A scrumptious Cure

Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough. ~Mark Twain

Seeking to prevent our thirst and to sample some tasty nosh, Anne and I headed over to Cure on the corner of  Freret and Upperline several nights ago, already a little buzzed and excited about what we’ve heard about the swanky corridor cocktail bar.  Dressed totally inappropriately for the occasion, we sauntered into the hyper-urban atmosphere and plopped down in one of the booths.  Sitting there, it almost felt as if I was in another city, everything was very clean and cold.  The atmosphere was sexy, dramatic and romantic; a darkened loft with drop lights over the bar and a glittering selection of bottles, back-lit and reaching all the way to the ceiling.  There were silhouetted couples dotted against the long bar in front of our booth. It was obviously perfect spot for a date.

So not only was I NOT there to woo Anne, I was dressed in clothing bought from the Avenue with my man-purse slung across my chest and a face devoid of make-up.  In short, I was the complete opposite of everyone in the bar.  Didn’t matter, I was there to drink and sample some of their tapas that I’d heard so much about.  That atmosphere actually made it easier to ignore the party next to you, which was as beneficial to them as it was to us, I’m sure.

A man who looked like Buddy Holly took our drink order while we browsed the small plates.  It took a leisurely amount of time for the drinks to come out, but I couldn’t conceal my shock when they arrived.  My “Union Jack Rose” featuring Tanqueray, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy and Applejack  was undoubtedly fantastic, I only wish there were more of it for $10.  Anne’s “Rose Hinted Glass” with Lady VSOP Cognac, fennel tea and rose water was equally wonderful, but again…4 oz for $9?

While Cure was a bit short with its cocktails, it was both generous and genius with its tapas. First we had an Artichoke and Goat Cheese Crostini, an elegant combination of sweet and savory on crunchy french bread and similar in effect, if not flavor, as the thinly sliced, aged Serrano ham served with sherry-poached Anjou Pears. Both dishes were excellent in quality as well as quantity.

We also enjoyed Duck and Sweet Potato Hash topped with a Vermouth-poached egg.  When broken, the creamy yolk combined with the hash and I just about died.  Anne was concerned about this particular dish, not being a fan of sweet potato, but I noticed she didn’t have any difficulties devouring her half.

The heat enveloped us once again as we stepped outside and I felt like I was in New Orleans again.  Taking a break and leaning against the wall was a young man in a chef’s jacket smoking a cigarette. I simply had to shake his hand.  The wonderful dishes we enjoyed (and the ones we didn’t) were more than enough reason for a return visit.

Next time though, I might just drink an Abita.

Half Moon therapy

Like the Circle Bar, the Half Moon Bar & Restaurant on the corner of St. Mary Street is a local watering hole that I used to frequent quite often.  It was at the Half Moon that I heard about a shooting that happened on St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras ’03…a mere block from where I was standing while screaming for beads and downing beers from a backpack. At the Half Moon, my friend and I played pool with a man named “Sweat” (our first mistake) who relayed to us his recent release from Angola before he and his perky girlfriend stole my purse. Finally, it was at the Half Moon where I sat out in their (previously) dingy courtyard, drinking pitchers of Guinness with my friends around an old rusty table, accompanied only by the cockroaches and the rain till the break of dawn.

I loved that place…

For the first time in several years, I visited the Half Moon this Tuesday night with Ryan Tramonte, his BFF Dore and of course, John.  I had arrived on the scene early and asked Tammy, the bartender on duty, if they had a special cocktail.  She suggested a bar shot called the “Kitten Whisper” with watermelon vodka, sour mix, a splash of cranberry juice and a spritz of 7UP.  As she mixed the drink, I couldn’t help but notice the changes.

Several large tables now stood where two pool tables used to be and a large chunk of the back wall was missing revealing a) one of the missing pool tables, b) an air hockey table and c) a kitchen!  Yep, the Half Moon Bar & Restaurant had become a restaurant again!  When I used to hang there we’d order from Cafe Roma across the street.  I’m so glad they took advantage of their kitchen once again.

Everyone arrived just as the last shot was being poured and we started the happy hour bottoms up.  The “Kitten Whispers” were cool and refreshing…not too sweet and played nicely into a round of beers.  On a goofy suggestion from me, Ryan decided to try a “Pineaboo“, Malibu Rum and pineapple juice, but also ordered a backup beer, and two-fisted his way over to a table.

While discussing the changes in the bar, Dore mentioned the renovation of their patio and I was up and running before she finished her sentence.  Pushing through some strips of heavy plastic, I made my way outside to a Half Moon wonderland!  A gorgeous tiled floor with brightly painted murals on the walls and fences enveloped the new dining patio filled with tables and benches a go-go!  The rain was all that prevented me from dragging everyone else outside.

While I was away, Dore and John decided to order some food from the kitchen.  Dore ordered a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich wrap and John got a cheeseburger.  I nibbled on some of their steak fries and took a few bites of Dore’s sandwich which was tasty, as well as excellent sustenance for a long night of drinking in New Orleans.

Enjoying the relaxed atmosphere in the dark, spacious bar, we chatted easily while finishing our drinks.  Someone played The Cure on the jukebox, one I recall funnelling a lot of money into, and it made me feel so very comfortable. It was with much reluctance and shuffling of feet that we finally decided to go our separate ways home.

Although we didn’t meet any ex-convicts or hear any shocking news, we still enjoyed a great happy hour at the Half Moon, a comfortable neighborhood bar that I will always recommend and frequent as often as I am able.  After all, I don’t expect my adventures in New Orleans will ever end…and that’s just how I like it.

A haven for dogs and their people: The Bridge Lounge

Despite the obvious fact that there are dog lovers all over the city of New Orleans (and the world for that matter), there are depressingly few places we can take them.  Sure, we can take them to the park or to the levee, but how many establishments out there are legitimate fans of man’s best friend?

There is one bar I know of that actually encourages patrons to bring along their four-legged pals…the Bridge Lounge.

Located on the corner of Erato and Magazine Streets, the Bridge Lounge is unassuming and casual with sparse decor and low lights. A long, granite bar stretches along the right wall while black tables and chairs are scattered throughout the remaining space.  Also, perhaps to display the bar owner’s passion for pooches, framed black & white photographs of dogs adorn the walls wherever there’s available space. 

For those dog owners concerned about accidents, the bar floor is painted concrete, so you’ll have no worries and easy cleanup of any possible mishaps.  Additionally, with the usual sweltering summers we experience, the stone floor and bar only make for cooler temperatures, a definite plus for any overheated customer.

I had already heard rumors of the delicious mojitos featured at the Bridge Lounge, but I was in the mood for something a little different.  From several large chalkboard menus I selected one of their signature drinks, the Porch Swing, doesn’t that sound refreshing on a hot summer day?

Well, it certainly was!  Described as a “homemade lemonade and ginger ale mix,” the Porch Swing offered a crisp and cooling experience with muddled cucumber, Pims, lemonade, Hendrix Gin and ginger ale.  After finishing this tall refreshment, I could see myself sitting on a porch swing watching the world go by…which could either mean I’m insane or simply feeling the effects of my sublime bartender’s heavy handed pour.

When I drained the last delicious drops from my icy glass, the bartender (and soon to be owner) Max Chesney, graciously suggested I try another special cocktail from the chalkboard called St. Germain’s Infirmary.  Although this might sound dangerous considering my earlier hallucinations, I decided to take the risk.  At any rate, I knew a concoction prepared with St.Germain’s Elderflower Liquor could only be another fantastic drinking experience.

Made with peach bitters, house made sour mix, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, a splash of orange juice and some New Amsterdam Gin, the St. Germaine’s Infirmary packed an herbal infused punch along with the sweet taste of summer fruit. While sipping, I turned around on my bar stool and watched as a sudden, summertime downpour drove more customers inside.  Someone once told me it was good luck to see rain and sunshine at the same time and I couldn’t help but feel fortuitous while relaxing at the Bridge Lounge.

The rain stopped almost as suddenly as it started and I was forced to take my leave.  Unfortunately, I had to leave my dog Pippin at home and he desperately needed to go for a walk since I’d been gone most of the day.  Next time, I’ll just bring my sweet shihtzu with me and we can both take our ease together.  Maybe Max will even hang Pippin’s photograph on the doggie wall of fame?  I will have to go back for a few more drinks and find out…