Since 2013, Eater New Orleans (or should I say editor/writer extraordinaire Gwendolyn Knapp) would hit me up for dining reflections of the past year and predictions for the next. This year, I was not asked and I have to confess, I was a little bummed. Perhaps it was because the new editor, Stephanie Carter, doesn’t know me from Adam or perhaps my recent slump in food blogging deterred her from seeing me as a reputable source … whatever the reason, I still feel the need to share. Whether or not this information is valuable is for you to decide …
What was your restaurant standby this past year?
In September 2016, I moved from the Carrollton neighborhood near Oak Street to an apartment in the Garden District, so I had to find new dining options nearby, not that it was difficult. When I forget to defrost the meat in the freezer or just don’t feel like cooking, I’ve been ordering sushi from Haiku NOLA and it never fails to please.
What was the top newcomer of 2017?
So many restaurants opened last year (over 40!), I am still trying to catch up and narrowing the “top” down to one is extremely difficult. How about this, I’ll give you my top three: Nomiya, Bratz Y’all and DTB. All very different, Nomiya serves excellent, simple ramen with house made noodles; Bratz Y’all is totally casual and utterly delicious with their stellar bratz and warm, salted pretzels served with Bavarian Caraway Brie; and DTB, let’s just say that the food Chef Carl Schaubhut is knocking out will never fail to please.
Sum up 2017 in one word.
Revelatory. Though I am certainly not ignorant of sexism and harassment in the workplace, I was sincerely shocked and saddened by the shameful levels exposed this past year in the restaurant industry. I have this terrible habit of assuming people live by the same (or at least a similar) code of ethics when working with others and I am always disappointed when I’m wrong.
What was the best dining neighborhood of 2017?
Though I am loathe to admit it, my old stomping grounds in the Carrollton neighborhood definitely kicked it up a notch this past year with the addition of DTB and Simone’s Market. Adding these two to the literal plethora of good eats in the area (ahem Carrollton Market, Satsuma Cafe, Dante’s Kitchen, Brigtsen’s, Ba Chi Canteen, Cowbell, Boucherie and Bourrée) has made this a neighborhood I (almost) want to move back to.
What was the biggest dining surprise of 2017?
My personal dining surprise this past year came when I enjoyed an unusually fabulous lunch at Fharmacy NOLA. Not in a million years would I predict that one of the best steamed mussels would come out of a small, neighborhood burger joint. Bravo!
What was the single best meal of 2017?
Though several meals really stand out from last year, one stands strong in my mind. John and I finally got around to trying out Red’s Chinese for the first time and all I can say is “What the heck took me so long?” From the Craw Rangoons and kimchi to the pork fried pineapple rice, everything was fantastic.
What are your industry predictions for 2018?
As I pointed out in a Facebook thread my friend Lorin published, I believe 2018 will be a more reflective time in the restaurant industry. Instead of opening the “latest and the greatest,” restaurateurs and chefs will focus on the eateries they already have and make more concentrated efforts to hone their establishments as not only fantastic places to eat, but also offer a congenial work environment for everyone involved.