Posts Tagged ‘gumbo’
547 St. Ann St
New Orleans, LA 70116
December 28, 2011
Let’s talk about a New Orleans breakfast failure.
We were awake early, so my wife decided she wanted to try Stanley. It wasn’t on my list of must-hit places, but after walking by it and looking over the menu, we’d decided to go during the trip.
We had Restaurant August and Parkway Bakery on the docket for later in the day, so I had concerns about stomach space. I’d planned to do most breakfasts on the trip with a nice cup of oatmeal and save my stomach capacity for the good stuff we had planned for lunches and dinners.
So, we rolled up, got seated, and I decided to order a cup of gumbo. My wife got an egg combination with some pancakes.
The gumbo was the single best cup of it I had all trip. Let me repeat: I had gumbo pretty much anywhere that served it as my own little side-by-side comparison tour of NOLA cuisine. Stanley’s was, hands down, the best. It was full of oysters, shrimp, andouille, and chicken. There was rice. At $5.75 for the rather large cup, it was not only the best, but a steal. My wife reported being very happy with her food, too.
The epic fail comes when you read what I should have been ordering. I should have been eating Beaux Bridge Benedict, with boudin, ham, and poached eggs. I might have chosen Eggs Stanley, basically eggs benedict with the genius addition of fried oysters. Failing those two, I should have ordered the bananas foster french toast.
As it turned out, neither August or Parkway stuffed me. I could have easily fit any of those in and maybe taken an extra lap around Jackson Square. Don’t get me wrong, my bowl of gumbo was outstanding. But now I have bitter, sorry regrets.
538 Hagan St
New Orleans, LA 70119
December 28, 2011
Thanks, NOLA Yelp, for this suggestion. It wasn’t on my radar and set a nearly unbeatable standard in my mind about what a po boy should be.
Everybody recommended the surf and turf. I have to admit that I had reservations about whether beef gravy would overwhelm the taste of shrimp. I was so very wrong. That sandwich is about as perfect as you could imagine. Ours came dressed and my daughter kept saying “more” as I tore apart shrimp after luscious shrimp for her.
Not everything we had was perfect. The bread pudding with rum sauce was fine, but nothing special after days packed with bread pudding. The gumbo wasn’t bad, but was my least favorite of the many gumbos I tried during our trip. The chunks of chorizo were delicious, but overall it could have used something special: some seafood, a bit more spice, something.
We had some sweet potato fries that were crisp, sweet, and copious for the price. All in all, I wish I’d ignored all of the rest of the offerings and just gotten another sandwich to try. I love the bread, the gravy, the meat, and even the experience of eating outside on a plastic table in the middle of winter because the dining room is so full.
800 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
December 29, 2011
I felt a bit of an obligation to visit Emeril’s while in the city. After all, his was the first cooking show that I really watched with any enthusiasm and, without Emeril Live, I’m not sure that the Food Network would have reached the levels of success that it has today.
We arrived ten minutes early. Or, at least, what I thought was ten minutes early. In fact, the time change and my stupid phone conspired to mess us up by an hour, so we were 50 minutes late. The lunch rush hadn’t set in yet, though, so they get us seated immediately after my fusillade of apologies.
From the prix fixe menu, we get a cup of gumbo, duck mushroom toast, and peanut butter pie. The gumbo is fine, though a bit weak compared to others we tried on the trip. The toast is delicious, though the portion seemed a tad skimpy. More on dessert later.
We also ordered the barbecue shrimp appetizer which was very tasty with the small biscuits being a standout. Our other appetizer was the B.L.F.G.T., a sandwich on brioche with bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato that was probably my favorite dish of the afternoon.
Dessert was a bit of a fiasco. We had the peanut butter pie and a banana cream pie coming and waited patiently for it. And waited. And waited. After 30 minutes, our server came over to apologize for a mix up that had occurred and let us know that dessert was on its way. My daughter, at this point a good hour past her nap time, had gone from moderately patient to just on the edge of a total meltdown before he’d approached us with the news, so I asked him to package them to go. He apologized again and, ten minutes later, emerged with the pies in a bag.
Service recovery matters a lot to me, so when he let me know that he’d taken one of the two pies off the check, I was fairly satisfied. Mistakes happen, so we went back to the hotel and had the desserts. Having had food at other Emeril restaurants, I’d expected that the dessert would be the highlight. Instead, both pies were just ok. Whether that was a result of the time between their being served and the walk back to the hotel, I’ll likely never know.
1403 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130
December 27, 2011
This was our first meal in NOLA. We dressed our 14 month old up in a little black dress, put on some fancy clothes that would remain in the hotel closet for the rest of the trip, and took a cab to the garden district for lunch in the turquoise and white building.
It’s no surprise that 130 years provides ample time to learn most of what there is to know about how to make delicious food and how to treat a guest. We’d put on our best clothes, and it seemed like Commander’s leaped up to meet us as we were greeted by a phalanx of waiters, towel over an arm, and taken to our table. On the way, we walked through the kitchen area which was bustling with lunch preparations. I don’t know if that visit to the kitchen is a standard feature of every Commander’s visit, but my wife and I agreed later that it was one of the cooler non-food elements of the visit.
The glass-clad dining room we were seated in was elegant and showed its age in all the right ways. All of the restaurants we planned to visit on the trip had said that our little one would be welcome, but I’d wondered how true that was. Commander’s set a high bar: the wait staff played, flirted, and even brought a balloon for her. She’s already very good at taking social cues about behavior, and put on her best for this meal. The only thing that made me more proud of her was all of the compliments from the wait staff.
The food was outstanding. We split a gumbo and turtle soup. The turtle soup was my first introduction to the dish and the deep, complex flavors would have outshined nearly any soup had the gumbo not been there. Short of the gumbo at Stanley, it was my favorite of the trip.
The cochon de lait and lacquered quail were both delicious. I’d been told that we would roll out of the restaurant absolutely stuffed, but I didn’t find the portions to be overly large at all. By the time we reached dessert, I had plenty of room. We ordered the bread pudding souffle and a strawberry shortcake. Both were good, though I preferred the shortcake. I’m not a huge fan of souffle and, while it was tasty enough, it didn’t sway me over to the eggy side of dessert.
There are many restaurants that I’d like to visit in New Orleans. We barely put a dent in my list during this trip, in fact. So it’s high praise, given the limits of time and stomach space, that I don’t think I’d be able to make a next trip without visiting Commander’s.