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Review: Capdeville

Capdeville's Soup of the Day

Capdeville's Soup of the Day

One of the things I miss most about working downtown is being only a few block from Capdeville. Now that I work more Uptown, it’s harder for me to make an excuse to jet over to Capdeville for lunch or after hour drinks or for Truffled Mac and Cheese (you read that right).

Capdeville bills itself as “an American interpretation of a British social house.” I would agree with their self-image. But I know what I, and most likely you, care about — the food and drinks.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I start with the Fried Red Beans and Rice. It’s just as unexpectedly delicious as it sounds. But frying anything in the South is usually a recipe for success, and coating red beans and rice in a fried shell is a major success.

The Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs are also a great choice for an appetizer. I’m a sucker for deviled eggs though so I’m easy to please on that front.

Capdeville's Chorizo and Manchego Fries

Capdeville's Chorizo and Manchego Fries

If salads are your thing, Capdeville has one of the best Cobb salads in New Orleans. Surprisingly, a good Cobb salad is difficult to find in this city. But I would give a strong nod to Stein’s Deli and Capdeville for their versions. I’m also a big fan of the Caramel Apple Salad. It’s fresh and not as sweet as it sounds, but I always get it with the grilled chicken to make it a little more substantial.

One of Capdeville’s biggest strengths is its fries. My favorite are the Manchego and Chorizo fries. If you’re willing to explore, you can build your own based on a variety of meats and cheeses.

Earlier, I mentioned the Truffled Mac and Cheese. It is quite possible the best thing on the menu. The dish is comprised of elbow macaroni in truffle oil, parmesan, brown butter, sage, pancetta and peas. It’s rich, but it’s a rare dish that covers all your tastebuds. Even the Umami part.

Capdeville's Brekky Burger

Capdeville's Brekky Burger

Capdeville is also well-known for the burgers. I have to admit, I’m not a fan. The components are there, but there seems to be an issue with the grill. I always order my burger medium, and Capdeville always cooks them medium-well or worse (as on my last visit) well done. Why anyone would be ok with destroying a piece of meat like that is beyond me. That said, I’ve come to rely more on the Duck Confit Club than the burgers.

The Duck Confit Club is layers of duck cracklings, lettuce, tomato and roasted garlic ailoi between slices of bread. This is one tall sandwich.

If you’re looking for less of a mouthful, I would highly recommend the B.L.F.T. It’s a BLT that uses fried green tomatoes in place of red tomatoes. That’s a tradeoff I 100% agree with. The pumpernickel bread is also a nice touch.

When you need to wash down your sandwich, mac and cheese and fried red beans and rice, I would go with the blackberry mojito. I’m sure it’s a pain in the ass to make, so much so it isn’t on the drink menu, but it’s one of my favorite drinks in New Orleans. Anything with whiskey involved is also a solid choice at Capdeville.

Capdeville's Truffled Mac and Cheese

Capdeville's Truffled Mac and Cheese

Overall, Capdeville is a cool place with food that backs up the concept succesfully. It may be a little off the CBD’s beaten path, but it’s worth the visit for lunch, dinner or just drinks.

Capdeville is located at 520 Capdville St and open Monday through Thursday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and closed all day on Sundays.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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Review: Mother’s Restaurant

Mother's Restaurant Sign

Mother's Restaurant Sign

Mother’s Restaurant is one of those restaurants both tourists and local New Orleanians can appreciate. While it may fall into the “tourist trap” category, the place does some things really well. That said, there are only a few things that really stand out.

The first, by far, is the Ferdi special (or Ralph if you add cheese). A po boy with ham, roast beef and debris. If you aren’t familiar with debris, it’s the part of the roast beef that drips to the bottom of the pan while roasting. It’s full of flavor and very juicy.

Mother’s has some of the best debris in New Orleans, but the roast beef itself is a little dry. The Ferdi balances out so well because of the debris being a central component. This is definitely the best sandwich Mother’s has to offer.

Mother's Debris

Mother's Debris

Mother’s must turn out a lot of these po boys since the menus boasts that they annually cook over 175,000 pounds of ham and roast beef and serve 150,000 loaves of French bread.

Another one of Mother’s dishes I’m a big fan of is Jerry’s Jambalaya. Every time I’ve had it, the rice has been cooked perfectly, the chicken pieces the right size and the sausage spicy enough to give it a nice kick. Although, I will admit to adding some Crystal Hot Sauce for some added kick.

Mother’s Gumbo is also tasty, but I generally like a thicker roux when I’m eating gumbo. However, it will do in a pinch.

Most people overlook Mother’s breakfast, but seeing as how they cook over a quarter million biscuits, that many people can’t be wrong, right? I have found Mother’s to have some of the fluffiest eggs in town. That said, as good as the breakfast at Mother’s is, there’s a superior breakfast nearby at Majoria’s Commerce at Camp and Gravier. And there probably won’t be as long of line.

Mother's Ralph

Mother's Ralph

All in all, Mother’s Restaurant is a New Orleans staple that probably does serve more tourists than locals, but the food shouldn’t be ignored. They’ve been around since 1938 for a reason and seeing as how they serve a ton of food, everything can’t be phenomenal.

I have to admit, when I moved to New Orleans in 2007, I frequented Mother’s because it was close to my apartment and I liked it. But over the last five years, I’ve come to realize that most of the dishes at mother’s are inferior to some other places in the city. But I still love the Ferdi/Ralph and Jerry’s Jambalaya.

Mother’s Restaurant is located at 401 Poydras and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Be prepared to wait in line.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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Review: Bouligny Tavern

Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto

Bouligny Tavern is one of my favorite places to imbibe in New Orleans. Not only do they craft some serious cocktails and feature some great wine and bubbly, but they turn out some badass bar food.

The tavern is the brainchild/extension of Lilette executive chef John Harris, and he manages to keep both restaurants unique yet doesn’t sacrifice his overall cooking style.

The decor is a throwback to the Madison Ave. era so stepping inside transports you to another era and one you wouldn’t expect to find in New Orleans. But it’s a welcome transportation.

Even if you don’t go inside, you can enjoy the outdoor patio in the area between Bouligny Tavern and Lilette. It’s a nice place to be nestled on a day or night with nice weather.

Nice weather, patio furniture, good friends, sipping cocktails, that’s just the New Orleans way. My favorite cocktail on the menu is the Teaticket Fizz. It’s Oolong tea-infused vodka, cranberry liqueur, lemon juice and soda. It’s like an adult iced tea with lemon. It’s light, refreshing and not too sweet.

New Year's Toast

New Year's Toast

Some of my other favorites are the La Madrugada (tequila, St. Germain, grapefruit juice and Campari), the La Paolista (cachaca, lime juice, Roi Rene Rouge and prosecco) and the Aperol Spritzer (Aperol, prosecco and orange peel. A great friend of mine turned me on to subbing Piper Heidsieck in the Aperol Spritzer in place of prosecco and it’s a great substitution.

Now, onto the food. The food at Bouligny Tavern is phenomenal. It’s appropriate for a bar, but refined enough for a find dining experience.

Always, always, always start with the Gouda Beignets. They’re lightly fried pillow of air and Gouda. Fried cheese has never been so appetizing.

You also can’t go wrong with the Fritto Miso, a nice fried blend of seafood. Another nice dish from the Fried portion of the menu is the Gnocchi with Truffle and Parmigiano.

Gouda Beignets

Gouda Beignets

Bouligny Tavern also offers a nice variety of bruschetta and crostinis. My favorite is the Marrow and Garlic. I know a lot of people are apprehensive about eating or trying marrow, but it’s such a rich and buttery experience — one I highly recommend. The White Bean Pesto is also a nice one, as is the Burrata, Fleur de Sel and Truffle Oil.

Another highlight is the seven-ounce sirloin burger. It’s not as big as some of the other burgers in town, but it packs just as much flavor between two buns. It’s served with tomato, arugula and an herbed aioli that really elevates the nice cut of ground meat. And the sesame bun is toasted to perfection.

The desserts at Bouligny Tavern are a little lacking, but since you can order from Lilette’s menu, I usually just do that.

I’ve had just about everything on the menu and I’ve never been disappointed. What I’ve outlined in this review are just the menu items that are highlights for me. Bouligny Tavern is a great place to celebrate with friends in an environment that is never stuffy. Just make sure you get there early to get a pretty good spot since they don’t take reservations.

Bouligny Tavern is located at 3641 Magazine Street. The hours are Mon.-Thurs. 4 p.m. to midnight and Fri. and Sat. 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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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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