1069 Restaurants Open Around New O. The whole list.
Mike's East-West. Iris. Irish Coffee. Cafe Brulot. Espresso. Coffeetowns. Soda Fountain. Ode To Haggis. Alien Corn. Bellini. Rossini.
Eating Around New Orleans Today
Mike's East-West opens this afternoon, with a ribbon cutting at four and a toast of--not Champagne, but sparkling sake. Yes, that's Chef Mike Fennelly, all right. He will declare this the Year Of The Koi, with some temporary sculpture installations outside the restaurant. (He's also an artist.) Mike and cow-owner Vicky Bayley are returning to the same space in the Lafayette Hotel (across from Gallier Hall) where they premiered Mike's on the Avenue over a decade ago. They'll serve lunch weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday. The menu will no doubt be stylish and kicky. I'll see you there in April or May. Enjoy!
Mike's East-West. CBD: 628 St. Charles Ave. 504-523-7600.
Iris opened today in 2006. One of the two or three best new restaurants to open since the storm, the restaurant was created by chef Ian Schnoebelen and Laurie Casebonne. Both had worked at the fine French-inspired Magazine Street restaurant Lilette, and some of the style of that place moved over here. The restaurant opened up in a tight cottage on Jeannette Street just off Carrollton. Like its predecessors in that spot, they found it limited their ability to serve, and moved early in 2009. It was a drastic move: the the French Quarter, in the Bienville House Hotel. The food is imaginative and polished, with few references to the local style and many unusual ingredients. The wine list is also exceptional for a place this size. Dinner at Iris is never less than a joy, full of nice surprises. Full review.
Today is National Irish Coffee Day. A shot of Irish whiskey and a float of whipped cream isn't too terrible an idea on a cold evening. It's not all that great an idea, either, which is why waiters rarely offer Irish coffee at the end of dinner the way they used to twenty or so years ago. It ruins both the coffee and the Irish whiskey.
An older and better coffee-and-spirits drink is a New Orleans original: cafe brulot. Invented at Antoine's in the late 1800s, it starts with lemon peel, cloves, and cinnamon flamed in brandy. While it's burning, the waiter pours a little of the stuff on the tablecloth in a circle around the pan, where the blue flames burn harmlessly but dramatically. Then the coffee is added. A special rig evolved for cafe brulot, involving a brass panholder held up by well-dressed demons, and thin, tall cups for serving the potion.
Cafe brulot has become a universal end-of-dinner item in most of the traditional grand New Orleans restaurants, and has spread well beyond its boundaries. The best version is at Arnaud's, where they stud an orange with cloves, then cut the skin away from the fruit in a spiral. The waiter pours the flaming brandy down the spiral, which not only is quite a show but brings the oils in the peel into play, adding flavor as well as making the room fragrant.
Today in 1870, one Gustavus Dows patented a soda fountain that became the standard for drugstore soda counters. The works involved a tank that combined carbon dioxide with water more effectively. The soda water then went under its own pressure into an ornate marble, double spigot that would add bubbly water slowly or in a thin, forceful stream.
Food In Literature
Scottish poet Robert Burns was born today in 1759. His most famous verses were the words to the New Year's song Auld Lang Syne, but for our purposes we note his poem Ode To A Haggis. Haggis is a sausage-like meatloaf made of parts of cattle and sheep you're better off not knowing about. It makes hogshead cheese look like filet mignon.
This is also the birthday, in 1874, of British novelist, playwright and spy William Somerset Maugham. His most famous work was Of Human Bondage. From our limited perspective, three works stand out: Cakes and Ale, The Alien Corn and The Breadwinner.
Eliakim Spooner patented a machine for seeding fields today in 1799. . . Auto racer Buddy Baker was born today in 1941. . . Wilson Kettle, a Newfoundland fisherman, died at 102 on this date in 1963. At the time of his death he had still living 11 children, 65 grandchildren, 201 great-grandchildren and 305 great-great-grandchildren, for a total of 582 living descendants. That's a record. . . Twin Canadian actors and clothes designers Chip and Pepper Foster were born today in 1964. (How great it would be if they had a brother with the nickname "Bananas.") . . . Former U.S. Senator from Washington Homer Bone was born today in 1883.
Music To Dine By
Two Italian operas, composed by two men whose names are famous in the restaurant world, both premiered on this date, 17 years apart. The first, La Cenerentola, was written by Gioacchino Rossini and opened in Rome in 1817. Rossini not only gave his name to the still-popular dish tournedos Rossini but actually invented it. He was quite a cook and gourmet. The second opera was by Vincenzo Bellini: I Puritani. Its opening day was this date in 1835. The Bellini cocktail (champagne, orange juice, and peach nectar) is probably not named after the composer, though some sources say it was. (The real namesake is, I think, the painter Giuseppe Bellini).
Words To Eat By
"It is illegal to give someone food in which has been found a dead mouse or weasel."--Irish Law.
Words To Drink By
"A cup of coffee--real coffee, home browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all."--Henry Ward Beecher.
"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups -- alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat."--Alex Levine, collector and author of Irish wit and wisdom.
Proceeds Got To City Park And Historic N.O. Collection
Friday-Before-Mardi Gras Tables
At Galatoire's On Auction This Afternoon
In a restaurant known for the celebratory extremes of its customers, the lunch on the Friday before Mardi Gras at Galatoire's is like nothing else. It's hard to believe, in fact. The tables are in such demand that for years would-be customers paid hundreds of dollars to people who sat in front of the place around the clock for days to hold a spot in line. They looked like the homeless.
Galatoire's general manager Melvin Rodrigue came up with a better idea in 2006. Starting that year, the tables for the first seating on the Friday before Mardi Gras (and the one before Christmas, which is almost as wild) were auctioned to the highest bidders. The first year, this brought in nearly $100,000, all of which was distributed to local charities.
The auction is this afternoon, starting at 6:30 after a cocktail party for the 150 bidders. It's probably is sold out, but it can't hurt to call if this is of interest. 504-525-2021. The auction is something to see.
What you pay for the table advances nothing against your restaurant or bar bill; that's full price. You do get to hang onto the table as long as you like, but when you leave they can seat anyone else who might be waiting there.
Saturday, January 16. Gallagher's Grill, Sans Gallagher. Looking Away From Home. It kept on raining. That kept me indoors all day, chipping away at my endless tasks. I discovered something interesting this morning: a way to make design changes in every single recipe or review on the web site without having to do so one by one. This is what passes for excitement in my increasingly nerdy, workaholic life.
The Saints playoff game began in mid-afternoon. The AT&T television service I ordered last weekend won't be installed for another two weeks. The Marys went out to watch the action at VooDoo BBQ, then moved to Zea for the second half because they said the seats were too hard at VooDoo. They probably weren't designed for people to settle into for three and a half hours.
Before she left, Mary Ann delivered her dinner orders: we should go to Gallagher's Grill, she said. We had a spectacular dinner last time we were there. And I need to work up a formal review of the place, now that it's been open six months or so.
We went over at about six-thirty. The place was half empty. The Saints could be blamed for the lack of customers, here and all across town. Even though the game was over (I think the Saints won, but I'm not sure), most people were probably still in front of the televisions that displayed the game. The fact that Pat Gallagher wasn't in the house (he's down with the flu or something) probably contributed to the low-key atmosphere. That desultory mood, fortunately, didn't extend to our server, a tall, striking young woman with a great attitude and the full information you like to find from a server--including about the wines. Mary Ann said she waited on us last time. Really? How could I forget her?
Even though this dinner was her idea, Mary Ann claimed she wasn't really hungry. But that changed as soon as the waitress mentioned, as one of the daily specials, a cowboy rib-eye. That's something MA has dreams about, to hear her talk. Diet be damned. As for me, I hadn't eaten anything significant all day, and had my fork and knife in hand, napkin tucked into my shirt, raring to go.
We started with barbecue shrimp. They were peeled, and with the peels goes a lot of the flavor. The sauce was peppery enough to save the day. Next came a salad of sliced tomatoes and onions, shuffled and fanned out over baby greens. A flow of hyper-rich, gritty blue cheese dressing flooded all of this. It was all too much. Big enough to serve four, dressing enough for eight. I thought the onion component was beyond optimal. Still, by treating it as a dish on a buffet one could get a fine salad out of it.
The cowboy steak was done the way Mary Ann says she likes it--medium well--but she found it overcooked. I keep telling her that what she really likes is medium, but what do I know? I'm also forever warning her away from fish and chips, and she keeps ordering and hating that, too.
Another of the night's specials had my name on it: grilled pompano with crabmeat and lemon butter. I should have knocked off the crabmeat--I usually do--but forgot. It was good fresh fish, but it came out tepid. I almost sent it back for a warmup, but a bad turn in the conversation stole my attention.
I asked Mary Ann how she would like to live in Santa Fe. This is chapter 35678305 of our exploration of what to do after both our children have relocated to Los Angeles, as Jude has already done and Mary Leigh plans to do in September. Mary Ann says she does not want to spend the rest of her life in New Orleans. Her plan is to build up the website into a major national force, sell it for many millions of dollars, then relocate to and retire to California. Our major sticking points concern whether this is realistic, and my stubborn insistence that I like what I do for a living.
"I will live in Los Angeles," she decreed.
I don't know where to take the conversation from there. Los Angeles is not my kind of place. It's certainly not a city where I could do what I do here in New Orleans. Hard for a guy in his late fifties who has a highly specialized job to find that job anywhere else. The matter darkened what could have been a lovely evening. It would depress me for days, as it has before.
On the bright side, the wine--an unoaked Chardonnay from Argentina, recommended by our waitress--was delicious, especially with the fish. And the creme brulee had a sunny countenance, and wasn't too sweet.
Gallagher's Grill. Covington: 509 S Tyler 985-892-9992. Seafood.
Sunday, January 17. The Blues. I awoke in a daze. I didn't get to sleep until about quarter to three, lying awake in bed from eleven-thirty onward, turning over and over in my mind the implications of Mary Ann's statement last night over dinner that sooner or later--preferably sooner--she would be moving to Los Angeles.
I gave up trying to sleep at about eight, and set about baking a batch of biscuits. MA and I steered clear of conversation until lunchtime, when we grilled some hamburgers. She asked why suddenly I have shifted from white bread to whole wheat. Same reason she did, I told her. Fiber. Fiber is the big issue in our lives all of a sudden. Jude is obsessed with it.
Otherwise it was a lovely day, and the non-stop freezing temperatures of the first half of the month have emphatically moderated. But we've had so much rain in the past couple of months that the fields of the Cool Water Ranch are not draining. There's not a part of the spread where you can walk without the being accompanied by a rhythm of squishes. This should fill out the spring foliage in the trees, especially the live oaks and cypresses. And remove any concern I may have about the amount of water in the aquifer from which we get our drinking water.
I returned to my cave and worked most of the rest of the day, until midnight.
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
Mo's makes a modified New York-style pizza with a great crust, thin and crisp at the bottom, with a nice breadiness at the perimeter, and a few really dark brown spots to make everything exciting. Also here are all the cousins of pizza: calzones, sausage rolls, and the like. The basic pasta dishes. And poor boys and muffulettas. The portions are laughably large; the prices ridiculously low.
WHY IT'S GOOD
The crust is excellent here, and is only seconds out of the oven when you pick it up and bite in. The toppings are of good quality and layered on generously. My only quibble is with the sauce, which strikes me as overly sweet. (This is also true of the sauce that comes with the pasta.)
Mo's opened in the late 1980s, functioning for some years as strictly a neighborhood pizzeria. Then the word broke out among Tulane students and other displaced New Yorkers that this place at least approximated Northeast-style pizza, and the fame of the place spread from there. A fire in 2002 forced the construction of a much larger and less shabby dining room, and a kitchen better able to get the pizzas out without the interminable waits of the early years. The restaurant is a little hard to find the first time; it's off the main highway.
A large, stark building that looks more like an industrial warehouse than a restaurant on the outside contains a pleasant but utilitarian dining area, usually filled with the regulars. But for the prices nobody ever complains about a lack of atmosphere.
Fried chicken wings.
Meatball or sausage poor boy sandwich.
Roast beef poor boy (Friday special).
Hot sausage poor boy (Wednesday special).
Lasagna (24 ounces!)
Spaghetti with meatballs or sausage.
FOR BEST RESULTS
The more people you show up with, the better the place is. Fill the table with not just different pizzas but those sausage rolls, calzones, and lasagna.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The sauce is the weak point as far as I'm concerned, but it suits a lot of New Orleans eaters.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Consistency +1
- Value +3
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar
- Hipness -1
- Local Color +1
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
Vote In A Poll; Comment
What's Your Kind Of Restaurant
For A Big Night's Dinner?
I like all kinds of restaurants except bad ones. But there are some styles I like better than others. I admit to a bias toward the native cuisine--no matter where I am, but certainly here in New Orleans. I also would say that I like classical cooking a shade more than cutting edge creations.
I wonder where you stand. Would you mind telling me? Take a look, then
For this poll, we'll limit the view to big-deal, grand dining venues. We'll come back and do the bistros and the ethnic places some other time. I don't know why I have to say this, but the we are not voting on the examples I give, but on the entire range of restaurants in the same category.
You need to register to do this, but that's free, takes only a minute to answer a couple of questions (name and e-mail), and I will keep the information private. (I don't even use it myself.)
Cafe Brulot is the grandest ending to a major New Orleans dinner. The show at the table is worth the attention, and the aroma is wonderful. If you make it at home, look for oranges with a thick, flawless skin (California oranges are best for this). There is a special bowl and matching cups made for cafe brulot, and it makes the process not only easier but much more beautiful.
This is a flamed dish. So make sure you have nothing above the burning bowl that could catch fire. Do not use any spirit higher than 80 proof. If you feel ill at ease about flaming dishes, just bring the ingredients to a boil and don't flame it. It tastes just as good.
- Peel of 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 12-15 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 3 oz. brandy
- 3 oz. Cointreau, triple sec, or Grand Marnier
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 4 cups freshly brewed very dark coffee, preferably coffee and chicory
1. Wash the lemon and the orange. Peel the lemon and cut the peel into strips about an inch long and a half inch wide. Stud the skin of the orange with the cloves, inserting the cloves in a spiral pattern from top to bottom. Then cut the peel from the orange in one continuous spiral with the cloves in the center of the strip.
2. In a metal bowl set over a small burner, combine the brandy and the Cointreau with the lemon peel, orange, and cinnamon sticks. Bring the liqueurs to a light boil and hold it there for a minute. Carefully touch a flame to the mixture and flame it, stirring it around.
3. With a long fork, spear the orange and hold it up above the bowl. Pour some of the flaming liquid over the orange and let it flow down the spiral of the skin.
4. Add the vanilla, sugar and the coffee, and swirl it all around until the flames die out. Pour the cafe brulot into demitasse cups and serve hot. It's okay for pieces of lemon or orange peel to go into the cup.
Serves six to eight.