Posted on August 15, 2009 by bayareafoodie
You can’t go to New Orleans and not eat at one of Emeril’s many restaurants. We decide to try NOLA located in the French Quarter. It’s a 3 story building so we needed to take an elevator to get to our table on the 2nd floor. Mike thought this was so cool. The cuisine is an updated twist on classic New Orleans fare. For my main course I chose the shrimp and grits and Mike ordered the hickory roasted duck for his. Our dinner arrived within minutes. No joke…in under 8. It kinda felt like a fast food joint it came so fast. I took a bite of my dish and it was delightful. Cheddar grits with smoked bacon and mushrooms topped with plump shrimp in a creole tomato glaze and a butter sauce. It was a salty, sweet slightly spicy masterpiece. Unfortunately, Mike’s meal wasn’t as good. His duck was cooked well and was smokey but the whiskey caramel glaze wasn’t really there which left the meat a bit dry. It was accompanied by cornbread pudding and a green bean/corn salad which were great. It would have been a knock out dish if only it had more sauce. Maybe they left something out in the rush to get it to our table? As soon as we placed our forks down our plates were whisked away and we were handed dessert menus. We didn’t order appetizers because we knew we wanted to have dessert. We went with the banana pudding layer cake and fancy coffee drinks with liqueur. Both were tasty but nothing to write home about. We paid the bill and were in and out within an hour. The evening felt rushed. It was as though they were in some kind of competition to see how many tables they could turn in a single night. In the end there were ups and downs during our NOLA visit so we left with mixed feelings.
Filed under: New Orleans, PLACES TO EAT/DRINK | Tagged: duck, Emeril Lagasse, food, french quarter, NOLA, restaurant, review, shrimp and grits | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 15, 2008 by bayareafoodie
For our first night in Napa we decided to check out Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. The owner Cindy Pawlcyn, is the James Beard award-winning cookbook author, Chef and owner of Mustards Grill, so we knew it would be good. It was a beautiful evening so we chose to sit outside on the small patio under a large 100 year old fig tree. Light Jazz music pumped through some speakers. Don’t expect a loud, mardi gras like environment. Some colorful hand blown drinking glasses and rooster signs are as crazy as you will get. Cindy’s serves up home inspired dishes in a charming rustic setting.
Mike and I started our meal by sharing a warm spinach salad with smoked apple bacon, caramelized onions and pouched egg. It was nice and the vinaigrette dressing gave it a tangy kick. For the main course Mike picked the smoked duck with fritter and I had the pan seared halibut with fava bean mash, pickled onions, asparagus and artichokes. Both dishes were remarkable!! Check out those photos, they were almost too pretty to eat…but we did . Mike’s duck was HUGE. The skin was crispy and the meat juicy, it had been cooking all day in a wood burning oven. My halibut was cooked to perfection, light and flaky and the artichokes were magnificent. I love fresh artichokes not the marinated kind in a jar. These were soft and buttery like when I make them at home. Even though we were stuffed we couldn’t pass up a dessert called Campfire pie. I didn’t get a photo because we tore into it as soon as it hit the table. Picture marshmallow fluff filled with peanuts and chocolate chips on top of an oreo cookie crust placed in the oven so it had a meringue like finish. Sooo scrumptious.
I actually enjoyed Cindy’s more than the beloved Mustards. It has all the elements for a perfect restaurant: comfortable atmosphere, awesome food, attentive and fun staff plus very reasonable prices. I can’t wait to go back.
Big Small Plates
Filed under: Napa Valley | Tagged: Cindy Pawlcyn, cindy's backstreet kitchen, duck, food, James Beard, jazz, mustards grill, napa, review, St. Helena, wine | 1 Comment »