyyy too salty. It would've been great, I think, had the salt not been so heavy-handed. GREAT bread selections, tho. We had a jalapeno cornbread, a focaccia, and a raisin/pumpkin to choose from. Had several of each. On the corner of Chartres and Bienville, there's an antique/chocolate shop called Grenier & Chocolat that we visited, ahem, SEVERAL times. They have Belgian Leonidas chocolate by the piece there. My absolute fave. I'm hooked on the Giunduja. We're disappointed we couldn't make time for Bayona, Mr B's Bistro, Bon Ton Cafe, Elizabeth's for breakfast, Uglesich's, Camillia's Grill and other places, but one large meal a day is all I can handle. I showed a 2-lb gain; not too bad, considering all the pleasurable meals we had and walking we did (watch out for those blisters!).

We can't wait to go back, and a big thank you to all of you who recommended these places to us. Without you, we wouldn't have known about Brigsten's and Herbsaint!

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