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I'm a huge fan of food. I cook. I eat at nice restaurants. I criticize everything.

Although I realize that my reviews on the New Orleans food scene might not be of much assistance to non-residents, who knows? Maybe I'll convince some of you to visit this fine city. Maybe I'll go on vacation and hit up a spot that you enjoy. Let's just see where this goes.

I guess I'll kick this thing off with the new club I just joined.

It's called Dinner Lab.

It's basically a group that meets in a secret location a couple times a month to showcase a chef who might not otherwise be getting the recognition he or she deserves due to restaurant location, off season, or just plane bad luck.

The first one I went to highlighted Ethiopian cuisine. Chefs Asselefech Wako and Ermias Alemu served us a tantalizing combination of spicy meat/veggie dishes atop traditional injera flatbread. I was impressed with the amount of flavor they could infuse with such simple primary ingredients. I also enjoyed their descriptions of their own growth in the culinary world. They have a new restaurant Uptown that I would fully recommend to anyone looking for something a little bit off their beaten path.

Cafe Abyssinia Menu
 

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Toups' Meatery

So I took my special lady friend out for Valentine's Day last night to a relatively new restaurant called Toups' Meatery. She had been asking me to take her there for a while, but I don't like going to restaurants within the first year they are open. It tends to take some places a while to get their wait staff and menus up to par.

Anyway, we got there a little early for our reservation, and the place was packed. We did manage to sit down right around when we were scheduled, though. The first thing that struck me was the openness of the dining room.



I had been inside that space once previously when it was another restaurant and I remember the layout being much more cluttered. The table arrangement I noticed last night served the dual purpose of making the space seem more inviting and also more popular.

The waitress informed us that several regular menu items were missing (typical for a new restaurant) but that several other specials were being served in their stead. We chose to make an appetizer sampler out of their sausage of the day (roasted red pepper pork sausage), their sweet stuffed pepper rellenos, and their deviled eggs with jalapeno bacon. The eggs were the star of that trio. The rellenos were overly greasy and the sausage was rather bland. I definitely enjoyed the texture contrast of the crispy bacon and the fluffy, moutarded egg yolks.

Our entree selections (after much debate) were the Drunken Shrimp with Jazzmen rice in an Abita beer broth and the Tri Tip Steak with creamed potatoes, oyster mushrooms, and sauce Bordelaise. The Tri Tip came out slightly over cooked, but the flavor profile of the sauce was spot on. The Shrimp were also very good. They had a bit of a smoky taste that accented the spice beer broth.

The best dish of the night by far, though, was their King Cake flavored Doberge cake with blueberry cream cheese filling. That shit will change your life. I actually had to order a second piece to go.
 

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Montreal... I've had crawfish in buffets before and I loved it, but they were probably boiled in salt water and put on ice or something. Those crawfish boils with the corn and mushrooms and stuff looks amazing.


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Montreal... I've had crawfish in buffets before and I loved it, but they were probably boiled in salt water and put on ice or something. Those crawfish boils with the corn and mushrooms and stuff looks amazing.
They certainly are quite good. We do them 10 times a year or so during the season when they are big and meaty.

More or less looks like this:

 

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That looks amazing, I would devour the whole table. I might try and cook one up if I can get my hands on some crawfish in Hong Kong.


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Do you have any pictures of the Doberge Cake with the blueberry cream cheese filling? I've had Doberge cake, but it wasn't nearly as good as you've described it.
 
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