Nola, New Orleans

Sunday, December 6, 2009




Thursday, December 3, 2009

The annual levee board trip to New Orleans is great fun for shoppers and epicureans alike. Once again our chief engineer, Rob Rash from Marion, booked our party of 18 at Nola, owned by Emeril Lagasse. It is a fun time with all the levee board members and wives in tow. Rob always reserves the third floor room near the elevator for this group, and thank God, in years past we always went to either Arnaud's and Mr. B's. All are good but it's never good to do all that repeating in such a fabulous restaurant town.

Our table was cramped with 8 people, I kept wanting to move over to the table that had half as many people as we did due to Jackie's long legs. But we stayed nevertheless and ended up having one of the best and most comical meals in a long time. We were seated with John and Amy Stuckey, Sam and Carol Dillahunty and Bob and Rose Bolton, all of eastern Arkansas. We had a very attentive waiter named Lamont that took all of our drink orders as we entered the room. I asked for a good Cabernet, not a house I specifically said. This young man brought me a glass of 2004 Arbios Cabernet, Alexander Valley. Very good and not a cab that I've had before. I have had some from the Alexander Valley, but this was exceptional.

Our order was taken in a short amount of time and I of course cringed at the prix fix menu that featured an appetizer choice. The choices were the Rice Paper Vegetable Roll or the Crab Cake. Everyone around me got the crab cake so I veered off course and ordered the roll and boy that was a mistake (pic #2). Mr. Dillahunty and I were the two odd balls and we were so sad at the raw, roughness of the roll that had a sweet carrot dipping sauce. We looked at everyone's empty crab cake plates, then at our rolls we couldn't finish and joked at what a mistake that was. Only one choice for a salad and it featured baby greens with focaccia croutons, shaved reggiano Parmesan and a Dijon-anchovy vinaigrette. It was really good and the anchovy was not over-powering. I forgot to mention that when we placed our order, the waiters came back with complementary appetizers from the chef. One was called "crill", which makes me think fish but it was actually a french toast with egg, shrimp and tomato glaze (pic #3). It was cut into bite size pieces and was crunchy, rich and fabulous. There were two more served but I was so distracted by this crill, we can't remember the others, rightly so. Not worth mentioning I'd say.

We had three selections under the entree to choose from. The grilled pork chop, the fillet or what I chose, the garlic crusted drum cooked in a wood burning oven with bradant potatoes, cimini mushrooms, bacon and sauce berurre rouge. This was exceptional drum and the crust made the drum crunchy and salty, very good. Jackie ordered the filet of course, that was complemented by thyme roasted red bliss potatoes, house cured bacon, Maytag blue cheese, toasted walnuts and port wine-veal glace (pic #1).

Now to the comedy...we only see each other once a year, so the conversation is generally about children or grandchildren. But once we got through that chapter, I think it was Amy and I talking about our country living and the Dillahunty's started talking about a possum they cornered in their garage. That lead to live traps, guns and varmint talk. I got so tickled at every one's story about wild animals and found out Amy and I have a lot in common when it comes to spay and neutering. I am still imagining Mr. Dillanhunty with his shot gun at night with that possum cornered....

Dessert was nothing exciting at all but it sounded good on paper. Bread pudding layer cake with vanilla wafers and warm fudge drizzle. The coffee was hot and perfection and everyone's cake just sat on the table. We were probably overwhelmed with all the wonderful food that dessert was a place we couldn't go to.

NOLA is a great restaurant with caring waitstaff, excellent food and of course pairing that with good conversation makes for a memorable dinner. And the ladies room located on the third floor gets a gold star.

Nola, 534 St. Louis, New Orleans, 504-522-6652
www.emarils.com/restaurant/2/Nola-restaurant

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