MiLa, Bistro at Maison deVille, Commander's Palace, and Iris
We had another great visit to New Orleans last week. Here are my most humble opinions;
MiLa: Had dinner there on 11/17/2008. definitely agree with zin 1953 and Bill Hunt, the restaurant has lots of merits, but lacks a little something. I started with the sweetbreads with the truffled grits, my husband had the foie gras torchon. He loved his torchon, great balance of flavors. He always loves the foie gras. I thought that the sweetbreads were very good, along with the grits, but I was hoping for a bit more of a wow. We both had the sweet tea brined duck. Very competent execution, the slightly bitter greens were wonderful, a great contrast to the sweet, rich duck. Our biggest complaint was the noise, until several people in the dining room left. Unlike Bill Hunt's experience, everyone was behaving just fine, no one in particular was loud, just the accoustics of the dining room seem to be perfectly suited for an opera singer. Overall a really nice dinner, happy experience, but not as exciting as I had hoped for.
Lunch at Commanders on 11/18/2008. What a treat! Have eaten at Commander's about 5 or 6 times, and this was such a great surprise. Wasn't sure what to expect, as we've had some great meals, others less than great. The turtle soup was superlative, my husband had barbequed shrimp, and I had seared drum with a beautiful prawn that was out of this world. The service was what we have always experienced at CP - professional, courteous, attentive, absolutely perfect. Can't wait to go back!
Dinner at Bistro at Maison de Ville on 11/18/2008. This was our second dinner here, after a great experience last November. My husband started with the sweet breads which were great, I thought much better than at MiLa. I had the frogs legs grits and grillades. Greg Piccolo admitted to us that he was quoted correctly when he said that the sauce would make cat poop taste good. This is not an understatement. The dish was wonderful, but the sauce was out of this world. My hasband had the filet, which was perfect, and I had scallops with gnocci and sauteed arugula. The gnocci could have been a little bit lighter, and the scallops were a bit sandy, but the flavors were all the way there. One of the servers her had some attitude, but we will not hesitate to return as the caliber of the food here is just amazing. Even with a few little glitches, Chef Piccolo's abilities are amazing, can't wait to return. (Not to mention he is a really nice man, very passionate about food, so approachable and kind.)
Lunch at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse on 11/19/2008. I was tempted by the big fat prime burger. It was great, as was the turtle soup. Not much else to say about this.
Dinner at Iris on 11/19/2008. I was really looking forward to eating here after all of the great reviews. My husband ordered three appetizers - Shrimp with a vietnamese salad, Sweetbreads with a sage jus, Foie gras. I ordered a quail salad based on our server's recommendation, and the monk fish (same as Lynn, zin 1953's wife). I just cannot believe that I'm writing this - this was the strangest experience. My salad was composed of greens right out of the bag from the purveyor - not necessarily a bad thing if fresh, but there was a lot of brown/black slippery stuff. I tried to pull the bad parts out, but lost my appetite quickly as there was lots of brown stuff. When the server walked by, I let him know that the lettuce was rotten, showed him my little pile of brown stuff, and asked that he alert the chef. He said thank you, walked away, and that was that. No offer to replace the greens, to replace the dish, or to do anything at all. My husband enjoyed the shrimp, but commented that the salad was not very flavorful. I must say that my greens did not have much flavor, but I can't really say for sure since I only ate a fork full. My husband's sweetbreads were very nice, but the sauce was reduced heavily, to the point where the veal stock became very gelatinous, cloying in the mouth. His foie was great, but the accompanying figs were burnt to the point of being inedible. (He loves foie, and does not mind things charred, but the figs were black and very bitter.) My fish was great, everything that the dish could be. Cooked perfectly, great flavor balance, just wonderful. Our server was quite pretentious, and the food was not at all equal to his attitude. I was so disappointed since Laurie was so kind on the phone when I made the reservation. I wanted to e-mail her about my experience, but their website does not invite e-mail. Also, I can't help but assume that she and the chef knew about my salad - there were only about 20 people in the dining room. When I owned a restaurant, my servers couldn't wait to tell me if a customer complained about something - their tip is usually the thing that suffers. I can't imagine why our server would not have informed the owners, but maybe I'm wrong. Doesn't much matter, I would be hard pressed to return soon.
Our last breakfast was a great fluke - we had breakfast at The Bourbon House. They don't advertise it on their site, but they do serve a limited menu. I had a great Creole Eggs Benedict, and my husband had traditional Benedict. Both were wonderful, and the tab was an amazing $27 including tax and gratuity (entrees were only $10.25 each). Highly recommend this as a great, quick spot for breakfast before an early flight.
Thanks all for all of the recommendations, looking forward to our next visit!