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Posts Tagged ‘French Quarter’

New Orleans, LA – Pelican Club Review

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(From our archives) I had some out of town visitors the other day – eschewing my dining suggestions, they wanted to go to the Pelican Club, on Exchange Place in the Quarter. The owner chefs, Richard Hughes, and Chin Ling, despite having heritages that come from tenures at other fine dining establishments, carry fusion a bit into the too distant future, trying to combine Creole, Asian, Italian, and Southwestern flavors into dishes that end up being a ‘combinaison malpropre’ or, to put it simply: a mess.

Once again you will find my opinion at odds with Tom Fitzmorris, and the Times-Picayune, but that’s fine with me, I tend to disagree with most everything both of them say – on dining or any other issue.

The restaurant is a study in contrasts – the front bar, where you enter, is dark and wooded, intimate; the dining rooms are brightly lit, marble-floored, with local art decorating the walls.

One of our party suggested in advance it seemed “Key-Westish,” but I didn’t get that at all. Perhaps the Creole flavor of some of the artwork inspired that thought.

If one had to choose a brief description, from the cuisines listed above, I’m guessing the restaurant would fall into the “Louisiana seafood-Asian” fusion category, though why chefs think they need to keep reinventing cuisines is beyond me. Some work, most don’t.

For example, there’s a clash of balance in the duck-shrimp spring roll appetizer; duck is a heavy flavor, and shrimp is easily influenced by the flavors that surround it. It’s served with sauces from a variety of Asian cultures, further complicating what should be subtle, into the overbearing category of tastes.

Escargot, with crawfish, mushroom duxelle, and tequila garlic butter sauce was another miss: a piece of snail nestled beside a crawfish tail, hidden under a broiled butter cap that tasted only of burned garlic, and nothing more.

In addition to some fairly standard fare (beef filet, jambalaya, a trio of duck entrees served in unison), Hughes and Chin depart from the ordinary at that point, and venture into the slightly bizarre. Soba noodles, a Japanese vegetarian (buckwheat) pasta usually served cold for breakfast or a snack, are offered stir-fried with vegetables, and optional shrimp. Seared yellowfin is offered over rice noodles with a teriyaki sauce. Pecan and coconut crusted tilapia (can a restaurant possibly serve a less expensive fish?) is plated with a mélange of Asian vegetables, fruit, new potatoes and a citrus beurre blanc. I challenge you to count up the number of cuisines attempted in that!

Italy and Louisiana collide in the Louisiana Cioppino Seafood and fish, served with linguine; with a tomato, basil and garlic sauce with Parmesan cheese.

Service was very good to excellent. My final “beef” about the place is the constant traffic to the washrooms, the entrances to which are located in the center of the main dining room, and, as the night grows on, because of the marble floors and relatively bare walls, the noise level can grow to deafening.

Still, being in Exchange Place, the restaurant has a bit of a “bistro” feel to it, and the lack of street traffic out of the front adds to that. I think it’d be great to eat at the bar (if they permit that) in the Spring and Fall, if the doors or windows are open.

But that’s probably a flashback to the time I lived in Paris, and one could lounge for hours as a sidewalk café.

Here, of course, that’s impossible. Our French-heritage city doesn’t allow sidewalk dining in the Quarter.

Go figure.

Pelican Club New Orleans

Pelican Club on Urbanspoon

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New Orleans, LA – Antoine’s Review

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Antoine's New Orleans(from our archives) My daughter and (then) her boyfriend were in town last week, she wanted “classic cuisine,” and although there aren’t many places I favor more than Gallatoires, for some reason (DOH!) I decided to take them to Antoine’s. The good news is, having two underage guests at dinner greatly cuts down on the bar bill. The bad news is, maybe copious amounts of alcohol would have made dinner better.

Now I’m all for tradition and all that. Antoine’s is, according to some, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country, and still under the original family’s guidance. That’s just wunnaful, I guess. There are stories of families who have worked there longer than, well something, and “waiter jackets” that have been passed down from one generous to the next. That’s fine too.

We dined on Saturday night, and were promptly seated. Though I had made reservations, we really didn’t need them, even though the city was full of conventioneers. Some big rooms are intimate, and some are just loud and garish, and I think Antoine’s falls into the latter category.

Service was attentive, but unobtrusive, and that’s important, although our primary server, really didn’t seem to be too interested in our experience. Perhaps that’s because most days I resemble a crazy looking David Crosby (there’s a visual, huh?), and since I was accompanied by two teenagers, perhaps the server thought we were just “passing through,” like most other diners that night.

We weren’t feeling adventurous, so we stuck to those dishes which Antoine’s is noted for: the pompano, oysters rockefeller, and so on. The starters, a salad, and escargot, were fine. (How can you goof up anything you soak in garlic and butter? I always thought sponges would taste ok that way).

The mains were just “ho-hum.” My daughter’s first inclination was to go for the bouillabaisse, but she waffled at the last moment and went for the trout, a decision she regretted. I went for the pompano en papillote, which is one of their “usuals,” but it could as well have been served on an airplane. The only thing interesting about it was the shrimp was rather flavorful, but the white wine sauce? White gravy whose sole (har har) purpose seemed to be to hide the fish. Which I am not really sure if it was pompano, I forgot to ask, and many restaurants are substituting other fish for both pompano and redfish. Be sure to ask your server!

I didn’t notice what the boyfriend had, I was trying my best to pretty much ignore him all weekend, and he was confused about the quantity of cutlery anyway.

We split the crepes suzette for dessert, and it would have served more than three, for they completely overdid the liqueur and brandy. The coffee was OK.

$180 for three, with only one cocktail in the bunch. That was mine, and it was vodka on the rocks. Come to think of it, that wasn’t very good either, and the olives were downright embarrassing.

There are finer places in NOLA to get classic continental cuisine. IMHO, Antoine’s isn’t worth the necktie required to get in the door.

Antoine's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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