Friday, February 8, 2013

Foodie Stop: La Petite Grocery

Cuisine: Fresh-Southern Fusion

4238 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115

Yelp: 4 / 5
Zagat Food: 26 / 30

We Say: Share the Blue Crab Beignets
Usually, anything with the word “petite” shames our “bigger-than-stomach” eyes, but by the end of the meal, these same eyes shrunk back to reality and gained a new appreciation for the smaller, more delicate things in life.

To most and for most things, bigger is better. But, there is certainly fault in this grand level of thinking. For one, how many people can consistently and successfully parallel park their massive hummers on the quaint narrow corridors of the French Quarter without needing an 11-point maneuver? Not many. Praise be to those cute little fiats and buggies. In all seriousness, and particularly when it comes to food, bigger is most certainly not better. When we go out to nice, well reviewed restaurants, we want to try as much as we possibly can. And we know we aren’t the only ones who salivate to this gluttonous fork in the road.

Should we get one appetizer and two entrees? But I like the griddled octopus. And he likes the cauliflower puree. I would like a bite of the lamb meatballs and he would like to nibble on the blue crab beignets. Okay, so four appetizers and two entrees? ….Too much? Waiter, what do you think?

It’s customary to assume you need to order appetizers and an entree for each, especially when you know…sharing isn’t always easy. It’s the food war: the war of all wars. Particularly when it’s Man vs. Woman. Men have this uncanny ability to act like sweet birds before dinner– hailing all to let you know the food is coming to share. Then the innocent waiter approaches plate in hand. And right before the little white saucer touches ground, you look at your sweet bird and he is a ravenous seagull gobbling up the “petite bite” before your eyes can even spot it. The unconscious fight to finish ensues.
Trust us--it’s easy to get excited over a meal, otherwise we wouldn’t be true foodies. The appetizer menu shouldn’t be treated as a warzone, but as a peace treat(y). We recommend skipping the entrees (or sharing one) and ordering many more small plates. The secret to sharing, is the secret to most things in life: wine. Take a sip between each bite and let it carry the tastes deeper into your palette. Wine is the perfect buffer. (And a bottle to share is well worth it too.)
It’s always a good option to default to your waiter’s recommendation, but take it from us: Share small and share often.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Break the bread, for God Sake

“Break the bread, for God Sake”

Frequent Foodie Stop: Brigtsen’s

723 Dante St
New Orleans, LA 70118

Yelp: 4.5 / 5
Zagat: 28 / 30 

We Say: Go. And make sure to get the catfish

Winding down a cozy, narrow hallway, we started our evening at Brigsten's. After a strong Mint Julep and Margarita below a rustic, stained-glass window pane, we were led into the dining room - a quaint space with a fireplace and tables snugged together for a family gathering. The service is even more homey; no one was responsible for us, but rather the servers worked like a family to care, entertain, and inform. The meal was simply delightful. The first bite of bread  – warm, soft, perfectly crusted and brushed with a creamy, whipped butter – sparked our first Foodie Chat:

Bread is the most widely condemned word by weight watchers and food snobs alike; acclaimed to ruin your appetite, steal the meal, and make you fat.
For us, bread is the best indicator of a delicious meal to come. And, it should be the most basic and fundamental element of a review. Whether wrapped like a baby in white linen or delivered to you individually by that smiling waiter, bread is meant to be tasted and adored – if it weren’t, then restaurants wouldn’t go through such great lengths to differentiate themselves from say, the Pillsbury doughboy. Some are wheat, some baguette, some come infused with herbs, and some come paired with olive oil, whipped butter, or some fancy shmancy dip. In moderate amounts, bread will balance your meal, giving you just enough satiation to ensure that your meal is tasted rather than scarfed down.
And it’s not just the perfect beginning, but the perfect ending as well. Bread is the best tool for soaking up the steaming lemon caper white wine ‘soup’ sitting in your empty mussel bowl and scraping the last bits of your dark smoked cherry sauce idling on your plate after the duck is gone.

However and whenever the bread is served, eat it.

Back to the meal. We started off with the wild caught catfish, freshly and thinly mustard-fried with a fiery jalapeno cream sauce. We could taste every well thought out ingredient of the dish simultaneously without any one overpowering the palette. By far, the best catfish we’d both ever tasted. We split 2 entrees after catfish heaven - the duck and the seafood platter, both extraordinary and cooked with an attention to detail you won't find at most places. We opted out of desert and into food comas.