Breaking my fast at Biscuits & Buns on Banks

*Warning – Today I will be venturing into the realm of “too much information.” If you can’t hang with a bit of over sharing, I suggest you ramble on.

In a vain attempt to make a long story short, I suffer from recurrent UTI (a.k.a. urinary tract infection). Over the past several years, it’s gotten so bad that I have developed allergies to all of the typical antibiotics that “cure” UTI. That’s right, I break out into hives (or worse) when ingesting Cipro, Macrodantin, Bactrim (or any of the sulfa drugs), Doxycycline etc. I’ve tried many different remedies or forms of prevention, everything from non-sweetened cranberry juice and herbal extracts to D-Mannose, which, for those of you wondering, doesn’t work.
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Swooning at Shaya

While I realize that everyone and their brother’s mother are waxing poetic about Shaya, I just can’t help jumping on the bandwagon. After all, Alon Shaya was awarded the 2015 James Beard for Best Chef: South and he is the undeniably creative force behind one of Downtown New Orleans’ most popular restaurants Domenica. So I’m getting on the praise train, not only for the above reasons, but also because Shaya is next in line on my (pitifully delayed) blogging schedule and because the restaurant is, without a doubt, fabulous.  Continue reading

Craving CIBO

Although during hot, summer days like today I tend to hide in the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment, I can’t help but hanker for something to eat that unfortunately, does not reside in my fridge. Since well past the lunch hour, I’ve been craving a good deli sandwich and the closest option in my neck of the woods is the Carrollton neighborhood newcomer dubbed CIBO.

This quaint, Italian-style deli opened up not too long ago in a space that has seen a long train of fairly unsuccessful ventures. For a long time, this little house-turned-restaurant on Carrollton Avenue was the home of Maurice French Pastries, but after they moved out, nothing has really stuck, until now (I hope).

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Melting for Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar

Several months ago, my friend Lorin and I met for lunch at Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar. Located in Mid-City, Brown Butter opened up inside a strip mall early this year and seems to have made quite an impression in the six months following.

The restaurant was already jumping when we arrived, even though it was a bit late in the lunch hour. After saying hello to several people (including food writer Todd Price whom I finally met in person) we sat down and placed our order. Continue reading

Po-Boys to suffer for at Avery’s on Tulane

Ever since I got arrested on Lundi Gras oh-so many years ago, I sort of dread being anywhere near the ominous courthouse at the Broad and Tulane intersection. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) it seems that I need to get over that particular bad taste in my mouth, because there are too many good tastes to be had (and many more to come) in this growing corridor. A little while back, I sucked it up and took John to lunch at Avery’s on Tulane, a po-boy spot that I discovered from a visitor to our fair city who regaled a tale about an incredible roast beef. I simply had to go find out for myself, after all — what would a tourist know about roast beef po-boys? Apparently, he knew a lot…

Located less than two blocks from the dreaded courthouse and prison, Avery’s has been open for three years now and I feel like a failed foodie for not knowing about their deliciousness earlier. John and I stumbled in, incredibly hungry, and grabbed an open table. Avery’s is super casual, a low-key po-boy joint with local art on the walls and a gator mural beneath the counter. After seriously debating our choices, we finally ordered lunch and sat back to wait.

Though it may be odd to order an appetizer at a po-boy shop, we simply had to try their Fried Potato Salad. A large, ball-shaped scoop of a basic potato salad (with bacon!) was breaded with Leidenheimer po-boy bread crumbs and deep fried. We gobbled it all too quickly, which shows how tasty that particular experiment turned out to be.

Then, with a wailing fanfare that was heard only in my head, our po-boys arrived. John kept it simple with a half and half, that is half fried oysters and half fried shrimp, fully dressed of course. The shrimp were delicious, breaded in seasoned flour and the cornmeal-breaded oysters were equally pleasurable, plump and juicy, right out of the fryer.

I went a little different and tried one of their special po-boys called the “Sandbag.” Hot roast beef is topped with fried pickles and provolone cheese to create a po-boy only my wildest dreams could replicate. I’m salivating as I write this, remembering the tangy, crunch of the fried pickles and the heady flavor of the roast beef. Seriously, this is one hell of a sandwich.

John and I both ordered the large (a.k.a. 12 inch) version of our po-boys, but we quickly discovered that there was no way on this green earth we’d be able to finish more than half! So, we boxed up what was left and proceeded to order dessert. John was groaning at me out of over-satiation, but I insisted we at least try something sweet before we left. As it turned out, Avery’s home made bread pudding was just as good as everything else they put out, though it was nothing fancy, just a simple, well-made bread pudding sopping in an added caramel sauce. Were we incredibly full? Yes. Did we inhale every last bite? You bet!

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Guess that restaurant!

Needless to say, John and I go out to eat a lot. While I am completely focused on the food that’s about to arrive, John often takes the camera and shoots random pictures of the restaurant or the scene outside the window and I don’t even realize the proliferation of these candid shots until I get home and download the images to my computer.

The other day, I was going through my many, many photos, saw all of the “atmosphere” pictures and thought perhaps there was something interesting I could do with them. So, here’s my first tester. Let’s play “Guess that restaurant!” Maybe at some point I’ll be able to offer a prize to the winner, but for now, just show everyone how observant you are … you special person you.

Where is this? I think it’s only fair to give a hint … this particular restaurant is in Mid-City.

Sticking to the pie at Pizza Domenica

Several months back, my singular dining companion Anne and I hit up Pizza Domenica for the first time. I’d been to Domenica quite a few times and I was curious if the Uptown pizza outpost held up the same commitment and quality as the CBD original, only because in my general experience, sequels tend to disappoint.

Anne and I arrived post-lunch rush so only about a quarter of the tables were filled. We ordered at the counter, as you’re supposed to, and sat down to await our bounty. We began with a few appetizers, the first being beef meatballs atop creamy polenta in an arrabbiata (garlic, tomatoes and chili peppers) sauce. As excited I was to sink my teeth in, the flavor of the meatball itself was somewhat bland, but I did enjoy the polenta and the spicy arrabbiata sauce.

The next two apps came together, a tuna crudo with avocado and Mandarin oranges and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with toasted almonds, golden raisins and Creole mustard vinaigrette. The crudo was somewhat lackluster in presentation and the Mandarins, while an interesting addition, tended to make the whole dish too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the salad was delicious and we scarfed it up, my only dismay happening in the second-to-last bite that oddly contained a piece of clear plastic. Strange, no?

Because the meal seemed a disappointment so far, especially when compared to the excellence at Domenica, I felt ready to give up before the main course. Before I could make up my mind to tell Anne I was pretty much done, our pizza arrived. Anne and I agreed on the Smoked Pork pie with mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim chiles and salsa verde. Thankfully, the pizza was absolutely divine and well-worth waiting for! The crust was thin and crisp and we had no difficulty gobbling the whole pie even after all the appetizers. All in all, I’m hoping I just went on a bad day, but the pizza was certainly worth a return trip.

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Breakfast at Blue Line Sandwich Co.

While I don’t often journey into Metairie, when I heard (quite a few months ago) that Chef Brad McGehee had opened up his own breakfast spot after leaving Ye Olde College Inn, I simply had to go check it out. Though it is tough to convince John to leave the house on Saturday mornings, I managed to drag him out for breakfast at the Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Metairie Road.

When we walked in, there was a lull at the counter so we were able to order quickly, get our giant mugs of French Truck Coffee and grab a table before the rush. While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched traffic roll by outside the window and commented to each other on the sparse, but appropriate blue decor.

By the time we were almost finished with our first cuppa Joe, our food came flying out of the kitchen all in a rush. We decided to share a plate of biscuits and gravy, and while the biscuits were buttery and fluffy, the gravy was a lot thinner in consistency then I had hoped, even though the flavors were all present and accounted for. A minor glitch, perhaps?

For entrees, John ordered the Cochon de Lait Biscuit and I got the Broken Yolk Sandwich. John’s slow-cooked pork with grilled tomatoes and red-eye gravy certainly looked “to die for,” but the flavor was somewhat blander than he had imagined. On the other hand, my sandwich made with house-corned beef, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and a fried egg on seven grain toast was spot on. My only complaint was a devout wish for more corned beef because it was, put quite simply, off the friggin hook.

All in all, I chalked any oddities up to being a newly opened restaurant that was still working out the kinks, but the beautiful biscuits and my Broken Yolk Sandwich are more than enough reason to seek a return trip.

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Fat Falafel plus at 1000 Figs

While I realize I constantly tout the awesomeness of my Oak Street neighborhood, there are areas all over the city of which I would love to be a part. One such neighborhood is the Esplanade Ridge, especially that area right next to the Bayou St. John. The trees and houses are stunning; you’re right near the bayou, City Park and the fairgrounds; and you have “around-the-corner” access to restaurants like Cafe Degas, Liuzza’s by the Track and, a new addition, 1000 Figs.

Opened a little over 6 months ago, the folks from one of the city’s favorite food trucks, The Fat Falafel, have planted their specialties into a brick and mortar along with a few other tasty tidbits. About a month after it opened, Lorin and I visited 100 Figs and enjoyed a fabulous sit-down lunch which always tops standing on the sidewalk, shoveling goodies in my face with a plastic fork. Does that make me a snob? Maybe. But I’m also a gimp with back problems who enjoys a comfortable seat and real silverware…so sue me.

The restaurant was smaller than I expected, but offered gorgeous, wood benches and tables, plus a high counter along the front window where guests can perch, savor lunch and watch the world go by. I wanted to try one of everything, but to start we ordered some crispy, flash-fried Brussels sprouts with red cabbage and salad greens drizzled with fresh lemon. We also scored a big bowl of hand-cut French fries served with a thick, creamy labneh or yogurt for dipping. I couldn’t stop munching on the fries and long after we “finished” and were paying the check, I couldn’t help sneaking forkfuls of the crispy sprouts.

For her entree, Lorin ordered a ginormous squid salad and I opted for their signature falafel in platter form. I got a taste of Lorin’s calamari which was nice, but I was far more focused on the light, crunchy falafel that was served with a creamy hummus, salad greens and wedges of pita. Overall, it was a lovely lunch and while I realize French fries and falafel are … well … fried, I felt like I had enjoyed a healthy meal because it didn’t weigh me down or make me groan from being over-sated. If you’re looking for a delicious, “light” lunch, I highly recommend it. Oh, and don’t forget to get a big glass of their Hibiscus Iced Tea!  

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