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trip report

i went down to new orleans for ponderosa stomp, and also to visit my kids, who live uptown. we cooked one big meal at their place, which we bought at whole foods -- and man, it's a nice store and all, but the parking situation is pretty insane. if you drive there, i suggest looking for street parking rather than trying to deal with their lot, which is tight and quite nutty.

anyway, we hit cochon butcher to go for lunch. had the BLT, Pork Belly Sandwich, Cochon de Lait Po' Boy (a special), plus sides of mac & cheese, potato salad and brussel sprouts. sandwiches were all great -- i've noticed that some folks complain about the "standard" quality of the bread there, but man, the guts make up for it. i sampled everything and it was all first rate. the sides, however, were the real knock-out. so much better than last time i was there. a little salty for my taste, but once i got used to that i just dug in and glowed. excellent! the wait (at 1:30) was not bad either (about 15 minutes), and the staff there was darned nice.

for dinner we hit cowbell (8801 Oak St <<http://www.cowbell-nola.com/&gt;&gt;) which was fantastic. we got there on the early side, since they tend to crowd up after 6:30 or 7, and got seated right away. the place has a casual, semi-hipster vibe (supposed to have good cocktails, too), but was very friendly. for apps we had the figgy toast, which was incredible -- with andouillie, sweet & sour figs, and cheese. we also ordered a special app, which was brussel sprouts with grapes and marcona almonds, and it was killer as well. i had the burger, which was amazing. a perfect medium-rare with homemade ketchup and agogo sauce, plus the zinfandel/bacon/onion compote (which i highly recommend). kids had the grilled cheese special (with spaghetti squash and mint pesto) and the fish burger (fresh chopped salmon and shrimp). we darn near licked the plates clean.

next morning we hit refuel (8124 Hampson Street <<http://refuelcafe.com/>> which had the best dark roast i've had in nola, and some of the best grits i've enjoyed anywhere. very nice casual spot (although my kids say on weekends, after 10:30 it is full of tulane sorority gals -- which is good or bad, depending on yr opinion). i had the breakfast burrito, which i was warned was "odd" and it was. it was more like a panini in presentation, but had all the features you'd expect in a breakfast burrito -- just pressed down. it was quite good, although the coffee and grits had won me over already.

we tried to hit walkers up in east nola for a cochon de lait po' boy lunch, but they were closed for some event! drat! our friends directed us to a non-disclosable location on the fringe of the FQ as a replacement, and it was pretty good -- although more like a pulled pork sandwich than i'd expected. for dessert, however, we wandered over to green goddess (307 Exchange Place) to partake of their signature dessert -- the bacon sundae. it was mid afternoon and nearly empty, and man that is a mighty fine sundae! pecan praline ice cream with a creamy bacon & caramel sauce with a couple different salts. wow! if you feel a craving for something sweet, it's a heck of a nice thing to tuck into!

that night we hit luke with a big crowd of the kids' friends. we went heavy on the apps, since the young people were all into sampling the cocktails (i was the designated driver this trip). we went heavily into oysters (both baked and raw) which were excellent, as was the plate of pates and the flamenkuche -- a kind of alsation pizza. i know there have been many off-comments about the service at luke, but our waiter was quite attentive, and the food came out at a nice pace. i went with the burger for my order (who can resist alan benton's bacon?) and i didn't keep tabs on every else's order, but they seemed quite happy. of course, most 20-somethings probably like any meal that someone's dad is paying for, but everything i sampled was darn good. and the kuche and pates were truly wonderful. the menu is definitely more northern european than new orleanian, but the oysters were great, and it's a very laid back place (especially on the later side). not cheap. i think it ran about $80 a head (inclusive), but it was worth it.

my last morning we hit elizabeth's for breakfast -- as i always love to do. got there early, so we didn't have to wait. praline bacon., steak and eggs...mmm. i'd never sat upstairs before, but it was nice and service was spot on. by the time we left, it was jammed. but hey, what do you expect?

on the way to the airport we hit morning call (the one in metairie) for beignets and cafe au lait. i just love the vibe of that place. and the beignets are always fresh (unlike some other spots). i had hoped to hit cochon butcher again to grab a sandwich for the flight home, but there just wasn't time. ah well. i'll be back at christmas.

can't wait!

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  1. can we get in the way-back machine and you be MY college-age dad? I won't be grumpy this time.

    1. Great review. Thanks for sharing.

      1. OK, I'm curious and have to ask: what was the non-disclosable restaurant on the fringe of the Quarter? My inquiring mind wants to know... ;)

        By the way, great report and great descriptions.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Christine

          christine

          i can only say it was a small sports bar with a very good cochon de lait po'boy. we were directed there by ira kaplan and georgia hubley of yo la tengo (a band whose touring schedule sometimes seems to be built around restaurants they want to hit! ha). here's a link to an artsy photo of the sandwiches from the band's website, but they did ask that we keep the name of the place under our hats, with the implied threat of losing access to other secret spots. i would generally be happy to share the info, but under the circumstances,i hope you can appreciate my dilemma.

          http://therealylt.tumblr.com/post/492...

          1. re: fatheryod

            yes, i do understand. really interesting association with the band Yo La Tengo because my husband and I are fans; he is more a fan than I, and i think he has seen them perform a time or two. I will have to tell him this story. Really neat to know they build their tour schedules sometimes around where they'd like to eat. Now that is truly a band after my own heart!

            I remember having a cochon du lait poboy one time at Elizabeth's that was fantastic. Have you ever tried one there?

            I love to play detective so maybe i'll figure this one out on my own - heehee.....

            1. re: Christine

              thanks for the tip on elizabeth's po'boys. i've only been there for breakfast. i think they do a great job of everything except potatoes, which the only weak spot i've found on their menu. will definitely try to hit it for lunch on my next trip to nola. i quote enjoy the one at mahoney's as well, but have really been jonesing for the one at walker's, which the one served at jazz fest. those guys are often closed, doing a festival catering gig, however, so i have been thwarted thus far. good luck on yr investigations! ha.

              1. re: fatheryod

                Great trip report. I have not been to Green Goddess since my first visit in 2010 -- your description of that bacon sundae is making my mouth water. Will check it out.

                Also you are the perfect college-ager dad, and just as a warning: we are reuniting with our three thirty-something kids on the forthcoming Nov. visit, one also lives Uptown -- and I have very good instincts that we will be footing the bill(s).

                Does it ever end? But at least we are lucky that our kids picked one of the best food destinations in the world to call home, huh?

                1. re: karendor

                  that sundae was memorable! you are very lucky yr kids chose such a delicious city to settle in. and if they're fun to hang out with and happy to see you, it's probably worth the price of a few meals. if they had settled in a place like st. johns newfoundland (i only mention this spot since my wife and i were contemplating visiting a friend up there and the food scene does not look too promising) you'd be much worse off!

                  and honestly, i live in a area nearby two of my wife's siblings. they're all in their 50s and i think their mom still picks up the tab when they go out. so i'm not sure there's an end in sight. if it comes to that i think i'll just flash my aarp card when i visit, take them out to an early bird special at applebee's and pay in coins. maybe they'll take the hint. ha

                  1. re: fatheryod

                    love the aarp card idea, will do!

                    actually it was my first visit to nola (dear daughter was scoping it out) that turned me into a chowhound, so I am grateful every time I visit. [Ok I live north of SF in the wine country so it wasn't like I didn't partake of food/wine but nola flipped the switch.]

                    dd and her friends LOVE it when me and my credit cards visit... this time we get to include stepson/dil who r based in austin but have been in rural ghana for 4 months. I know they will love NOLA (pretty much virgins) and my hope is that they will be incredibly appreciative of all things edible -- and particularly eateries with silverware!

                    Speaking of drinking destinations -- and I would drink like a fish if I was up in newfoundland --we just found out the AWESOME Confederacy of Cruisers bike/cocktail tour is canceled for T-giving week. Big sadness as this was a highlight of my April visit.

                    Revised plan: booty's for lunch, head to marigny for the "regular" C of C creole tour followed by our very own (off-cycle) cocktail stomp.

                    I think the GG sundae is a post-bike ride reward must!

                    1. re: karendor

                      karen - now that is one fine (and food fascinating) piece of triangulation, Napa/Sonoma, NOLA and Ghana.

                      have a potluck and go post on the 'Home Cooking' board. seriously.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Thanks HF!

                        I am pretty proud of my adventurous adult kids (NOLA = 2nd grade teacher, Austin/Ghana = filmmaker) so appreciate your comment.

                        We ARE having a T-day potluck & to make matters even more spicy one of my daughter friends co-hosting works at Bayona... and another is bringing baklava as part of her tradition!

                        I am ready for this post to get re-directed :} so I want to say --again-- how much I am looking forward to the Green Goddess sundae.

                        Also If you happen to see my recent ChowNOLA "corkage fees" post you will see I am bringing Sonoma County pinot/zin/gewurtz. Need to keep indoctrinating ya'all

                         
                  2. re: karendor

                    Of course being a good drinking destination had nothing to do with it...
                    {;-/)

          2. Awesome trip report! You sound so fun! And now I want to go back to Nawlins'!

            1. also fatheryod my kid has been wanting me to do cowbell for years but your description may sway me even more. thanks!

              1 Reply
              1. re: karendor

                karen

                cowbell is a fun spot with good food. but it was worth hitting on the early side (especially if you have a group) since it's on the small side (around 10 tables, a few of which are large enough to be communal) and when we were going out the wait looked substantial. it being nola, however, you can always grab a cocktail and hang around outside shooting the bull. have a great thanksgiving.