Birthday Bummer

Every year on my birthday, I typically dine out at some spectacular local restaurant and I share my experiences with you. After my birthday on Sunday, some folks asked where I dined this year, and I am hesitant to share, because it wasn’t great. It wasn’t the worst dining experience I’ve ever encountered, but considering the stellar meals I’ve enjoyed for birthdays past, it bummed me out something awful.

I guess now I have to tell you, after all I’m blogging about it. Well, here goes nothing . . . sigh.

My plan was an evening at MaMou, a highly-lauded French restaurant which recently opened in the French Quarter, but as they seem to do, my plans went awry. Finances have been extremely tight lately and I felt guilty asking John to take me to a high end spot, a dinner which would likely set us back $300 or more. So I sucked it up and decided to try the COOLinary menu at another newish place Uptown, Osteria Lupo.

Pesce Crudo at Osteria Lupo

I’ve been to Costera, their Prytania Street tapas-style spot, several times and enjoyed myself thoroughly each and every time, a sure signifier their new Italian place would be equally fabulous. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Everything started out fine when we walked into the surprisingly elegant strip mall space on Magazine Street. We were seated almost immediately (we did have reservations) and as soon as we requested the “family-style” COOLinary menu, the dishes started to pour out of the open kitchen.

Though they had a sample menu on the website, we had no idea which dishes they’d choose for us, so we just smiled and hoped for the best. Things started out okay with fresh burrata con panna – a creamy, milky cheese with shreds of fresh mozzarella — with garlicky pistachio pesto and a sweet, aged balsamic. The dish came with two thin spears of crusty bread, not enough to scoop up all of the cheese and sauce, so we just used spoons. The second dish was a crudo with thin slivers of American red snapper buried under a tomato walnut pesto.

Crab Radiatore at Osteria Lupo

The third dish was where things began to go downhill. It was completely random, not on the menu, and while we enviously watched plates of truffle arancini arrive for the tables around us (several of which who were also enjoying the COOLinary menu), we were a little bummed to see a small plate of pasta arrive. Featuring maybe an ounce of local Louisiana blue crab, it was a dish of Radiatore tossed in butter, garlic, fresh basil and Parmesan. Not only was it too salty (this is coming from the salt queen, mind you), but we both got little bits of crab shell in almost every bite. Definitely a bummer.

Yellofin Tuna at Osteria Lupo

The final savory plate, our shared entree, was peppered and seared cubes of Yellowfin Tuna tossed with fresh fennel, cipollini (sweet, small caramelized onions of which we each got one), olives, and chilies. It was a nice, bright dish, though I would’ve loved another onion or two.

Since John and I were pretty bummed about missing out on the truffle arancini our neighboring diners were oohing and ahhing about, plus the charred radicchio and broccoli, woodfired zucchini with pistachio and mint, and crispy potatoes which were all possible sides on the menu (we didn’t get any) we kind of felt left out.

When we were told dessert was on the way, we jokingly took bets on what we’d receive, knowing it would not only be the most inexpensive, but also the dessert which required the least amount of effort on their part. They placed a dessert menu in front of us, not so we could choose our dessert, but to select an after-dinner cocktail if we liked. On the reverse side was their regular dessert menu and from that list we chose what we believed would be the best contenders in our “fairly priced” prix fixe; John thought it would be the profiteroles, but I knew they would require too much preparation, so I knew it would be the peanut butter semifreddo with a jelly filling. I wanted their Saffron Pavlova with orange and cardamom creme fraiche, rosewater, and macerated berries, but what came out? The peanut butter semifreddo, of course, and it was frozen solid.

Peanut Butter Semifreddo at Osteria Lupo

So after four small, shared plates and a dessert we could barely get our spoons into (I had one small bite and gave up), we walked away full, but not satisfied after paying $160 with tip. I know things are more expensive, but I think we would’ve been better off just ordering a couple of entrees and an appetizer off of the regular menu. I’ll survive though, I made up for it with fresh breakfast bao and a half-dozen doughnuts from Dough Nguyener’s Bakery the next day.

What can I say? You Nguyen some, you lose some.

You may also like

Leave a Reply