Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo.

New Orleans is nothing if not a food lover’s paradise. Many of my meals were eaten in the conference center (breakfast and lunch were included in the conference registration fees). Even New Orleans couldn’t make conference center food all that great.

But there were still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the food. So here are a few mini reviews of New Orleans eateries:

Arnaud’s. This is old-time French Quarter dining—I actually think they’re pissed that no one wants to wear a jacket to dinner anymore (and don’t even think of showing up in a t-shirt and shorts). The ambience and tradition are great but the old-school food was just OK. I'm not sure I'd recommend this place. Although the creepy costume museum upstairs is worth the price of dinner.

Café Du Monde. This is the home of the world’s most famous beignets (fried dough with powdered sugar). And in addition to coffee and milk, that’s about the only thing on the menu. Café Du Monde is old, filled with tradition, and fried-dough delicious. Mmmmm, fried dough.

Mila. This restaurant was recommended by the staff at the W. We were looking for a restaurant that served modern Creole cuisine. I had the “young French chicken” (I love saying that) and it was delicious. I also loved the crab-stuffed, deep fried squash blossom that the chef sent to our table to welcome us to the restaurant.

Herbsaint. This was my favorite restaurant of the trip. Everything (the beet salad, the baked black-eyed peas served with an oven roasted chicken, the upside down blueberry dessert) was delicious. There were plenty of other dishes I’d like to try so hopefully I’ll get the chance to return.

Chacon. The same chef that created Herbsaint also created Chacon, a more casual eatery the leans toward a less formal menu. I ordered the signature dish, Louisiana Chacon. Imagine a crab cake only instead of crab, it’s filled with pulled pork. It was served over an amazing warm salad of cabbage seasoned with onions and more. It was delicious.

Mother’s. This is another New Orleans tradition. It’s been around forever and it looks like it. It’s a little grimy but wildly popular due to the food. I had the Famous Ferdi Special Po’Boy, the restaurant’s signature sandwich. It included “the world’s best baked ham,” roast beef, debris, and gravy. Yes, I said debris, which happens to be the bits of beef that fall into the juices in the bottom of the pan as the beef roasts. Mmmmm, debris. I also had a side of red beans and rice. It was a dang good meal for only a little over ten dollars.

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