Emeril's casual restaurant has a homey bistro feel with exposed brick, black chalkboards and tall ceilings.
|A Pat O'Briens Hurricane|
Last year, my team had a partner event at a private event facility called Calcasieu; I recalled how delicious and elegant the food was. I asked my former teammate who had organized the reception about the place. The restaurant that served it was named Herbsaint so I was determined to get folks there and was even more excited to learn that the chef had won the James Beard award for best chef of the South in 2007. We were originally seated at a table for 8 but we had extra friends so the restaurant was kind enough to seat us in a private back area where we could be loud and obnoxious. I dared to order a Pimms cup to drink - I adored this British summer staple and wanted a refreshing quencher since summer in New Orleans is at hot and humid as you can imagine. It was crisp and delicious, garnished with cucumber. In fact, everyone kept ordering these all night long!
We started the meal with a rocket salad with goat cheese which was decent but quite typical and uninteresting; Seattle places dress up their arugula with more surprises. A few of us opted for a fried soft shell crab for an entree which is a tasty, New Orleans staple. No one had a clue how large the crab would be; basically it was a giant, full-sized crab served a top a nice Asian-inspired cucumber salad with balanced use of fish sauce and mild chilies. The flavors were wonderful and the salad's crispness and acidity cut the fattiness of the fried crab although my crab was a little on the greasy side.
We pretty much ordered everything for dessert. Banana tart? Yes please sir, some more. The goat cheese beignets had a unique flavor but were pretty good.
|Baked Oysters - nom!|
I started with Denise's salad after it was recommended by the server. When it appeared, it looked underwhelming - a salad with some asparagus, crabmeat, shrimp and tomatoes; the salad was arranged geometrically straight from cooking 101. However, the salad had wonderful flavor which brought out the sweetness of the crab and shrimp. It reminded me of the dressing from back home on Arnie's hot seafood salad. Looks aren't everything and this ended up being a win. One evening, we forayed to Bon Ton and felt bad for them since we had a party of - I don't know...12 turned 20 people? It's a classic New Orleans establishment and looked as if it hadn't changed much in 100 years with classic décor and homey service. Everything was reminiscent of a time long ago - from the drinks to the plating and the recipes were probably what folks ate in the 1800's.
Dessert was their famous bread pudding with a whiskey sauce… which we soon realized meant it was in practicality, a whiskey cocktail with bread pudding garnish. You could seriously get drunk off of dessert and several friends mentioned that they would not have been able to drive home after consuming it. Imbibe or eat with caution.
|Fried and green and saucy|
How could I almost neglect to mention Café du Monde? One of my favorite spots in New Orleans and one that only takes cash! Even better, this place is open 24 x 7 which makes it not only a great breakfast and afternoon snack spot but a perfect place to walk to at 3am to sober up and grab a greasy pick-me-up.
There are only two items worth mentioning here:
- The famous doughnuts which are beignets - fried drops of dough rolled in powdered sugar. They are fresh, warm and amazing with a surprisingly balanced texture - not too airy, not too dense. People snort them up like cocaine along with powdered sugar noses and lips to match.
|Yes, me and beignets. Sigh.|