Showing posts with label New Orleans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Orleans. Show all posts

Mahony's Po-boy Shop (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 3454 Magazine Street
Website: http://mahonyspoboys.com/
Type of Meal: Lunch



After seeing Mahony's Po-boy Shop featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, it became a must-do during our visit to New Orleans. There are many po-boy institutions in the city but what sets Mahony’s apart is there inventive creations. Sure, you can eat the traditional fried oyster and shrimps variety but they also have alligator sausage, hamburger and French fries with roast beef gravy amongst others.

Between the four of us, we ordered two of the large po-boys (a little more than a foot long each) with sides to share. Their award winning creation, the peacemaker ($14.95 for a regular or $21.95 for a large) enticed us with the promise of fried oysters, bacon, real cheddar cheese slices, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise. The bite sized oysters were lightly dusted with corn meal adding nice crunch. Surprisingly, the flavour that stood out the most for me was the cheddar and for some reason the bacon became lost with everything else. The peacemaker is a good sandwich but needed another sauce for my taste, luckily the hot sauce on the table helped satisfy that a bit.


Although it didn't win any accolades, the favourite for our table was the grilled jumbo shrimp ($14.95 for a regular or $21.95 for a large). Topped with juicy cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes and remoulade sauce it was such a great combination with the smoky char from the juicy shrimp, crunch from the tomatoes and the flavourful spicy sauce. The remoulade is essentially Louisiana’s take on tartar sauce except with a kick from the addition of cayenne pepper, paprika and/or hot sauce. This sandwich was not dressed, so doesn’t include the traditional lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayonnaise combination but had more than enough flavours and textures in it. Why isn’t this winning any prizes?


On the side, we ordered the small creole coleslaw ($1.95) dressed in a light mayo based sauce with a bit of seasoning. For me, it needed a bit more creole seasoning and the addition of this coleslaw (with more seasoning) on the peacemaker may have been an even better combination; alas, I ate the sandwich before I could try it.


Meanwhile, the small order of onion rings ($2.75) was gigantic compared to the coleslaw (says something about trying to eat “healthier”). Mahony must have used Vidalia onions as they were light and slightly sweet. Rather than thick rings, these were in a thin shredded form, lightly battered and topped with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt. I’m normally not a huge fan of onion rings but these were good. I could simply munch on them even as a snack.


Seeing Mahony’s was my one and only experience having a po-boy, I can’t comment on how it compares with the other popular shops. But, if Emeril Lagasse stands behind it, you know it can’t be that bad.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Mahony's Po-Boy Shop on Urbanspoon


The Old Coffee Pot Restaurant (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 714 Saint Peter Street
Website: http://www.theoldcoffeepot.com/
Type of Meal: Breakfast



If you’re looking for affordable prices and home-style cooking The Old Coffee Pot Restaurant is the place for you. Situated in a house, upon entering you feel like you’ve come to grandma’s place – especially if grandma lives on a plantation. Complete with framed pictures of the staff members on the mantel it’s as if you’re visiting their home. And to sum it up, the general mood seems to be just like that. They are welcoming and laid back, pretty much fine with wherever you'd like to sit, but not above joking around as well.

I went with the abundant plantation breakfast ($13.25) likely intended for hard working harvesters rather than a meandering tourist. With choice of eggs, ham, biscuit or grits and a side of calas cakes you can easily share this breakfast. I have to be honest, the ham and eggs were average and the grits fairly bland (luckily there’s hot sauce, butter or sugar on the table); the eggs benedict my friend ordered looked much tastier. 


However, what drew me to the breakfast was the promise of calas cakes - what The Old Coffee Pot is known for. Their website notes the recipe dates back to the mid 1800’s, not long before when the restaurant was established in 1894. Essentially a blend of rice and spices, formed into a ball, deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar the cakes are reminiscent of rice pudding with cinnamon shining through. It was served with syrup on the side but I found the powdered sugar already gave it the right amount of sweetness, especially for the first meal of the day.  


Known for their breakfast options, a portion of the menu served all day, there’s an abundance of options to choose amongst. The meals aren’t fancy but are more than filling and fits into the homey feel of the restaurant. Although the food (with the exception of the calas cakes) isn’t fantastic the laid back atmosphere is quite nice and makes The Old Coffee Pot worth a visit. 

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

The Old Coffeepot Restaurant on Urbanspoon


El Gato Negro (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 81 French Market Place
Website: http://elgatonegronola.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Located just across the street from the French Market Place, El Gato Negro (translates to The Black Cat) is somewhat away from the bustling tourist area. Just off of a quiet street, it’s a calmer atmosphere; during our visit it was busy enough but still had plenty of empty tables. With an extensive menu, it was shame we weren’t overly hungry as there were so many tasty sounding items.

To start, we were presented with a basket of complimentary chips and salsa. The chips were crispy and not too oily and the salsa an ideal consistency, not too thick or thin, with just the right amount of spiciness. Having chips on hand is important as they ended up going well with the rest of our meal.


The chips were great for scooping up the stuffed avocado ($11.75) appetizer. Indeed, there were chunks of ripe avocado in the dish but the highlight, in my opinion, were the plump grilled shrimp. The creamy sauce had a depth of flavour to it and comingled with tomatoes, crunchy onions, mushroom, fresh chimichurri and Cotija cheese. Quite a large starter it was substantial enough to be a main and would have been delicious with steamed rice.


The aged skirt steak burrito ($12.75) was filled with tender grilled pieces of beef, pinto beans, Mexican rice and Chihuahua cheese. I was surprised to see the burrito smothered in the chorizo salsa. Maybe it’s a cultural difference but in Canada our burrito wraps are dry and generally toasted with a crispy crust. The burrito at El Gato Negro reminded me more of an enchilada with the soft tortilla becoming mushy (a texture I’m not too fond of). In the end, I ate the burrito’s insides without the tortilla to get the most of the flavours; the skirt steak was tender and flavourful, overall a great piece of meat. With plenty of creamy guacamole accompanying the burrito, it was another excuse for us to eat more of the chips.



My friend tried one of their “famous margaritas”, a pineapple cilantro mix ($7.75) which was refreshing and pleasant. El Gato prides themselves with using fresh squeezed juices and you could certainly taste the difference in the cocktail. If you’re feeling like a baller, you can even order the El Rey margarita – for $225 you’ll be treated with a drink made with Dos Lunas Grand Reserve 10 year old tequila and a special cave-aged Grand Marnier all mixed with agave nectar and hand-squeezed juices finished table side. Alas, no one ordered it that night. 


I was happy with the meal, the ingredients were fresh and the flavours well balanced. El Gato Negro is a great place for cocktails and shared plates.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

El Gato Negro on Urbanspoon


Crescent City Brewhouse (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 527 Decatur Street
Website: http://www.crescentcitybrewhouse.com/
Type of Meal: Lunch



Located off of Decatur, Crescent City Brewhouse is a large two story restaurant that is hard to miss. Their restaurant also houses a microbrewery using natural ingredients and no chemicals or stabilizers or chemicals are used. With five to choose from, if you’re not sure which is best, you can also get their tasting flight ($8.50) that offers small glasses of each. Crescent City also offers various mixed drinks including a tasty Bloody Mary ($8.25) and inexpensive vodka waters ($6.75). 

We originally intended to just get a drink and rest, but we couldn’t help ordering a couple of nibbles to sustain us until dinner. First up the fried alligator sauce picante ($11.95) which is like popcorn beef except tougher due to the leaner meat. The gator meat was lightly seasoned with creole spices, deep fried and served with a spicy picante sauce (tastes like marinara). These warm nuggets were good for munching on and worth a try.


By far Crescent City’s most popular appetizer were the oysters, so much so that they have a gentleman downstairs that just constantly shucks them. We ordered six to share ($8.95) and were astounded by the size of these things! Our helpful waiter, Mark, advised that they are so gigantic as Louisiana has the right water temperature and consistency that presents ideal year-round breeding conditions. Apprehensive at first, I was glad that the oysters were very clean tasting. Admittedly the shells were a bit gritty and needed a good scrubbing; you definitely want to use a fork and not just tip these back.


The restaurant also has the quintessential wrought iron balcony seating area with a slight lake view. It looked so appealing that we returned for lunch one afternoon. I opted for the crispy chicken salad ($13.95) which was packed with chicken tenders, slices of avocado, cheddar cheese, a hard-boiled egg and with a thick honey mustard vinaigrette. The salad certainly hit the spot with a good mix of healthy and decadent ingredients and ended up being fairly filling.


All in all, Crescent City Brewhouse is a great central location to stop for drinks and an informal meal while walking around the French Quarter. While peaking at other individual’s orders their burgers and sandwiches also looked good with heaping mounds of shoestring fries on the side. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Photo Sources:

  1. Special thank you to my friend Jill for the pictures of the alligator bites and oysters.


Crescent City Brewhouse on Urbanspoon


Big Fishermen (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 3301 Magazine Street
Website: http://www.bigfishermanseafood.com/


The Big Fishermen isn't a restaurant, but plenty of hungry people visit for their take-out area. Here, they offer a variety of hot boiled seafood at affordable prices. We swung by to pick up a pound of large sized crawfish (approximately a dozen) and four pieces of corn all for only $8!


The crawfish were fresh and succulent. Following recommendations from New Orlean natives, I made sure to suck out all the "juices" in the head – a broth of wonderful umami filled essence. You may be squeamish at first but the taste of the salty seafood concentrated juices is well worth taking the plunge. Even the corn was well seasoned from being boiled with seafood and seasonings with a real spicy kick to it.



Of course, the only drawback was that the Big Fishermen had no dining area. Some people travel by bike to nearby parks. We walked about a block and found a grassy area with some rocks that would have to serve us our table. After all, we just wanted to eat the crawfish while they were still hot! But, the experience was a tad messy, thankfully we had Purell, water and plenty of napkins. The crawfish were absolutely delicious, if only they were enjoyed in the comfort of a table with a cold drink the experience would have been perfect.


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Photo Sources:
  1. Special thank you to my friend Jill for the picture!

Big Fisherman Seafood on Urbanspoon


Remoulade (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 309 Bourbon Street
Website: http://www.remoulade.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Sometimes it’s difficult finding a restaurant opened daily and late. Remoulade is such a place, serving Creole classics from 11am-11pm every day at affordable prices. The casual sister restaurant to the more indulgent Arnauds, you’ll get traditional dishes without the high prices. 

Jambalaya ($10.95) is one of those dishes that you’ll find at many restaurants. Remoulade’s is made to order arriving hot and fresh. Although lighter in flavour than the one we had at The Gumbo Shop, it still had some heat to it. Filled with shrimp, chicken, ham, Andouille sausage and vegetables there was enough toppings, just the rice was a bit soft for my taste. All in all, a decent dish but definitely not the best of the night. 


The New Orleans-style stuffed crabs ($13.95) were delicious and resembles a crab cake with more meat and less bread crumbs. Baked in shell with tons of crab and some vegetables it arrives with a golden crispy crust, piping hot, aromatic and certainly made me want more. Creamy soft roasted potatoes accompany the dish and is a good option if you’re not feeling overly hungry.


We were all pleasantly surprised with the blackened catfish ($12.95), which was so much better than the ones I've previously eaten outside of NOLA. At Remoulade it is moist and flaky, almost the texture of tilapia, and the crust of seasonings filled with flavours but not burnt. Hints of chili, garlic and oregano shone through, another dish that left us wanting more.


Service was friendly and efficient with complementary bread brought out quickly after ordering. Staff members took the time to interact with us so we felt welcomed. Moreover, Remoulade was nice enough to send out a rich hot brownie with ice cream after learning we were celebrating a birthday (regularly $5.25).

Mom's brownie (1)

If sweets aren’t your thing than you may want to end off the meal with a shot which will only set you back $3.75. Certainly, a great way to start a night on Bourbon Street.

Shots of lemon drops (1)


Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Photo Sources:

  1. Special thank you to my friend Jill for the pictures of the shots and dessert!

Arnaud's Remoulade on Urbanspoon


Gumbo Shop (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 630 Saint Peter Street
Website: http://www.gumboshop.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



For a city that has bustling nightlife areas (Bourbon and Frenchmen), it’s surprising that most restaurants close so early. Having taken our time getting ready, we didn’t make it out for dinner until 9pm and found very few options still opened. After asking around, The Gumbo Shop was recommended and thankfully still taking people. Upon arriving we found a long lineup, obviously there were like minded individuals, but it moved quickly and we were seated in about 20 minutes.

Being fairly famished by this point, luckily they started us off with two large po-boy buns. It’s a type of bread that’s synonymous with New Orleans with its airy centre and dry flaky crust. Although it is derived from a baguette, it lacks the chewiness and aromatic fragrance the French counterpart embodies. Nonetheless, when you’re hungry everything tastes amazing.

To begin we each ordered a bowl of gumbo (after all, we were at the Gumbo Shop)! I opted for the seafood okra version ($4.99 for a cup or $8.75 for a bowl; cup shown below), which was thick and contained real pieces of crab and shrimp. The dark brown soup had a chowder consistency but was a tad gooey from the addition of the okra. It was very flavourful but overall wasn’t that good as it simply wasn’t hot enough. Really, a slimy lukewarm liquid, no matter how flavourful it is, isn’t the most appetizing thing to eat. As my first experience with gumbo in New Orleans it was pretty disappointing, luckily after a couple of tries I did end up having a decent one at Peche.


To try a few things at once, we ordered the Creole combination platter ($16.50). On the left was the shrimp Creole, the most simple of the three in a spicy tomato sauce. It was okay but when paired with the other options seemed somewhat plain. The scoop of jambalaya in the middle was the best part of the meal. Thick and flavourful it arrived with tons of slivered chicken and wedges of plump smoked sausage. Lastly, on the right was the crawfish etouffee, a flavourful stew spiced with cayenne pepper which gave it a kick and a more appealing colour. Like the gumbo the dish needed to be hotter, this one was a bit better but still nowhere near a temperature you’d except from a freshly made dish.


All in all, the restaurant had promise as each dish had nice flavours. If only they weren’t such a tepid temperature the experience would have been much better. Understandably, it could have been due to us arriving at a late hour or the fact we were seated at one of the draftiest tables in the restaurants. So, perhaps during normal times and conditions things would have been better. Alas, the stars didn’t align for us – we were able to satisfy our hunger but it wasn’t a fulfilling experience.

Overall mark - 5.5 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Gumbo Shop on Urbanspoon


CLOSED: Stella! (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 1032 Chartres Street
Type of Meal: Dinner



There were high expectations for Stella! (yes their name contains an exclamation; I’m not just excited every time it’s mentioned). Having heard about it from many sources, all point out Chef Boswell’s inventiveness with his dishes. Upon visiting Stella!’s website and reading more about the Chef’s history, expectations rose from his global experience and working with the “who’s who” of the culinary world – including Iron Chefs (Hiroyuki Sakai and Chin Kenichi) and Chef Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea, just to name a few.

With a choice of a seven-course tasting menu ($125) or four-course prix fixe ($85) we decided to go with the smaller of the two, and found it was more than enough food to satisfy us. An amuse arrived first, which tasted like chicken pot pie in a mousse form on top a cracker … not a bad start. 


A selection of breads arrived next and with it the most delicious brioche. Served piping hot, the addition of duck fat into the dough was the highlight. Not an ounce of butter was required as the aroma and flavours from the duck fat already permeated the brioche. When they inquired whether we’d be interested in a second helping of the bread we of course had to oblige!  


It was surprising how much “Cajun” caviar topped the deviled egg. At first I expected it to be spiced on account of the “Cajun” description.  In reality, the caviar is made by the Louisiana Caviar Company which nicknamed their bowfin roe with this unique name. The roe is smaller than and not as strong as typical caviar but still has that briny flavour.  When the egg was eaten as served (with just the caviar) it was a tad plain (if you can call caviar and black truffle flavours plain). But once you mix in the brioche croutons, sour cream cubes, red onion and chives surrounding the plate it added the necessary crunch and flavours. The foam beside the egg really didn't add much and felt a bit unnecessary, if anything I’d would have liked a truffle aoili with it. 


Similarly, the grouper by itself was rather bland, albeit cooked perfectly. Once mixed with the buttery blue crab on the bottom or the sweet bean sauce on the side it wasn't bad. A pile of swiss chard accompanied the grouper and was decent but admittedly my favourite part of the dish was the succulent blue crab under the fish. Although I didn’t try it, my friends who ordered the pork belly raved about their dish so is a potential alternative if you’d rather have something stronger and decadent.


A popular dish that appears to be a staple on their ever changing menu is the tasting of duck five ways. There’s the safe wonderfully roasted breast with crispy skin topped with sweet sauce and the tender and savoury confit leg. But, Stella! also includes an inventive miso soup (smells so much like duck but still tasted like miso with shredded duck in it), a foie gras wonton (a sweet creamy centre against a crispy wonton skin), and a mushu pancake (nothing extraordinary but still good flavours and crunch). Having had so much duck in my life, I thoroughly enjoyed the array of textures and tastes being offered on this dish, the definite highlight of my meal.


To end, the Thai tea tres leches, a strong recommendation from our waitress, was a great dessert. Essentially a sponge cake that has been soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream it’s a moist and tasty dish. The flavour profile of the dessert was complex with hints of coconut, sweet mango and an herby essence from the Thai tea. It also had an intriguing aroma that I couldn’t place at the restaurant but upon learning more about pandan (a Southeast Asian plant) from Wikipedia, I realize it may have been from this plant which gives food a nutty, floral and bread like smell.


A plates of petit fours were brought out at the end – earl grey cream filled fleur-de-lis chocolates, truffles, a dulce de leche cookie (my favourite of the four) and a blackberry jelly. Aside from the cookie, I found the rest were too sweet for my taste. But, perhaps I was being picky as by the end of the meal I was stuffed and didn’t need anything else. However, it was, as always, a thoughtful and appreciated gesture.


The dining room is intimate and elegant with thick crisp linens and plush posh chairs. Stella! is one of the expensive restaurants in the city but the décor and service matches. Our waitress described each dish so well, I could have listened to her forever with the delicious imagery she paints. Although a couple of my dishes could have been better, I was nonetheless happy with the experience and glad we ate here. 



Stella! was certainly different from the other restaurants we ate at and I thoroughly appreciated the global take on local ingredients (French and Asian being the most prominent). If you’re looking for a place to have an unhurried meal where you can enjoy the experience of eating and conversing, Stella! would be the place to visit in New Orleans.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10



Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Stella on Urbanspoon