Day 3 - A Phoenician's Tour of NOLA (Napoleon House, French 75 Bar, Brigtsen's)
Halloween on Bourbon Street kept us up late and we slept in since it was officially our anniversary but got up in time to take the Steamboat Natchez up and down the Mississippi River. Hilarity ensued when a Catholic High School contingent from New Iberia, LA asked if we were twins and had a blank look on their collective faces when we replied , "No, we're husbands." Certainly a field trip they will never forget!
After the river cruise, we headed to Napoleon House for a late lunch. We took a seat in the courtyard and ordered two Pimm's Cups, a whole Muffulatta, and two sides of Jambalaya. The day was so lovely and we basked in the slight breeze.
Our Pimm's Cups arrived and they were exceptionally refreshing. The cocktail was garnished with a slice of cucumber that very much complemented the rest of the drink. I was hooked and very pleased. The yummy sounds from J. indicated he felt likewise.
A little later, our Muffulatta arrived and it was huge. Cut into quarters, we each piled two of the quarters on our respective plates. One bite and more moans of pleasure were evident. The warm, Italian sandwich was full of meats, melted cheese and a wonderful marinated olive salad that was perfect. I know there are purists who say that a "real" Muffuletta has to be cold, but we found the warm bread and melting cheese to be a treat. J. said the mix of flavors really shined and I could tell he loved it as he chowed down on the two quarters.
The accompanying small dishes of Jambalaya was quite good. Plenty of rice and Andouille Sausage made this the perfect side dish. I do wish it had been hotter in temperature, but it was a minor quibble. I also liked the bit of a spicy kick it had. J. agreed that it was a very good addition to our lunch.
Later that afternoon, we decided to wander over to the Carousel Bar for a drink before dinner. Sadly, the bar was closed for renovations and wouldn't be open until sometime in December. We moped and decided to walk around a bit before finding ourselves in the French 75 bar next to Arnaud's. We felt a bit underdressed (we were in shorts and Hawaiian shirts), but were assured by the hosts that all was well. We took a seat at one of the tables and scanned the menus.
Right off the bat, we knew we had to have the signature cocktail, the French 75. A combination of Cognac, Moet Champagne, and lemon juice and a splash of bitters, it just called to us. We also had the Boudin Wontons which looked enticing. The bar was quiet but suddenly burst into a cacophony of conversation as more people entered. Our French 75's were delivered and they did not disappoint. Oh, they were heaven in a glass and a perfect way to toast our anniversary. The effervescence, the contrasts of tastes and the refreshing citrus taste just made it a perfect celebration cocktail to have as the sun set.
Our Boudin Wontons arrived and I was a bit disappointed that there were three small wontons. Considering the cost, there should have been at least one or two more. They were hot, crunchy and filled with a flavorful sausage. They were served on a bed of tangy cole slaw and with a sweet chile sauce for dredging. All in all, they were tasty, but not anything exciting.
We headed back to get ready for our anniversary dinner at Brigtsen's. Upon arrival, we were cheerfully greeted by the hostess who asked if we were celebrating anything and we said our anniversary. She ginned and said she had a special table for us. Brigtsen's is situated in an old house, so she took us to a table that would have been on the porch. we got situated and she then sprinkled heart confetti on our table and we were charmed.
Our server arrived and took our drink order. We ordered a "Porch Swing," which was Brigtsen's version of the Pimm's Cup but included an additional shot of traditional gin and no cucumber. We were then provided with a wonderfully hot, fresh baguette that was crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. It didn't stand a chance.
Our drinks arrived and we were very pleased. The Porch Swings were quite delicious and I loved how light the drink was. At that point, we ordered our meals. I decided to start with the Pulled Pork on a Corn Griddlecake while J. went with the File Gumbo with Rabbit and Andouille. That would be followed with the Crispy Roast Duck for me and the "Shell Beach Diet" Seafood Platter for J. We also decided to split a House Salad.
When my pulled pork arrived, I was a bit astonished by how large it was. There was a lovely pile of pulled pork sitting on top of a light and fluffy corn griddlecake and drizzled with a Pepper Jelly glaze. In a word: fantastic. The pork was tender, flavorful, and absolutely decadent. The savory pork, the sweetened griddlecake and the spicy pepper jelly were perfectly matched. J.'s File Gumbo was dark, rich and packed with lots of rabbit and Andouille. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
The kitchen was kind enough to split the one salad we ordered. It was a simply mix of greens with a light Cane Vinegar dressing and bits of feta cheese and spice pecans. A very nice way to cleanse the taste buds.
Shortly after our salad, our mains arrived. My Crispy Roasted Duck was served with Dirty Rice, sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes and a Tart Cherry Sauce. I was floored by how crispy the skin was on my duck. It was sublime. I gave J. a taste and I could hear the crunch as he chomped down on the duck skin. Perfection. The duck meat was moist and delicious. The dirty rice was an excellent base for the duck and the tart cherry sauce just excelled . The sauteed vegetables were quite good because the of the caramelized onions in the mix. The potatoes were creamy and lovely. I was in bliss.
J.'s Shell Beach Diet Seafood Platter was substantial and consisted of Grilled Drum Fish with Crawfish & Pistachio Lime Sauce, Shrimp Cornbread with Jalapeño Smoked Corn Butter, Baked Oyster LeRuth with Shrimp & Crabmeat, Baked Oyster Bienville, Jalapeño Shrimp Cole Slaw, and a Panéed Sea Scallop with Asparagus Coulis. The winner of the bunch was the shrimp cornbread as J. found is unique and full of deliciousness. He also thoroughly enjoyed the grilled drum. Actually, he enjoyed them all. His one comment was that he couldn't taste much oyster flavor from the dishes, but he found the preparations tasty. He was very pleased with his selection overall. He mentioned that he was aware that the seafood in this dish tended to complement the preparation rather than vice versa. However, he felt this was not a detriment to the dish, as it was very well prepared and quite delicious.
After our feast, we decided to split a piece of the Pecan Pie which was recommended by the server. It arrived in minutes sporting a lit candle and anniversary wishes. The pie slice was all but floating in a sea of homemade caramel sauce.. The pie was utterly wonderful. The sauce was butter and sugary goodness. We loved every forkful of the pie and every spoonful of the sauce.
We finished just enjoying the atmosphere and then said our goodbyes before heading back to the hotel. It was a wonderful anniversary dinner and a lovely time.
Brightsen's was charming and romantic and is recommended without hesitation.
Thus, Day 3 was under our belts.
Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118
Sorry to hear about the Carousel Bar. While an avowed wino, it has been a favorite of mine, going back over 30 years, when we lived in NOLA.
Glad that Brigtsen's met expectations. Interesting to hear of the differences in the cocktails, but that is not my forté. Chef Frank has always managed to wow us, but then there are some weal familial ties, so maybe I grade easier?
As for "husbands," if the group had been from Dominican, there would not have been any surprised faces - New Iberia, well who knows? [Grin]
Sounds like you are enjoying the trip, and that is most important.
Thanks for the Seth Chadwick reviews. I have missed those on the Phoenix Board, but then have been gone so much, that I have missed so much on CH, regardless of the board.
Enjoy, and happy anniversary!
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118
OMG Seth, I can't tell you how much I enjoy your reviews. I look forward to it everyday - hope you never go home. If you are not a writer by profession, you should be. Loved, loved, loved your story from the boat. Brigsten's is our very favorite and we enjoy the same entrees as you and J. Can't wait for tomorrow!