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a virginian visitor's report

TerriS | Feb 24, 200312:12 PM

Just back from 5 days in NO and found this board extremely helpful. I didn't have a lot of control over where I ate and was generally limited to the convention center area, but had some good meals and thought I'd report!

Giovanni's (off Canal, near French Quarter). I was expecting overtouristy Italian but was pleasantly surprised by my dish (called Rags to Riches: torn pasta with all kinds of stuff going on, including sundried tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and more.) It was well flavored and very enjoyable. Also loved the bread. They have singing waiters who were enjoyable enough. Others at my table had a shrimp pasta dish and the filet and enjoyed it.

Cafe du Monde in Riverwalk: YAY for beignets is all I have to say.

Rio Mar (800 S. Peters St.): This was a find. We started with the ceviche sampler which was absolutely heavenly. We also were not too familiar with the wine list so asked our served to recommend something and he did a fabulous job - we got a chilean white of which I can't even remember the name but it was great with the fish. I had the grilled calamari appetizer as my dinner, which came with a saffron aioli and some veggies, which was wonderful. My colleagues had rice dishes - at least one was the squid with squid ink and garlic which was incredible, the other was the gulf shrimp with saffron. We were all thrilled with the food. We split a banana empanada for dessert but I was so stuffed by then I wasn't able to form a strong opinion of it. We loved the atmosphere and the service as well.

K-Pauls: WOW! I have long been a fan of etouffee but never had the real thing and so I couldn't resist the shrimp etoufee here. It was fantastic. We were also really crazy about the bread here. Ya'll in NO are so lucky in this respect - all that good bread! Split a pecan-sweet potato pie for dessert and it was wonderful. I was also excited to find a Rombauer chardonnay by the glass here - even at $12, it's a find and it was great with the meal. Service was decent; we got our food really quickly and I would have preferred to linger a little longer, rather than feeling a little rushed. BUT it was a Friday and the beginning of Mardi Gras so I guess that's how it goes.

Restaurant August, 301 Tchoupitoulas St. Beautiful space. Was a group luncheon so no choice over the menu. Had a nice piece of fish over dill mashed potatoes. More really good bread. Creme brule for dessert was tasty but had a thick crust on the bottom, unlike other brules I've had, and didn't actually have the carmelized sugar crust on top.

Zea, out in Metairie: Fun place, interesting menu. Had a grilled veggie panini and it was very tasty. Really enjoyed this place.

Rest of our meals were hotel fare, sadly. But I still left with a very happy tummy! I'll be thinking about that bread and that etoufee for a long time!

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