Back from an amazing NOLA week. Managed to mix a totally tourist week with some real local flavor. A lot of fun and a real hot sun. First of all -NOLA in August is hot. It doesn't mean you cannot do things -it just means water is your best friend during the day. We arrived on a Friday afternoon. Late night dinner was at Acme Oyster House. It is our personal guilty pleasure. We don't worry about reviews or complaints. It was the first restaurant we ever eat at in NOLA over 15 years ago and it just makes our trip. Abita pitcher, combo platter, fried oysters. No broiled oysters this time but some things are just the way they should be.
Walked the Garden District on Saturday and ended up at O'Henry's for lunch before going to the zoo. Fine pub fare, we split a two for $20 BBQ shrimp and fried pork chop meal. You could do a lot worse. Zoo was great as always although the albino alligators were not to thrilled about being on display.
Muriel's on Jackson Square for dinner on Saturday night. Restaurant is perfectly located, food is exquisite, staff is great but for the 2nd time, felt they could not rush us out faster. This is such a great place. Coolinary special was for me a delicious double pork chop- Huge and flavorful. My wife's puppy drum ( a fish we have since been indoctrinated with) was great. Unfortunately, everything just came out so quick.
Sunday was swamp tour day. Don't knock it- an air boat is fun. We went to Lafitte and ended up with a great lunch at Boutte's. You cannot get more local than this place. The drive from NOLA is only 30 minutes or so and there you pass an amazing number of huge spectacular homes. Freshly prepared fried chicken, and gumbo with a full chicken drum on top were our choices and the place went from just us to totally packed in 30 minutes. Bought a fantastic home made praline to munch on later (could have had a Rice Krispie treat) and headed towards a great bayou swamp tour. Night was hot (did I mention that NOLA is hot in August) and we ate outdoors at Green Goddess. Small does not adequately apply to this place. 4 tables inside, a couple of tables in the alley and that;s it. We were not starved so the limited but eclectic menu was perfect. Funky drinks- an Island Sea breeze and a Brazilian Samba http://www.greengoddessnola.com/pdf/b... were strong and delicious. Bison meatloaf and bacon definitely works and the mushroom crepe was smokey rich. Bring bug spray, I got chewed up but it did not ruin a thing.
Monday was Plantation day-an hour plus from NOLA. In between two tours, we dined at B and C Seafood. Another local gem. True southern charm, great gumbo, and hush puppy's to die for. Don't forget to be a tourist and sign the board. B and C sells seafood as well as restaurant fare. Huge head on shrimp at the counter were $4.79 a pound. They would be $15 or so by us in Philly. http://www.frommers.com/destinations/....
Dinner found us at Dante's Kitchen. Hands down, flat out, don't think twice -go here to eat. It is at the end of St. Charles and worth the trip. The restaurant sits as a house in a quiet neighborhood. The wood floored dining area is comforting. Service is attentive and pleasant (although our wonderful waitress was overworked). $5 wine glasses led to a most memorable meal. Diver scallops were perfect for me and short ribs were a hit for my wife. A mistake in service led to an apologetic take home make up of great grits- perfect for the next day's wake up.
Tuesday was my day. I love minor league baseball and the parks. We went to the New Orleans Zephyr's- 11:30 start- seats in the first row behind home plate. Did not eat at the game but had great Sweet tea. Vendor squeezes fresh lemons for flavor and refills ice to cool you down. Following the game, a 45 minute drive which included the Lake Pontchartrain bridge (24 miles long- do not miss this engineering marvel) brought us to Abita Springs. The Abita name is New Orleans beer. The brew pub served the largest salad you could imagine to my wife while my jambalaya was acceptable. However, fresh local beer is always good and Abita does it well. It was worth the ride and don't miss the UCM museum. (look it up). As an aside, I bought a 6 pack of Dixie beer that evening which I always equated with NOLA. I was surprised to learn by the label that it had been virtually wiped out by Katrina. It is being brewed by a Wisconsin company. Here's hoping it returns to local hands. For the evening following a Ghost tour-we wandered into Landry's Seafood on Decauter as the late hour had many places closed. Dinner tonight was -eh. They served a great huge hamburger with fried onions but my gumbo left quite a bit to be desired.-especially when I had to send it back to be heated to at least something resembling hot. Service was poor but it filled a need for a late night meal.
Wednesday morning took us to the New Orleans School of Cooking.which is a fun tourist look at NOLA food preparation. Nothing totally new was learned but for $24 a person we got fresh gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding with rum sauce, and pralines. Unlimited Abita beers complimented the fare. We shared stories with our table mates, two of whom were Katrina victims from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Their true life stories were inspirational and added to the experience. I surprised DW with massage at Spa Atlantis in the afternoon. Jazz at the Royal Sonesta (my first Sazarac) was followed by dinner at Napolena House. We got their at 9:45 where we were New York rudely told (i'm originally from NY so I know NY rude) we had 15 minutes to order before the kitchen closed. We did and had a great little meal. Our ordered bruschetta is not bruschetta. Think about the Stouffer's french bread pizza you would have if it was prepared perfectly. A dripping wet roast beef was excellent. Too bad the guy at the table next to us never got to eat a thing. He was warned that the kitchen was closing at 10. The waiter never came back and when he asked to order he was told -no food for you. The waiter had to bring over the manager to tell him. the bad news. It was classic.
How did we get to Thursday already? Going home tomorrow but not before the coup de grace. Lunch at Commander's Palace. Took the trolley because there is no way we are driving back after 25 cent martini's. it is our second trip (first was amazing). We are escorted to the Garden Room, a gorgeous 2nd floor glass enclosed vista. Our waiter from last time -Argyle was working as floor manager. He could not have been more pleasant as he spoke about remembering us from last year. Tai stopped by greeting us again like family. Warm garlic bread was as addicting as advertised by our bus person. Waiter suggested crab cake appetizer was spectacular as well as the oyster chowder. Lunch entree's were short ribs and shrimp. Food and service cannot be this good. Staff is ridiculous friendly and unpretentious for such a great place. Pecan pie and ice cream closed the meal only to be followed by a complimentary shot served in in a spiral metal chalice. It was an amazing fruity melon infused drink. God knows what was in it but no way a meal this good any where else ends like that.
Late evening need for food takes us to Felipe's. Think Baja Express or Chipotle on steroids. It ain't gourmet but it is damn good.
Leaving today. Picked up our first Muffaletta from Central Grocery to enjoy on the way home. Olive spread for her, dry for me. 2 hour delay at Louis Armstrong-ugh. Nibbled mine early before finishing on the plane. We now live in Philly and we know hoagies. The Muffaletta works in the sandwich world but without trimmings (lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers, pickles, etc). it fell a bit short for me. Bread was amazing. DW loved the olive spread and was more enthused. Glad we got to experience the sandwich but i was not blown away by it Give me a Primo's or Lee's Cheltenham any day over the Muffaletta.
Town was pretty busy- everyone we spoke to seemed positive about what was going on. The week was a perfect blend of all of the soul of NOLA. Can't wait to return.