Showing posts with label Nola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nola. Show all posts

Nola (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 534 St. Louis Street
Type of Meal: Lunch

Shortly after hopping off the plane, we went over to Nola for lunch, one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant that takes the latest reservation. It was going to be our first taste of Creole cuisine and would set the benchmark for meals to come. Indeed the bar was set high as the classics we ordered were great and left us wanting more.

Nola’s rustic exposed brick dining room is opened and laid back. Despite arriving late into lunch service, many tables were still occupied with glimpses of dishes to come. To begin, we couldn’t help but order a mint julep ($10) a quintessential Southern drink, made with sweet bourbon, simple syrup, water and muddled mint. Nola definitely doesn’t skimp on the bourbon!

Shortly after ordering we were brought a selection of warm breads. The first a jalapeño cornbread was delicious with specks of jalapeño and soft without being oily. The simple ciabatta was fluffy and soft, great for wiping up the appetizer's sauces.

The first to arrive was the pork cheek boudin balls ($10) and is what I’d like to think of as Southern risotto balls. Rice and sausage meat are mixed together with a variety of spices. Deep fried so that it has a crispy exterior and soft moist interior these were very good. Topped with sweet marinara and a slightly spicy creole mustard aioli each ball packs a burst of flavour.

While the shrimp in Emeril’s barbequed gulf shrimp ($12) were only average (a bit small when it’s supposed to be the star ingredient) the sauce shines through. It’s sweet but has a hint of spice at the end, it was enjoyable with our ciabatta bun or the soft doughy rosemary biscuit which accompanied it.

The shrimp and grits ($19) was amazing and a must try in my opinion! Certainly, the grits were so well done that I was sadly disappointed when they were ordered a second time with breakfast at another restaurant. Nola’s grits were thick and creamy with dollops of smoked cheddar melted throughout to make the grits rich and decadent. The dish was further topped with pieces of toasted applewood bacon (adding salt & smoke) and small pieces of crimini mushrooms. The slightly spicy red chili butter glazed shrimp were also delicious, its plump meat going well with the smooth grits.

The duck confit pizza's ($12) crust was light and airy almost like naan mixed with Neapolitan dough. For a dish with duck confit topping it the pizza wasn’t too strong with just a bit of oil on it. It was also surprisingly flavourful, from the addition of truffle oil and parmesan cheese, despite looking sparse and bland when first brought to the table. Nonetheless, I would have liked more duck on it as there wasn’t much on each slice. The egg was satisfactory but really didn't add much in this case except for a nice pop of colour.  

To end we shared a trio of crème brûlée. It was a number of desserts in one as each brûlée had another mini dessert topping it - fresh sweet berries with the vanilla, a chocolate almond biscotti with the mocha and a coconut truffle with the coconut. Normally, the mocha would be my favourite but this one was too strong and reminded me of Reisin candies (something my grandmother always had at her house and I detested). Meanwhile, the vanilla bean, made with real vanilla pods, was nice and flavourful my favourite of the three. The coconut added to the last brûlée is something I normally wouldn’t like but actually turned out to be quite delicious. All in all, a good dessert for sharing.

Service at Nola was friendly and efficient; our waitress Fallon was a pleasure bringing out sharing plates as required. Overall, Nola was a great introduction to Creole cooking and made us look forward to the bold rich flavours to come. 

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!

The Wonderful Drinks of NOLA

New Orleans is a laid back city. Service is unhurried, people are down-to-earth and sitting outside with a drink seems to be a past time. Indeed, I had my fair share of cocktails whether it was with a meal, for a rest, before dinner or even while site seeing (New Orleans like Las Vegas allows for roadies). NOLA is a city that is brimming with cocktails that are synonymous with the region. Listed below are but some of the ones they offer.

The Drink: Sazerac
Location: The Sazerac Bar

The original can be found at the bar by the same name. The Sazerac ($13) is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Made with Cognac/rye, bitters, sugar and herbsaint (previously with absinthe) it’s a drink that gets better as the ice melts.  

The Drink: Ramo's gin fizz
Location: The Sazerac Bar

Also offered at the Sazerac Bar, the drink I enjoyed more is the Ramos gin fizz ($14). Just watching the bartender make it is a treat! It’s shaken for a long time to combine the gin, citrus, cream, egg whites, orange flower water and sugar. Eventually, the ingredients work together to emulsify the egg whites and the contents are poured into a glass from high above with a flourish. Frothy and finished with club soda it reminds me of a pina colada without all the sugar.

The Drink: Mint julep
Location: NOLA Restaurant

Refreshing with the muddled mint leaves, the mint julep at NOLA is quite strong with a hefty dose of bourbon. Finished off with some sugar and water this is a great cocktail to sip on a hot summer’s day.

The Drink: Pimm's Cup
Location: Crescent City Brewhouse

Another gin based drink is a pimm’s cup. A fairly easy going cocktail made with lemonade, cucumber, something fizzy and sugar water.

The Drink: Hand granade
Location: Tropical Isle

Every tourist on Bourbon Street seems to be carrying a Hand Grenade.  Only offered at the Tropical Isle bars they are famous for making these.  We got the “skinny” version which has less sugar but sadly still tasted awful. Supposedly, the recipe is a closely guarded secret but honeydew liqueur is the prevalent taste; there’s definitely no risk of me trying to recreate this at home.

The Drink: Horny gator
Location: Tropical Isle

Also from Tropical Isle is the Horny Gator.  Hoping that it would be a better cocktail, alas we weren’t lucky. The bar notes it’s a mix of pomegranate, green tea and other exotic flavours but somehow ended up tasting like tea mixed with cough syrup. However, something magical does happen after having one of these cocktails, so if you can just gulp it down you’re ready for a great Bourbon Street night.

I’ve been asked by many people about my experience in NOLA. Surprisingly, despite its close flight and affordable prices, it’s a city rarely visited by Canadians. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth a visit especially if you’re in the mood for an easy-going vacation filled with architectural walks, eating & drinking and enjoying the laid-back night life (no heels required here!). My highlights were:

  • Bar hopping along Bourbon Street (including trying to karaoke at Cat’s Meow)
  • Doing a day trip to visit plantations and a swamp and 
  • Visiting the Audubon Zoo.

Thank you NOLA for the amazing time and cheers until I return!

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