People keep asking me, “Why New Orleans?” and I keep telling them, “The food!” Hands down. Papa Dish and I have dreamed about going for years, just eating our way around the French Quarter. The awesome thing is, that’s pretty much what we did! On our second night in town, we had reservations at NOLA, Chef Emeril Lagasse’s second New Orleans restaurant. (The first was Emeril’s, which opened in 1990.)
Tucked away on St. Louis Street, we probably would have missed it if we weren’t looking for it. NOLA is shorthand for a New Orleans return address, which explains the postage stamp logos…
The restaurant is in a renovated warehouse, and we took an industrial style elevator up to our table. Very swanky! Maybe this goes without saying in an Emeril restaurant, but the wait staff was impressive… it became a game to see how many seconds elapsed before they would clear an empty glass from the table. They were like service ninjas, swift and silent.
I started with the gumbo, a delicious stew with chicken and andouille sausage. But I had a case of soup envy when I tasted Mr. Dish’s crab and smoked brie bisque. Oh. My. God.
It looks innocent enough, but the smoky flavor is like a punch in the mouth – in a good way. I could have finished his soup for him, but I restrained myself in an effort not to spoil my dinner. And thank goodness I did, because THIS was my entree:
An apple cider braised pork shank with goat cheese polenta. I was tempted to pick it up by the bone and eat it like a drumstick just to see if I could lift it. Then I remembered I was in a nice restaurant wearing a dress and decided to behave myself. Seriously, the pork was delicious and seriously tender. I left most of the goat cheese polenta on the plate because A.) I was full of pork shank and B.) I always forget that I don’t like goat cheese. I can’t get past the mustiness.
For dessert I ordered the cinnamon bread pudding with toffee bits and Mexican chocolate ice cream. It was pretty good, but honestly not the best I’ve ever had. (Like I really needed dessert at this point, anyway.) I tasted Dad’s banana pudding layer cake with graham cracker crust… he was the winner.
The best “bread pudding” I had during the trip would come the following morning! Bread pudding for breakfast??? To be continued…