Atchafalaya – New Orleans, Louisiana

 

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I’ve always been a  big fan of Anthony Bourdain, I just love the guy! So, of course, before I got to New Orleans, I did some research on some of his local favorites and found Atchafalaya.The name, long river in choctaw, sounded interesting and his comments were quite favorable. So, I left the French Quarter behind and took a ten minute cab drive to the charming Garden district neighborhood.atchafalayafish

In 2005, right after hurricane Katrina, owners Tony Tocco and Rachel Jaffe Tocco turned this historic locale into a chic neighborhood eatery refurbishing it inside with reclaimed materials left from the storm. It seemed like the perfect place to go for an authentic New Orleans meal, away from tourists and crowds.

On the corner of   beautiful tree-lined Louisiana avenue and Laurel street, stands this lovely wooden structure that, from the outside, looked more like a small cafe. Little did we know that inside, a charming and intimate space of dim lights and comfortable seating would welcome us into what would be one of the best dining experiences we ever had.

We were happy to see a menu full of great seafood choices like the amazing Maine diver seared scallops served with sweet corn, mushrooms and roasted cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of sherry caramel for $16.  For the main course, I ordered some of the local fish  know as Drum: two fillets of a tender and flaky white fish sautéed with smoked turnips, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, totsoi (Asian spinach), grapes and an orange basil gastrique (caramelized vinegar sauce) for $30.

The pecan smoked New York strip steak was quite interesting: perfectly grilled Louisiana grass fed beef, french fry “poutine” ( gravy) and a delectable foie gras-red wine sauce served with sautéed baby spinach  for $36. Dessert was a nice surprise: a trio  of homemade sorbets of strawberry, peach and  the delicious satsuma, a  mild  citric fruit native to the area that offered the perfect balance of sweet and sour for $8.

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Don’t ever be intimidated by a long name like Atchafalaya, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what hides behind it! Definitely the best food I had in New Orleans.

 

 

 

atchafalaya1Atchafalaya

92 Louisiana Avenue

New Orleans, LA 70115

505 891 9626

http://www.atchafalayarestaurant.com

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Nola Restaurant – New Orleans, Louisiana

nola6I couldn’t leave New Orleans without trying one of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s popular restaurants so I  gave Nola a try for lunch. Located in the heart of the French district, this rustic eatery which is named as the acronym for the big easy,  offered an interesting menu of mostly creole  cuisine.  Brick walls, high ceilings and an ample open kitchen give it a lofty appeal straying  from some of  the rococo joints  in the area.

To start, I ordered the bacon cauliflower soup for $8 that although lovely in texture and flavor, could’ve used less salt. Along came some  delicious homemade brioche and some  jalapeño corn bread from Nola’s in-house bakery, giving the place a fine Portuguese touch of Lagasse’s  roots!  nola1

After walking around for days and seeing po’boys advertised in every corner, I made it a mission to try Lagasse’s. A French bread sandwich made with whatever is in offer. Here it was the braised pork cheek po’boy with Provolone cheese and a side of house cut  fries for $15. All served along  some creole mustard aioli and giardiniera ( pickled peppers). Although very tasty, I must say that the cheese was unnecessary. The cheeks are flavorful and  fatty enough, no need to add anything!

nola4One of my  creole favorites has always been the shrimp and grits so I had to give Emeril’s a try; sautéed gulf shrimp, grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, applewood  smoked bacon, cremini mushrooms in a red chili abita butter sauce for $19. Perfectly cooked shrimp over tender and  smooth ground corn in an absolutely delicious sauce that gave it a nice little  kick, heavenly! All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience to try a menu created by Emeril  Lagasse, a Portuguese -French-Canadian who’s become the quintessential New Orleanian!

 

Nola Restaurantnola5

534 Saint Louis Street

New Orleans, LA 70130

504 522 6652

http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com

 

* You can find the recipe for the shrimp and grits at www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/nolas-shrimp-and-smoked-cheddar-grits-recipe