Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Captivating Coquette

If you didn't already know, Coquette is easily one of the best restaurants in New Orleans ... and in a city where incredible restaurants are a dime a dozen, that's saying a whole hell of a lot. Like Patois and Boucherie, I try to visit Coquette as often as I can, but the last meal I had was over four months ago with one of my best friends, Lorin Gaudin.

In case you haven't noticed, I am playing some serious catch-up. I've dined at more restaurants than I can write about (or have time to write about) and it's well past time to get these places all in the hopper. I'm working on it! And yes, I have written about Coquette before, but can a place this stupendous ever get old?

On Lorin's advice, we started with an appetizer called Buffalo Apples where crisp, green apples were sectioned and deep fried in a tempura batter and then drizzled with hot sauce, blue cheese, celery and walnuts. I've probably said this before, but I am not a big fan of Buffalo Wings, but I could eat those apples all day long ... and then some.

We also shared a bowl of rich, Smoked Pork Gumbo with mustard greens that was garnished with a soft-boiled egg and crispy, fried pig's ear. Although not traditional, Coquette's trumped up version had me swooning and to be perfectly honest, one bowl was simply not big enough for the two of us.

For our entrees, we both opted for sandwiches. Lorin chose the Pastrami with apples and braised slaw on house rye served with French fries. I got Ham Sandwich with huckleberry, cheddar and heirloom tomato.  We shared both sandwiches and both were just fantastic what with house-made pastrami and tasso, how could they possibly be otherwise? I also couldn't stop stealing French fries from Lorin's plate. Thankfully, she didn't seem to mind.

Finally, for dessert (oh yes!), we shared a plate of gingerbread donuts with pumpkin ice cream, house made of course. Is there anything this restaurant can't do? I'll most assuredly be back soon ...

Coquette on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 13, 2015

House of the week: Double on Jeanette Street

In case you didn't notice from other posts, I really love my neighborhood. Although my current digs leave something to be desired (washer & dryer, lack of mold, light etc.), the 'hood in which it resides makes it worthwhile. So, in that vein, I've been searching the Riverbend for a home that would delight me and be in my price range.

Okay, so this double on Jeanette Street is twice as much as I can pay (pathetic, I know), but I can't help thinking what it could be if I got my grubby little hands on it. The realtor describes it as a "new-classical revival" but I just think it's beautiful. With almost 2000 square feet, I'm assuming each unit is one or two bedrooms per side, both replete with gorgeous wainscoting, 13 foot ceilings, stained glass windows, sliding pocket doors, fireplace mantles, original hardwood floors, transoms and what appears to be barge board ceilings.

The house is located only a few blocks from where I now sit, typing away furiously because there is no way in hell I'd be able to purchase it. Not only is it listed at $275,000, but the house still needs a good bit of work. I hope that someone who can afford it will snap up this gem and love it as much as I would.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New experience at Namese

Since it sometimes feels as if I've tasted virtually everything, it's always a wonderful surprise when I get the opportunity to sample something new. That's exactly what happened when Lorin and I enjoyed a lunch at Namese a few months back.

Located on the corner of Tulane and South Carrollton Avenue, Namese was once a convenience store that sold Chinese food to-go. What with the surge of interest in Vietnamese cuisine and the changes that are slowly-but-surely happening in this previously unloved corridor, the owners sensed it was kismet to get back to their roots and open a full-service restaurant.

Though it was cold the day we visited, I could totally see returning in the springtime (and I have!) to lounge on their spacious and comfortably-furnished patio out front. But on this particular occasion, Lorin and I sat inside. After placing our order, we munched on complimentary prawn crackers and talked about all things food-related while we waited.

First to arrive was an appetizer we ordered to share, a dish of shrimp and avocado spring rolls with a rich, dark peanut sauce for dipping. Needless to say, the rolls were fresh, flavorful and gobbled up in no time at all. Shortly thereafter, our entrees arrived and I couldn't help oohing and aahing ... at least a little.

Lorin ordered their Shakin' Steak that was marinated, pan-seared and served with jasmine rice and pickled vegetables. Me? I was in the mood for pho, so I chose the filet mignon. Now, I'm pretty sure I've ordered filet mignon pho at almost every Vietnamese restaurant in the city, but not once has it ever been served up like it was at Namese.

Instead of just a bowl of soup, Namese took it one step further bringing out the pho (with noodles and veggies, of course) with a separate plate of raw, thinly sliced beef. Essentially, I was cooking each piece of meat in the piping hot broth right before stuffing it into my face. It was fantastic! Especially with their spicy, sate chili sauce that I added to each bite. Although it might not seem like much, this added dimension to the meal made all the difference. I just love trying new things ... especially when it's food!

Namese on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 2, 2015

What the devil? Lunch at The Sammich

*Update - Since posting this blog a few hours ago, I received a note from the owner concerned that readers would believe this experience occurred recently. So, for those who skipped the first phrase, this happened several months ago in September of 2014.  

Several months ago, John and I decided to quit procrastinating and have lunch at The Sammich, one of the newest restaurants to open in the Riverbend. Previously, The Sammich had been a sort of permanent pop-up inside Chickie Wah Wah, a popular local music venue on Canal Street, and we were excited to see it land its own digs on Maple Street in our neighborhood.

After ordering at the bar, we chose a table outside to be less obtrusive with our picture-taking and to enjoy a rare day of sun (it was still winter, after all). Everything came out at once, but we started with an appetizer of deviled eggs stuffed with Louisiana crab, capers and cornichons (small French pickles). Now I realize, picking the meat out of Louisiana blue crab can be a tedious project and from time to time, shells will get into your final product no matter how fastidious you are. But, on this particular occasion, every single deviled egg had a minimum of two or three shells. It got to the point where we would take a bite out of one, find a couple of shells, and then try a bite of another ... only to find more! The wonderful flavor kept us interested, but not for long. We just hoped our "sammiches" would make up for it.

John ordered their "En Brochette" Sammich with fried oysters, bacon, brie and meunière. Though I am not a big fan of mixing cheese and seafood, I really enjoyed this sandwich, enough to dub it a "sammich" indeed. Unfortunately, my order was not. I chose the New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp cooked in Abita Turbodog with blackened avocado mayo. The shrimp were juicy and perfectly cooked, but the Turbodog gave the whole sandwich a bitter aftertaste that I simply couldn't get past and I ended up leaving the rest, stealing the other half of John's sammich because I was starving. 

Since I've heard fellow foodies rave about The Sammich, extolling everything from their flash-fried escargot to the tempura-fried lobster knuckle sandwich, I will definitely have to give it another go. Only, I don't think we'll ever order the deviled eggs again... 


The Sammich on Urbanspoon