New Orleans Trip Report 9/18-9/23 (Long)
Disclaimer: I should have been taking pictures and writing down descriptions but completely forgot due to all the damned good food. The following is to the best of my memory paired with online menu descriptions that are available. There were many places that I wanted to try but ran out of time/stomach room. The St. Charles Trolley was shut down while we were there thus limiting our options since we didn’t have a car and didn’t want to take cabs everywhere.
New Orleans had a promotion going called “Coolinary” that was similar to a restaurant week. However, instead of a week, their Coolinary promotion lasts two months and it started August 1 and ran until September 30.
Dinner at K-Paul’s; Coolinary Menu, $34
Shrimp and Corn Maque Choux
Louisiana Shrimp, Corn Cut off the Cob and Simmered Together with Onions, Bell Pepper & Celery. Served with Rice
This soup had some love put in it. It had a good amount of spice without being overpowering. The freshness of the corn right made for a nice compliment to the texture of the rice.
Bread service consisted of four individual items including a sweet corn muffin, a molasses muffin, a biscuit, and a roll. All arrived warm and welcomed the soft whipped butter. My favorite was the sweet corn muffin, of which I gluttonously requested a second. It had a nicely tanned top and an inside that almost fell apart that withstood a good schmear of butter.
Panko Crusted with a cream sauce served with Mashed Potatoes.
This fish was delish. I was hesitant that the cream sauce would overwhelm the crusted Grouper resulting in a soggy mess. I had nothing to worry about. A conservative application of the sauce on the center of the fish made for a nice touch. The Panko crust held up against the sauce. The mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery and melted in my mouth.
Bread Pudding with Buttercream(if I heard right, it was loud)
It was a great version of bread pudding and the dollop of cool buttercream stood no chance against the warm Bread Pudding. It was an incredibly rich dessert that I normally would have struggled to finish. However, after devouring the previous courses, I pushed the bread pudding away in reluctant acceptance of my limitation of stomach room.
416 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Lunch at Mother’s
The line was about a half block out the door. It moved quickly and was greeted by a line 10 people deep once inside. I was amazed by the amount of people who seemed like they had never been in a line or to a cafeteria since that had no idea where to go or how to order/pay. I originally ordered my Roast Beef Debris Po’ Boy to go since I had intentions of eating outside somewhere. After talking to the doorman/host, I realized the Bears were on in the other room. I resigned to the bigger room with round community tables and sat next to a couple other Bears fans. As I took my first bite and washed it down with an Abita Amber, I thought about how nice it was to again be relaxing with a Sammy and a beer while watching the Bears on a Sunday Afternoon. I ordered my Debris Po’ Boy dressed and the sandwich was damned good. It reminded me of a Chicago Italian beef wet if you put cabbage on it in the same way that a Varsity, or other southern hotdog, has coleslaw on it. I think the debris, the leftover drippings, made the sandwich. The gravy added all the juiciness that the sandwich needed. It was equally as good when I ate the other half cold at 2am out of the fridge.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Oyster Happy Hour at Lüke ; 3-6pm, 50 cents each
I have never really enjoyed oysters until this month. I realized that the reason that I’ve never been a fan is because I’ve never eaten good oysters. Earlier this month, I had my first good oysters at SeaBlue in Las Vegas. I knew that I would regret not ordering oysters while in Louisiana. I saddled up to the bar and ordered a dozen. The bartender and a couple from Boston educated me while I was waiting for a dozen oysters while sipping a $4 Bass Ale. The oysters arrived and were beautifully presented along with being shucked well. Each had a decent amount of liquor in them and they were very clean tasting. They were of good size and plump. Once done with round one, I ordered another couple rounds washed down by a couple more beers. A couple of the oysters on subsequent rounds were smaller but were compensated by being a baker’s dozen instead of the normal 12. I forgot where they said these were from.
333 St. Charles St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
I headed there for their $20 three course prix fixe lunch. While perusing the prix fixe, I noticed that the one appetizer that had been highly recommended was not a choice. The waitress was very accommodating and I was able to order the appetizer for an upcharge.
The Amuse Bouche was a whole egg shell with the top cut off. Inside was seafood sabayon custard topped with bonefish caviar and a slender brioche crouton. It was decadent and a promising start to the meal.
Bread service was a couple mini baguettes that arrived warm and easy to tear. Nothing spectacular, just well-baked bread.
Appetizer - Buster Crab Tempura. I wish I remember more details about this because it was the highlight of the meal. It was topped with some sauce which I can’t remember for the life of me. It tasted and was spiced like a remoulade but much thinner. The mint and basil that rested on the sauce brought everything together for a wonderful bite. It was served with a Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Dipping sauce and a few pickled cucumbers and carrots as garnish.
Entrée - Jumbo Gulf Shrimp and Okra Stew with Andouille Sausage and Heirloom Tomatoes on a bed of risotto. The only problem with this dish was having to debate whether to use a fork or spoon with which to eat. I chose poorly with the fork and ended up with a grain of stew stained rice on my shirt. It was a tableside presentation of the stew being poured over the bed of perfectly cooked risotto. The shrimp were fresh and indeed jumbo, the biggest that I had while in New Orleans. I really liked the flavor combination of vegetables and proteins. The stew by itself would have been worth the price of admission. When the risotto was added, it was reminiscent of an Étouffée that has a nice scoop of popcorn rice.
Dessert – Chocolate Pot De Crème. So rich, so unnecessary, so good. I didn’t need the recommendation from the server to know I would love this. She wasn’t kidding when she said I wouldn’t be able to leave anything on the plate if I liked chocolate as much as her. As I was consumed with dessert, Chef Besh came out to chat for a minute. I deeply appreciated him taking the time to stop by, asking about the meal, and genuinely thanking me for coming. He could not have been nicer.
Post Dessert(complimentary) – Homemade Praline and a chocolate consisting of a dark chocolate shell and an orange chocolate nougat filling(don’t remember the exact name)
301 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
A friend joined me for the remainder of the trip at this point.
Dinner – Original Pierre Maspero’s (Friend’s pick)
Fried with Cajun Seasoning and served with a spicy mustard sauce. It was the first time that I tried Alligator and I was surprised that it wasn’t gamey. Lightly breaded and pretty tasty.
Barbecue Shrimp Po’ Boy
Recommended by our server and was greatly disappointed in their “specialty”. Their barbeque sauce was a combination of butter and Worcestershire and reflected the blandness. The shrimp were tiny salad shrimp, maybe u61-70. The bread was stale and I simply ate the shrimp out with a fork. I asked for a side of remoulade to dip and was informed of a $1 charge since it was homemade. I have no problem paying for anything additional as long as it is clearly communicated when ordering or stated on the menu. The person must who came up with the remoulade recipe must have been the same person who made their barbecue shrimp recipe. It was pretty flavorless. It had the same viscosity as my NOLA Blonde Ale and not in a good way. The fries arrived cold but I had no desire to ask for a hot batch since they were of the frozen variety. The coleslaw was bland and not worthy of a second forkful.
Dining companion had the Fried Shrimp Platter and seemed to enjoy it enough since he ate it all. When asked, he said it was just ok.
Original Pierre Maspero’s
440 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70130-2102
Late Night Snack – Café Du Monde Beignets
Grabbed a bag to go on the way back from Frenchman St. The people watching while waiting for the beignets was superb. They were delectable and definitely hit the spot. The beignets were hot to the touch but not dripping oil and covered with a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar. While taking one out of the bag, I leaned over to eat it sensing the powdered sugar shower to follow. My friend must not have noticed my stance since he ended up with his dark shirt covered in powdered sugar. He mentioned that he usually doesn’t like sweets like donuts but these were great.
Café Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Whole Muffaletta split between my friend and me, a big bag of Zapps Chips, and a can of Coke. I failed in not ordering a bottle of Barqs but a can of Coca-Cola from the Vending Machine sufficed. I liked the ambiance of an old family grocery store when I walked in. The community counter seating is always a plus for busy grab and go joints. I really wanted to fall in love with this sandwich. I just don’t see what’s so special. It was huge but it should be for the price. The bread was the highlight for me. I thought the olive salad was alright but Bari’s makes a much better giardiniera. The oil from the salad did work well with the bread. The meat was of good quality but there just wasn’t enough of it. I should have taken my other quarter sandwich worth’s meat and combined it with the first quarter sandwich. I’ll take a Bari Prosciutto and Fresh Mozz on Focaccia or a Large Italian any day over Central’s Muffaletta.
923 Decatur St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Tried to go Monday Night to watch the Saints game and use my groupon but apparently their kitchen closes for all you can eat rice and beans. Needing more sustenance we went elsewhere Monday but the groupon brought us back the next night. We were seated promptly and didn’t see our server for 10 minutes in a 10 table restaurant. When the server came and took drink orders, it was another 15 minutes before she returned even though the bar was 20 feet away. She also brought saltines with a pimento spread and black pepper oil as lagniappe. We must have drawn the short straw because the waiter responsible for the other half of the tables moved quickly and effortlessly with the grace of a ninja. He was even nice enough to refill our drinks when the waitress disappeared for another cat nap or whatever she was doing in the back.
I had the Fried Gulf Shrimp platter which was hugungous. It must have had 25 shrimp that were probably u16-20. The shrimp had a very light breading and a good horseradish laden cocktail sauce for dipping. The accompanying fries were nothing special but that was perfectly fine since I was having a hard enough time finishing the shrimp. My dining companion had the K-Joe’s Cajun & Creole Platter which consisted of a cup of Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. He said everything was pretty tasty if not a little too spicy for him. I tasted the gumbo and thought it was mediocre at best. He also remarked it would have been nicer if he received the gumbo before dinner like the other half of the dining room did. His food was cold before he was able to finish and he is a pretty fast eater. I chalk it up to the waitress and don’t blame the back of house at all.
720 St. Louis Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House
Coolinary Menu; Two courses including tea or coffee $16($20 incl tax/tip)
We sat at the Oyster Bar and got a great view of the action. The man with the magical shucking hands gave us a quick tutorial of how to shuck, determine whether the oyster is good solely by the sound of knife splitting the oyster open, and determining ages of oysters. He was shucking bakers sheet after bakers sheet full of these bad boys and separating them by a bed of ice for later that night. When asked why they don’t shuck them when they’re ordered, he explained there was simply too much demand to keep up with. They had some huge oysters that came from “Zone 5” locally. The biggest oyster that I saw was as long as a baby’s forearm and he approximated was 6-7 years old. He could have been making this up and I wouldn’t have known… While sitting there for the duration of the meal, he slid a couple of oysters our way that were damned tasty.
I ordered the Blue Crab and Corn Bisque. It had huge, meaty chunks of blue crab that were big enough that they stuck out of the bisque. The bisque itself was creamy and the fresh sourdough baguette made a perfect vehicle for sopping it up.
My dining companion ordered the Crystal Alligator and received an ample portion. It was served as tenders in a buffalo sauce with blue cheese dressing. He liked it and I tried a bite. I found it quite similar to Buffalo Chicken Tenders.
We both ordered the Shrimp Creole. It was chock full of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, gulf shrimp (estimating u21-25), and a scoop of popcorn rice in the middle. It had some good heat to it and was very filling.
144 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Happy Hour at Lüke
Another couple dozen oysters that were just as good as the first day. I completely forgot to ask where they were from.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
While this wasn’t walking distance, it was worth the adventure. We waited 30 minutes for the Canal St Trolley since all of the trolleys were bunched up going in the opposite direction(reminded me of waiting for the Western Bus). Since they were all bunched up, the trolley operators were trying to coordinate stops so that they could start spreading the trolleys out again. This led to everyone being in a bad mood and quite a few people vocalizing it. We got off at the Jeff/Davis stop and started walking towards Parkway. I must have read a map wrong cause we took a wrong turn where it became apparent that we weren’t in the best of neighborhoods when it was just about sundown. After seeing vacants, burnt out homes, homes with busted out windows along with their doors wide open, and locals who looked like they hadn’t moved from their porch besides to get a new drink, we bee-lined out of there and got back on the right direction.
I ordered a full shrimp po’ boy dressed, a bag of Zapps, and a bottle of Barqs. I could not believe how huge the sandwich was. I had trouble taking a full bite since I could barely fit it in my mouth. It was the best po’ boy that I’ve had. It contained a mountain of shrimp that exploded out of the sandwich and onto the paper below. I had so many shrimp that jumped ship that I could’ve made another half sandwich from them. There were no survivors though.
My friend ordered a Roast Beef Po’ Boy that was one hell of a mess of a sandwich. It was gloopy, and dripping, and looked delicious. He said it was pretty good but enjoyed the 2am Mother’s leftover cold Roast Beef Po’ Boy more.
I didn’t have a chance to try Domilese’s since it was inconvenient with the St. Charles Trolley being out of service. Also, I tried to go to Felix’s for a po’ boy but they were renovating. I will have to try them when I go back and see if Parkway really is king.
BTW-We called for a taxi back and were back at our hotel in 10 minutes. It was quite a difference from the hour journey it took to get there.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern
538 Hagan St
New Orleans, LA 70119
"And if you don't know, now you know." -BIG