Eatin’ in New Orleans

August 13, 2011 at 12:21 AM Leave a comment

After Cleveland, our second favorite place to eat is New Orleans. We travel there yearly to relax, shop, check out art and of course eat. This year’s trip was no different. We were fortunate enough to revisit some old favorites and try the “hot” new spots. In a word, the food was great. If you’re thinking about a trip, here are a few new comments to go along with the NOLA page at this blog-site.

After arrival in the city, it has become a tradition to share a Shrimp Po’Boy at Johnnie’s on St. Louis. We order it “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise) and the shrimp is perfectly fried and tender to the bite. Wrapped in a fresh French bread section, this sandwich is a great way to put us in the New Orleans mood. Apparently, lots of other people agree. Johnnie’s is almost always packed to the door. Grab a seat in the front room to really enjoy the atmosphere.

Muriel’s is located on Jackson Square. Deep in the back they have a relaxing (and well air conditioned) bar. Inevitably, we end up there mid-way through a day of looking at the shops and galleries in the French Quarter. After a day at the French Market and an afternoon listening to an assortment of musicians at the Sachimo Summer Fest, we decided to have dinner there as well. Muriel’s is a beautiful place to eat with period décor and windows that look over the square. Their food is good and reasonably priced. Both of us started with soup (even though the humid day reached into the mid-90’s!) The Turtle Soup au Sherry and Seafood Gumbo were both excellent. Michele enjoyed her Pecan Crusted Puppy Drum but Jeff felt the Seafood Au Gratin was lacking some spunk. Desserts of Bread Pudding and Chocolate Brownies were tasty. In the center of the French Quarter, this is a convenient place, especially the bar. It comes in handy on hot days in New Orleans!

Breakfast? There is only one place. Coffee au Lait and Beignets at Café du Monde in the French Market. The coffee is blended with chicory and the “square doughnuts” are piled a mile high with powdered sugar. There is no better way to start a day, but probably not every day!

One lunch stop is always a must, Mr. B’s Bistro. Michele has the Seafood Gumbo, Jeff has the Gumbo Ya Ya. Warm crusty bread is the accompaniment. Dessert is Pecan Pie. All are excellent and we’ll be back next year for another bowl and a slice!

For the last few years, Rio Mar has been receiving a lot of media attention. Run by Adolfo Garcia, the Chef blends the foodstuffs ofLouisiana with his familial heritage in Spain to create sumptuous seafood ideas. This was our first visit here and will likely not be the last. Jeff started with the special watermellon crabmeat salad. It was cooling, sweet and flavorful. For dinner the Serrano-wrapped Tuna was perfect. The ham was cooked, but the buttery tuna was raw, both served on a chickpea puree. It was heaven. Michele felt like shrimp, as she rarely orders it outside of New Orleans. The Gulf Shrimp Arroz with saffron and garlic hit the spot. For dessert, the Gran Chocolate was surrounded by dulce de leche cream and finished a perfect, second day in New Orleans.

We had never really spent much time exploring Magazine Street. This six-mile avenue is filled with antique shops, boutiques of all stripes and eateries that serve everything from coffee to gourmet fare. We bought an all-day bus pass and plotted out stops along the road. After about three hours of walking and shopping in scores of establishments, we needed to get out of the heat. We had expected to stop in a tavern/bistro that looked interesting, but they were closed. Luckily, Lilette, the famous French restaurant was still open for lunch. We both ordered the cold corn broth with avocado and crabmeat and it was remarkable.  Jeff had a cold Belgian beer and it was the perfect refreshment for the sunny day and allowed us to continue our shopping journey on this new area (for us) of the city.

Our final dinner came as a surprise. Just before we left home we grabbed the “Best of…” issue of New Orleans Magazine. In it, James Corwell was named best New Chef for his work at Le Foret. A few months ago, Le Foret was picked by the magazine as Best New Restaurant. We were thinking of returning to MiLa or Cochon (our favorites from the last few trips) but instead decided to give Le Foret a try. We are glad we did, because now we have another favorite in the city. Michele started with the crabmeat salad, a beautiful heap of sweet meat that was gone in a flash. Jeff’s Le Foret Champignons was a sculpture of food. A gentle rigatoni-shaped shell was filled with pate de foie gras and capped with the top of a shitake mushroom. In the field below these faux mushrooms, was a dressing of pickled onions and watercress greens. Beautiful and delectable. The entrées were equally stunning. Michele had the grouper with crabmeat croquette and Jeff the duck, each a memorable meal. Dessert was a Coconut Cake, unbelievably moist and refreshing. Each detail of dining here was perfect, from the amuse bouche of duck pate sandwich and demitasse cup of gazpacho to the gift-wrapped Madeleine when leaving, the staff wants to assure you of a memorable time and that they did.

One word of warning. We were tricked and you could be too. The Soda Shop in the new World War II Museum advertises itself as John Besh’s. Inside the museum, Chef Besh does operate the American Sector restaurant, but is apparently just responsible for the creation of the ice-cream flavors at the Soda Shop. It’s too bad, because this could have been a great idea. We assumed this would be a 40’s-50’s Shoppe with jerks and table service. Instead, after a long wait in line and a longer wait for delivery of the snack, the expensive sodas are served in a plastic cup and the Sundays in a paper cup! The ice cream was OK, but certainly not worth the wait or price. If you want a Besh restaurant, try August or Lüke.

Another trip to our favorite city and another collection of great food stories to tell. We can’t wait to go back! 511 St. Louis New Orleans, LA 70130 504-524-8129 801 Chartres New Orleans, LA 70116 504-568-1855 Decatur Street New Orleans, LA 70116 Royal Street New Orleans, LA 70130 504-523-2078 South Peter Street New Orleans, LA 70103 504-525-3474 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70115 504-893-1636 Camp Street New Orleans, LA 70130 504-553-6738 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70130 504-527-6088


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