New Orleans Dining - My Top Picks3:42 PM
You've already seen how we enjoyed a delicious meal on a real New Orleans Steamboat, and how we chowed down on a New Orleans food tour, but the eating didn't stop there! No, our trip to NOLA last week was full of decadent dishes and tantalizing desserts. New Orleans dining is packed with traditional favorites and daring combinations that just scream to be tried. Check out a few of our top picks!
Enough with the history lesson though, you all want to know about the food. Right? The food is superb, and the service is a close match. The waiter is attentive and you have an additional server just to keep your drinks full at all times! If you take more than three sips, I can assure you that your drink will be refilled. Also, Antoine's sports one of the largest above ground wine cellar in the world. In fact, you can look through the door of it in the restaurant and see people walking by the exit on Royal St. Trust me, this is a place you must dine at if you visit New Orleans!
Our meal at Antoine's Restaurant started with some warm fresh baked French bread.
My sister enjoyed the 2-2-2: oysters, featuring Antoine's signature Rockefeller, Bienville, and Thermidor style oysters.
My starter was a rich Chair de crabes au gratin, crab meat in a cream sauce with light cheese and French bread crumbs, which is baked like a casserole.
We also couldn't pass up the chance to try the Alligator soup, and it didn't disappoint.
For her entree, my sister chose the Pompano Pontchartrain, a fillet of Pompano fish with lump crabmeat in sauteed butter. It was light, flaky and the crab meat was sweat and delicious!
My entree choice scared me a little at first, but I as feeling adventurous. It was a special and not on the regular menu. Basically it consisted of a perfectly cooked portion of lamb on top of a fresh pineapple slice, with an Alciatore sauce, which is a brown pineapple sauce and a rich Bearnaise sauce combination with a mushroom cap to top the whole thing off. The lamb was tender and the mixture of sauces blended perfectly for a melody of flavors that sang in my mouth!
Sides at Antoine's are ordered separately from the entrees, and we couldn't pass up the chance to try the intriguing Pommes de terre soufflees, which are fried puffed potatoes.
At the end of the meal, you must save room for one of the restaurant's signature desserts. I had the cinnamon raisin bread pudding topped in rum sauce. It was delicious and worth the extra sit ups!
Muriel's Jackson Square
Just a short walk from the Bourbon Orleans where we were staying, we found Muriel's. Located in Jackson Square, this restaurant has a long and varied history. The plot of lad where Muriel's now stands was first the site of a basic brick house erected by Claude Trepagnier in 1718, the year New Orleans was founded. It passed hands many times until a fire destroyed it in 1788. The house was rebuilt and restored by Pierre Jourdan, who turned it into his dream home, but lost it in a poker game in 1818. He is believed to be the main ghost of Muriel's to this day, living forever in the place he loved most. The passing of the house to different hands continued until 2000, when Muriel's opened its doors.
This high-end restaurant provides amazing food in an ideal location. Tip: Get a seat by the window and enjoy watching the passerby's in Jackson Square. The service here is attentive, just as it was at Antoine's. Again, you have a separate serve to make sure your glass stays full at all times, and they go as far as replacing your butter knife each time you butter a piece of delicious French bread. Another bonus is the ability to visit the upstairs seance rooms and sit on their balcony overlooking Jackson Square after your meal as well.
For my starter, I had the pecan-crusted alligator in sweet pepper jam. There truly are not words to express how delicious this was for me. Many think that alligator is very tough, but when done correctly, as it was at Muriel's, it can actually be very moist and tender.
My sister ordered a salad, because apparently she was craving rabbit food. As far as salads go though, this one look fresh and crisp.
If you go to Muriel's, I highly suggest the duck! The duck was not only cooked and seasoned perfectly, but it was also paired perfectly with a duck confit dirty rice, baby carrots and a fig reduction sauce. In fact, the duck confit dirty rice with the duck crackling on top was one of the best things I have eaten anywhere, not just in New Orleans.
My sister chose the wood grilled gulf fish of the day, which happened to be swordfish on this particular day, and it must have been delicious, because she surely didn't offer me a bite. It was served with wilted spinach, leeks and artichokes, with a charred tomato vinaigrette.
To finish, I chose the white chocolate chunk blondie. I found myself wishing that this was just a bit softer, but it was delicious and I loved the addition of a caramel sauce.
Before I move on to the deliciousness that was our lunch at the Palace Cafe, I would first like to point out and applaud their attempt at making their food affordable for everyone. When have you seen another classy restaurant offer a deal like the one pictured below? That's right, a two course temperature lunch!
This was probably one of the more unique dishes we tried all week in NOLA. It is a crabmeat cheesecake. Yep, a cheesecake that is both savory and delicious. Trust me, it is possible. This was my sisters starter, but I did manage to bum a bite or two off of her.
My starter was scrumptious as well, although I would have loved to have a little less visual appeal and a little more ease of eating. Dissecting the shrimp proved to be a bit messy, and I hated to tarnish my crisp white napkin. That said, this Barbecued Shrimp appetizer served with a mouthwatering sauce spiked with Abita beer was delicous!
Here it is. The meal that haunts my dreams. Seriously folks, dreams are made of this. It left me scouring the web for a duplicate that I could make at home. What is it? It is none other than Andouille Crusted Fish in a Crystal beurre blanc with chive aioli. I have could have eaten about five more pieces of this fish, but mercifully, the cut me off at just one.
My sister enjoyed her Shrimp Tchefuncte, which was shrimp in a Creole meuniere sauce with green onions and roasted mushroom with rice. I am not a mushroom lover, so I didn't sneak a bite of this one, but she licked the platter clean.
If you want a real treat, order the Bananas Foster at the Palace Cafe. It is made table-side and they are quite proud of it, as well they should be.
The finished product. My sister ordered the Bananas Foster and she was not disappointed.
When I saw that they served a white chocolate bread pudding here, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be trying it. It was moist, sweet and the sauce added flavor without being too rich.
Not too far from the Palace Cafe is a well-known little place known as Mother's Restaurant. Opening its doors in 1938 on Poydras Street in New Orleans, Mother's served po'boys to the local longshoremen and laborers. During and after World War II, it became a favorite hangout of the Marines. The original owners Simon and Mary (Mother) Landry had five sons and two daughters that joined the Marine Corps.
Through the years, Mother's Restaurant has carried on the tradition of cooking exceptional food at a budget price. They are said to have the 'World's Best Baked Ham.' I had the chance to sample it on our visit, and I have to agree that you would be hard pressed to beat it.
My sister was braver than I here, and ordered the Crawfish Etoufee Omelet. I was just not sure my stomach could handle the rich sauce that early in the morning, but it looked delicious and the portion was huge!
I went with the more traditional Breakfast Special served with two eggs, grits, andouille sausage and the largest biscuit I think I have ever been served.
Our side order of delicious ham from Mother's Restaurant.
When it comes to New Orleans dining, you have nearly 1200 restaurants to choose from. I hope that you will consider a few of the ones listed above if you should visit NOLA, as these were all my favorites and definitely worth tasting.
We received complimentary meals while visiting these New Orleans restaurants, but all words, thoughts and opinions are my own.