Thursday, July 10, 2014

Superior to Superior: Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar

Other than wickedly potent margaritas, I'm not a huge fan of Superior Grill. The service can be quite sloppy and the so-so cuisine can be phenomenally expensive (ever been during Mardi Gras?). That being said, I do have some great memories of that restaurant, one which particularly stands out because I met one of my best friends there for the first time after she answered my platonic ad on Craigslist.org. An innocent, meet & greet lunch turned into a full day and night of drunken debauchery and it all started with a few pitchers of Superior's notorious margaritas.

Considering my attitude towards the "Grill," it should come as no surprise that I was a bit leery of the fairly new Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar that opened up a couple of years ago. But, much to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that Superior Seafood is ... well ... pretty damn good. Sure, their price to portion size ratio is a little skewed and sometimes it can get so loud in there, it's hard to hear someone talking right next to you, but all in all ... my visits have been quite enjoyable.

For example, a few months back I met my friend Jeanne there for lunch. This wasn't one of my usual feasts, just a casual meal where hanging out was far more important to me than pigging-out ... but I couldn't help but take pictures. Once a foodie...

Jeanne and I started out with a little bit of booze, I had a crisp Mojito and she chose a glass of white wine. We also couldn't resist ordering a dozen raw oysters which turned out to be these huge, plump and briny beauties that I easily could have slurped on for the rest of the day.

For our entrees, Jeanne ordered the Mussels in Meunière which were steamed and served with a cone of crispy French fries, that she couldn't resist dragging through the sauce. They also brought a loaf of warm French bread to the table that was much more effective at sopping up all that rich, buttery goodness.

For many reasons (which I won't go into right now), Superior Seafood reminded me of a California restaurant I used to frequent with my mother where I would always order a Shrimp Louie Salad. So, when I saw their Maison Seafood Salad, I couldn't resist. It turned out to be just what I hoped for with a dollop of boiled shrimp and crab meat mixed with a "Maison" sauce which closely resembled a remoulade. The salad also featured artichoke hearts, fresh avocado, heart of palm and bright tomatoes. I was a bit disappointed because it seemed a bit light on the seafood side, but the salad was crisp and creamy, exactly what I was hoping for.

Although it's rare if I can convince Jeanne to indulge in a dessert, we couldn't resist a simple Crème Brûlée, especially when our server informed us that it would only cost $1! Who can say no to that? Not to mention the fact that it came out perfect, with a crisp, burnt sugar top that my spoon cracked oh-so pleasingly and a light, slightly sweet custard underneath.

To end on a cheesy note, like I always seem to do, Superior is seriously superior to Superior. HA!

Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 26, 2014

House of the week: Victorian on Second Street

As John and I began to narrow our home choices last night, eliminating options based on things like slab foundations (a possible plumbing nightmare), asbestos roofs and shoddy restorations, we came across this house on Second Street.

Yes, I realize that it's smack dab in Central City. But it IS an area going through much revitalization and worthy of consideration. After all, when I first moved here 11 years ago, there were houses in the Marigny selling for under $100,000 and now, you'd be lucky to find a house in the same area (and Bywater for that matter) for under $300,000.

Normally, a house like this wouldn't even be a blip on my radar, because the renovation destroyed every last architectural quality that literally says "New Orleans." Features I so lovingly cherish like exposed brick, ceiling medallions and thick mouldings are nowhere to be found. Admittedly, they left a few transoms intact but, what the builders did do is an excellent job replacing the layout with an incredibly sleek and modern design that I simply could not ignore. I mean look at this place! It's gorgeous!

So, as we were trying to decide whether or not to entertain the idea of taking such a big risk and moving to Central City, we took a little virtual trip to the house on Google Earth and guess what we found? Right across the street is a dive dubbed "Teddy's Hole in the Wall."  Would you buy (and live in) this house listed for only $144,000?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Vietnamese!? Mint Modern Bistro & Bar

You're thinking to yourself, "Another Vietnamese restaurant?" just like I am. Don't get me wrong, I love Vietnamese food, but the explosion of this particular cuisine in New Orleans is going a bit overboard. Fortunately, my experience at Mint was quite good ... it's a keeper. And I'm not only saying that because their iced coffee knocked my socks off.

A couple months ago, Lorin and I had lunch at Mint, which is not only one of the latest Vietnamese restaurants in town to pop up, it's also one of the newest eateries on Freret Street, a corridor whose growth seems to know no limit. We arrived fairly early in the lunch hour and there were only a couple of other occupied tables.

We ordered drinks from our attentive and polite server and proceeded to peruse the menu. While I greedily slurped down my cafe sua da (a.k.a. Vietnamese iced coffee) we placed our order, starting with a shared appetizer of fresh, grilled pork summer rolls. The rolls were light and tasty, but (like many other Vietnamese restaurants) I couldn't help thinking the rolls were light in the meat department. Thankfully Mint charges a modest price of only $4 for two rolls, so in this case I really shouldn't complain.

After ordering another cafe sua da (yep, I'm addicted), our entrees arrived. Lorin opted for a "Pho Mint Combo" with NY strip, brisket and meatball while I chose their Crispy Hen. I didn't try Lorin's pho, but it sure smelled delightful and she said as much when I asked her how it was. My Crispy Hen was absolutely fabulous, a half of a small hen deep fried and seasoned with a house honey-mustard-type sauce that completely blew me away.

What surprised me the most is that I rarely order chicken when I go out to eat (unless I'm going to a fried chicken or wing joint), because I always have chicken at home. All I can say is that I am glad I didn't skip the chicken dish this time, because it was wonderful and by the end of lunch, I was practically gnawing on the bones. The Crispy Chicken was served with a small, fresh salad drizzled with a simple vinaigrette and a mound of sticky rice topped with a fried, over-easy egg. There was nothing left on my plate but a few chicken bones. I can't wait to get back over there and try the pho...

Mint Modern Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My beef with Beard

I realize I am a little late to the party with this blog, like a month late, but I've been considering it for some time. So, here's my little rant about the 2014 James Beard Awards, with regards in particular to the chefs of New Orleans who won.

When the winners were announced a month ago, the first thing to come to mind was "What the f**k?" Why did I utter profanities? Why did my forehead wrinkle in confusion? Well, I'll tell you. Why did the talented, seasoned and prodigious chef Sue Zemanick have to share the Best Chef: South award with Ryan Prewitt?

Now don't get me wrong, as you all know I absolutely adore the Link Restaurant Group. My birthday lunch every year is at Herbsaint, I simply can't get enough of the BLTs at Cochon Butcher and Peche is a fabulously delicious new addition to the group and Chef Ryan Prewitt is young, talented and deserving of recognition.

But ... and this is a very big but ... it seemed to me that Prewitt won the award as a sort of "gimme." Meaning, that since Peche Seafood Grill won Best New Restaurant in the country, it seemed that the judges decided it wouldn't make sense that Prewitt didn't win Best Chef: South. But, it seems, they had already selected Chef Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's and Ivy for the award (she's been nominated for an award for the past 5 years now) and decided to throw up their hands and let them both win. Now tell me, how is that fair?

If it was indeed their decision to give Prewitt the award because his restaurant won, shouldn't that also work in reverse? Shouldn't Gautreau's and/or Ivy be up for an award? Wouldn't this rationale skew the whole awards system? And not to sound like a total bitch, but hasn't the Link Restaurant Group seen enough accolades? Like I said, I love them to death, but certainly not to the exclusion of every other talented chef in the city.

Also, though I hate to get all feminist on y'all, but doesn't forcing Zemanick and Prewitt to share the honor seem like a typical, "good ol' boys" solution? In an industry that is dominated by men, Zemanick is, like other women before her (Susan Spicer, Anne Kearney, Leah Chase) a bright star in the culinary universe. Doesn't she deserve recognition without having to share it with a man?

What was your first thought when you heard the announcement? Was I the only one to feel this way? Am I overreacting? All I can do is hope for a brighter 2015...