Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gobbling at MiLa

Through much family fussing and fuming, I have attempted to make Thanksgiving a day where John and I go out to enjoy a quiet Thursday dinner at a great restaurant with some friends. Considering we don't really celebrate anything (anniversaries, Christmas, Easter, name it), I am trying to establish at least one holiday we call our own. I have not always been successful in past years and have given into the familial pressure and celebrated Thanksgiving in over-crowded living rooms at the homes of John's relatives. But not this year...

Last week, my best friend Dani, her husband Saeed, their 2-year-old daughter Posie, John (of course) and I all enjoyed an incredibly delicious Thanksgiving feast at MiLa.

We arrived right on time for our reservations at the elegantly modern restaurant located downtown on Common Street. We were seated at a large round table and we sipped cocktails (Posie indulged in gallons of tomato juice) while perusing the simple menu.

It was easy for all of us to come to a decision and before we knew it, our appetizers arrived. We all ordered the Celery Root Soup, except for John who selected the Smoked Redfish Salad. The soup was creamy, slightly sweet and garnished with a small mound of roasted lobster, diced green apple and a drizzle of truffle oil. We inhaled it easily, swabbing up the leftover smears, inaccessible by spoon, with warm sweet potato rolls slathered with soft butter and sea salt. I got a few bites of John's salad which included smoky, cold hunks of redfish, crispy fingerling potato chips, frisée lettuce and a tangy mustard-dill dressing.

Posie, like most 2-year-olds, was having difficulty concentrating on the food, so while she was absorbed in playing behind the curtains and waving at people walking past the window, her parents devoured her leftover soup. After a short wait, our entrees arrived and we didn't hesitate to dig in. Surprisingly, I went the traditional route and chose the Roasted Turkey Breast that was smothered in a rich, sage gravy and served with cornbread dressing, grilled Brussels sprouts and a tart cranberry sauce. It was a huge plate and I was hard pressed to finish it all, but John saved me from stuffing myself silly and finished it off for me.

John, Dani and Posie ordered a Redfish à la Meunière with baby spinach, currants and quinoa in a white wine sauce. They all loved it, even Posie who gobbled more that half of her fish when she was finally lured away from the window. Saeed chose the Grilled Flat Iron Steak with a buttermilk potato puree, garlic green beans and a red wine sauce. He kindly shared a hunk of steak with me (I shared some turkey breast with him) only to find the steak tender, juicy and delicious. Unfortunately, he made quick work of the beans and potatoes and it disappeared before I could manage a taste.

Though we were all pretty full by this point, we still had one more course...dessert! Everyone ordered the Chocolate Ganache Tart with a satsuma confit and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream except for Dani and I. We opted for the Asian Pear Sorbet sprinkled with graham cracker cookie crumbles and drizzled with caramel. We all got to taste both desserts and declared them divine, especially Posie who devoured her very own Chocolate Tart which preceded that always-entertaining, crazy-kid-sugar-high. I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine!

MiLa on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

House of the week: Raised Centerhall on Washington

As it gets closer and closer to Mardi Gras, my search for the perfect carnival house intensifies, but I think I just found it. Located on Washington Avenue, less than half a block from St. Charles, is this gorgeous Raised Centerhall Victorian "cottage" that would hold my whole family and then some.

Built in 1855 and restored in the early 90s, this house features all the right stuff; hardwood floors, high ceilings, marble fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, big front porch and balcony, library, a huge bricked yard and three stories, six bedrooms and almost 6,000 feet of living space. This stunner is listed at a mere $1,595,000 and the sale is pending, lucky ducks.

Oh the parties we could have...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sad at SoBou

When I was just a kid, I remember looking forward to getting this one particularly cool toy for Christmas. It was a doll house for these tiny, Strawberry Shortcake dolls in the shape of an Oreo Cookie. My dolls could sleep in the bedroom, hang out in the kitchen, plus I could close the lid and carry around my dolly palls in the house that was no larger than a child-sized clutch purse. On top of all that, it was supposed to smell like chocolate, much in the same way Strawberry Shortcake dolls smelled like...well...Strawberry Shortcake.

When I finally got it, I was so upset because it looked nothing like the commercial advertised and all the furnishings were only dumb stickers instead of a real bed and an actual table for the kitchen. To top it all off, the house smelled nothing like chocolate and a lot like a big hunk of plastic. Needless to say, it was the worst Christmas ever. Since that fateful day, I learned to avoid getting my hopes up and expect only average experiences, but it seems I'd forgotten that lesson when I got excited about SoBou.

Ever since it opened in July, I'd been bugging John about it. "Let's go to SoBou this week...what about next week? SoBou, SoBou, SoBou..." I am pretty sure he was close to strangling me when we finally worked out a good time to go a couple of weeks ago.

We walked into the swanky bar/restaurant on Chartres Street around noon on a Saturday. It wasn't very busy and there seemed to be several tables available. I asked if we could be seated near a window and the very nice hostess asked if we would mind waiting a little while so they could bus the requested table. This was not a problem at all considering I was anxious to try one of Abigail's fabulous cocktails.

Propped up on the stools, we received prompt service and a view of our promised table. We sipped our cocktails, John opted for a Sazerac (as usual), but I tried Abigail's version of a Ramos Fizz that included a hint of raspberry. They both were delicious, but we had finished our drinks and were considering another after waiting over a half hour for our empty, yet dirty table to be bussed. Not only that, we thought we were coming for lunch, but as it turns out they just started serving brunch that very day and that was the only menu we had to choose from.

We're a laid back couple and had no problems going with the flow. When they finally seated us, we had been staring at the menu for so long that we ordered right away, along with another pair of cocktails that we never actually received.

Things must have been quite confusing in the kitchen that day because we got our entrees and our appetizer at the same time, not that it bothered us too much...the more the merrier! John and I shared the appetizer which was described on the menu as Duck Debris & Butternut Beignets with foie gras fondue and chicory coffee ganache. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, I imagine it would have been if it tasted anything like the description. We got what seemed like four basic beignets drizzled with a creamy sauce that tasted like Hollandaise, a thin, brown sauce that was supposed to be the ganache and a light sprinkle of powdered sugar. The duck debris was nowhere to be found, not on the plate nor inside the beignets and I found myself humming that old Sesame Street song "One of these things are not like the other..." because we had three perfectly fried beignets and one that was obviously burned and was quite chewy.

Thankfully, our entrees were pretty tasty. John ordered the French Market Veal Sandwich with espresso-rubbed veal breast, Creole choucroute charred chilies, Camembert, crispy leeks and chicory coffee aioli. I only got one bite before John wolfed it down, but it tasted quite nice. I chose the SoBou Eggs Benedict with poached eggs atop black pepper buttermilk biscuits, tasso, boudin and charred chili hollandaise. Although the overall flavor was tasty, my eggs were over-cooked so there was no luscious yolk oozing out and there was only one, small bit of tasso among what was mostly boudin.

All in all, up to this point things were still acceptable. We knew it was their first brunch service and you can forgive a lot of little errors when you know they haven't had the opportunity to iron out the kinks. I ordered dessert in the hopes we'd end the meal with a bang, but all I could do is whimper. I ordered the Chocolate Coma Bar which included a flourless dark chocolate torte with white chocolate mousse, candied pecans and sea salt caramel covered in a hard, milk chocolate shell and served with a shot of chicory coffee shake.

All of the plates from our entrees and appetizer were still sitting empty before us when our server arrived with the dessert. In a futile attempt to clear the plates while juggling the dessert, he knocked over the shake shot and spilled it all over the table and me. Then, to add insult to injury, the waiter actually asked me if we wanted him to get a new dessert or if we would eat it "as is." Irritated, I said no...I want a new dessert. To go a step further, I cleaned the table with my napkin (that was never replaced) and when I requested a wet towel to clean the table further, because it was still sticky from the shake, he brought another dry napkin and then asked me to touch the table to see if it was okay.

When he brought out the "replacement" dessert, I could tell it was the exact same chocolate bar because it was still soaked in shake. Too tired to argue, we tried the dessert and found it very good except for the "shake" that had the consistency and flavor of frothy, non-fat milk. In apology, the server offered us another dessert, but at this point I just wanted to go home. I was also surprised to see that the dessert was not comped on the bill, considering the fact that this was a Commander's Family restaurant that so prides itself on service.

SoBou (W Hotel) on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 2, 2012

House of the week: Creole cottage on Kerlerec Street

As it often goes, names can get stuck in one's memory and never quite leave. Many years ago when cruising around New Orleans, searching about for houses on sale, my friend Shalom and I happened upon an affordable listing on Kerlerec Street. We giggled while trying to form this unique name in our mouths and then proceeded to get lost trying to find this funkiest of funky streets. Unlike many of the streets nearby, Kerlerec is a 12 block stretch that begins at N. Galvez only to dead end at Dauphine Street. Apparently, this road has been around since the late 1700's and was named after Louis Belcourt, Chevalier de Kerlerec, who was the governor of Louisiana from 1753 to 1763.

Regardless, I have never forgotten this particular road and when I saw a listing for this gorgeous house at 1216 Kerlerec Street, I simply had to share. This little beauty is a Creole cottage built sometime in the 1830's, a preserved property that received a historic landmark commission award. The entire house was redone in 2006 to include modern upgrades, but it still includes a lot of original architectural features like French doors, hardwood floors, high ceilings and exposed brick fireplaces. There are four bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, fabulous claw foot tubs, an elegant kitchen and a cute little patio out back.

Other than the obvious charm, this house is located only a block from the French Quarter! So, if all of you "out-of-towners" help me buy it, I promise to offer you a place to crash when you come to visit! The house is listed at a mere $479,000...whaddaya say?