Sean Payton to return to Saints in 2013…
Sean Payton to return to Saints in 2013…
NOLA Christmas Dinner:
Ciabatta Truffle Dressing,
Sainte Marie is shaking things up a bit. New menu. New cocktails. Owner Robert LeBlanc and managing partner Murf Reeves have decided to clear up any confusion about what kind of restaurant they run and what kind of atmosphere it’s going to provide. Simply put, a French brasserie with a twist… the twist mainly being provided by Chefs Ngoc Nuyen and Darian Williams. Both chefs are sons of Louisiana who aren’t only proud of their home state but also of the food traditions unique to their families. Murf is compiling a cocktail and beer list that isn’t stereotypical of a French brasserie yet still accessible and wallet-friendly. Don’t let the (complimentary) valet fool you—The white tablecloths are gone. Don’t worry about dropping a martini glass—There aren’t any. Sainte Marie is about relaxation. Somewhere between the fancy restaurant and the cocktail bar is a place you can chill out, have some good drinks, lose track of time, and just enjoy the people around you, whether they’re ones you brought or new friends sitting at the bar.
Photos are all of tasting-size servings. Here are some thoughts from yours truly on the new menu. Continue reading
Classic Roast Turkey
Cornbread, Crawfish, & Crimini Stuffing
Cranberries 4 Ways (Traditional, relish, salsa, chutney)
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Mirliton, Shrimp, & Crab Casserole
Brussel Sprouts 2 Ways (Salad, roasted)
Creamed Onions Au Gratin
Parmesan Green Beans
Squash & Maple Caramelized Onion Toast
Baked Spinach Gnudi
Assorted Home-Baked Bread, Cheese, and Foie Gras Pate
Palmer House Brownies
(And last-minute arrivals of Honey Baked Ham and Pistachio Pudding. No complaints.)
Sometimes I want to say too much about a dish to fit into 140 characters. Apolline’s scallop entree is seared diver scallops. The appetizer could have used just a tad more salt or acid for my taste, but there was no lack of seasoning in this entree. (In fact, a more sensitive palate may have found this too salty, but I liked it.) I once had a Brazilian roommate who always said nothing could ever be too salty or too spicy for him, and he would have loved this.
I try to stay objective, but this dish was made up solely of ingredients I love, so it was impossible for me not to enjoy it. The scallops were on top of a charred corn maque choux and garnished with grilled gulf shrimp(!) and chive. This all sat atop a bacon “plank” roughly the size of four post it notes side-by-side in a square.
The scallops were perfectly seared, still medium rare-ish on the inside. They were quite flavorful despite the generous seasoning and spiciness. Mercifully, the bacon wasn’t wrapped around them, but the classic pairing was still intact. The slightly creamy sauce combined with the other ingredients (particularly the corn) reminded me of the flavors of a really good corn chowder. Despite my obvious bias, I think anyone would enjoy this. The portion size was generous enough to make me question if I’d finish it all, but I definitely did.
Told you there was too much I could say about this dish to fit into 140 characters.
Tweets about Apolline’s wine specials, sweetbreads, and pecan pie at http://twitter.com/ndrewmarin.
4729 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dinner Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30pm-10pm
Lunch Saturday-Sunday: 10am-2pm
I’m going to begin this post by beating y’all to saying it: “Excuse me, sir. Your bias is showing.”
I openly admit that I have a deep respect and admiration for the work of John Besh, Michael Gulotta, and Kelly Fields. When I write about food, I try to keep my thoughts relatively subjective. Although I’ve dined at Restaurant August a few times for lunch, tonight was the first dinner I’ve had there. I can’t help but share the details of this glorious meal with you. I dislike taking photos in fine dining restaurants, so I’m going to borrow ones from the chefs’ social media. Every dish Chef Mike tweets makes me salivate. The real bias though is that this meal included many of my favorite ingredients, so it was hard for me not to love the dishes. (I guess the flip side would be that if you know ingredients you like are being used, the bar of expectations is set high. But those expectations were met and exceeded.) Continue reading
My morning-after routine to help you rebound faster—and reap no punishment for a night of heavy drinking.
Order of operations is suggested but steps two through nine can be rearranged as necessary.
Follow these steps well enough, and no one will even know you were out last night. Unless they see your facebook and twitter feeds.
11. Exercise. And then follow these commandments.
Yes, I am aware I owe several restaurants (one in particular) write-ups about meals. But this post was specially requested by a friend I dined with who wants to remember exactly what we ate last night. So here goes:
A good friend of mine is back in New Orleans after a four-year absence and wanted to spend his week here dining at restaurants a college budget didn’t really fit. He dined out every day (often twice), and this meal at Coquette was his clear favorite.
We first sat down and our server asked us if we wanted cocktails. NOLA is famous for its southern hospitality, particularly at nice restaurants. This meal in its totality had some of the best service I’ve had: Friendly, informative, and attentive while simultaneously not over-eager, condescending, nor intrusive.
Bread and our cocktails (the daily special, an Orange and Ginger Punch) came out first. I often say you can tell a lot about a restaurant by its bread… and its butter too I suppose. Something so simple can really set the tone for a meal. The punch was great, the flavor of the vodka muted with the sweetness of the orange and the slightly spicy, almost peppery flavor of the ginger. Were we not headed for a night of beer-drinking after and doing wine pairings with dinner, I would’ve drank several glasses of it.
Man cannot live on bread alone. So he invented butter and alcohol.
To start, a salad of Pickled Baby Beets. I have this theory that people who don’t like beets have only had them out of a can. These were delicious, red and golden in color. The burrata (mozzarella’s creamier cousin) and little slices of duck ham added some richness. Fava beans for some protein and green. (Anyone who’s cooked fava beans knows what an ordeal they can be to prepare, and there were quite a few of them on this plate.) The sweetness of some aged (rather than just reduced) balsamic vinegar just enhanced every other component on the plate.
Next, a perfectly cooked filet of Alaskan Halibut, skinless but crispy on the outside and just-cooked on the inside. Crispy-tender English peas, still bright green, around a Carolina Gold “risotto” sitting in a spring onion broth rounded out the dish. Risotto is in quotation marks because it wasn’t traditional risotto rice but a long-grain prepared risotto-style. The friend I dined with expressed slight disappointment that it wasn’t traditional risotto, so I probably should’ve warned him that Carolina Gold on the menu implied a different grain. He finished everything on his plate though, so clearly he wasn’t that disappointed.
Although another restaurant in town is more famous for Cochon De Lait, I think Coquette’s take on the dish is just as good. Maybe even better. Anyway, a well-sized portion of fork-tender pork sits on top of sweet potato puree, surrounded by caramelized brussel sprouts. On a personal note, I didn’t grow up eating brussel sprouts. My parents never cooked them, so I was introduced to them as an adult in fine dining situations. Consequently, I’ve never disliked them. These are among the best. I’ve seen an anti-vegetarian or two gasp at how good these are.
We got an extra entree to split: Softshell Crab. This dish emphasizes Chef Michael Stoltzfus’s Maryland roots. Unlike the majority of softshell crabs in town, this one is not battered like fried chicken. It’s just a deep-fried crab, awesomely light except for the oil it was fried in and the crab’s own fat. Kohlrabi puree and Merguez sausage add some contrast of creaminess and spiciness. More of those wonderful caramelized brussel sprouts add sweet and bitter. Fresh watercress and fried mint (yes, fried mint) freshen up the dish. Fantastic.
We dined at a table on the sidewalk, so I didn’t feel bad using my phone’s camera.
Coquette got a new pastry chef last year. Chef Zak Miller, like many other great pastry chefs (in town and elsewhere), takes classic desserts and remixes their flavors and textures playfully… creating dishes that give diners a comforting familiarity and the fun of trying to figure out why adish they’ve never had before reminds them of something else.
Unlike my mother, I am not a donut lover. But the Old Fashioned Donut we each had for dessert was quite good. Maybe it was the portion being not too huge and not too heavy. Maybe it was the sweet bursts of the huckleberries around it, or the crumbles of oatmeal crunch, or the melting scoop of sour cream iced cream on top. I probably wouldn’t have picked this from a dessert menu, so I’m glad it was part of the tasting and I got to try it.
We split an extra entree so why not an extra dessert as well? And “Strawberries & Cream” is classic, but I’ve never had it quite like this. A “strawberry roll-up” (which looked like a fruit roll-up but was more like a paper thin hard candy) piped full of whipped cream, flanked by strawberry sorbet, macerated strawberries, and strawberry foam. That sounds heavier than it was. The only part of the dish remotely heavy was the cream, which obviously had been whipped full of air. Any strawberry lover — I’m assuming these were local Ponchatoula, at the height of their season — would enjoy this celebration of the fruit. The only other components of this dish were a little mint and obviously some sugar.
This was a meal of clean, bright flavors and pleasantly varied textures. Some dishes you may see coming to the table and at first think “Wow, too much going on” but realize all the ingredients come together beautifully once you have a taste. One of the reasons I’m continuously impressed by Coquette is the balance of each dish. Between flavors. Between textures. Between cuisines and styles of cooking. It’s always a balance done gracefully and subtly.
Friday lunch: Shrimp Etouffee and Fried Chicken at Lil’ Dizzy’s Cafe. I actually went in for a quick salad bar visit, but the hostess convinced me to order a dish. It wasn’t motivated by “I was told to SELL this dish.” Rather, it was pure pride. “You have GOT to try our gulf shrimp special today.” The waitress who brought it was equally proud and excited: “Baby, this gon’ be the best etouffee and chicken you ever ate.” The etouffee had a generous amount of huge gulf shrimp and a slightly spicy sauce that enhanced the shrimp flavor and was thick but not heavy. Everyone claims to have the best friend chicken in town, but what I got was definitely top five.
610 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Saturday dinner: Several courses with wine pairings at Le Meritage in Le Maison Dupuy.
1001 Rue Toulouse
New Orleans, LA 70112
Sunday late lunch: Paneed Veal and Crab Fried Rice at American Sector. I’m not a huge veal fan, but what isn’t good paneed (i.e. pounded to a uniform thickness and deep fried)? The crab fried rice had a hint of curry and lumps of crabmeat in it. Quite good.
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Sunday dinner: Brisket Pho at Lost Love Lounge. The staff of this kitchen aren’t Vietnamese, but they make a great bowl of pho. A little too much star anise but otherwise a great bowl of soup for a cool night.
2529 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70117