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Dec 22, 2010 04:38 PM

Recent spectacular meals and one truly awful experience

New Orleans food is always good. I am lucky to live in a city where one rarely has a bad meal. It is usually a question of how excellent the food is. Due to holidays, friends in from out of town, and general dining out, I managed to have some of the most excellent meals I have had in a long time. It just does not get any better. First, one of the most superior meals recently took place at Mat and Naddie's. I have always enjoyed this restaurant; funky, laid back, friendly, and usually great food. This time the place was so spot on I could not get over it. I don't know who is doing the cooking over there but it gets a big bravo from me. My second most memorable took place at Meauxbar in the French Quarter. It is basically in tourist central and 90 percent of the patrons are locals. Dim lighting, convivial atmosphere, an owner tending to everyone's needs, and magnificent food. First of all, this is the best macaroni and cheese I have ever put in my mouth. The roasted curried fish is sublime as is the trout grenobloise. My friend had roasted pork which was perfection and also, Meauxbar serves some of the best coconut sorbet I have ever put in my mouth. I don't even like sorbet that much. Usually Italian food takes a back seat in New Orleans compared to creole but the big exception is A Mano. I can now say that we have a restaurant that knows how to serve pasta. Light, fresh, and buttery. Excellent. I was treated one night to a big meal at Tommy's-a restaurant I always enjoy for the atmosphere as much as for the food. Prices are extraordinarily reasonable considering the quantity of fresh crabmeat, oysters, shrimp, and fish. It is really one of our best creole restaurants around. For the bargain of the city, go straight to Boucherie. How do they manage to put out such incredibly good food at such reasonable prices? Small plates and large plates alike. I know people who have closets as big as this restaurant (admittedly wealthy, over the top folks) but the good food just does not stop. It is not easy to get in due to the size but reservations are accepted. Now for the bad news. My friend and I walked toward Canal Street one day. Weather was nice and that good sandwich and salad place Wilty's on Camp was closed. So we passed up Rambla in order to try that new place with the odd name "Red Gravy". Good LORD! The interior was a bit dirty, the ceiling is has stained tiles that look straight out of the year 1985 and the tables are small and uncomfortable. You order at the counter with someone who has no clue what she is selling. Meat ball poboy with red gravy looked cold and grey. My ham sandwich was served on what tasted like mediocre grocery store bakery french bread and deli ham. I will say that the desserts looked rather tasty as did the bakery items, however, muffins were just sitting on plates uncovered. I could not get out of there fast enough. How sad considering the location is incredible. If I want a ham sandwich I just stand in line at Mahoney's where that sugary crusted ham is served on proper Leidenheimer's crispy bread. Happy eating everyone. I still have not tried Sylvain which is high on my list. I heard of another place at the end of Oak Street with great food. Is it called Cowpoke?

217 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

942 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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  1. i also forgot to mention this complete gem. The chef one night served sturgeon that was one of the best things I have put in my mouth all year. This woman really knows how to cook. Plus, the restaurant is beautiful, elegant, refined, and so smooth. Everything seems to run with perfection.

    Gautreau's Restaurant
    1728 Soniat St, New Orleans, LA 70115

    1. Cowbell. I haven't been, but curious to check it out.

      You'd think that location (Red Gravy) would be good, but for whatever reason places don't do well there. It's been three restaurants that I can remember off the top of my head. I think it's just slightly too far away from the big CBD offices, and people who work in the Quarter tend not to cross Canal Street for lunch. That's just my theory though.

      4 Replies
      1. re: uptownlibrarian

        Maybe so. I could not help thinking to myself, what a great location. Exactly the opposite of what you said; CBD, FQ, and Sheraton/Marriott hotel guests attending conferences. What a perfect location. But you must be right. Just too far out of the way. Take that other place on Magazine for example that was some latin place with bad food and now it is going to be something called "Ruby Slipper Cafe" . It is just down the street. To be honest, I find it easier to park around there then near Cochon and Rio Mar. Cowbell!! That is the name. I must give it a try. Apparently, it is in that old gas station on the corner of Oak and River Road.

        930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

        Rio Mar Restaurant
        800 South Peters, New Orleans, LA 70130

        1. re: mikey

          That Ruby Slipper is a second location of the restaurant on S. Cortez in Mid City. It's pretty good for breakfast. Good bloody marys. I glanced at the menu of the new location and it looks the same as the original. I hope they do well but that location has cycled through four or five restaurants in the past couple years too.

          Ruby Slipper Cafe
          139 S Cortez St, New Orleans, LA 70119

          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            I live on Common Street, half a block from the new Ruby Slipper, which is a pretty fair approximation of the Mid-City original. I really hope they make it, since as you say the location has been a Bermuda Triangle for restaurants. The immediate predecessor was Carlos Mencia's, which went downhill faster than Bode Miller.

            Ruby Slipper Cafe
            139 S Cortez St, New Orleans, LA 70119

            1. re: erikschwarz

              I've also noticed the restaurant turnover in that location. However, on Sunday it was packed for brunch. The only seats were at the bar. Today, it also had a nice crowd (though not to capacity). I like the menu and as I've said elsewhere it will probably replace Stanley's as my go-to casual breakfast place. Hopefully, it is there to stay.

      2. Good Report Mikey............One suggestion if you don't mind. Break your next report down into smaller paragraphs. One big long one is too much for me. Good luck.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Littleman

          Thanks Littleman. Got carried away!

        2. Went to Cowbell today. I had the veggie burger which was very good served with fresh cut french fries. Chocolate cake for desert which had some alcohol in it and was excellent. Coffee was also very good. Prices- about $10- $12 per meal. My friend had fish tacos which also looked good.