Regardless of the underlying traumatic cause, I just don't dig watching sports, so any place touting tons of flat-screened TVs (unless they're planning a Disney marathon) would likely only turn me off. Such was the case with recently opened Manning's.
When I first heard about it, all that really interested me was the knowledge that Chef Anthony Spizale was taking over the helm. After all, to me, it's really about the food.
Last week, John and I caught a cab downtown to the brand new, Fulton Street restaurant for lunch. It was later in the day, so there weren't a lot of people, but maybe it only seemed that way in relation to the gigantic dining room. It almost felt like Disney World or some mammoth Las Vegas resort and everything still had that "new car" smell. Unfortunately for John, I veered away from all the TVs and other distractions (I become invisible when there's a TV in the room) and chose a table on the patio.
For his entree, John kept it simple with one of the lunch specials, an overstuffed fried shrimp po-boy, but I wanted something a little different. I opted for the Cast Iron Catfish, a huge, heavily seasoned filet lying atop a small pile of fried julienned vegetables in a pool of meunière. Although it was a touch salty, I still inhaled the whole dish, swabbing every last bite through the sauce.
For dessert, we slapped down a whopping $6.50 for the most expensive Hubig's Pie I'd ever eaten. A scoop of Kleinpeter vanilla ice cream topped a warm, apple Hubig's and was served with caramel sauce. Though the overall experience was pleasant, I couldn't help feeling like I was on vacation eating overpriced, local dishes in resort designed to mimic the feel of New Orleans...in New Orleans.