I haven’t been to New Orleans since before Katrina hit and I have wanted to get back there for many years. This past weekend was our chance to see the city again and experience the food, music and sites of New Orleans.
We checked into our hotel around 5:30 p.m. after a delayed flight from LAX, but were happy we made it and soon to find out our room wasn’t ready?? The W Hotel in The French Quarter was a great location to explore the city, but the service seemed scattered. The manager made up for the mishaps and moved us the following day to a nicer room and a better location.
After a quick change of clothes we headed into the Sobou Bar which was in the W Hotel for a quick Bourbon Cocktail before heading to dinner. The drinks in New Orleans are some of the best in the country with combinations of bourbons, bitters and juices that are combined in a beautiful traditional fashion.
Our first dinner was at Restaurant Revolution which has been open a couple of years with Chefs Folse and Tramonto behind it. The dining rooms are large with a production kitchen in the back and a very professional waitstaff.
As for the food, the Butters and Oil with Bread were a nice start, as bread has become such a scarce commodity in Los Angeles. I loved the whipped Maple Butter which was reminiscent of my days working at Marie Callendar’s of all places.
The Fried Oyster Salad with Bacon and Butter Lettuce was outstanding. The oysters were bright and creamy and the salad not over dressed.
The Torchon of Foie Gras had a creamy rich texture — just like Duck Butter! The grilled bread and four sauces were fantastic too.
For our entree, we split the Crawfish Stuffed Red Fish Napolean in an Artichoke Oyster Stew with Crawfish Boulette. The layers of fish were light and moist and the sauce….well what can you say about Oyster Sauce, except outstanding!
The Beer Battered Crab Beignets were another decadent treat with four Remoulades. The spicy remoulade was the best of the four sauces.
Too stuffed to eat another bite until the treasure chest of petit fours arrived. Of course we ate them all.
We headed to Frenchmen Street for Jazz Music. Frenchmen is now where the real musicians go to play in the clubs, bars and bistros. You can pop into most venues for free, but sometimes there is a cover if the act is well known. I recommend Maison, Blue Nile and Three Muses.
The next day we took the Green Line Trolley on St. Charles Street up to the Garden District and walked and shopped around Magazine Street. There are shops, cafes and galleries that are unique to New Orleans on Magazine Street. After a few miles of walking we headed to Steamboat Natchez for an afternoon Jazz ride on the Mississippi. The boat serves food and drinks and plays live jazz during the tour, I found it very informative and quite fun!
For dinner that evening, we headed back to Magazine Street to Coquette. The restaurant is dark and stylishly French with a large bar and crystal chandeliers.
We started with a Pork Gumbo with Hard Cooked Egg and Pigs Ears. The gumbo had great deep flavor, but was barely warm and the egg served chilled would of been a great contrast if served hot. The pigs ears added crunch and I enjoyed the light broth of this non-traditional gumbo.
The Fried Gulf Shrimp with Chili Jam was perfectly sweet and crunchy. The jam was a nice accompaniment along with the scallions and shaved horseradish.
The Hanger Steak was cooked sous vide style in house made Worcestershire Sauce and then seared on the grill. The warm Brussels Sprout, Potato and Onion Salad along side the beef was delightful.
We also had a great bottle of Rioja to drink with our meal, thanks to the advice of our wonderful waiter.
Apple Fritters with Maple Ice Cream for dessert made for a perfect ending.
The next morning we walked through the Treme, which we found out wasn’t the best part of town, to Parkway Bakery & Tavern for Po Boys and a beer. The line out the door was loaded with mostly locals and their guests.
The Shrimp Po Boy and Reuben were good, but a little dry for our taste. I enjoyed the sweet potato fries and the experience.
After a cab ride back to the French Quarter, we headed to Free Wheelin Bike Tours for our Creole & Crescent City bike ride. Teddy, a native of New Orleans was our tour guide and we peddled the streets of the French Quarter, around City Park and again through the Treme on cruisers. We stopped a few times for history, sites and of course Beignets at Morning Call.
Here is the oldest living Oak Tree – 800 years old in City Park.
After several miles of peddling, we went back to freshen up for dinner at Bistro Daisy on Magazine Street. Bistro Daisy was an old house converted into a restaurant and decorated with French furnishings.
The menu had traditional offerings like Fried Oysters, but they were prepared with a bit of heat and sitting in a pool of Jalapeno Garlic cream. One of the best dishes of the trip.
Seared Foie Gras with Potato, Mushroom and Greens in a Meat Jus was rich, tender and satisfying.
For dessert, Baked Alaska with Samatsu (orange) Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream inside – a toasted Creamsicle!
Sunday was the big Saints Game and the city was packed with jersey wearing fans from Louisiana and beyond. We jumped on a trolley and headed back up St. Charles Street to brunch at Atchafaalya on Louisiana Avenue.
The Jazz Brunch was packed with Tulane University students and parents attending parents weekend. The music was blaring while dining on some of the best local flavors. The special was Eggs Rockefeller with Fried Oysters, Poached Eggs, Cream Cheese Grits and Cream Spinach. This dish was rich and worth every bite.
Jalapeno Cornbread topped with Alligator Sausage, Poached Eggs and Creole Hollandaise was another decadent brunch item.
Afterwards we headed back to the French Quarter to Jackson Square and to pick up a few souvenirs from New Orleans.
Before dinner we went to Arnaud’s for a cocktail. As history has it, Arnaud’s made the first French 75?!
Peche is the new kid on the block in New Orleans with a James Beard Nomination for 2014. Our experience was not the greatest. For starters, we had fresh oysters and fried bread. The oysters were fresh, but the bread which was highly recommended by our waitress was just fried bland dough.
Our pasta dish, Capellini with fresh Crab and Chilis was delivered at the same time the oysters and bread came, so I asked to take it back to have it as a second course. The waitress looked at me like I was nuts and said she would bring it with our entree instead. Upon arrival of our Flounder came the pasta, ice cold. I asked for the manager, who brought me a new pasta within seconds, which was room temperature at best. The picture makes it look much better than it tasted, flavorless.
The Flounder with Samatsu Butter Sauce, was soft and loaded down with fresh pieces of heavy oranges and more sauce. The fish had no roasted crunchy texture, just a pile of mush with tiny bones everywhere.
The best part of the meal was the Cauliflower Gratin which was creamy, crunchy and at least warm!
The next day we headed home from a fun weekend in New Orleans. The place is the same in many ways, but different in others. New Orleans probably has some new growing pains to go through, but the Big Easy will always be a popular place to visit.