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Review: Satsuma Cafe

I’ve always heard good things about Satsuma Cafe, but my first trip came by accident. My party originally tried Elizabeth’s (always great), but the wait was too long. It was the same story at The Country Club so off to Satsuma we went.

I’ll get my pet peeve out of the way first. I hate waiting in lines, and the majority of the time I’ve been to Satsuma (including my initial visit) there’s a line. I’m a control freak and impatient so a line isn’t fun for me. It’s great for Satsuma though.

With that out of the way, I only have good things to say about Satsuma. They have a great breakfast/lunch menu (I hesitate to call it brunch) that’s chock full of interesting dishes and juices made with local and fresh quality ingredients.

Salmon Salad Sandwich

Salmon Salad Sandwich

On my first visit, I indulged in the Roasted Pear and Brie Melt. Sounds rich, right? Well, it is. But in the best way possible. I’m not sure it should even qualify as a meal, but I made it one nonetheless. The pear and brie go brilliantly together and with the complementing walnut spread, balsamic glaze and caramelized onion, it was superb.

My next visit I tried the Salmon Salad Sandwich. Also delicious. Satsuma makes its own salmon salad comprised of (you guessed it) salmon, capers, red onions, tarragon aioli, tomato and sprouts. If you know me, you know I don’t tomatoes. But the sandwich without tomatoes was awesome. Super light, but incredibly delicious. I’ve never been a big fan of capers, but I didn’t even taste them in this.

I also tried the Black Pepper Turkey Melt. It was good, but not nearly as good as the Salmon Salad Sandwich or the Roasted Pear and Brie Melt. It was missing the melty aspect I was hoping for. That said, it tasted incredibly fresh. I can’t remember the last time I had sliced turkey that had such a perfect taste and texture.

Black Pepper Turkey Melt

Black Pepper Turkey Melt

Aside from the food, Satsuma does a great job with its juice bar. And I would give props to the coffee bar, but (shocker!) I don’t drink coffee. The juice is made from very fresh produce. I had the Green Drink (apple, fennel, kale, cucumber and celery) and it was great. Very refreshing and not too heavy. The Beet Juice Lemonade was also delicious. I was a little concerned about the neon purple color, but maybe the brighter the juice, the more nutritious.

All in all, I’m ecstatic that I happened across Satsuma by circumstance. It’s definitely I revisit frequently and encourage others to as well. I also need to go back and try it out for dinner.

Satsuma is located at 3218 Dauphine Street in the Bywater. Breakfast and Lunch are served daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner is available Wed. through Sat. from 6:30 p.m. (their website says 6:30 a.m., but that has to be a typo) to 10 p.m.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Patois

Patois Burger

Patois Burger

Patois has solidly established itself as one of New Orleans’ best restaurant since it’s opening. Nestled in Uptown, it’s well off the beaten path, but always worth the trip. Whether it’s for Friday lunch, Sunday brunch or dinner on any night, you can’t go wrong at Patois.

Executive chef Aaron Burgau has put together a menu that pays respects to traditional New Orleans-style cooking, but with enough of a twist to keep things interesting on every visit. Even more importantly, the menu changes seasonally to utilize the available local ingredients.

Oh, and even though the burger craze is in full effect in New Orleans, I have to say that the burger at Patois is the best high-end burger in the city, if not the best burger around.

Made from hand-ground chuck, the Patois burger is topped with Gruyere cheese, fried onions and “Patois sauce” on a brioche bun. The combination of all the ingredients work so well together, I can’t even really begin to describe. I was taken to another world when I was eating this burger. The last time that happened was during my trip to o ya in Boston. I like when it happens, but it doesn’t happen often enough. So I have to thank the great folks at Patois.

Now that I’ve gotten my lovefest for the burger over, I have to say that Patois has a kickass brunch.

Potato Gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi

I started with Patois’ signature gumbo. A dark roux gumbo comprised of rabbit, Andouille and greens. The gumbo had a nice tang (most likely from the greens) that took me by surprise, but was very pleasant. I should have gotten a bowl instead of cup.

For my main course, I had Egg, Crispy Pork Belly and Fried Green Tomato breakfast sandwich. These three elements did not disappoint. The fried green tomato on the sandwich came out piping hot, so hot in fact, that I had to wait a few minutes to really dig in. And I’m not complaining, I will never complain food that’s hot (unless it’s overcooked).

On my dinner visit, I started with the Potato Gnocchi. I’m a sucker for gnocchi, and Patois’ is top notch. Jumbo lump crabmeat, chanterelle mushrooms and shaved Parmiano-Reggiano complement the subtlety of the potato pillows quite nicely. This is a dish I can’t go to Patois without ordering.

I was lucky enough to get the pheasant when it was in season. Pheasant is a pretty gamey bird, but the breast and leg that of pheasant came out crispy and was one of the best bird dishes I’ve had in the past few years.

"Snicker"

Patois' version of "Snickers"

On every trip, I’ve ordered a dessert, and some have impressed more than others. On the current dessert menu, the “Snickers” underwhelmed me. I found the cake too dry (almost like it was refrigerated) and the elements didn’t really come together enough to do a Snickers bar justice.

The Carrot Cake on the other hand is a sweet force to be reckoned with. It’s not what you’re expecting in the typical presentations. The cake is coated with a nice layer of icing (it’s not really icing) that has just enough of the cream cheese tang we’ve all come to know and love on carrot cakes. It also comes with toasted pecans, sugared carrot strings and Chai ice cream. It all works very, very well.

With all the culinary goodness going on on Laurel Street inside Patois, it’s no wonder the place consistently makes The Times-Picayune’s annual top 10 list. It’s definitely on mine.

Patois is located at 6078 Laurel Street in Uptown New Orleans. Patois is open for dinner Wed. through Sat. starting at 5:30 p.m., for lunch on Fri. beginning at 11:30 a.m. and brunch on Sun. beginning at 10:30 a.m.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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Review: Surrey’s Uptown

Costa Rican Breakfast

Costa Rican Breakfast

Hands down, Surrey’s Uptown is overall the best breakfast place in town. Can you go places with fancier food? Absolutely, but for the type of place it is, it’s the best.

I’ve had just about everything on the menu. Costa Rican Breakfast? Check. Boudin Biscuit? Check. Bagel Breakfast Sandwich? Check. I could go on. All that said, the single best thing I’ve ever had here is the special Chicken and Waffles. The dish is out of this world. I’m hoping it shows up on the menu again since the chef I loved left a couple months ago.

My favorite regular menu items are the Costa Rican Breakfast and the Boudin Breakfast Biscuit. Both are unique. The Costa Rican Breakfast is an amalgam of a lot of things I like: eggs, cheese, avocado, rice, black beans, fried plantains and pico de gallo. Similarly, the Bouding Breakfast Biscuits relies on a homemade biscuit, fresh boudin patties and eggs to make a breakfast biscuit that puts most others to shame.

Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu

The Breakfast Burrito, Pain Perdu and Banana Pancake are all solid breakfast choices. However, you can’t really go wrong. Surrey’s has breakfast down pat. They also have a good lunch.

I usually take advantage of the $10 lunch combo that comes with half a sandwich, a cup of soup and a side salad.

My favorite lunch sandwich is the Lox BLT, but a close second is the Surrey’s Club. They keep it pretty simple at lunch with the three S items: sandwiches, salads and soups.

I frequented the lower location on Magazine for years, so I was thrilled when a Surrey’s opened closer to my uptown home. And I have to say, the food at the uptown location is much better than the lower Magazine location. I will say that the juice at the lower location is a tad bit better.

Surrey's Boudin Breakfast Biscuit

Boudin Breakfast Biscuit

Speaking of the juice, Surrey’s has some of the best juice in town. My favorite is the Watermelon Limemade. Even though it’s only available during the summer months, I dream about it all year long. They always have interesting juices and juice blends on hand, and none of them have ever disappointed me.

The one drawback is the extreme likelihood you will encounter a wait on the weekend. That said, most of the staff is uber-friendly so chat them up to make the wait time speed by.

It is cash only (something I’ve never been a fan of), but it’s worth every dollar. If you want fine dining, head to Brennan’s where you can overpay for your eggs. If you want a great breakfast, forget about everything else and focus on the food at Surrey’s and you won’t be disappointed.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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Review: Stanley

Thanksgiving Turkey Croissant

Thanksgiving Turkey Croissant

I always love restaurants I can recommend to people without having to worry about whether or not the recommendation will be well-received or not. Thankfully, Stanley is one of the places that never lets me down.

Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, Stanley serves up consistently great dishes at a fair price point — especially given French Quarter spots tendency to drive up prices.

Sure there are more tourists on hand than some local places, but you’re a fool if you let them detract you from enjoying Chef Scott Boswell’s menu.

For breakfast or brunch, my favorite thing is the Breaux Bridge Benedict. It’s boudin, smoked ham, cheese and poached eggs. The boudin is of great quality and the poached eggs at Stanley are damn near perfect. The yolk of the poached eggs weaves its way through the boudin perfectly to give you a quintessential bite every time your fork hits the plate.

The Eggs Stanley and Bananas Foster French Toast are also worth ordering. The oysters for the Eggs Stanley are lightly crusted in cornmeal rather than a heavy flour breading so they don’t overwhelm the eggs.

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

For lunch, I would highly recommend the Thanksgiving Turkey Croissant when it’s available (seasonal). It’s nicely seasoned shaved turkey meat, bacon, cranberry dressing, arugula, cornbread dressing and basil mayo sandwich between a fluffy croissant. I would prefer this sandwich to most Thanksgiving full-on meals. The flavor profile is light even though the portion is a bit large, but I’m not going to complain about getting too much of this sandwich.

The Club Stanley is also legit. Rather than relying solely on deli meat, it has a grilled chicken breast as the star surrounded by ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and a pesto dressing. It can be a little bit messy, but I’ve always found messy foods to be some of the best.

Club Stanley

Club Stanley

A lot of people also like Stanley’s burger, but I honestly feel there are better options out there — even in the French Quarter. The Caesar Salad is also a little off. I found the chicken to be too dry both times I had it.

Aside from the food, Stanley has homemade ice cream and sorbets that are divine. The Pecan Pie ice cream and Bananas Foster ice cream are two of my favorites. You can also have any of the ice creams made into a milkshake or malt. I haven’t tried any of their specialty sundaes, but I doubt they will disappoint you. You really can’t go wrong if you go this route.

All in all, Stanley is a solid French Quarter spot that turns out high-quality items for a very affordable price. The best part is that it completely avoids the tourist trap feeling despite being situated along Jackson Square.

Stanley is located at the corner of St. Ann and Chartres in the French Quarter. Stanley is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Eatin'

 

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Review: Tru Burger

The Tru Burger

The Tru Burger

Tru Burger is hands down the most casual of the new burger joints to pop up in New Orleans. It’s not fussy or frilly and feels like a throwback burger joint — complete with shakes, but without the cheesy burger joint hats.

Normally, I immediately recommend the burgers. But I have to give proper service to Tru Burger’s corn dog. It’s hand-dipped in a batter that fries to a cakey texture that’s moist and crispy all at once. I like my corn dogs with mayo, something some people say is odd, but I’ve liked it since I was a kid.

Anyway, all I can say about this corn dog is that it’s the best corn dog I’ve had outside of the ones at the State Fair of Texas. And that’s a huge compliment.

Onto the burgers. The burgers at Tru Burger are fairly simple and a nice size, not too big, not to small. All of the burgers are cooked to medium, but you can specify the temp you want your meat cook to. I usually go for medium rare. All the patties at Tru Burger are 100% Creekstone Angus and ground in-house.

Tru Burger's Hand-Dipped Corn Dog

Tru Burger's Hand-Dipped Corn Dog

The buns have a nice texture and basically melt in your mouth which is a nice effect and something I’m not used to in a hamburger bun.

One of my favorite burgers is the Charlie Burger. It’s served with bacon, Swiss cheese and coleslaw. I add Sriracha to give it some heat which contrasts nicely with the coolness of the coleslaw.

On some visits, the Swiss cheese doesn’t melt on the burger which I think takes away something from the burger as a whole. But overall, this is a great choice.

The Tru Burger itself if also a good choice. It’s a simple burger with your choice of cheese loaded up with onion, tomato, lettuce and pickles. The pickles alone are reason for ordering this burger. While it’s simple, it works. It’s a good, if not outstanding, burger.

Charlie Burger

Charlie Burger

The fries are thin and crispy. I think they’re some of the best fries in town. The sea salt crystals give them just the right amount of saltiness to balance the earthiness of the potatoes.

I find the shakes at Tru Burger a little underwhelming. I do like that they’re served with bubble tea straws so you don’t have to battle the cup for who wins the shake. But that said, the shakes I’ve gotten have been just okay tastewise. I’ve also had some shakes with ice crystals in it which I’m not a fan of.

Overall, Tru Burger is a solid choice for burgers in New Orleans. I see it on the fringe of upscale burger joints. It’s more suited for families, drop-ins and quick cravings for a burger.

Tru Burger is located at 8115 Oak Street. Tru Burger is open Tues. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Eatin'

 

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Review: The Irish House

First things first, I’ve only visited The Irish House for lunch, so this review is for lunch only. With that out of the way, let’s discuss The Irish House.

Is New Orleans a suitable environment for a refined Irish restaurant? My answer: yes and no. Most of the flavor profiles of the dishes I’ve had weren’t bad, and while they may stay true to their Irish roots, the concept is odd.

Bacon and Cheese Croquettes

Bacon and Cheese Croquettes

In my opinion, Irish food doesn’t need refining. It’s meant to be simple food for simple people. Unfortunately, all the dishes I’ve had were too conceptualized and overthought. But, like I said, nothing tasted bad, so there’s that.

My favorite appetizer is the Bacon and Cheese Croquettes. Served with an onion marmalade and chive sour cream, these little croquettes are (not surprisingly) like little fried baked potatoes. They’re worth ordering, but could use some more cheese or maybe just a sharper variety. I wanted the cheese flavor to accentuated the croquettes more than it did.

While the Tomato Barbecued Chicken and Waffles I ordered were my favorite thing, I’m not sure they truly qualify as Irish food. Chicken and waffles are somewhat trendy in today’s culinary landscape and Chef Matt Murphy at The Irish has given his version a unique twist.

It’s a savory waffle topped with barbecued chicken, ratatouille and caramelized onion. The only portion of the dish I couldn’t really get behind was the ratatouille. It didn’t add anything for me, but didn’t necessarily take anything away from the dish. Overall though, the barbecue sauce is the perfect sweet sauce for the chicken and the waffle.

The Shepherd’s Pie (a traditional Irish dish) has gotten rave reviews from some of my friends, but it wasn’t the biggest hit with me. First, the portion is entirely too small for an $11 portion of a dish comprised of mashed potatoes, ground beef, peas, carrots and pearl onions. To me, this is an example of paying for refinement and presentation over taste and ingredients.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Another issue I took with the Shepherd’s Pie is that the ground beef is too fine. While I realize that’s a personal preference, it made it hard to keep the beef on the fork because it was so fine.

I really did enjoy the addition of pearl onions into the Shepherd’s Pie. It gave the dish a nice sweet element to counterbalance the saltiness from the beef, mashed potatoes and cheese.

As a general rule, it’s a safe bet to order anything involving potatoes. The Irish House has potatoes perfected.

The Irish House has an awesome beer selection including, you guessed it, Guinness. So it’s 100% a stop in if you’re looking for a pint. I haven’t had a chance to sample the bar menu, but I’m hoping it’s nitty gritty bar food versus the refined dishes I’ve had at lunch.

Overall, I can’t complain about the food at The Irish House other than it being overrefined. Chef Murphy came over after a stint at the Ritz-Carlton so I imagine he brought techniques and processes with him typical to the audience the Ritz attracts — I just don’t know if I see The Irish House attracting the same crowd.

So the moral of the review is to drop in for a pint, watch a game, have some food, but just be ready for refined Irish food that may not be similar to what you’ve had in a more traditional Irish pub.

The Irish House is located at 1432 St. Charles Avenue. Dining room hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Eatin'

 

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Review: St. James Cheese Company

Beecher's Cheddar

Beecher's Cheddar

I’m spoiled when it comes to good cheese thanks to St. James Cheese Company being located only two blocks from my house. It’s always a treat to stop in whether it’s for lunch or to pick up some cheese.

Another big reason for a visit is the weekly cheese classes. For $20, you get six samples of cheese and six sample glasses of wine (or beer). It’s a great deal, plus, it’s educational.

Aside from the great weekly classes, the prepared food is another highlight for St. James Cheese Company. On my last visit, I had the Beecher’s Cheddar, a smoked turkey sandwich on ciabatta with fresh basil, tomato and avocado. I got mine with no tomato, but it’s a a great sandwich with come complex flavors that come from simple ingredients.

One of the best salads is the Manchego. It’s a bed of arugula with almonds and pear with a quince vinaigrette. It’s probably my second favorite salad to the summer salad that comes with prosciutto and peaches.

Manchego Salad

Manchego Salad

The Ploughman’s Lunch is another great option that gets you a little bit of everything: three cheeses, pork pie, salad, bread and chutney. It’s one of the best things on the menu.

If you only stop in to grab and go, this is your place for cheese. In fact, the best cheese I’ve ever had came from St. James Cheese Company. Called Humboldt Fog, a goat’s milk cheese that described as “creamy and luscious with a subtle tangy flavor.” If you can’t decide on a cheese, just ask one of the cheesemongers for advice and they’ll hook you up with one appropriate for you event or wine pairing.

St. James Cheese Company really has it all when it comes to cheese. Whether you stop in for lunch, to grab and go, or for a cheese class, you’ll leave satisfied and with a full belly.

St. James Cheese Company is located at 5044 Prytania St. in Uptown New Orleans. Their hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri. and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Eatin'

 

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