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Trip Report - Green Goddess, Commanders, Mandinas, Pascale Manales...

This board was invaluable in planning our trip, both in answering questions and for reading old posts and trip reports, so I wanted to report back on our hits and misses.

Saturday
Old Coffee Pot – we enjoyed our breakfast and sitting on the patio was lovely, we had the lost bread and a combo that included ham, eggs, biscuit and callas. The lost bread was very tasty, similar to a flattened and crisper beignet. The callas was a bit disappointing very dry but with a surprising gingerbread spice flavor. The biscuit was perfect, warm, buttery and flakey.

We followed this with Bloodies at Pat O’Briens inside bar. After a stroll around the quarter we went back to the Monteleone, since our room wasn’t ready yet we had a sazerac in the expanded Carousel Bar. We loved the sazerac’s here and the expanded space is great.

Dinner was raw oysters and gumbo at Felix’s and we called it a night early since we had been up at 5AM.

Sunday
Breakfast at Green Goddess – I just love this small quirky restaurant. It was a bit chilly so we sat inside which was a lot of fun as we got to observe some of the kitchen action. I was hoping for the grits and grillades or chillaquiles that we had on our last visit but they weren’t on the menu. Husband ended up with a Pressed Blue Crab Sandwich – this was delicious, the crab flavor really stood out. I had the Shrimp and Pork belly Bahn Mi – a spectacular sandwich, the richness of the shrimp and pork were accented beautifully by the bright Vietnamese flavors of the dressing and greens. The drinks sounded fantastic but we stuck to the coffee which was dark and rich. Highly recommend both these sandwiches and would have loved to return for dinner.

We then hopped on the Canal Street line (which was running buses for a planned service diversion) to City Park and the Botanic Garden. Our initial plan was to head to Parkway Tavern after our park visit but we happened to pass Mandina’s on the way over and headed back there instead. My husband made the better choice with Creole Eggplant – this was an odd looking but highly addictive dish. The eggplant came mounded in a serving dish (looking a bit like chopped liver), it seemed to be roasted and cooked down into a stuffing like consistency flecked with perfectly cooked shrimp. To be honest, we didn’t quite know what to think of it at first but once you tried it you just kept wanting more. Tables all around us were getting heaps of fried oysters, shrimps and chicken – I knew that was what I should order… but in a healthy fit I went for grilled shrimp and pasta bordelaise. The shrimp were fine but the pasta was seriously overcooked with a floury taste and the ‘bordelaise’ was oil and parsley. The salad to start and bread pudding to finish were both basic and tasty. We loved our server, the festive family atmosphere and the old school vibe of the place and would return for the creole eggplant and to try some of the fried dishes.

We finished up the night with sazeracs and jazz at Irvin Mayfields and another round at the Carousel Bar.

Monday
After a breakfast of lattes and blueberry turnovers from Café Beignet we got dressed up and headed to Commander’s Palace via the streetcar for lunch. The Garden room wasn’t available so we sat in the main dining room which we really enjoyed. Service was attentive without being intrusive and there was a great happy buzz to the atmosphere. We started with an Apricot Fizz which was a nice light drink (akin to an apricot mimosa). To start we shared the Oyster Absinthe Dome – this was a creamy, briny delightful dish to share. They brought us extra bread to sop up the sauce – the bread throughout our trip was amazing but this was one of the best loaves. We also had the commander’s Martini (technically not a real martini as it was not gin based) and moved onto gumbo and turtle soup – the turtle soup was the favorite with a great depth of flavor and a beefy quality. The gumbo was silken smooth apart from the shrimp and sausage – but we agreed that we like our gumbo a bit more rustic and textured. For mains we had the smoked seafood cakes and parmesan crusted drum. The drum was the favorite, perfectly moist with a nice crust, the sauce had a nice acidity – overall a light flavorful dish. The smoked seafood cakes were interesting, we expected something fried and crisp similar to a crab cake but this was more a timbale of smoked fish surrounded by sauce. I think I would like this more as a smaller appetizer portion. For dessert we shared the warm pecan pie which was wonderful. We can’t wait to go back to Commander’s and do recommend dressing up.

After a brief stroll through the cemetery we made our way up to magazine Street for some shopping – I would have loved to try some sweets at Sucre but we were pleasantly full. We walked up through the 5000 area and then strolled back down again stopping at the Bulldog Tavern for a cider. They have a truly impressive selection of beers here and the folks we talked to were saying the food was tasty as well. We strolled some more and stopped into the Rum House for a frozen margarita (food looked good but we had another plan). After a quick look at our map we hopped back on the streetcar and headed to Pascale Manales, it was a pleasant 4 block walk to the restaurant. We had a dozen raw oysters which were huge and magnificent followed by the BBQ Shrimp and more fabulous bread. This was just an amazing treat – the oysters were briny, creamy and perfectly shucked and the shrimp were sweet and perfectly cooked. One note about the oysters – we had some huge ones on the trip, the size could actually be quite daunting but they were all delicious.

We then walked back to catch the streetcar and stopped into the Roosevelt hotel for another sazerac – we loved the bar and the murals but preferred the sazerac at the Carousel Bar, where we headed for another spin!

Tuesday
Breakfast at Camellia Grill – fun old school atmosphere. We had great fun chatting with the Chef and our server. I stuck with simple eggs over and grits while hubby had an enormous omelet with corned beef hash and cheese. Good spot for a basic and inexpensive breakfast in the quarter.

We wandered through the quarter had a frozen irish coffee at Molly’s in the Market and eventually made it to Napoloeon house for warm Muffaletta and Pimms Cup. We each had a ¼ mufaletta which was really tasty and moist, the bread was great and the ratio of meat to cheese to olives was perfect.

Husband was starting to come down with a bug but we headed to Emeril’s for his birthday dinner. This won out over Coquette (our first choice) because of proximity to our hotel but it was a nice choice. Service was friendly and attentive and food was solid if not stellar. They brought out a crab bruschetta as a birthday treat – this was a really flavorful 2 bite treat. For appetizers I had the pasta with crawfish and creole cream sauce. This was tasty but I would have liked a bit more spice. Husband had the BBQ shrimp – the shrimp were very small and sauce was quite thick – might have liked this more if we were not still dreaming about the shrimp at Pascales. For mains we had the ribeye and the scallop special – both were tasty and well prepared but the portions were surprising. My dish had 3 scallops on polenta with 3 grilled asparagus spears and 1 satsuma orange section – it looked like an appetizer next to my husbands very large perfectly cooked ribeye with a tower of onion rings. That said, the flavor of my dish was great and I had room for dessert. Dessert was the banana cream pie. This dessert deserves its reputation and is definitely sized to be shared. The list of wines by the glass was very good as well, I had a nice Albarino and finished off my husbands Pinot Noir.

We had planned to go to dba but husband really wasn’t feeling well so we headed straight back to the hotel.

Wednesday
Husbands bug was not going away but he rallied. After a light breakfast from café beignet we headed to the Ogden Museum and then strolled over to Cochon. We had a fabulous special soup of white bean and kale, wonderful depth of flavor from simple ingredients, fried cauliflower, mac & cheese and an oyster and bacon sandwich. Everything was really tasty and well prepared I’d love to go back to try their selection of meats. I read mixed reviews about cochon but I definitely recommend it as a lunch or small plates stop. I also had a swinekiller which was a nice, light gin based drink.

After some more hotel rest we popped over to dba to see the Tin Men play – it was a great show (7 PM and smoke free!) and the beer and spirit selection was terrific. We stuck to the Crispin Cider on tap but you could spend days trying everything here.

We planned to try French 75 at Arnauds for some small plates but it was filled with cigar smokers so we beat a hasty retreat. The kitchen at Hermes Bar was closed so we ended up at Felix’s – I got a shrimp po boy (eh) and husband got plain grilled chicken and white rice.

Before heading home Thursday I popped into Drago’s for some chargrilled oysters – they were wonderful! The oysters were nicely sized and perfectly cleaned and cooked. I read lots of mixed reviews but for me these were a winner and I’d definitely return.

All in all we had a great time with wonderful service everywhere and some fabulous food. Everywhere we went people were warm and friendly – once folks realized we were not local people were eager to give their recommendation for music or food or share a story about visiting relatives up north, the people of this city are really what makes it special.

We might even brave the hot weather to come down for a weekend and try some of the spots we missed like Coquette, Herbsaint, Galatoires and Parkway.

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  1. Thanks for the feedback. There's an excellent reason why hotels are cheap and restsurants offer COOLinary specials during the summer. It's not just hot, combined with90%humidity, it is punishingly so... so hot my waterproof mascara melts (seriously). March and October are usually lovely.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JazzyB

      Our first visit was a VERY hot late May (pre-K), at midday on our 2nd day I realized I was just never going to dry off!

      1. re: llinza

        HOT doesn't happen till mid July/August.

    2. My wife had that sandwich at GG two days ago and loved it.

      1. Thanks for a great TR. I know you enjoyed your trip. Come back again soon. Good luck.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Littleman

          Thank you for the good suggestion to walk Magazine Street after CP's, and for mentioning Mandina's when you replied to my first post (that was the only reason it rang a bell when we passed by on the streetcar!)

        2. Very nice balanced review. Sounds like you did the city the right way,getting around a bit by foot and streetcar.

          1. I weep for that Oyster Absinthe Dome!
            and don't fret about the hot weather, we have ice and A/C ;)
            cheers~

            1. Glad to hear Pascal's bbq shrimp are still good. I haven't been in about 4-5 years. The bbq shrimp at Mr. B's were not good last time (shrimp overcooked - the sauce is excellent though) and I think I'm bumping Mr. B's bbq shrimp for Pascal's next trip. I used to never miss Pascal's but liked the dish a tiny bit more at Mr. B's. I often thought of having both of them in one trip but there are just too many other good things to be had.

              1 Reply
              1. re: texasredtop

                http://www.blackenedout.com/
                scroll down to Tuesday Feb.7 for a review of Manales.

              2. Excellent recap! Thanks for sharing. Breakfast at Green Goddess... A masterstroke!

                1. Great trip report, ilinza....thank you for writing and sharing.