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Pre-Isaac N.O. Report--Abbreviated

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Just heading home to PDX after a quick weekend in the Big Easy. Unfortunately, the view was a little skewed by the impending hurricane visit....but here we go:

1. R'evolution....was revolutionary. Well, not quite that, but it was a top-tier meal, easily the best I had during this mini-tour and one of my favorites anywhere this year. I skipped the long list of steaks, sticking to the La. specialties except I did splurge on the caviar staircase with domestic osetra plus a few other less extravagant roes. A beautiful if somewhat challenging to eat presentation. I suggest a mother of pearl straw as the most efficient utensil since the spoon tended to push the precious piles of caviar and accompaniments all over the place. Was also pleased with the "Death By Gumbo"--halved stuffed quail in a rich roux-darkened broth. Likewise crab beignets, delicate-crackly batter shell with abundant rich lump crab inside, each of the four pieces served over a different flavored remoulade. Also ordered and enjoyed the lamb trio: small servings of three cuts of lamb. Though I got in really late (1030pm), they seated me at the chef's table in the festive Market Room which allowed me to watch some of the kitchen work. Service was doting. Loved the look/feel of the other dining rooms as well, both darker and more formal.

2. Felix's: Was open. No booze, cash only. Divey but friendly. Plump, fresh oysters, sweet shrimp with the remoulade, decent gumbo. A positive if slightly strange experience due to constant apologies over lack of booze (I don't drink, so didn't care). I have no problem with cash only for a less expensive meal. Seemed to be the consensus; didn't notice anyone leave when they got the word.

3. Galatoire's--Lovely spot, but clearly faded glory in terms of culinary achievement. Saw one couple there who looked like they may have dined on opening night in 1905. Just kidding, but there were a few very seniors in there. (If they are like my parents, pity on their server.) I enjoyed my sauteed redfish with Sauce Yvonne, though the plate had a fair amount of excess oil. The sauce--with mushroom, sliced artichoke and lump crab--was delicious though it might have been gilding the lily since the fish was so mild and delicate. Crab salad "maison" would have been better if they'd bothered to use market tomatoes instead of the flavorless supermarket type. I enjoy lump crab, though I hate to say it doesn't hold a candle to my home state's Dungeness. Enjoyed the lush turtle soup, served with a little pitcher of sherry on the side. Would have preferred they add the sherry. I feel like at first I put in too little then too much.

4. Frank's: Central Grocery was closed and I needed a little muff for the flight home. Frank's seems a credible backup, to say the least. Let it sit in the hotel room fridge overnight to let the oil seep into the bread and munched half of my half between MSY and LAX. Best lunch anyone had on that plane. Adore the olive salad. First time for me for a muffaletta. Enjoyed.

5. August: So what if you went to one of New Orleans' top tables and almost no one else showed up? That describes lunch today as Isaac began tracking toward town. There was me at one table and couples at two other tables. Servers outnumbered patrons and were wonderful. Loved the brick-walled, multi-chandeliered, high-ceilinged front dining room. Food was outstanding...including the three extra courses they slipped me when I was the only one there. Foie gras torchon, marvelous; peach and chanterelle salad, the same. Also enjoyed the gazpacho blanco, basically a cold almond soup perfect for the climate. But the potato gnocchi, little pillows with lump crab meat and black truffle in a rich sauce were a godsend. Simply marvelous and a John Besh specialty, I was told. Dessert was a spectacular deconstructed-style banana pudding. Lots of fun components and delicious too.

That's it. Fun trip. Best to New Orleans and all of you who live there as you deal with Mother Nature's latest onslaught. Glad I finally made it. I will return.

--mcz

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  1. We have gotten a little out of touch on New Orleans restaurant news, so I didn't realized John Folse now has a restaurant in the city. When I saw "death by gumbo" mentiioned in your post I knew it had to be him, and I googled the name to find the information. We'll be visiting at the end of October and this will definitely be on our list. When we lived in NOLA from 98-04 my favorite special occasion place was his Bittersweet Plantation in Donaldsonville, but that's been closed for quite awhile. I'm excited to hear about this!