Trip Report Sept. 14-16
1. Friday lunch at Commander’s Palace. I’d been to Commander’s before but not for ages. Absolutely loved the festive Friday boozy lunch atmosphere. H and I both went for a restaurant week deal, with a couple extras added. We shared the Oyster Dome to start – several plump oysters in a creamy fennel-scented broth, with small pieces of bacon or ham scattered throughout underneath a flaky puff pastry shell. I had the soup of the day, which was a shrimp and charred chili bisque – great shrimp flavor with a low-level of heat. My husband had the chopped salad, which tasted like a cross between a cobb and a ceasar. It was fresh and crisp but nothing out of this world. For entrees I had the cochon du lait, a nice piece of fork-tender pork served over a spicy boudin. Hubby had the chicken saltimbocca, which was good if a bit salty. Desserts were cheesecake drizzled with a caramel sauce and the bread pudding soufflé. Both were tasty, with the cheesecake getting a slight edge in my opinion. Could only make it through two 25 cent cocktails each.
2. We scrapped plans to hit Domenica happy hour Friday evening after 2+ hours or eating and drinking at Commander’s. Instead ended up early evening at Bellocq for cocktails. We ordered the shrimp remoulade with kohlrabi salad, which was not really a remoulade at all but rather a Vietnamese shrimp salad with a chili/peanut/lime dressing. It was excellent – very fresh and bright tasting. Also had the shrimp and pork spring rolls which were crispy and flavorful. Great cocktails and good happy hour deals. I’d definitely return.
3. After some music and wandering, dinner part two was at Saint Lawrence on the edge of the French Quarter on N. Peters. Started with the wings, which came with an overly sweet chili glaze and a thin “goat cheese” dipping sauce that didn’t have much flavor. Also had the FGT po-boy – a good idea with fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, and bacon but the bread was too soft and there was too much of it in relation to the other ingredients. Bacon was a few bacon pieces rather than full strips. H had the turducken burger which I didn’t try but he said just tasted like a basic turkey burger. Not worth a return visit.
4. Cochon has long been a favorite of ours and Saturday lunch didn’t disappoint. Standouts were the charcuterie board, especially the head cheese and the rillettes, and the charred okra with black-eyed pea vinaigrette. Also had the smoked pork ribs, which were tender and smoky but a bit too saucy and the sauce was on the sweet side for my tastes, a roasted shrimp dish that was very good, and shrimp and eggplant dressing, which was tasty but a bit too charred on top. Dessert was a peanut butter and chocolate pie – fantastic. Tasted like a gourmet homemade snickers bar.
5. GW Fin’s for dinner on Saturday night was bustling with lots of large parties. We felt a little out of place in the small “couples ghetto” along the wall with the majority of other smaller tables in the room. This was my first time here and while everything was fresh and well-prepared, it didn’t blow me away. It had a bit of an overly slick, corporate vibe and reminded me of a Las Vegas restaurant. The standout was the soft-shell crab appetizer, served with a nutty brown butter sauce. Our other starter was blue crab dumplings, which were pretty bland and forgettable. Entrees were the parmesan crusted drum with crab meat, brown butter, and capers – very good, mild, and fresh – and blackened swordfish with mashed potatoes and spinach – again, fresh and reasonably flavorful but nothing special. Skipped dessert as we were ready to move on.
6. We finished up the trip with Sunday brunch at Stanley. We shared a small gumbo with potato salad as a starter and loved it – great depth of flavor, lots of chicken, sausage and oysters, and I have a soft spot for potato salad in gumbo. I had a boudin eggs benedict served on French bread – the eggs were perfectly poached and the boudin was flavorful and spicy, but there was too much bread. Would have been better with the standard English muffin or French bread cut half the size they served it on. H had the muffaletta which I didn’t try but he compared favorably to other versions.