Friday, October 2, 2009

Joey K’s Restaurant & Bar

Lonely and hungry, I would often visit Joey K’s when I first moved to New Orleans in 2003.  I lived nearby on Harmony Street and I would walk the few short blocks to the restaurant and enjoy the small community-oriented restaurant that had a knack for making me feel as if I belonged.  Since the decadence of the dinner at Dante’s last week, I have been craving a restaurant with simpler cuisine and a more “homey” atmosphere.  I knew I wanted Joey K’s.  It’s my 7th week and my 7th cheat and I am down 32 pounds.

Driving through the potholes scattered around the streets of the Garden District, I reflected on how much I enjoyed my first year in New Orleans.  I loved living in the Garden District, loved the fact that I lived on a street called “Harmony” and I loved the dining and shopping choices I had while living so close to Magazine Street.  I remember walking my dog from 7th down to 1st Street, looping back around when I hit Camp and making the trek back by winding down random streets on the way.  The homes in the Garden District never failed to capture my awe and envy no matter how many times I walked that route.  Every time I visit Joey K’s, I realize how much I miss the neighborhood that welcomed me to the city.

This time, I wasn’t lonely, but I was definitely hungry and so were my friends.  The corner restaurant was about half full and heavily decorated with art pieces for sale created by local folk artist Simon Hardeveld.  One piece warned us to “Be Nice or Go to China” so we heeded the sage advice in order to enjoy our feast.

We were seated immediately and after a quick consensus, knew what we wanted.  For an appetizer, we ordered the Eggplant Napoleon that consists of three deep fried rounds of eggplant, fried shrimp, a few scattered crawfish tails and a very interesting, yet tasty cream sauce that had a pink tint to it.  I tasted white wine, heavy cream and basil in the sauce, but I couldn’t figure out what created the color or a distinct sweet flavor I detected and the restaurant was reluctant to share its “secret ingredients.” Regardless, the appetizer was very good and we made quick work of it.  We received side salads, that came with our dinner at the same time as our appetizer and it was difficult to know what to eat first!  The salad was simple iceberg lettuce with large slices of tomato and cucumbers.  I had their homemade blue-cheese dressing on mine with deliciously large chunks of blue cheese that melted in my mouth.

For my entrée, I ordered the Seafood Platter which comes with fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried oysters, a couple of hush puppies and French fries.  I requested extra tartar sauce with my order and we were all able to share it.  I must say, I am used to tartar sauce made with dill relish instead of sweet, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.  The seafood was fried perfectly in a cornmeal-type batter and was not too heavy or oily in flavor.  It was exactly what I had been craving.

My friend Anne ordered the “Trout Tchoupitoulas”; seasoned fish, lightly floured and pan-fried topped with shrimp, crab meat and served with mixed vegetables and new potatoes.  I was lucky enough to score several bites of her fish that was very light (compared to my fried goods) and flavorful, especially with the rich crab meat on top.  John ordered “All-You-Can-Eat Catfish” of which he devoured only one and a half plates.  I was almost sure he’d put away more than that, but I guess since he’s been dieting with me, his appetite has shrunk!

We were extremely full, as intended, and slowly made our way back to the car.  Although we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, Creole Creamery beckoned to us as we passed the bright pink shop on Prytania Street while driving home.  With little deliberation, we decided to stop for dessert.

Still aching from dinner, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle much, so I chose a scoop of Chocolate Pecan Pie ice cream on a sugar cone.  Creamy and delicious, I could taste cinnamon among the pecans that mingled perfectly with the rich, dark chocolate.  John’s appetite apparently returned with a vengeance when I heard him order the Creamery’s “I Scream Fudge! Sundae”; two scoops of “I Scream Fudge” ice cream served in a fudge-coated glass with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and a chocolate covered cherry.  John also requested whipped cream and nuts…after all, what’s a sundae without whipped cream?  Anne braved the “Café Au Lait Sundae”; two scoops of “Café Au Lait” ice cream, layered with fudge and marshmallow toppings, whipped cream, cocoa powder and a cherry.

I barely managed to finish my scoop (but none of the cone), while John and Anne devoured their sundaes quickly.  I got to taste both sundaes before they disappeared though, and they were both fantastic.  The ice cream at Creole Creamery is…well…really creamy!  Also, the flavors they create are rich and definite; there is no mistaking simple chocolate for fudge or vice versa.

After a wonderful evening and lots of laughs (ask Anne about the “pea” incident), we headed on home.  I was pleased to have had such a relaxing evening in such comfortable surroundings like Joey K’s and Creole Creamery.  I’m going to have to plan something unusual for next week though…if you have any suggestions for where I should try next, let me know!  I am always excited to traverse our fair city for yet another dining adventure.

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