Long Trip Review 7/17 - 7/24
Finally getting settled from a great week in NOLA. We experienced some old restaurant friends and found some great new ones. Our trip started early from Philly and we went into flexible mode as we were alerted at check in that our connection in Houston was overbooked. Upon arrival we were offered a deal to bump but it was not worth it. After some wait and some negotiation we hit bump gold with $400 credits and only a 2 hour wait. Unfortunately United could only get one of us onto an early next flight so we decided to forgo and head on. A great rep kept working and when we saw him coming down the aisle as the plane was preparing to close the door we knew we were off to a good start.
Arriving in Nola at 3 instead of 1 did not make much of a difference and after check in headed to our first planned meal at Domenica. http://domenicarestaurant.com/restaurant-bar.html. Believe everything you have heard about the Happy Hour. We ate a filling and delicious Tutto Carne- fennel sausage, bacon, salami & cotechino. Combined with an Abita Amber and a 23 oz. Abita AndyGator beer, the whole check was $17. Service was great and people were taking home pizzas all over.
We ate late in the day and just did not have it in us to have dinner.
Wednesday lunch was at Mr. B’s http://www.mrbsbistro.com/menu_slide.php where we had never visited. We arrived at noon and while the restaurant was fairly quiet we were pushed to a back table by the kitchen doors. I did not ask to be re-seated and figured we would keep with our go with the flow attitude. We had a very good server but despite my clear statements that we were in no rush, the meal did feel pushed out too quick. The BBQ shrimp were the reason for going and once assured that they would cut of the heads for my wife’s request, we were good to go. Well done $1.50 martinis were served as ordered and we settled into another wonderful meal. I had the 2 course special and the gumbo did not disappoint and my main of salad was also great. Having Mr. B’s BBQ shrimp for the first time was well worth the wait. Large succulent shrimp in a messy butter spice sauce. The waiter gave us some great tips for places to go at night and despite the slightly rushed aura, an all-around hit.
We spent the afternoon in the Quarter. On our way back to our Warehouse home, we decided to give Manning’s a quick look for Happy Hour. Harrah’s owns it and it is pretty big and during the week we saw it as pretty empty all week. http://www.harrahsneworleans.com/casinos/harrahs-new-orleans/restaurants-dining/mannings-detail.html
Half price beer and selected apps were the special. We ordered Duck wings which were 4 Duck legs. We enjoyed them as well as the small display fry basket of some sort of pork rinds. Dinner was not until 8, so we lingered a while before leaving the mostly empty restaurant.
We headed off that evening to Brigtsen’s which we had also never visited. What a wonderful night. A perfect mix of home like service in a home like setting combined with superb food. We ordered from the $33 dollar 3 course menu and were treated to pure joy. Tough to find a better value in NOLA. A perfect shrimp soup, pork chops, etoufee and jambalaya combined with decadent bread pudding and flan. We ended the night at Rock ‘n Bowl watching a bygone era with swing music and crashing bowling pins in the same room. http://www.rocknbowl.com/
The next day found us heading over the Causeway, 24 miles of bridge across Lake Ponchatrain. We were being totally touristy heading to an alligator farm but stopped in Covington for lunch. Covington looks like a nice little town with a lot of arts stores. Next trip we will definitely explore. Lunch was at a small locals place called Lola’s. You order creatively prepared food from a counter, pay and take your table number back so your server can find you. http://www.lolacovington.com/. I had a tasty bowl of crab soup and half a chicken sandwich (more than enough) and my wife feasted on the LOLA Salad-Mixed greens with blue cheese, candied pecans and house made cranberry vinaigrette. Great food does not have to be pricey and Lola is proof.
Our dinner that night was framed around the question, how much would you pay to have Frank Brigtsen cook a special dinner for you? The answer is $150 at the New Orleans Cooking Experience. We have visited this organization before and had a great time. http://www.neworleanscookingexperience.com/
Over 4 ½ hours, 10 guests were treated to a combination cooking class and conversation with a true NOLA treasure. Frank walked us through his cooking history, style and punctuated it with tips and thoughts on his long storied history. The guests shared their background and knowledge around feely poured wine and beer. Dinner brought out Frank’s upbringing as we dined on pasta and fresh sauce gracing veal parmesan. Some things are hard to price but while an expensive night this truly is a one of a kind experience.
Friday began with our annual pilgrimage to Commander’s Palace for lunch. The adventure began as a deluge descended around 10 am throughout New Orleans. 9 inches of rain fell that day. Roads quickly flooded and our attempt to get to St. Charles was diverted by flood waters. We navigated along Magazine which also had flooding but got there on time. We started with 25 cent martinis (see previous comments- yes they use bottom shelf but hey it is a quarter). http://www.commanderspalace.com/
The Commander’s experience was wonderful as always but if I had any complaint (and it was minor) is that our server was just a bit less than polished. She knew many of the regulars and they knew her but as once a year patrons, her service to us was a bit lacking in the attention that we have often received and expect. The meal began as always with the most buttery garlicky bread around. I had a fabulous pork po’ boy and the gumbo was as remembered.
The rains subsided as we went to another familiar place for dinner- Eat. http://eatnola.com/menus/ a small BYOB. I thoroughly enjoyed their Trio- a cup of gumbo, cup of red beans, one roasted stuffed pepper, and rice served with a side Caesar. My wife’s crayfish pie was also a hit.
Saturday found us along Frenchman Street following a walking tour and we ate at Marigny Brasserie. http://www.marignybrasserie.com/. We had eaten here before and enjoyed it, so all the better when I scored a $3 Restaurant.com coupon worth $25. A pitcher of Mimosa’s , a stellar huge muffaletta , and a shrimp po’boy on a hot day was greatly enjoyed.
Dinner took as to R’evolution. http://www.revolutionnola.com/. I would refer you to the threads going on for this unbelievable one of a kind dining experience. Bring cash but be prepared to be dazzled.
Sunday took us to another new spot- Café Atchafalaya. We thankfully had noon reservations as the wait was 90 minutes when we got there. The air conditioning was strained and great live Jazz music was playing for those inside and at the small bar which was packed with those waiting. We were seated within minutes. I took on a “when in Rome” attitude and ordered a Bloody Mary which is a drink I have never had. The catch here is that they bring you the vodka in a glass and you proceed to a fixin’s bar with pickled veggie’s, 10 or so hot sauces, - lemons, limes, horseradish and other stuff. I know why I don’t like tomato juice but I enjoyed the experience even though it was definitely my last Bloody Mary. I am not a brunch person but added Andouille to my choices. Upon tasting I should have told our good server that it was off and not good. The place was so hectic and crazy and we were totally enjoying the music and the rest of the meal that I just let it go but it was inexcusable on their part. http://www.atchafalayarestaurant.com/
I’m a big baseball fan and we sat front row at the Zephyr’s game that night. We like the guilty pleasure stadium food choices but skipped this time figuring we would pick up a late meal in the Quarter. We ended up at Felix’s and ended up so disappointed as we waded through a meal at what is, for the moment, a dying landmark restaurant. We were (and are) Acme fans but I wanted to give Felix’s a try to evaluate it as we call it in Philly, the Pat’s vs. Geno’s best cheesesteak argument. Suffice it to say it was a disaster.
One day to go and we end up having a late lunch on Canal at Brennan’s Palace Café. Another first time spot and it was quite good. My wife is a hamburger aficionado and she ranked this as one of the best. I took a break and enjoyed a light salad. We did not take advantage of their summer temperature special but for around 9 bucks you could have had what appeared to be a really special lunch.
Our trip is ending and our plans take us to the Bywater area. An amazing local musician- Dana Abbott http://www.reverbnation.com/danaabbot who we have recently befriended sent us to a dive bar BJ’s Lounge http://www.yelp.com/biz/bjs-lounge-new-orleans for some last night music but beforehand we chowed down on superb smoked BBQ at The Joint. http://alwayssmokin.com/ Real smokers churned out superb BBQ which is not a New Orleans staple. Portions were huge and I ended up with my airline lunch as well as more for the trip home.
Tuesday was travel day and we came home exhausted, a bit heavier and still in love with NOLA.
Left off the report my visit to the Sazrarac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel. Had seen it while walking after our trip to Domenica and wanted to give it a try for the house special even though I don't drink whiskey. Much like my Atchafalayaya experience with Bloody Mary's I wanted to experience what everyone talks about. As my wife was at Harrah's and I would rather eat and drink than gamble, I walked up Canal to give it a go. The drink was actually pretty good although it will be awhile before I develop a real taste. The bar was very busy on a weekday at 11 PM with what seemed to be a heavy expense account crowd. I had the distinct displeasure of sitting next to two open shirt hairy chest guys going full bore on two cougars. For some reason they seemed amused and engaged with watching one guys porn on his cell phone and talk of anal bleaching. Lovely evening at a high class bar. My walk home along Canal was highlighted by a full pick up attempt by a hooker. Gotta love NOLA.
Sounds like a great trip. That back corner thing at Mr. B's, however, is a bummer. I don't know why they do that. Like I've said elsewhere, you gotta speak up if you get stuck somewhere you don't wanna be.
Still, you are making me want to come back. Atchafalaya and R'Evolution are definitely on the next itinerary. And the Frank Brigsten thing sounds really interesting.