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Stella! Incredible!

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My husband and I were in New Orleans two weeks ago. We come to N.O. often to visit our son at Tulane but this time we came with a large business convention. We dined at Emeril's, Stella!, and Cuvee. We had been to Emeril's before, but wanted to give it another try......It was good but we experienced poor, rushed service (ie. the waitress spilled water on me three times!!!) and thought the food was just o.k...We dined there with a party of 7 and all had similar opinions.. Cuvee is always consistent and everyone we were with loved their meals, (especially the spiced shrimp napoleon and the redfish). However, Stella! is in a class of its own and deserves its exclamation point in my opinion! We had requested that our hotel concierge make several reservations and, by mistake, he booked us into August for the incorrect night. But as luck would have it, Stella! was able to accomodate us at 8:30 on an extremely busy evening due to a last minute cancellation. Stella has a warm, cozy dining room and the staff is friendly and welcoming. Most of the patrons were well dressed, but I did not find the dining room formal. It is sort of--- "just right". My husband and I rarely opt for a tasting menu when it is offered---but this one greatly appealed to us, so we tried it. Words cannot convey how good this meal was! We began with a crab, shrimp, avocado and arugula salad (great and refreshing), moved on to an asparagus puree with crunchy carelized maitake mushrooms (unbelievable), a roasted potatoe and truffle gnocchi with lobster and corn (sinful!), then tempura battered Hawaiian sunfish with sweet potatoe puree (terrific), on to a surf and turf of beef tenderloin and grilled gulf shrimp with wilted kale (wonderful---- but by now I was stuffed!), then a dessert/cheese course of Berkshire blue with huckleberry compote and spiced pecans, and finally to bananas foster french toast with vanilla bean ice cream and hot candied walnuts (amazing!). The tasting menu was offerd at $95 and was worth every penny! I have eaten at many wonderful and highly rated restaurants in my life and I would consider Stella! to be among the finest. Our service was "spot on" as was the food and wine. I would highly recommend Stella! to anyone.....We can't wait to go back!

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