Oh NOLA, how I love thee! We were back in the Crescent City for Bradley and Margaret’s wedding last weekend and as usual, took advantage of the culinary and cultural playground that is New Orleans.
Friday night Megan, Kate, Michael, Johnny and I went to Pêche, a newer award-winning spot (including two recent James Beard Foundation Awards) in the Warehouse District. With a party of five, we took advantage of being able to try a great deal of the menu, including the gumbo, whole fish, smoked tuna dip and Louisiana shrimp roll. Like the easy atmosphere, the food was simple but fantastic, letting the true southern charm shine. I have to point out the price here as well – while definitely not a place I would describe as cheap, like many hole-in-the-walls you can find in NOLA – Pêche differentiates itself from many other chef-driven, award-winning spots in the city by offering great food in a hot spot at a reasonable price. Look to some of the long-standing names around the Quarter and Uptown for white tablecloths, martini specials and chafing dishes; Pêche is a bit mode modern, though still refined and serving up true Cajun flavor. But about those white tablecloths…
As I’ve said before, I like to mix NOLA up with new spots (new to me and/or the city) along with staples that I know and love, which brings me to Sunday brunch at Mr. B’s Bistro. My parents made a daytrip down from Baton Rouge and met the five of us at the Quarter staple, where we started with Fried Oysters on the Half Shell and Duck Springrolls, to go with our Bloody Marys. The jazz band made its way around the room as the servers promptly delivered service in their tux and bowties, complete with unabashed recommendations. I had a craving for BBQ Shrimp, arguably the best in the city, and our native Texas friends were amused as I received my customary bib from the server. Johnny went for the Shrimp and Grits while others around the table tried the omelet or quiche. I still maintain that mine was the best order.
Sufficiently full, happy and dreading a flight home in a few hours, Johnny and I stopped across the street at the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone for another cocktail with my parents. If you’ve never been here before, be sure to stop in for a drink, no matter the time of day. It’s always lively with an eclectic crowd, and this particular day we watched a small wedding party filing in and out among football fans and other patrons, and we could never figure out if they were coming or going from the wedding. Needless to say, this is a scene for great people watching, equally great service and an overall wonderful New Orleans atmosphere.
Like the Carousel Bar, I usually make it a point to stop in at Erin Rose, on Conti right off Bourbon, for a frozen Irish Coffee (thanks for introducing me, Galligan!) and I made it in one more time before flying out that evening. I thanked the bartender for the third time that weekend as I left.