Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Food Lover's Haven - Part I

French Quarters New OrleansNew Orleans has so much to offer a foodie. In addition to the unique Creole and Cajun cooking, the city is home many seafood restaurants and upscale fine-dining restaurants, many run by celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. In addition to gumbo, crepes and jambalaya, I saw cafes advertising po' boys - a traditional sandwich of meat or seafood served in a baguette made of Louisiana French bread. During my three days here, I was able to sample some of these culinary delights that left me wanting more.

Emeril's NOLA New OrleansEmeril's NOLA restaurant is located in the heart of the French Quarters. This casual dining restaurant puts a contemprary spin on classic Creole and New Orleans dishes and is very popular, for good reason. I walked in without a reservation and got lucky. There was a group of people waiting for seats, but I was the only one eating alone, and they had exactly one spot free at the Chef's table!

Emeril's NOLA New OrleansThis was a great spot to watch the activity in the open kitchen - activity which was intense and busy throughout. I sipped on a Pinot Noir and nibbled on the excellent spiced cornbread as I awaited my starter and watched the action in the kitchen.

Emeril's NOLA New Orleans
Emeril's NOLA New OrleansI had ordered Gulf Oysters and Crabmeat, baked in the wood oven with garlic butter and herb bread crumbs. The oysters were cooked right before my eyes in the huge wood-burning oven. The oysters were served in the special iron skillet they were cooked in. I oysters were amazingly delicious.

Emeril's NOLA New OrleansPurists prefer their oysters raw, with no dressing save for lemon juice. Similar to wine, oysters can be very salty or sweet, with notes of cucumber, melon, herbs, butter, flint, or copper, all depending on the water in which they grew. However, newbies should remember Jonathan Swift who said, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster". For you, cooked oysters may be a good way to get used to the taste.

Emeril's NOLA New OrleansFor my entree, I had selected their signature Garlic Crusted Texas Redfish which was cooked in the wood-burning oven with Brabant potatoes, wild mushrooms, bacon, and Sauce Beurre Rouge. This was another standout dish that I thoroughly enjoyed and will recommend to anyone who visits this restaurant.

Emeril's NOLA New OrleansThe dessert was a double chocolate bread pudding, good but not particularly noteworthy. The service was exceptional; the waitstaff was fast, friendly and helpful throughout. I noticed the restaurant was filled to capacity during the entire time and there were people waiting for seats even when I walked out satiated.

For lunch the next day, I strolled into another great place on the (in)famous Bourbon Street. Ralph Brennan is one of the town's most respected restauranters and a visit to Red Fish Grill, which he owns and runs, will show you why. The restaurant’s decor features a sea colored etched floor, hand-painted tables, oyster mirrors, sculptured palms, photographs of Louisiana bayous and bayou residents and a sea of metal fish in neon swimming overhead. The food is equally interesting.

Red Fish Grill New Orleans
Red Fish Grill New OrleansI began with the Coconut Crusted Shrimp, which is jumbo Louisiana shrimp fried in a sweet coconut batter, and served with Cajun cole slaw and pepper jelly.

Red Fish Grill New OrleansI followed with the Hickory Grilled Redfish, a fillet of fresh redfish grilled over hickory and served with tasso and wild mushroom Pontalba potatoes, topped with Louisiana lump crabmeat and lemon butter sauce. My waitress also added some batter-fried oysters as a side.

Red Fish Grill, New OrleansWhile the shrimp was interesting, it was the redfish entree which was truely memorable. This restaurant also boasts of a well-stocked oyster bar which is worth trying. Incidentally, Red Fish Grill was the first prominent restaurant to reopen after Katrina, exactly 31 days after the hurricane devastated this city.

Bombay Club New OrleansThere are other restaurants that were on my list but I didn't have the time. I am told K-Paul's is one of the most popular ones here; however, I discovered they don't open on Sundays! Another interesting restaurant with a British ambiance and great food is the Bombay Club. Both these restaurants are in the French Quarters area.

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my my That must be unique experiance, Looks like lovely places

Lakshmi said...

bombay club sounds interesting as well..I was hoping you would tell us a bit more about French Quarters..

Sig said...

oh New Orleans is in my to-visit list... food looks amazing! And I am eternally thankful to that first man who tried oysters.. :)

Anonymous said...

The Oyster & shrimp preparations look & sound delicious. I had tried some of the varieties in Taipei, but nothing close to these... their preparations were mostly stir fry/steamed or some what cooked in gravy... but sure tasted great.. your post has woken up my craving for sea food :)

Anonymous said...

I always wonder what others would be thinking of your clicking habits. I couldn't have done so. :)

Man ! so many of them and so delicious to eyes. Hats off to you !!
Now my mouth has started watering...

Anonymous said...

@harekrishnaji: Thanks for visiting.

@lakshmi: re: French Quarter...noted; will do.

@sig: you like them too.

@vikash: New Orleans cooking is more French than Asian. So the sauces will be very different from what you may have found in Taipei.

@cuckoo: Heh! Yes, people are sometimes amused when I photograph the food.

indicaspecies said...

Sometimes I like the informality of open kitchens.

I like crabmeat. And that Garlic Crusted Texas Redfish looks yummy.

Anonymous said...

@indicaspecies: And it tasted as good as it looked. I try ordering sea-food that is local to the coast I am in. Looks like Redfish is a popular choice in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepti said...

I have been just drooling over this post .. :) and thanks a lot for the chocolates .. they were really good :0)

Anonymous said...

@deepti: You are welcome!