There are simply too many things in my life to be thankful for. I have a loving boyfriend, the cutest dog in the whole world and a wonderful family, who I desperately miss especially on Thanksgiving Day. Since I often can’t afford to return to California to celebrate this awesome family occasion, I have held parties for my friends where we would feast on fried turkey (purchased hot from Koz’s) and my own Jambalaya-inspired cornbread stuffing. This year, to save money and my diet, John and I decided to do something I have never done before. We dined out for Thanksgiving and I am oh so thankful we chose to have our feast at Muriel’s Jackson Square.
Due to a horrid cheat experience and a case of viral conjunctivitis, I have not reported my cheats for the last two weeks. After such a trying month, I have been looking forward to a new holiday experience plus a fantastic cheat and Muriel’s offered all that and more. This is my 15th week and my 15th cheat and I am down 44 pounds.
The sun was shining bright over a beautiful, sleepy day in the French Quarter. The city seemed almost bereft of tourists that made parking a breeze and strolling through Jackson Square a private delight. Families were scattered here and there, admiring the beauty of the St. Louis Cathedral, watching the sole juggler spin soft beanbags around his head or dancing to a lone tuba player belting out “When the Saints go marching in”, his voice lilting alone across the unusually quiet square. Hand in hand, John and I found ourselves falling in love with the beauty of New Orleans all over again.
Since 1718 the building that now houses Muriel’s has been everything from a personal residence, a grocery store, a spaghetti factory and even a saloon. After a major renovation restoring the building as a personal residence, Muriel’s opened its doors in 2001 to the pleasure of both diners and ghost hunters alike. John and I were escorted through classic New Orleans architecture with exposed brick walls and an elegant indoor gallery overlooking a courtyard bar. The dining room was crowded with both large and small linen-covered tables with heavily padded chairs that were surprisingly lightweight. To begin our celebration we ordered some cocktails, a cosmopolitan for me and a very dirty vodka martini for John, while deciding on appetizers.
For Thanksgiving, in addition to offering their normal dinner menu, Muriel’s was offering a 3-course special for only $38.00 per person and we decided to take them up on it. For an appetizer, I chose the Gorgonzola Tart and John wanted to try the Oyster Pan Roast. While sipping our drinks, we were brought a loaf of bread spiced for the season with clove and nutmeg served with a creamy whipped butter. In short order, our appetizers arrived. The Gorgonzola Tart was served with honeyed pecans, sliced apple and plump fresh blackberries that made a perfect mach for the rich, tart cheese. John’s plump, juicy Louisiana oysters were swimming in a sauce with leeks, wild mushrooms and thyme and served with a savory apple-smoked bacon corn muffin. Both dishes were so delicious that, although we shared a few bites, we jealously hoarded the remaining mouthfuls for ourselves.
Although turkey was on the menu, I couldn’t resist ordering a Double-Cut Porkchop for my entrée (surprise, surprise) and John selected a Garlic-Crusted Redfish topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. Both entrees turned out to be very healthy-sized portions, but we had no difficulties devouring everything on our plates. The porkchop was perfectly cooked, juicy on the inside, crispy and sweet on the outside. It was topped with sugarcane apple glaze and served with pecan-glazed sweet potatoes and Southern-style greens. Each bite was pure bliss and John was more than happy to help me clean the plate. John’s Redfish was served on brown-buttered, Brussel sprouts, with apple-smoked bacon and red onions and loaded with jumbo lump crabmeat. Both dishes were divine and we couldn’t have been more pleased with our Thanksgiving bounty thus far.
Finally, for dessert I ordered the Pumpkin pie with Creme Chantilly and John requested the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (what’s Thanksgiving without pie after all?) and some nice, hot cappuccinos. We were sinfully surprised by the homemade biscotti that accompanied our coffee and for even extra lagniappe; we were gifted with two perfect chocolate truffles just in case we hadn’t over-indulged enough yet. Everything was fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the large pieces of rich chocolate among the sweet pecans in John’s pie, when I finally wrenched a bite away from him. Also, my Pumpkin Pie was perfectly spiced, heavy with clove that only emphasized the sweetness of my favorite fall squash. Simply delicious.
Heavily satiated, and sedated, as for any Thanksgiving feast in our past, we sauntered back into Jackson Square feeling elated. We had an incredible dining experience in a beautiful restaurant in the heart of the city I love, the city that has truly become my home. Not only am I thankful for the exquisite meal provided by the talented chefs at Muriel’s, I am thankful to live in New Orleans where food this delicious can be had on any old day and not just on special occasions.