Recently my husband and I were lucky enough to visit New Orleans for several days. No strangers to the Crescent City, we both spent our childhood visiting Louisiana’s most celebrated town and graduated from Tulane. However, we had not been back to NOLA since hurricane Katrina, and wondered how we would find the city after such devastation. We were thrilled to discover that New Orleans was thriving and vibrant once again. And nowhere was this more evident than in the city’s restaurant scene.
From the time our plane touched down at Louis Armstrong Airport, we began our food
odyssey. Friends met us and whisked us to Irene’s, an Italian restaurant in the French Quarter favored by locals. My spouse raved about oysters baked in their shells with Parmesan and pimentons, and adored soft shell crabs with toasted almonds and lemon.
For lunch one day we went to Commander’s Palace in the gorgeous Garden District, and feasted on more fish. Lightly sautéed Black Drum (a moist, white fish) garnished with fried leeks and crème brûlées creatively topped with fleurs de lys (the city’s official logo) fashioned with powdered sugar were memorable.
Our best meal though was at Pêche Seafood Grill, a bustling new restaurant in the city’s warehouse district. Owned by the same group that founded Cochon Restaurant near by, the eatery won two Beard awards this year (Best chef South and Best New Restaurant) and it’s easy to see why. The food prepared with local ingredients was incredibly inventive. My husband declared his rich, dark seafood gumbo one of the best he’s ever tasted. Sashimi-style yellow fin tuna, thinly sliced and nestled on a smear of ramp (wild garlic)
mayo, was sprinkled with fresh butter beans and was also sublime. We shared a bowl of fried catfish fillets served with pickled greens in a chili broth and devoured Brabant potatoes—golden puffs set upon creamy aïoli. Key Lime pie accompanied by buttermilk-scented whipped cream and chocolate banana peanut butter pie with crumbled butterfingers and caramel garnishes were both addictive.
We also delighted in sipping bowls of pho at one of the many Vietnamese eateries popping up all over the city, and downed platters of crawfish at a party held on Tulane’s campus another night.
When you are looking for a place to visit that boasts an exciting, new food scene, put NOLA on your list. New Orleans is back and it’s better than ever!
Pêche Seafood Grill
800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130
539 St Philip St, New Orleans, LA 70116
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
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