A recent phenomenon here in the Big Easy is that many restaurants are sporting “spin-offs.” In most cases a highly acclaimed restaurant opens a smaller space nearby that sports more casual fare and a more casual atmosphere. Cochon has done it with Cochon Butcher, Arnaud’s has done it with Remolade and more recently famed New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s has pulled it off with Antoine’s Annex. However, unlike the other spin-off’s, the Annex focuses more on pleasing your sweet tooth.
So Cupcake and I were out with my sister the other night and the we started talking about A to Z nights in high school/college. For those of you unfamiliar, some local high schools have nights, typically near graduation, where they pack on to busses and travel from bar to bar with the intent of going from A to Z. Of course, with all the drinking that happens along the way, most people never make it halfway through.
Well Cupcake came up with the brilliant idea of her and I working our way through the list of open restaurants maintained by Tom Fitzmorris from A to Z and rolling out a review about each one we go to.
The tough part is going to be narrowing down which restaurant is going to represent each letter. As there can be only one A, one B, etc. This is where you come in. We’re going to open the journey to you all. Whatever restaurant gets the most votes for a certain letter, that’s where we’re going to go. So vote early and, please, be kind. Send your recommendations to us via email, twitter or in the comments.
Of course this isn’t going to stop out regularly scheduled content, but be more of a special report.
Enjoy your 4th of July and try not to blow any fingers off, you’ll need them to write in.
When one travels often, one of the first rules that everyone seems to learn is “Don’t eat at the hotel restaurant.” New Orleans, in its fine tradition of thumbing its nose at the rules, is of course littered with exceptions to the “avoid the hotel restaurant” rule. MiLa Restaurant (817 Common Street, 504-412-2580) is one such exception. With its separate entrance, you could visit MiLa often and never once figure out that it’s a “hotel restaurant.”
As with most restaurants, the bar warmly greets you as you enter. The long and spacious bar area could easily hold many an office happy hour with room to spare. With liquor bottles running almost the entire length, I imagine just about any libation you could dream up would be just an order away. Unbeknownst to us, the cool, contemporary decor of MiLa provided great insight into the meal we were about to have.
$1.25 and I head to Ralph’s when we need a treat but don’t want the effort of a big night out. The good thing about Ralph’s is that it’s a very versatile place. While we had on jeans this last visit and sat in the bar area, we’ve also been in the main dining room on New Year’s Eve in festive cocktail attire. That’s my kind of place. I absolutely love the ambiance at Ralph’s. The main dining room is light and airy with beautiful views of the oaks in City Park. The bar area is cozy, with exposed brick, lower lighting, and the same great view of the park. Upstairs there are private rooms with french doors leading to wrap around balconies perfect for cocktail hour or a morning brunch.
The only problem I have with Ralph’s is I don’t ever love everything I order. Usually I have something outstanding, something so-so, and something I wouldn’t order again. This last visit was no exception. I checked out the menu online earlier in the afternoon and was really excited to try the Crawfish Fritto Misto from the lenten specials section. When I re-read the description that night at Ralphs, “corn fried crawfish tails, pickled cherry peppers, Italian provolone, frisée, butter lettuce, remoulade sauce”, I didn’t even consider anything else on the menu. Our waiter sealed the deal when he recommended it as well. Continue reading
A great breakfast spot in Mid-City, right next to the Crescent Pie & Sausage Co. and run by the same owners. With Huevos (4408 Banks Street, 482-6264) and the CP&SC side-by-side, co-owner Jeff Baron has made it possible to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on Banks Street without having to walk more than 50 feet or so.
The sheer number of restaurants to choose from in the city combined with a hefty level of indecisiveness has led to more than its fair share of “discussions” about where to eat dinner with my family and friends. To help minimize these discussions, we’ve adapted various strategies to employ in picking a place to eat or even what to eat.
For me, the old reliable is the coin flip, heads or tails and the choice is made. No one can be at fault for the choice made, plus it provides one last out. If you peek behind your hand to see a head and your heart sinks, you must buck the rules and go with tails. Of course, the coin flip is not without its drawbacks, it requires a coin–which I rarely ever have–and you’ve got to be down to two items.
Another method we use is to have one person rattle off a list of places to each and the other person must pick from the list. This is how we ended up at Bistro Daisy on Saturday. Cupcake provided the list and her parents excitedly picked the one restaurant on the list they hadn’t been to.
Prior to the Storm, Mid-City was well-known around the city for some fantastic restaurants. Not much to rival the city’s old guard of Commander’s, Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s and so forth, but the oaks of Canal St. and the palms of Carrollton Ave. doubled as unmoving maitre d’s to a great number of New Orleans dining institutions: Venezia, Liuzza’s, Christian’s, and Mandina’s to name just a few. Like the residents themselves, some of these restaurants returned soon after the storm (Venezia), some have moved on to other pursuits (Christian’s), and others have taken their time coming home (Katie’s).*