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Restaurants & Bars 2

Trip report (longish)

iole | Oct 2, 200310:39 AM

Just got back from a whirlwind three days in NOLA. Boy, do I love that place. As they say, one of the best things about New Orleans is that it is so close to the U.S. Here's the long & short (mainly long) of my experiences.

Johnny’s (A-): had a great oyster po-boy. By far the best I’ve had in the quarter, although not quite as good as those at Domilise’s. Perfectly fried oysters – dry & crispy, w/ no grease. The bread was flavorful & had just enough heft to soak up the juices. Nice balance of mayo/toppings.

Port of Call (A-): This was my second trip to burger Mecca & it was every bit as good as the first visit. The classic mushroom/swiss burger doesn’t get much better than this. My only “complaint” would be that I do find myself craving french fries, not a baked potato, but w/ burgers that big, this is really a small issue.

Clover Grill (C): Despite hearing good things about this place (perhaps I should have ordered a burger), we were all very disappointed in our meals. I ordered an omelet w/ jalapenos & bacon. While they were very generous w/ the jalapenos, the omelet itself literally oozed a fake butter/oil substance. I’m not normally too squeamish about things like this, but this was just outrageously awful - I found it completely nauseating. Furthermore, the hashbrowns were frozen – if a greasy spoon diner can’t be counted on for good eggs & potatoes, what hope is there??

Bayona (A+): I’ve been wanting to eat at Bayona for eight years – finally got there & it was more than worth the wait. They are still celebrating their 13th birthday w/ 13 cent martinis & $13 lunches. We started w/ the garlic soup & rabbit gumbo. Both were great, but the garlic soup alone was worth the trip. I then had the sweetbreads (as good as I’ve heard), my companions had grilled shrimp w/ chorizo rice (perfectly cooked, nice balance of spice & seafood), and a mixed grill w/ quail, lamb & a veal/green onion sausage. Additionally, we got one of the famous duck/cashew butter/pepper jelly sandwiches for the table. Dessert was a chocolate/5 spice delice w/ plum compote & a peanut butter/chocolate tart. Yummy. Run, don’t walk – go, go, go. Spectacular – and the bonus was that w/ three drinks per person, we still only spent $20 each!

Cafe Sbisa (B+): Our meal at Sbisa was very mixed. There were four of us – one hated the experience, one thought it was adequate and two were very pleased. I will say that some of the dishes were real misses. Specifically, the spinach salad was horrible – lukewarm, watery dressing w/ no flavor – turned the salad into a mushy green mess. The turtle soup was good, but not worth the price. Overall, Sbisa was fine, but overpriced – you can find much better for more reasonable rates.

Petunia’s (A): As always, Petunia’s came through with flying colors. I’ve been to Petunia’s for all seven of my visits to NOLA & have never been disappointed. In fact, I’ve never had anything less than amazing meals here. My suggestion is to stick to the breakfast offerings – whether the egg dishes or the incredible French Toast. The gumbo is the best I’ve had (although Bayona is right up there). The bloody marys are nicely spiced & provide quick a kick to jumpstart any daiquiri-filled day.

Fiorella’s (B): We had a pleasant meal, but I can’t really recommend this place. One in our party had been before & knew it was a local hangout. We started w/ the fried pickles – good, but nothing special. Then, we all had the ubiquitous fried chicken. The spice level on the birds varied wildly – mine was barely at a simmer, while two in the group could barely get through a mouthful w/o reaching desperately for the water. This alone would be forgivable, but I found the seasoning (i.e., salt) level to be really lacking. The chicken was fried nicely (good texture, properly crisp, etc), but the flavor left much to be desired. Next time, I’ll head back to Jacques-Imo’s.

And finally, while I didn’t get to eat there, we grabbed a coffee to go at Deja Vu. Wonderful – better than Cafe du Monde. It came in an oversized styrofoam cup w/ TONS of milk; truly the NOLA equivalent of a cafe au lait. Excellent – in this world of overpriced coffees of varying quality, I can’t overstate how great it was to get more than you paid for in every way!

That’s it – I’m already planning the next visit . . .

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