Monday, October 22, 2012

U.S. Adventures - New Orleans

We just got back from what was kind of a whirlwind trip to New Orleans—it was crazy because the kids were there with us and we did a lot of sightseeing, visiting with members of hubby’s family who lived down there, as well as trying to fit in some adult time to eat at some of the amazing restaurants as well.  I am not going to do a full post about each restaurant, just some of the highlights and lowlights of each.

The first thing we did we when got to town was go to lunch—everyone was starving. We hit up Joey K’s on Magazine Street near where we were staying. It is a friendly neighborhood kid friendly spot that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives awhile back.  I had my first po boy (shrimp) ($8.50) and it hit the spot.  Lots of fried shrimp, mayo, lettuce and pickles. And of course, the perfect roll.  After eating it, I realized how lucky we are to have B’s Po Boy here in town because they were remarkably similar. My son had a fried soft shell crab ($16.95) that was also quite good.

Our first night, we hit one of the old school standards—Commander’s Palace.  This is the restaurant where Emeril got his start.  It is a bit stuffy and we had the kids with us, so they lost a bit of patience with it—especially since the service was pretty slow.  I was kind of surprised honestly. My first course was by far the best, and was quite delicious—it was spicy shrimp remoulade ($9.50).  It was wild white shrimp that were boiled crab boil style and served with hearts of palm, tomato and lettuce with a spicy lemon vinaigrette.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked and tender and had a zippiness to them from the seasoning.  Honestly, the rest of the meal was fairly disappointing—well my taste of hubby’s turtle soup was ok if you are into that kind of thing.  Tasted heavily of the Sherry they pour in at the end.

We randomly stopped into a little outdoor place in the French Market section of the Quarter for lunch the next day called the Market Café.  We were with a bunch of hubby’s family members (and kids) and it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the music.  I had my doubts about this place when I saw it—seemed like a tourist trap kind of place, but hubby and I split a fried seafood platter ($20.95) and it was really good. Catfish, shrimp and oysters—all cooked nice and crunchy outside but tender inside. The shrimp were probably my favorite.

We had our first really good dinner that night at Mr. B’s.  They are known for their barbecued shrimp ($26), which we shared an order of and which lived up to the hype.  If you aren’t aware, barbecue shrimp in New Orleans is shrimp cooked in a sauce that contains Worcestershire sauce, butter, and tons of herbs and spices.  We also shared an appetizer of their fried oysters ($10.25) with the table and they were probably the best thing we had that night—super fresh, super crunchy oysters sitting in their shells which were filled with bacon horseradish hollandaise.  And I really liked the cool old school bistro-ish vibe.

Lunch the next day was with friends at Borgne, which is a John Besh restaurant. We had some really good food here, although it is a restaurant in a hotel and the atmosphere is a little generic.  We had a bunch of stuff—my favorites were probably the slow smoked pork empanadas ($9). They were served with a  creamy, tangy dipping sauce and were tasty.  I also liked the creamy oyster spaghetti with garlic and bottarga ($20) just for something different.  The oysters were really tender and delicious, and I have to say, I always prefer them cooked.

Dinner was at Root which was a restaurant several people had recommended to me—it is a very modern place located in the Warehouse District. It has a very hip urban feel to it and a very hipster-ish clientele.  Honestly, this was the biggest letdown food-wise for me.  They have a nice charcuterie menu, and we had a couple of things (face bacon and rillettes) and I appreciated all the cool accompaniments that came along side (many pickled items).  Probably the most memorable was the blueberry mustard that came in the little tube (as in like toothpaste). Apparently, they have something different in the tube each day and they squeeze a little out and leave the rest of the tube there for you to use.  First time I have seen that (and it tasted good too).  The rest of the food wasn’t that great taste-wise, although also likewise inventive—there were avocado dippin’ dots on my watermelon salad and the scallops our friend ordered came in a cigar box filled with cigar smoke (not so sure how I feel about that, not being a fan of cigar smoke).  An interesting experience for sure, but not one I would likely repeat.

Our last dinner was the best—it was at Bayona.  There were some clear standout food items, but everything about the experience was just really nice, even when certain food items weren’t as memorable.  The restaurant is in the French Quarter and has an old school feel and I loved our server—she chatted with us quite a bit and genuinely seemed to like her job and where she worked.  The items that stand out in my mind were an appetizer we all shared—the toasted bread with goat cheese and this wonderful mushroom mixture with Madeira. Simple, but perfectly executed. I am so going to try and duplicate this one at home. (I just found the recipe here.) Hubby had an amazing sweetbread appetizer with a Sherry vinaigrette sauce that also had the perfect mix of acid and savory flavors—and the sweetbreads were perfectly crisp.  It was a perfect way to end our trip with a great meal, wine and friends.

Oh…and there were beignets at Café Du Monde of course…

One of the things I noticed about New Orleans that I loved—the people.  Everyone, and I mean, everyone, wants to tell you where to eat and what their favorite restaurants are.  The people I met all had an obvious love of their City and were more than happy to share it with you.  It is a physically beautiful City as well. Hubby and I are already planning our next trip---this one without kids so we can really relax and just eat and wander the streets. I would love to hear about all your favorite places.
Live Oaks in the Garden District


Mardi Gras Heads

Joey K’s
3001 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115

Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130

Commander's Palace on Urbanspoon

The Market Café
1000 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116

Market Café on Urbanspoon

Mr. B’s Bistro
201 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Mr B's Bistro on Urbanspoon

601 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113

Borgne (Hyatt Regency) on Urbanspoon

200 Julia Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Root on Urbanspoon

430 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70112

Bayona on Urbanspoon

Café du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116


  1. NOLA is a wonderful city -- and you went at the perfect time of year (spring is beautiful too). Wouldn't go between June-Sept, it's unbearably hot! Never been to CP, but am not surprised at your review -- it's more of an historic staple than anything else, it seems.

  2. Cochon and/or Cochon Butcher. Incredible!

  3. When you come back definitely try Cochon/Cochon Butcher! Amazing!

    And make a trip to Meltdown off Decateur/Dumaine, kid friendly ice cream shop with homemade popsicles (Carmel Sea Salt is sooo good.)

    There are so many places to choose from and when you come back try exploring the Marigny-prices are little lower and great food.

  4. If you're visiting NOLA  and brought the kids, Mothers on Poydras Street is great choice.  Casual and the best Po'Boys around.  Don't get me started on their breakfasts - they do their own hams.