1069 Restaurants Open Around Town
Great Wines Around New Orleans Today
If you have a taste for Napa red wines with enormous power and finesse, you probably know about Pahlmeyer. The estate makes extraordinary wines, all from grapes it grows itself. That includes the wines from its Jayson series, which are a bit easier to buy than the main juice.
Tonight Chefs Allison and Slade Rushing of MiLa--the five-star bistro in the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel downtown--will host a dinner of six courses, each paired with a different Pahlmeyer wine. Winemaker Erin Green will be there to talk about all the wines. With the cheese course will come the magnificent Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red blend, which sells at retail for over $100 a bottle. But the whole dinner tonight is $125 inclusive, so it qualifies as a value. Here's the menu:
Vanilla Scented Scallop Tart
Herb Salad, Lime Vinaigrette
2007 Pahlmeyer Jayson Chardonnay
Butter Poached Chicken
Crawfish, Lobster Sauce, Potato Confit
2007 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay
Pan Roasted Striped Bass
Glazed Salsify, Red Wine Bacon Jus
2006 Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir
Brunoise of Vegetable, Mushroom Broth
2005 Pahlmeyer Jayson Red
Cabbage Wrapped Duck Confit
Toasted Barley, Currant Sauce
2005 Pahlmeyer Merlot
Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk Triple-Creme Cheese
Grilled Bread, Blackberry Jam
2005 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red
The dinner begins at 8 p.m. Reservations are necessary.
MiLa. CBD: 817 Common 504-412-2580.
Another Katrina Disaster Back From The Dead
Katie's Reopens In Mid-City
Almost since the burgeoning spate of restaurant reopenings in 2006, Scot Craig has been talking about the reopening of Katie's, and saying that it was imminent.
It wasn't. The problems were the usual ones. Insurance issues. Tremendous damage from the deep flood water that ran through the two-story purple building for a couple of weeks. (Mid-City's flood problems were as bad as those of any neighborhood outside the Lower Ninth Ward.)
But last Wednesday, March 3, Katie's returned to the business of frying seafood, making poor boys, simmering red beans, and making gumbo. Scot Craig is there, too. He says he has some new dishes to share with his old and new customers, but Katie's will remain what it always was: one of the best neighborhood restaurants in a neighborhood that is rich with such places.
Every time another Katrina-shuttered restaurant comes back in these days when many of us have put the storm completely behind us, the temptation is to say that it's the last one. Four and a half years is a long time. But who knows? Maybe Mandich, Barrow's, or Bruning's may return to their old homes yet. It's really astounding how few restaurants have not revived themselves.
Katie's. Mid-City: 3701 Iberville. 504-484-0850.
Thursday, March 4. Tello's. A brisk, cold wind blew during my search for dinner. Evenings like this make me reluctant to go to any restaurant that a) requires a long walk or 2) has a single door that allows cold drafts to blow through the dining room. Even as I write this I know it makes me sound unmanly. Dr. Oz says that men are built to withstand discomfort, and that we should indulge in it now and then. But I think winter has got under my skin, and I avoid it when I can.
I wound up at Tello's, the restaurant owned by the family that operates Frankie and Johnny's and Zeke's. Late last year, it took over the former location of the closed Anselmo's. The new proprietors performed a much-needed renovation of the restaurant, and wisely moved the entrance from the bar to the dining room. The old bar was pretty seedy, and often was populated by matching customers, not creating a welcoming first image for families.
As my gaze swept around the room in search of the table with the brightest illumination, the man at the only occupied table in the room voiced my name. He said his name was Scott, and that he came to one of our Eat Club dinners. He may have, but after sixteen years of weekly dinners with lots of new people every week, it's been a long time since I recognized everybody who's been with us. He didn't seem offended, because he asked me to join him. Why not? We'd be talking to each other across the room if I didn't.
Scott's wife knew the owners, and was about to introduce me when I shook that idea off. That danger past, Scott said he was in the home remodeling business. His daughter--who is soon to be married--was also with them. They'd already ordered, so I hustled up and chose some fried calamari and crabmeat-stuffed mezzaluna pasta from what seemed a short and unexciting menu to me.
Scott said that he heard my WWL show this past Saturday, and that he disagreed with me about several matters, which he outlined. They were things I've heard many times before, and were well within the margin of differing personal taste. I think one of them was my dislike of hot muffulettas. I know that opinion puts me in the minority, but it would be amazing if anyone didn't have a few tastes that were off the mainstream.
The calamari arrived. They were overfried but reasonably edible, and came in a portion more than big enough for all to share. A salad course inspired nothing much to say one way or the other.
In the entree course, everyone had pasta. The most interesting dish was panneed veal with crabmeat, although once again the veal was fried a minute or so too much, and was too dark and too stiff as a result. The pasta was the best part of it, and the best pasta on the table. The bride-to-be had wide fettuccine with shrimp, which she said was good enough for her liking. The worst dish was mine. Mezzaluna ("half-moons" in Italian; below) looked sort of like flattened Chinese-style dumplings, and may well have been made on the premises. But they were too thick and a little glutinous, and the cheese filling didn't help. The buttery sauce tasted a touch sweet to me, but overwhelming that and everything else was a garlic component that was way out of control. Not good.
I ordered the only dessert. (The ladies at the table clearly watch their weight.) I couldn't pass up what I thought was a clever idea: a cannoli napoleon. Instead of stuffing a tubular cannoli shell with the sweetened ricotta, they made chips out of the same dough, fried it, and layered it out. It might have been a success if only the chips had not been a good deal overfried, to the point of bitterness. At least they're consistent.
Scott thought of one more thing he disagreed with me about, and once again I can't remember what it was. I paid my share of the bill and pointed my bridge-crossing craft into the cold north winds.
Tello's Bistro. Metairie: 3401 N Hullen 504-324-4440 .
Friday, March 5. Ristorante Filippo. The Marys were going to have dinner with me tonight. But my heart sank when I found four commercial production orders waiting for me at the radio station. It takes between fifteen minutes and a half hour to write and produce a spot. That meant we wouldn't start dinner until eight-thirty or later. Too late for my girls, who are up at the crack of dawn. I would dine alone tonight.
I wandered around the Uptown area without a dinner inspiration, and still didn't have one as I cross the parish line at River Road. Then a specific hunger manifested itself: Italian. Specifically, something with bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. Ding! Ristorante Filippo. Right on my way. They were finishing what looked like a busy evening (the parking lot was almost full). I grabbed a corner table in the bar, four tables away from a crying baby who I think was family. I used to despise that sound, but after having had my own, I'm totally tolerant.
First course would have to be oysters areganata, Chef Phil Gagliano's take on Italian oysters (alla Mosca's). The difference he brings to this is to use much more olive oil and a more assertive herb component. And here it was, bubbling away. I looked at it and knew that the dumbest thing I could do was to lift an oyster with a pile of the crumby, garlic-scented, hot-olive-oil-drenched topping and stick it into my mouth immediately. Of course, I did that anyway. Just like one is tempted to do when a pizza right out of the oven arrives. You know that the inevitable mouthful of seared flesh that inevitably follows will not be pleasant, and you'll be moving the lava-like food around your mouth while sucking in gusts of air to try to cool it down. No way to take something like that out of your mouth. And that's how good that dish is. No person with a passion for food could resist.
My hunger for Creole-Italian stuffing was not sated by the half-dozen oysters. So, after the house salad, here came chicken spedini. That's chicken breast meat flattened out and rolled around more of the bread crumb-garlic-herb concoction, along with a layer of ham. The outside was crumb-coated, too. They brought me three of these pinwheels. One would have been enough, but I ate two and brought the other home--another tribute, because I almost never leave restaurants with a go-box. The pasta was covered with chunky tomatoes and herbs and also very good.
No room for dessert. Chef Phil told me he wanted to have another Eat Club here, after the success of the dinner eight months ago. I'm game for that.
One thing in this dinner misfired: my new camera. I guess my settings were wrong--I haven't figured out all its intricacies, and I've misplaced the owner's manual. But all the photos of the food here came out too dark to do anything much with, which is why they look funny.
Ristorante Filippo. Metairie: 1917 Ridgelake 504-835-4008. Creole Italian.
Hamburger. Seafood. Salads.
Elmwood: 1005 S. Clearview Pkwy.. 504-734-1122.
Metairie: 6920 Veterans Blvd., 504-455-1272.
Metairie: 817 Veterans Blvd., 504-837-8580.
Mandeville: 3900 LA 22, 985-624-8035.
LaPlace: 1338 West Airline Hwy., 985-653-6731.
Lunch and dinner continuously seven days.
AE DS MC V
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
Here is the first step for people who are finally moving up from fast food restaurants. In its premises, amenities, menu, and prices, the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company is better than even the most substantial of the burger slingers. It has everything they do, plus a wide range of specialty sandwiches, salads, and (best of all) seafood platters. It also uses some of the gimmicks you'd find in the national chains.
WHY IT'S GOOD
The burgers are bigger but not better. They're cooked fast-food-style on a grill that's not nearly hot enough to lend excitement. Nor do all of the dozen or so specialty burgers, with their offbeat toppings. The salads are more interesting. But the peak of the menu is fried seafood. It's won't compete with the works of the great New Orleans casual seafood houses, but it's well above average, fried to order more often than not, never showing evidence of old oil or heavy coatings. Sandwiches made with seafood ate good, too.
The first NOH&SC opened on Clearview Parkway in 1984 by Sandy Wiener and Norris Gremillion. Its appeal was a bigger, better burger served just as fast as at McD's or BK. That it was several times the price was ameliorated by a help-yourself bar of dressings. The place also had a salad bar at least as good as any other in the area. And the fried seafood, which required a customer to wait while it was fried to order. And baked potatoes. The local chain expanded quickly to two more locations (none of which, interestingly, was in New Orleans proper), then quit growing until a few years ago, when locations in a few exurban towns opened. In the meantime, the salad bar went away, the fixing bar was attenuated, and the menu grew.
Most of the time, you order at the counter, and the food is delivered to the table. The dining rooms are attractive, spacious, and comfortable, but distinctly within the realm of a fast-food environment. They get a checkmark for using minimal disposable serviceware.
Thin fried catfish platter.
Other fried seafood platters.
Fried seafood poor boys.
Roast beef poor boy.
Barbecue shrimp poor boy.
Stuff-a-Letta (muffuletta meats and cheeses on French bread).
Shrimp-zilla poor boy (fried shrimp and roast beef debris).
Asian Cajun chicken salad.
Sizzling shrimp remoulade salad.
Grilled chicken salad with strawberries and blue cheese.
Red beans and rice.
Crawfish pasta in a cream sauce.
Blackened fish with grilled shrimp.
Thin fried onion rings.
Garlic herb fries.
FOR BEST RESULTS
The seafood outclasses everything else on the menu. The specialty burgers are much more interesting than good. The poor boy sandwiches are better than you'd expect. Do not be tempted by the shrimp popcorn poor boy with 100 teeny fried shrimp. It's just one of the many gimmicks here to get your attention.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The best thing this place could do would be to cook the hamburgers to order on a much hotter grill.
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
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine and Bar
- Hipness -1
- Local Color
- Sidewalk tables (Mandeville only)
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
Ten Best French Onion Soups
There are other onion soups out there. But there's nothing like the classic French style created in the Parisian markets, with an intensely beefy broth and deeply caramelized onions that make the soup as dark as coffee. The cap of cheese melted over a crouton is the final touch. All of the restaurants below make it that way.
The bad news is that, even thought French bistros are multiplying like poodles, many such places eschew the making of this marvel. And I know why. It's a lot of work. I offer this group in order of how impressive they remain in my memory, but admit that this is such a close batch that I could write the name on cards, pick them at random, and have as accurate a list as this one.
1. Meauxbar. French Quarter: 942 N. Rampart. 504-569-9979.
2. Flaming Torch. Uptown: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900.
3. La Crepe Nanou. Uptown: 1410 Robert . 504-899-2670.
4. Chateau Du Lac. Old Metairie: 2037 Metairie Rd.. 504-831-3773.
5. Cafe Degas. Mid-City: 3127 Esplanade Ave.. 504-945-5635.
6. La Cote Brasserie. Warehouse District: 700 Tchoupitoulas. 504-613-2350.
7. Peppermill. Metairie: 3524 Severn Ave.. 504-455-2266.
8. Jacmel Inn. Hammond: 903 E. Morris. 985-542-0043.
9. Royal Palm. Harvey: 1901 Manhattan Blvd . 504-644-4100.
10. Antonio's. Riverbend: 7708 Maple St. 504-218-5457.
The memory of Corinne Dunbar's restaurant, a semi-landmark on St. Charles Avenue for years, is fading away. Which may be just as well, because there was really only one dish that made a big enough impression on the palate that I still hear requests for recipes for it. It's the kind of dish that you'd never find anywhere in the world but New Orleans: oysters in a thick, savory brown sauce. I received a note from reader Jim Marsalis with his mother's take on oysters Dunbar. He says her name was Corinne, interestingly enough. I tried it out and thought it was a great recipe. Here it is, with only minimal goosing from me. The presence of margarine in it tells me it comes from long ago.
- 1 stick margarine
- 1/2 cup corn oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 3 finely chopped green onions, tender green parts only
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. thyme
- 2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
- Juice of one lemon, strained
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- As much oyster water as you can get, up to a quart
- 36 large oysters
- 1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, coarsely chopped
1. Heat margarine and oil in a heavy aluminum saucepan. Add flour. Make a very dark roux. Constant stirring is the key to this, to prevent burning. Burned roux is unsalvageable! The pace of browning picks up the longer you cook.
2. Have the green onions and celery chopped and ready, and when the roux gets to the right color, remove the pan from the oven and stir them in. Keep stirring until the vegetables are soft. Add salt, peppers, oregano, thyme, parsley, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add oyster water and enough more regular water if necessary to make a thick sauce. Chop one dozen of the oysters and add to the sauce. Cover and cook slowly for about a half-hour, till thick enough to pick up with a fork.
4. Place four to six oysters in ovenproof baking dishes (au gratin dishes are perfect), along with two Tbs. of chopped artichoke. Top with enough sauce to generously cover. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serve with hot French bread on the side.
Serves four to six.