Martin Wine Cellar Deli Bistro

IMG_20150130_165038514Martin Wine Cellar returned to Uptown after more than a decade. It was here the store started in 1946 and left after being flooded and looted after Hurricane Katrina. Not only does it offer a fine selection of beers, liquors and wines, they also have a Deli bistro that serves sandwiches, cheese and gourmet foods.

They also have a happy hour called Four at Four with $4 wine by the glass and $4 appetizers starting at 4pm. I happily tried their red and had to figure out what sandwich I was going to have for dinner. They have various chicken, turkey, ham, corned beef, roast feet and veggie sandwiches plus gourmet plates (cheese, salmon, etc). I ended up getting a pork loin sandwich with seasoned fries. Thinly sliced, well flavored pork served hot on an onion roll. It was very good and paired very well with the Culprit red table wine I choose to try.

The space is light and airy and, yet quiet enough that I was able to have a meeting with two other people and didn’t feel like I had to shout (or whisper).

Definitely give them a try for happy hour, deli foods or when you need to stock up on booze!


Muriel’s Jackson Square (Again)

I had gone to Muriel’s with a group from the Golden Crown Literary Society back in September. They were back in town to finalize various contracts so we returned to the restaurant on their last night here. It is not like it is a great sacrifice – Muriel’s Jackson Square has consistently high levels of service and delicious food. This visit was no exception.

The soup of the day was sweet potato with andouille sausage that two folks started with and enjoyed. Frankly, it looked a bit like baby food but the flavor was sweet and savory.

I had the pecan crusted drum. I had eaten it once before and it stayed true to my memory. This dish of flakey white fish with a lovely sauce and the pecan topping is one of my all time favorites.


Liz had the crabcake – it was very light with lots of crabmeat and not very much breading. As she had a late afternoon visit to Cafe du Monde with an order of beignets, it was the perfect size for dinner.


Judy started with the escargot and then had the shrimp risotto for her entrée.  It was very creamy with a lovely mixture of shrimp, sausage and veggies.


Michelle had both a Satsuma salad (not pictured) and the gorgonzola cheesecake. I found the cheesecake a bit too strong for my taste but it certainly did the job of awakening one’s palate.

gorg cheesecake

For dessert, we shared the Snickers Terrine (layers of peanut butter nougat and peanut caramel in creamy milk chocolate with butter brittle) and the sweet potato buttermilk mini doughnuts.


Awesome is the best way to describe their take on a snickers. Very rich and very much tasted like more.


The doughnuts were light and delicious and the bourbon praline sauce was amazing. This is a good dessert to share as there were a lot of doughnuts.

The service is old style New Orleans where all the food comes out at once. The drink server kept our glasses refilled and the wait staff as a whole was knowledgable and engaging.

Thanks very much to Judy for the meal – we definitely enjoyed it!

Little Gem Saloon

I had visitors in town and we decided to have a meal and live music. The Little Gem Saloon has two shows a night at 5 and 8 during the week and pretty good food, too. It is right up Poydras from where the hotel for the Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference will be in July and this was a good time to show the organizers some of what the city has to offer.

I had the shrimp and grits. A large plate with a number of good size shrimp in a well seasoned sauce. The grits were a delicious way to tame the heat.


It went very well with my Old Cubano drink and the jazz guitarist was a nice accompanist to the meal.

Michelle had the pulled pork small plate and it was tender and juicy meatiness.


For dessert we split the pistachio cheesecake and the chocolate bread pudding. NIce sauce on the bread pudding and the cream was a lovely touch to the cheesecake which needed it.


It was a little hard to keep our waitresses attention but the portions are large and the prices are reasonable, especially with the live music. Kermit Ruffins plays here pretty regularly and so it is a nice club to see him and get a really good meal.

Mulate’s Original Cajun Restaurant

Needed to grab dinner outside of the French Quarter so we decided to have a little Cajun experience with some Zydeco music. That means Mulate’s restaurant, across from the Riverwalk. They have a dance floor, for those who want to work off their meal, too.

We started with the mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Nice flavor but smallish mushrooms for the amount of breading.


Michelle did enjoy the green stuff under it. She had the Zydeco meat pies – pastry shells filled with a spicy ground beef mixture and served with a spicy remoulade sauce.


I had the BBQ shrimp po-boy – large shrimp sauteed in butter and Worcestershire sauce. Very yummy.


It came with a small bowl of jambalya but I saved that for lunch tomorrow.

The prices are downtown high but the atmosphere is unlike any other place in the city. This is definitely the place to go if your trip to Louisiana does not include any time in Acadiana. Check out their website where they list the nightly entertainment, usually starting around 7pm. Service is fast and friendly and they are very welcoming of large groups.

Tasting Thai

In the past couple of days, I’ve had a chance to visit both Thai Mint and SukoThai, two of New Orleans’ Thai restaurants.

Thai Mint is in the Carrollton area and is a small, quiet restaurant. The food speaks very loudly with loads of fresh, bright veggies and flavors. We started with the Tom Kha soup with chicken and the broth was spicy and aromatic with a lot of chicken.

Michelle had the cashew chicken and I had the garlic shrimp. Both were perfect sized lunch portions. Michelle would have liked a little more sauce, but she ate it all so take that as you will. My shrimp were nice and garlicky.


They could have used a little more coconut milk with their mango and sticky rice but it was otherwise refreshing and delicious.


The servers were very friendly and willing to stop and chat.

SukoThai is on Magazine Street and offers a larger menu in its larger space. Michelle had the drunken noodles made hot (not Thai hot but plenty warm nonetheless). She enjoyed half the noodles for lunch and the rest cold for dinner.


I had more Tom Kha soup and the chicken satay. They only had a couple of larger pieces of chicken in their soup but the broth was quite good. It wasn’t served very hot though (neither was the pot of lemongrass tea we ordered either). I expected more of the peanut sauce but the chicken hit the spot.


They added sesame seed to their mango sticky rice and it added a bit of nuttiness. In some places, there was almost too much of it but the dish was refreshing.


The servers were friendly and knowledgeable. The food portions were generous and, other than wishing the tea and soup had been a little warmer, there were no complaints.

Both have a lot of offer and I guess I’ll just have to go back to each to keep comparing!


Michelle and I went up to the Lakeview area to meet up with a friend of mine at Susan Spicer’s restaurant, Mondo. It was a cold and gray day, so I started with a hot buttered rum. It brought a warmth in my belly that spread to my fingers and toes.


Next up was their brocolli and parmesan soup. Thick and creamy, it was a lovely starter. I wasn’t a big fan of the croutons in soup as they didn’t add much but sogginess. Easy enough to eat around them, though.

broccoli parmesan soup

I finally decided on the Mondo burger (called one of the ten best in New Orleans last year by the Times Picayune). Juicy with lots of cheese and grilled onions, this was a big burger. Loved the fries, too.

mondo burger

Michelle ordered the high class grilled cheese off the daily specials menu. The quince added a hint of sweet to balance the strong cheeses. The bread was well buttered before grilling, so it was rich and crunchy. This was a very good sandwich.

grilled cheese

Mickie’s pepperoni, onion, garlic and jalapeno pizza was delicious. They have their own wood fired pizza oven and it did a great job. Perfect thin crust with a hint of chew, the thin slices of garlic and onion softened and sweetened and the heat from the meat and pepper was just right.


The meal finished with the lemon tart. Terrific lemon flavored balanced by blackberries.

lemon tartThe servers were very friendly and knowledgeable, helping guide us through the menu and brining food and refills quickly. There is a very wide selection on the menu, so there will always be something for everyone. Worth the trip.


After a lovely meal at Joey K’s, we walked a block down Magazine Street to Sucre for dessert. There is much to choose from–do you want sorbet or gelato? Chocolate? Baked goods like cupcakes, king cake and eclairs?

I went for the eclair. Lovely dark chocolate and a vanilla custard that was luscious on the tongue. Very much tasted like more.


Michelle had the chocolate gelato and Wesley got the Americana Sundae – sponge cake and berry sauce with whipped cream and a macaron on top. The gelato was silky and light on the tongue.


Julie enjoyed the red velvet cupcake, with a hidden cache of cream inside. She didn’t think she was going to finish it but, not being a quitter, she persevered to the very last bite.


While everything is quite pricey, the desserts are handcrafted and incredibly delicious. I’m looking forward to my once a year indulgence of a Sucré King Cake.

Into the New Year with Hoppin’ John

My family is a stickler for having black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. The rest of meal could change but it still had to center around this little legume. These beans really swell when cooked, so they’ve come to symbolize prosperity and plenty of people believe that eating such meager fare on the 1st of January will bring better tidings for the rest of the year.

I took the bone from the holiday ham my parent’s had and used it as the base for Hoppin’ John. This traditional rice and bean dish is a good hearty way to see in the New Year.

hoppin john and cornmeal

Hoppin’ John

1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 large ham hock
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 heaping teaspoon of Creole seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 cups steamed white or wild rice

Heat grease in a large dutch oven, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion and saute until golden, then add the celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for five minutes until softened. Add the black-eyed peas, chicken stock, bay leaves, and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stirring occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings. Serve over rice and accompany the meal with cornbread.

My Mama’s Cornbread

1 cup flour
1 cup corn meal
4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten into 1 cup of milk
1/4 cup Crisco

8”cast iron skillet

Preheat oven with the skillet in the oven, melting the Crisco. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in a portion of the melted shortening until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Pour the mixture into the skillet, over the remaining shortening.

Cook at 425˚ for 25 minutes