T.O. visits N.O. redux.
I was lucky enough to visit your fine city last may, and I posted about some of the eating I had a chance to do. I was so excited about New Orleans food that I insisted that more friends come with me for a return visit. (God bless cheap flights from Buffalo!)
Between Friday at 9pm when we arrived and Tuesday at noon when we left, we managed to hit the following places: Coops, Dante's Kitchen, Guy's Po-boys, Cochon, Galatoires, LIl Dizzy's (Esplanade), Adolpho's and Mother's. Since my incessant praising of my last trip's food was the motive force behind this trip, there was a lot of repetition.
Coops: Again, chosen because there do not seem to be abundant cheap and chowish options after 11pm in walking distance of the FQ. I should have probably asked for help on this one. Coops is a fun bar, with great staff, it wasn't too busy to get a table at 10.30 either. We had fried chicken and Jambalaya. The chicken was juicy and tasty---but really salty---even for my salt-crazed companion. The accompanying coleslaw and jambalaya helped a bit to tame it. The Jambalaya supremes were filled with plenty of interesting meats and seafoods, but the rice is a bit mushy for my taste. Kinda baby-foody...but with delicious smoky tasso (I think) and impressive shrimps given the location.
Dante's Kitchen: Saturday at around 11.30, I was totally surprised the place wasn't more full. (Brunch competition is deadly serious in Toronto). We had a couple cocktails (I got to try my first brandy milk punch--wacky and wonderful!) ordered the bread plate to start, a duck confit on succotash, seafood cake and shrimp and grits. The bread plate was pretty good, nice homemade bake-sale type stuff. The shrimp and grits had obscenely creamy grits and very sweet, though maybe overseasoned shrimp. The seafood cake satisfied it's owner, though my bite seemed a bit bland but freshtasting. (I should mention that it came with two awesome looking poached eggs which I didn't try), and the duck confit was pronounced "a little drier than I was expecting" though the accompanying succotash I tried was pretty tasty. Very friendly service, nice laid-backed atmosphere.
Guy's Po-boys: The one time that I had tried a roast-beef po-boy previously was at Parasol's and it was really lacking in beef (or gravy) flavour. That was not the case here, but the texture also wasn't as magical-fall-aparty as the parasol's version. We also had a catfish, which was crisp and moist. The french bread was not as fresh as it could have been, however. A disappointment----since i had been raving about the "special" bread they have in N.O. to my friends.
Cochon: tried a few cocktails, including a "splendour in the grass" which included parsley and was a crowd favourite. Got to try the much lauded broiled (?) oysters and the eggplant and shrimp casserole, among other things. Sadly burnt myself very badly on an oyster shell which must have been straight out of the oven. Had to begin drinking very heavily to dull the pain, which would have been fine except that our server was AWOL for much of the evening. All the food was fantastic---with the possible exception of the alligator which I had heard so-so things about and which tasted like a southern spicy tuna roll. Many of the things I ate here (rilletes for example) are the best versions I have ever had.
Galatoires: After breakfasting lightly at Cafe du Monde (and confirming to myself that I just don't get chicory) we went to Galatoire's for lunch. Homer, who served me last time, was not there, so we were introduced to Shannon---who did a marvelous job and whom I heartily recommend. Got to try the eggplant with powdered sugar (Shannon recommended that we use bearnaise to glue the sugar on, or make a sauce using hotsauce and powdered sugar) and was totally delighted with how good/different it was. We also ate a grand goute and oysters on brochette and 2 pompanos, 1 soft shell crab, and a redfish (all sauteed and topped with crab meat). Galatoires is a total experience kind of place, so it is hard for me to tell whether I love the food so much for its own merits, or as part of the whole. At the end of the meal we all felt like we had eaten a stick of butter. No one was complaining, however.
Lil Dizzy's: Tried to go to Parkway, where I had previously enjoyed best-of-trip poboys, sadly it was closed for Columbus day. Got in a cab to Lil dizzy's on Esplanade instead. Small buffet set-up, with fried chicken, baked chicken, pot-roast, vegetables, jambalaya, potatoes, gumbo, bread-pudding. Everything was very good--particularly the jambalaya which I liked much more than coops. The best thing was that one of my friends was looking over the salad bar (which I didn't visit) when a server came over and asked what she needed. My friend said that she was just looking for potato salad, and the server said: "no problem, I'll bring you some." Minutes later, enough delicious egg and potato salad for the four of us appeared at the table.
Astonishingly rich banana bread pudding. Everyone was stuffed to the point of malaise.
Adolpho's: The place was nearly empty--probably due to a torrential downpour. Very friendly, relaxed young server. We split some mussels and a crab and corn cannelloni at our server's suggestion. Both dishes showed evidence of competent cooking, particularly the cannelloni which were very delicate. Three of us had redfish, topped with various cream and seafood sauces, and one had a rack of lamb. The fish was good, the crab meat was not lump meat, which would have been a miracle at these prices, but the sauces were delicious (in that way where the disgusting pleasure of eating cream is balanced by the refined pleasure of eating something that is better than other versions of a dish.) The lamb was a giant portion for $24, like 7 or 8 bones, and it was---while not spectacular---very respectable given the price and casual environment.
Mothers: We got here early, because it opens early and didn't have much time before our flight. I had the debris and grits, my friends had the breakfast special (eggs, sausage, grits, biscuit). Everything other than the perfectly respectable biscuits was mind-numbingly horrible. Actually, the sausage was o.k. The debris was pretty much devoid of flavour and the meat was dry...even while sitting in a pool of watery gravy-liquid. Bad, oily, scrambled eggs. I'd tried their black ham on a biscuit before and been pretty happy. It's pricy at $4.50 for ham on a biscuit, though.
Soo.....checking expedia prices and trying to justify a trip in the new year... The one place we walked by that I'm really sad we missed was August. It may have been particular to our moods that evening, but through the window it looked like a marvelously elegant place.