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Everything posted by Deacon

  1. Don't be envious. You've got Stroud's, which is a place I'd like to eat at, if I'm ever in Wichita.
  2. As recently as a few short years ago I would have made a comment like this myself. . . . ← Phaelon, I just meant that they seem to auction off a whole lot of Thomas Kinkead on cruises. No snobbery against cruises or cruise food intended.
  3. I stir with the straw (especially iced tea) and then take it out. I'd feel like a child using a straw anywhere but the car, drinking from a "to-go" cup. As for using a straw for "sanitary reasons" I just want to point out: how many other mouths do you think that fork you're eating with has been in?
  4. Deacon


    Not with a line like "tastes like a monkey's ass."
  5. *thirty seconds of laughter*
  6. Two Dos Equis Amber with Mexican food.
  7. fine dining: Cafe Annie, Damian's, and especially Brennan's great Vietnamese: Vietopia breakfast place: since you'll be there on the weekend, either the Buffalo Grille or Goode Company Hamburgers and Tacqueria cheap eats heaven: Williams Smokehouse or Goode Company Barbecue or Luling City Market for barbecue, Star Pizza or Fuzzy's Pizza or (no kidding) Kenneally's Irish Pub for pizza
  8. Upstairs at the *cough*Frying*cough* Dutchman is still the most upscale place on the Kemah Boardwalk. I can only imagine what it must've been like in its heyday. But any place that you have to cross kiddie-train tracks to get to can't be truly upscale. Best waterfront seafood place in the area: Pappadeaux (on the Seabrook side ).
  9. New Orleans Trip Report II--The Quickening After deleting my first and last meals in this fine city (you don't need to hear about my spur-of-the-moment ideas, unless they end up as good ideas), I ended up with just one entire day's worth of meals to report about. Sorry I couldn't include more. This trip ended up mostly as an investigation of you-know-who's places, except that I didn't have time for Delmonico. Next time I intend to try it and also Mosca's. Cafe du Monde, Oakwood Mall, Gretna (killing time)-- (See "My Cafe du Monde Theory," elsewhere in "South & Southwest." Unnecessarily long.) The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel (breakfast) -- The hotel was more modern than I expected. Comfortable dark lobby with lots of light wood paneling. Courteous staff. Same decor up one flight in the Grill Room, with paintings of fox hunts, etc. on the walls, and windows overlooking green plantings for a little color. I'm here for breakfast because it would obviously be cheaper than dinner and I still get to check out everything else. The huge room was practically deserted. One thing I don't appreciate is having juice pushed on me for breakfast. No fewer than three hard-working staff members asked me if I wanted juice. No, dammit, when I want juice, I'll tell you, stop asking. To be fair, they were just trying to be thorough, but it's my pet peeve at breakfast. Anyhow, I had the "Eggs Windsor Court," which was a "Benedict"-style stack. The bread round wasn't an English muffin and wasn't sweet, filled with shitake mushrooms minced fine, also just enough black pepper. On the top, a small dab of caviar. Diced tomatoes around it on the plate. Excellent coffee. Friendly, efficient service. $25 for breakfast. More if you order juice. NOLA (lunch) -- The line at 11:30 AM was so long I thought it might be the line for K-Paul's around the corner. A dark, industrial space with visible heating ducts and a forbidding reservation desk with an even more forbidding reservation clerk. Right behind that, an elevator packed full of people being whisked upstairs to their privileged tables. Open kitchen with bar seating. No dress code. Can I sit at the kitchen bar? No, you can't, those places are reserved. Can I sit at the bar? Yes, sir, right this way. Friendly, even chatty, bartender. Entire staff (except for previously mentioned reservation troll) was friendly, joked with patrons and each other. Wine-by-the-glass list was on chalkboard behind me. You don't see very many "UB40" references on wine lists nowadays, but the chalkboard listed "Elzar's Red Red Wine" as their house plonk for the day. I had some sort of Gruner-Veltliner, slightly sweet, while reading the menu. My only regret, upon seeing the menu, was that I couldn't try everything. Elzar was beginning to win me over despite my misgivings. Me: "So what are the chances of seeing the big guy? Slim to none?" Brian the bartender: "None. He and his wife just had a baby." For a horrible minute there, I was going to suggest that the little tyke should be named Bam-Bam. Fortunately I kept my mouth shut on that one rather than get thrown out on my ass for insolence. Brian the bartender informed me about Tchoup-Chop, Elzar's new place in Orlando, and also warned me about two other new places, one in Atlanta, the other possibly in Houston. Elzar's fiendish encirclement of the globe continues. Switched over to 2000 Byron pinot noir for the duration. Very aromatic & plummy, slightly bitter and astringent. First course: cochon de lait. Basically pork gumbo. I may be asking for trouble. It turned out to be excellent, basically andouille sausage gumbo with a little pulled pork, very tender, presumably milk-fed (?) Breads were very good: a cheddar & green onion biscuit (could really taste the green onion), and jalapeno cornbread (not too crumbly with a bite that only kicks in after awhile). Second course: "grilled swordfish with Creole smothered white beans, garlic roasted eggplant, Louisiana crawfish creme fraiche & parsnip chips." The parsnip chips were really long shavings. Kind of stringy, kind of chewy, a little like eating paper made out of cornstalks, possibly not the best idea Elzar's ever had. On the plate to either side, two dark, smoky, and vaginal-looking eggplant slices. I liked it, and I hate eggplant. The swordfish itself was a dense block of solid fish, topped by very tiny crawfish, like the kind of shrimp you see making up 99-cent shrimp cocktails in Las Vegas. The block of fish was atop a hearty, tomato-flavored sauce thick with white beans. The fish was thick and did not flake readily, which was okay with me. Aside from the parsnip garnish on top, all was good. $50 for lunch, with two glasses of wine. Emeril's (dinner) -- You-know-who's flagship, down in the warehouse district. Jacket required, supposedly. Not too loud, considering the place was filled to capacity twenty minutes after it opened. Solid chairs (with soft cushions) went with the hardwood floor. Room is very "hip, cool, with-it, and today"--unlike the old-style New Orleans places (that's what Delmonico is for). It has been noted elsewhere that the kitchen bar has a proscenium arch over it, making the bar the focal point of the room and the kitchen the stage. What no one else has mentioned is that the panels composing the arch were each lit from within, and each panel contained a different grain, seed or spice--nice touch. The silverware in the place settings was upside down for some inexplicable reason, maybe just to be different. These are serious cooks who are not "bamming" anything, and as for the staff being "Emerilized" *cough*choke*, they just seemed to be good at their jobs. Very disconcerting and disorienting to glimpse a chef's balding head down the top of his toque--like staring down a chimney at a bird's nest. I was prepared to hate this place. I grumpily ordered a martini with a lot of finicky instructions, expecting them to screw it up so I could have an excuse to start complaining. They brought it just as I had ordered it, as if I were a regular who asked for one that way every time. Although the man next to me at the bar highly recommended his green salad with black-eyed peas, followed by rosemary-crusted rack of lamb with Cajun spice, I went for the full seven-course degustation menu with corresponding wines. Hubba hubba hubba. amuse bouche: two spoonfuls of tomato gazpacho, "to welcome you to the restaurant." Cold enough to be refreshing, with a lot of cilantro. The breads were out now: a sourdough baguette, a large slice of something like brioche, and a non-descript white roll. All three provided good background for the rest of the food, adding depth and personality without overshadowing the courses. appetizer: "seared and sliced bluefin tuna with heart of palm, cucumber cappellini, avocado, and an apple-celery coulis," accompanied by non-vintage Billecart salmon brut rose champagne. Two slices, a little smaller than a deck of cards, barely done around the edges and raw in the middle, just as advertised. Peppery around the edges, tender enough for sashimi. Draped over strands of cucumber "pasta." Hearts of palm were tiny slices, would've enjoyed more of those. All produce was very fresh, cold but without any ice crystals. By this time, all scepticism had faded and I was singing Elzar's praises. I could not reconcile the food I was eating with the lumpy schlmiel I'd seen on TV. You don't suppose the guy on TV's only a front for the real Elzar that they've got chained to a stove in a basement somewhere? fish: "sauteed skatewing with sesame-crusted jasmine rice cake and Asian vegetables in a coconut-lemongrass broth," accompanied by 2000 Tokay pinot gris herrenweg "cuvee reserve," Charles Schleret. Elzar does traditional Thai food. This is the kind of dish that probably gets served nightly at "Tchop-Chop," I just wasn't expecting it here. I like Thai food, and halfway through this dish I was absolutely dumbfounded with amazement. Slightly crunchy black sesame seeds, also green and red peppers, like a mild yellow curry. The whole thing was not overly spicy, very subtle. The Tokay pinot gris was an excellent accompaniment. I started to wish it had been even spicier, then realized that if it had been my taste buds would've been overwhelmed for the next course. I could've eaten an entire plate of this jasmine-scented Thai rice. fowl: "homemade boudin-stuffed quail with smoked onion-haricot vert salad, creamy rosemary polenta and crispy beet greens," accompanied by 1999 Crozer-Hermitage, Marc Sorrel. The leaf on top of everything was crisped to translucentcy and was delicious and crackling all by itself. The steak knives here are interesting little implements that look like unfolded switchblades. By this time I was nibbling every last morsel off the leg bones. The place was getting to me. Everything was good, every bite. Well, not everything: I ran across some skin or inedible membrane with this dish, just a bit. And I noticed that some of the glassware had little chips. My expectations were so high by this time that any imperfection glared. beast: "braised beef short rib with stuffed baby eggplant, grilled ramps, olive-whipped potato and sun-dried tomato-veal reduction," accompanied by 2000 Les Baux de Provence "Reserve du Mas," Mas de Gourgonnier. They brought a new switchblade for this, so that I wouldn't have to sully the flavor with that of the previous course. Just one short bone about the diameter of a nickel. Sort of like a Swiss steak, actually. Still don't know what "ramps" are. I apologize for the lack of detail, as I had abandoned the note taking at this point. Too busy eating. They asked me if I wanted port to accompany the next course; I said no. cheese: "brebis, sheep's milk from Pyrenees." This was a simple presentation with a tiny slab of cheese at 3 o'clock on the plate. At 12 o'clock was a slice of French bread, at 6 o'clock a few walnuts that looked as if they had been hand-selected one-by-one, and at 9 o'clock was a fan of small green apple slices. The bread and cheese went well together, also the cheese, walnuts and apple. dessert: "dark chocolate terrine with caramelized banana and anglaise." The banana slice had a crackly skin of hard caramel on top. It all went on top of the chocolate terrine, which was sort of like eating a slab of chocolate asphalt, and I mean that in a good way. The coffee was good. Then they brought a chocolate praline with nuts "in case you're not full." I couldn't see the room because I was facing toward the kitchen for the entire meal, but the mood was high and festive as I walked out. $65 without wine, $125 with wine, plus tip. Whew. One of the best dinners I have ever had. It must be great to live in New York City and have your pick of a different restaurant at that level of quality every night of the month. This was an experience, and anyone who bad-mouths Elzar's food will have to answer to me.
  10. "Lucky Dogs--boiled in actual Mississippi River water!"
  11. I'm sitting in Cafe du Monde, watching the world go by. Well, so what, Deacon, so does everyone who goes to New Orleans. Ah yes, but I'm in the Cafe du Monde in Oakwood Center, not the one at the French Market. I'll bet you didn't even know that Cafe du Monde was a local New Orleans chain. Yes, it is true. All you chain snobs will have to cancel your plans now. According to the website (yes, they have a website: www.cafedumonde.com) there are seven outlets in New Orleans. If you stretch the concept of "mall," then even the one in the French Market in the French Quarter is in a "mall." The others are in Esplanade Mall in Kenner, in Oakwood Center in Gretna, in the Riverwalk in the CBD, in New Orleans Centre in the CBD--and there are two on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie: in Lakeside Mall and at 4700 Veterans Blvd. So all that wonderful coffee is really just a local mall chain phenomenon. I've only ever been to the one at the French Market and the one here, because I "happened" to be in the neighborhood on other business. So, why go? Why the hype? Most tourists, I bet, don't know it's a chain. My whole attitude to the company changed when I found out that the outlet in the French Market wasn't the only one. The one in the French Market seems to have magical properties for tourists: they go to see and gape--at the other tourists who are doing the same thing. It's done just to say that you've done it. It's a tourist attraction that just happens to sell coffee and donuts too. It gives you a place to sit and sober up. (One of the qualities of a cup of hot coffee is that it takes a while to drink it.) It's open 24 hours a day, every day, except for Christmas and hurricanes. I don't know if it ever gets quiet. My experience is limited, but I've never seen it when it didn't look like the roof of the American embassy during the fall of Saigon. My theory is that the tourists would eat charcoal briquettes washed down with cold poison if they were served at Cafe du Monde. The food doesn't seem to be why anyone goes--they go for the history, and for a pause between the drinks, as well as the fact that it's the French Quarter's version of the Free Parking space on a Monopoly board. Which doesn't explain how it got to be a chain. Presumably someone said at some point, "Let's sell our coffee and donuts to the locals too." And naturally the places with the highest exposure are in malls, or on the "main drag" down the middle of New Orleans's biggest suburb, Metairie, where there are two of them. In the outlet in the French Market, all you really get to see are other tourists, who are looking back at you. At least here, over in this mall in Gretna, I'm looking at actual residents of New Orleans. The guy at the next table is using his cafe au lait to wash down either a gyro or a Philly steak sandwich, which seems unthinkable if you're sitting in the French Market. At least he's neither a tourist nor someone who makes his living off of them. He's just a guy having dinner, not some French Quarter geek act blowing into a saxophone while his hair's on fire. It's somehow very refreshing. He seems like a real New Orleanean (New "Orleaner"? New "Orleansian"? What the hell do you people call yourselves, by the way?) There's the same green-and-white striped awning over the entrance. The mall looks fairly new, but it isn't upscale, just a normal suburban mall. It's got a "Structure," but the "Structure" is right next to a "Frederick's of Hollywood," so it's a wash in the taste department. The neighborhood it's in, however, looks pretty dicey. It's "economically depressed." That's liberal codespeak for "predominantly black," by the way. The mother at the next table is doing her best, very apologetically, to keep her two toddlers from escaping down the corridor. The waitress keeps cleaning the same three tables over and over, which get messed with powdered sugar as fast as they are cleaned. Is the coffee any good? (Finally, a question relevant to this site!) Well, they pour half chicory coffee and half very hot milk. It's not just ordinary Folgers with cold milk from the fridge thrown in to cool it. Because both elements are steaming hot, your coffee is almost too hot to drink at first. The chicory, unless my imagination deceives me, gives the coffee a slight vegetable tang. I've had better dark roast in restaurants. Would I drive all the way across the city for it? No, but I'd stop if I were in the neighborhood. It's not bad coffee. I just can't see how they developed an empire around it.
  12. You could try Las Alamedas at I-10 and Voss.
  13. I can't pick one. Too much depends on the subject: science: Einstein or Feynman food: Shaw or Bourdain lit: Hunter S. Thompson or George Bernard Shaw or H.G. Wells wit: the entire Algonquin Round Table music: Frank Zappa and sons politics: Rudolph Giuliani or Huey Long and if we're just setting me up for a dinner date: Winona Ryder, Lee Lee Sobieski, Helen Hunt, Bridget Fonda, or Julia Stiles
  14. "The food was TERRIBLE!!!" "Yes, and such small portions!" --from Annie Hall
  15. WOW, what a description! Those salmon cones are legendary by now, classic Keller. I hope all your posts are as lavish and detailed as your first. What a standard to have to live up to. . . .
  16. After calling his new waiter, Manuel, a "waste of space," and popping him in the forehead with a spoon, Emeril proceeded to do "the funny walk." When several customers from Mississippi walked in the front door, Emeril told his staff: "Don't mention the Civil War." When last spotted, Emeril was in his underwear in the entranceway, straddling Manuel and about to brain him with a frying pan. . . . Hey, it's funnier than Emeril's sitcom material. . . .
  17. See, dinner theater can be fun after all. . . .
  18. Excellent report, SG. I've heard many people rag on Elzar's personality quirks and TV schtick, but I've never heard anyone say anything bad about the actual food. The next time I'm in New Orleans, I'm going to seriously try to arrange meals in Emeril's and in NOLA.
  19. I thought the article read fine as a one-off, actually. (I remember reading the original entry here at eGullet.) In the article there were no out-of-place references to the cross-country trip; it seemed as if you flew to the Florida panhandle just for an interview with Sandor. It certainly focused attention on a part of the country few gourmets venture into. Good luck, Shaw.
  20. Let me guess: identity theft! (You can get their credit card numbers as well, but it involves poking through their garbage! Ooops!)
  21. Beg pardon. I was getting my info from the "citysearch" entry. . . .
  22. Tommy, it's amazing--when eating by myself I usually bring a pen and legal pad with me into the restaurant (usually it's work and not related to the food). 99% of the time, I get service that's excellent bordering on fawning. Either I can really pick restaurants with outstanding service or the staff is thoroughly cowed by the pen and paper. It can't be because they think I'm a critic, because restaurateurs know that critics don't usually go by themselves. Maybe I've just been lucky with good service. It's uncanny.
  23. While you're at it, don't mention the Village People either.
  24. I'd like to add to my original post: there's a place called Confusion in Chicago, which sounded odd until I speculated that the food there must be "fusion" of some kind. Also there's Cashion's Eat Place in DC, which sounds like a name they came up with at 4:59 PM on a Friday afternoon. And of course the "imaginatively" named Eating Establishment, which is or was somewhere in Utah, maybe Salt Lake City. . . . *pause* Not believing it was real, I just looked up the Eating Establishment. It's apparently an actual place--in Park City, not Salt Lake. The locals stumble in for greasy breakfasts at 8 AM after a night of strong drink.
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