Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Commander's Palace Restaurant

New Orleans, Louisiana 

In the city of New Orleans, Commander's Palace is known to be one of the best landmarks for fine dining since 1880. Just recently, the James Beard Foundation crowned their head chef as The Best: South for 2013.

On this occasion, I dined with my family for a three course Sunday brunch.Something that is great about Commander's are the seating options around the restaurant. There are multiple rooms with different themes, that you may request upon your reservation. Our table was in the Garden Room, overlooking the courtyard. There is also a jazz trio that plays every Sunday brunch, and they are open to song requests as well!


First, the waitstaff brought us some garlic buttered toast, garnished with some dill. I also ordered a Brandy Milk Punch. It's Brandy with cream, vanilla extract and nutmeg, shaken until frothy. You immediately taste the brandy and the vanilla extract definitely cut away a lot of the dairy taste from the cream and you certainly get a hit of the nutmeg towards the end of every sip.

For my appetizer I chose the Shrimp and Tasso Henican, which was once featured on the cover on Saveur Magazine. It comes with wild Louisiana white shrimp stuffed with tasso (spicy cajun ham) tossed in Crystal hot sauce, served next to pickled okra, a five pepper jelly and garnished with pickled onions.

The shrimp were cooked perfectly and had a very nice kick of heat to it. The tasso that it was stuffed with didn't overpower the flavor of the shrimp but accompanied it with some extra savoriness. The pickled vegetables were delicious as well, and the pepper jelly added a sweet element to it all. My plate was definitely clean after eating it.

This was the Summer Melon Parfait, a plate of sweet Louisiana melons and tropical fruit with a lemony Creole cream cheese mousse, pistachio granola and a honey-rum caramel.

This was easily the lightest appetizer at our table, but one of our favorites. The pistachio granola was great, but joining it with the fruit only made it better. The lemon cream cheese mousse could probably be put on anything and it would taste good, that was definitely the highlight of this plate. Turning it to a mousse made it very light and airy.

For my entree, I chose the Pecan Crusted Drum, topped with prosecco poached Louisiana crabmeat, spiced pecans and a crushed corn sauce.

The fish was done very well; from the drop of my fork I could cut through it all. It stayed juicy and would flake, as it should. The crabmeat was also really tender from being poached and the creamy corn sauce brought it all together.

This was the Blueberry-Sugarcane Lacquered Quail. A Creole cream cheese, apple smoked bacon and jalapeno cornbread stuffed quail over wilted cabbage and blueberry Bocage honey.

The quail was done about as well as any game bird could be done. Nice and tender all around, had a wonderful glaze, and an unbelievable stuffing to go with it. It came with huge chunks of bacon and the blueberry honey added some subtle sweetness as well.

The Creole Eggs Benedict is a 12-hour barbeque spiced pork shoulder over cheddar and bacon biscuits with poached eggs, corn okra chow-chow and a chipotle hollandaise.

This dish was definitely the heaviest from the table. The pork had a good bit of heat to it and the poached eggs with the hollandaise were delicious. Sadly, the flavor of the cheddar bacon biscuits did get a little lost with all the sauce from the pork surrounding it.

For dessert, the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle is a crowd favorite here. They also add a warm whiskey sauce, tableside. Definitely a hefty dessert, but a great play on bread pudding.

I ordered the Louisiana Blueberry Shortcake, this consisted of Ponchatoula blueberries layered in a warm buttermilk biscuit with whipped chantilly cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.

It was a good thing that this dessert was light because I was definitely full from my meal. The biscuit was very light and soft, and the layers of blueberries and chantilly cream made it into a wonderful shortcake.

I highly recommend coming here for a Sunday brunch, the service is so good from top to bottom. Glasses were always full and the waitstaff are as friendly as you can find them anywhere. I wouldn't say this place is flawless, but it is pretty close!

Commander's Palace Restaurant - 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana

Commander's Palace on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 20, 2013


New Orleans, Louisiana

In my opinion, some of the best sushi in New Orleans comes out of Ninja. I've been coming here since it was located in a little house a block over from Oak Street. It has never disappointed then and it certainly hasn't disappointed me since. I enjoy coming here with a group of friends because you get to gorge into a variety of  sushi, rather than sticking with just a couple of choices.

I generally start off with some sake and miso soup. Just to warm me up before the actual feast. Neither is extraordinary but it gets the job done. Next comes the good stuff. This day, we ordered the Rainbow Roll, Rock N' Roll, Oak Street Roll, Special Eel Roll and a house special roll known as the Moriaki Roll.

The Rainbow Roll is usually a crowd favorite if they enjoy raw fish. It alternates with Tuna, Salmon and yellow tail on top, and on the inside is a spicy snow crab mix. It's then garnished with avocado and thinly sliced lemon. The spicy snow crab mix is rather deceiving as it isn't spicy at all. This roll is actually very refreshing.

The Rock N' Roll is one of my all time favorites. Inside the roll comes with tempura shrimp, snow crab and four vegetables that consist of cucumber, avocado, asparagus and radish sprout. Smelt roe is also covered on the rice. This roll is one of the heavier items on the menu because the shrimp is deep fried. But, the flavor is great, especially because it comes with a spicy mayo sauce on the side that gives it a little kick.

The Oak Street Roll was a pleasant surprise. It comes with shrimp, avocado, snow crab, smelt roe and each piece is topped with a wasabi mayonnaise. The wasabi mayo is the highlight of this roll. It comes off pretty cool in your mouth but the wasabi after burn (clearing sensation through your nose) comes out at the very end. It's a very fun roll and I personally didn't need any soy sauce for this one.

The Special Eel Roll is always a hit, mainly because of the eel sauce. It comes with eel, avocado, cucumber, smelt roe on the outside and of course, the eel sauce. If you haven't tried eel before, I believe you should at least once. For those timid about raw seafood, don't worry because it's always cooked all the way through. The eel sauce is soy based and pleasantly sweet. I wouldn't dip this one in soy sauce either.

The house special, Moriaki Roll, could easily be described as a Rainbow roll, rolled into single pieces. It comes with yellowtail, fresh salmon, tuna, green onion, smelt roe, radish sprouts and avocado on the inside. It has definitely earned its spot on my ordering list from now on.

Now, the fun stuff. Two items that I absolutely love at Ninja are the Sweet Shrimp Sushi and the Mackerel Sushi, also known as "Aji." The reason why is because they come with a little bit of lagniappe on the side. After the sweet shrimp tails are removed. the heads are then stuffed and deep fried. After pieces of the Aji are sliced off the bones, those too are breaded and fried. The bones are actually so thin on this fish that they are edible after cooking them. Sadly, we had the last two orders of Aji for the day so there were no fried goodies for us left. We ordered some extra yellowtail sushi                                                                                         to hold us over.

The sweet shrimp, tastes nothing like your average shrimp you grab from the Gulf. There really isn't anything that tastes like it so it is pretty hard to describe. It's very light though, so light that the wasabi underneath it is almost overpowering at times.

The Aji, is probably my second favorite behind fresh yellowtail. If you can get it fresh, it really has no fishy taste on it. It comes garnished with a sesame oil and scallion garnish.

It's the way Ninja prepares their sushi that sets them aside from a lot of other places. Their portions of fish on their sushi is pretty large, and their sushi rice is light and sweet as it should be.

Ninja - 8433 Oak Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Ninja Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jacques-Imo's Café

New Orleans, Louisiana

Oh sweet victory. I've lived in New Orleans now for about four months and have not visited Jacques-Imo's Café until... now. Shame on me right? Albeit that my first visit was long overdue, I surely made up for it by going with a group of friends and trying a ton of different items from their extensive menu.

Jacques-Imo's is pretty unique compared to many other restaurants. It's rustic and full with New Orleans flare. In the entry way sits a bar decorated all around with paintings of famous buildings and areas in the French Quarter, brass bands and even the Saints quarterback Drew Brees. It's not every day that you get to take a peek into the kitchen, and here you actually get to walk right through it to get to the seating area.

Once you get seated, the hostess greets you with a nice plate of fluffy and buttery corn muffins, garnished with chopped parsley and fresh garlic.

As an appetizer we shared their ever so popular Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake. I have no idea how they make this thing, but it has got to be a must have when you come here. With each bite, you get a some serious flavor from the alligator sausage and a lot of the spices that are thrown in. The shrimp is just some extra lagniappe if you happen to get a piece with your fork full.

Here is another appetizer known as the Eggplant Jacques-Imo's. A tower of perfectly fried eggplant rounds smothered with a nice and creamy oyster dressing and wild mushroom cream sauce. This appetizer was pretty heavy, but also incredibly delicious.

Right before you get your entree's, they also give you a small baby spinach salad tossed with a soy based dressing, garnished with sesame seeds, and a wonderful fried oyster.

With each entree, you get the choice of two sides. Sides that can range from potatoes in any way possible all the way to, corn maque choux and country greens. Pictured here are four of the sides we chose: the Corn Maque Choux, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Coleslaw and Butter Beans and Rice

First entree was the Tuna with Oysters and Mushroom Sauce. The tuna was sushi grade, had a really nice sear all around the piece of fish and basically raw on the inside. The sauce draped over the top accompanied it very nicely. This picture is only half of the serving. A pretty nice thing that they do here is that if you tell them prior to ordering that it will be shared, they will plate it separately for you.

Here was a major highlight of the night, and it was the Grilled Duck Breast. The duck comes with an orange-soy glaze, shiitake mushrooms and pecans. The duck was cooked medium, and had a little bit of chew to it, but the orange-soy glaze took the cake. It brought a delicious Asian spin to it that unbelievably appetizing. I'm pretty sure you could serve it with any meat and make it taste good.

My entree of choice was the Roasted Boneless Stuffed Quail. You actually get two birds on one plate, and they're both wrapped in bacon. Not only that, they come stuffed with foie gras and served over a bed of nicely cooked mushrooms. Talk about a party in your mouth. The bacon wrapped around the quail gave it some extra fattiness for the meat that's generally lean. It also probably helped it to be very tender; enough to cut through it with your fork. And the foie gras stuffing was so good that they could probably have it served as an entree on its own.

A pleasant surprise was the dessert at the end of our meal. This was a trio of three small Chocolate Cheesecakes, Coconut Bread Pudding and Crème Brûlée. The cheesecake was surprisingly light but had a lot of depth in chocolate flavor. The bread pudding was covered with coconut shavings, but other than that, the flavor of coconut didn't overpower it at all. The Crème Brûlée was excellent. The custard was still nice and evenly chilled, and the torched sugar on top made a world of difference in sweetness and texture.

I highly recommend dining here, if you have the time and money. A ballpark price for each entree is around thirty dollars and certainly worth every penny. Make sure you make reservations ahead of time if you have a group of five or more. They tend to be busy all the time and you could be waiting a good bit for a table.

Jacques-Imo's Café - 8324 Oak Street New Orleans, Louisiana

Jacques-Imo's Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

New Orleans, Louisiana
November 18th 2012

Well, here we go again. Back on Oak Street after a year of anxious waiting and hungry for some delicious po-boys. For some reason, this year's festival was unbelievably crowded from the start. So, my plan on knocking out the heavy favorites first was a total bust. I was ridiculously hungry, so I went for a sure thing and revisited Ninja for their Soft Shell Crab Po-boy. It was like being reunited with a long lost friend and their signature sriracha sauce was just as delicious as I remembered.

Next on my list was the 2011 Specialty Seafood winner. This Shrimp Remoulade Po-boy was done by The Ridge Bistro.

I was actually somewhat disappointed with this one. The flavor was pretty bland for a remoulade, and the main curve ball was that the shrimp was really cold. My sister enjoyed it because of the really light contrast from the heavy fried po-boys that were around. I was looking more for things that sit like a brick in your stomach.

This year's Best Seafood award went to Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill's BBQ Oyster Po-Boy. It was dressed with lettuce, red onion and fried oysters in their BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce wasn't overpowering but very tasty and allowed to flavor of the oysters to play the main role in this one. Definitely well done.

Here is Mondo's Pastrami Po-boy, dressed with gruyere cheese and pickled slaw. The pastrami was good, and the slaw was really nice, but something about it made it a little too much on the salty side.

Here is the 2011 'Best of the Fest' Shanghai Shrimp Po-boy done by WOW Cafe and Wingery. Last year, I was so skeptic about them putting a po-boy out in the festival that I didn't even try theirs. When I heard that they won the top prize, it left me baffled. So, naturally I have to try the best one right? This po-boy comes with fried shrimp in their special sauce, ranch dressing and topped with an Asian slaw and lettuce. The shrimp was done pretty well , the sauce was certainly unique. It was a very mild buffalo flavored sauce with an Asian twist to it. The Asian slaw was the kicker here, and probably my favorite part.

Winner winner chicken dinner. Or, I really should say roast beef dinner. Here was the number one crowd pleaser of the festival, winning both the Best of Fest and Best Pork/Beef awards. All brought to you by Palace Cafe's Poutine-boy. This came with their roast beef, french fries and cheese curds. The fries and curds were buried under the hot roast beef, which eventually melts the cheese. The roast beef was nicely shredded and really juicy, and just full with good quality beef flavor. We added a touch of crystal sauce on it to give it some kick. And who doesn't love fries in their sandwiches?! Congrats to Palace Cafe.

Now, back to the Best of Fest winner of 2010. Yes, we went back for it and yet again the line was a block long! GW Fins' Fried Lobster Po-boy was pretty good this year, but not as amazing as I remember it. Maybe it was because they didn't try to live up to being the reigning champs, or maybe they were just running out of lobster (we got in line pretty late). Still a great po-boy though.

Last, but not least was the Fried Chicken Waffle Po-boy from Palate New Orleans. This was probably my favorite one of the day. It took my sister an hour long wait in line to get it too! It came with a nice crispy piece of boneless chick on top of a sweet potato waffle and some slaw. We got the combo as well, so it came with a side of Crawfish Mac and Cheese. The chicken was decent, and the waffle had a great cinnamon sweet potato flavor. The cole slaw took off some of the heaviness that came with the chicken. The Crawfish Mac and Cheese was pretty good too. I think it could have use a little more cheese but the crawfish flavor made it pretty awesome.

That was all I tried this year, and I'd say it was pretty successful festival. I did notice that it's better off to get po-boys as early as possible. Not because of the lines, but I could definitely tell that the po-boy bread at a lot of stands tend to get harder as the day goes on. Bring friends, and bring an empty stomach. I'll see y'all next year!

Ninja - 8433 Oak Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Ridge Bistro and Deli - 1827 Hickory Avenue, Harahan, Louisiana
Red Fish Grill - 115 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mondo - 900 Harrison Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana
WOW Cafe and Wingery - 231 N. Carrollton, New Orleans, Louisiana
Palace Cafe - 605 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
GW Fins - 808 Bienville Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
Palate New Orleans - 8220 Willow Street, New Orleans, Louisiana