Revisiting Oceana Grill

After Latoya Cantrell’s historic inauguration ceremony, my friends Lisa and Vincenzo and I followed Madam Mayor’s second line out of the Mahalia Jackson theater into Armstrong Park.

Madam Mayor in the light blue dress and white umbrella, stage left

Afterwards, we went seeking sustanence. It was Monday and our first two options weren’t open. We went with number three – Oceana Grill on Conti @ Bourbon. The last time I was here was 8 years ago and it stands the test of time as a casual dining establishment. It was as filled with local workers as tourists and we were served quickly with large portions of good food.

I went with the fried shrimp platter. Lots of them on the plate, plus hushpuppies and french fries. Nice bite to the jalapeno hush puppies and a nice fry on everything else.

Lisa had the Black and Bleu burger with blackening seasoning and blue cheese. Nice and beefy burger with a tangy sauce.

Vincenzo had the seafood platter, pilled high with oysters, catfish, shrimp. Lovely cornmeal batter on the thin and crispy catfish.

The server was friendly and quick with refills. For French Quarter dining, the prices are reasonable. I’d definitely stop by here again.

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Charlie’s Steakhouse

For my birthday dinner, my folks came into town and we went to Charlie’s Steakhouse. Located on Dryades in Uptown, it is only open for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. This is an old school steakhouse with no menus because there not much else on the menu but steak and sides. Exactly what I was looking for in a birthday dinner.

We started with onion rings. Thinly cut and deep fried, they were quite delicious. We all ate more than we should have based on how big the steaks were going to be.

Dad had half a wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing. He used some of the left over onion rings as a crouton.

We all went for 14 ounce ribeyes. Simply prepared with just salt and pepper, they came to the table still sizzling. All were cooked perfectly to order (from blue to rare to medium rare to medium) and were very succulent.

The sides were choose potatoes au gratin and sauteed button mushrooms. The potatoes were a little over salted but quite good with hunks of potato and lots and lots of cheddar cheese. They paired well with the lightly salted steak. The mushrooms and onions went very well with the steaks with their buttery flavor.

As it was my birthday, they brought out spumoni, a very rich ice cream. And, yes, I did share.

We finished every last  bite of dessert (although, we each had some steak left over for sandwiches the next day – and the day after that).

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. The server was polite and very attentive. Everyone we came in contact with was friendly and personable. We even got a history lesson from the manager/owner about the original family, the restaurants they opened and were related to– so basically a success story of immigration to America. Oh, and a couple fun ones about bootlegging during Prohibition.

I would definitely recommend Charlie’s steaks. I know I’m not going to wait for another major milestone to go back again.

Gracious To Go

If you’re looking for good desserts (as well as other bakery items), Gracious bakery is the place to go. In fact, if I’m out and about in the morning around Earhart Blvd, I try to stop in a Gracious to Go. They are only open until 11am during the week here but, you are in and out fast, with fresh goodies to go.

Today, Michelle and I picket up a selection. We loved the deep, rich flavor of Valrhona chocolate in the chocolate croissant and chocolate pecan hand pie. The croissant was large, flakey and buttery and the hand pie almost had a cookie crust to go with the decadent interior.

We also some savory items, including a seasonal tart with sweet potato, Brussel sprouts and gruyere cheese and a spinach and goat cheese croissant.

The folks are super friendly and ready to make recommendations as well as encourage indulgences. Prices are reasonable and everything is fresh and creatively made. Try their two other locations for sandwiches and other items (one in Mid-city on Jeff Davis Pkwy and the other in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue).

How to Boil Water Safely

After Turbine No. 6 went offline on Wednesday, September 20 at 7:25am, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board took twenty minutes to switch over to an alternative electrical supply. Because the power loss resulted in a drop of water pressure to 15 psi, a boil water advisory was issued an hour later that continues today. New Orleans has an aging and cracked infrastructure and without sufficient pressure from inside the pipes, contaminants could leach into the pipes from the substrate.

Marsha Broussard, the City of New Orleans Director of Health, said no one should drink the tap water for the foreseeable future. Bottled or boiled water should be used to drink, cook, brush teeth, wash fruits and vegetables and to make ice. Pets should also be given bottled or boiled water.

Here is a how to:

Boil Water Safely

  1. Heat water until large bubbles come from the bottom to the top of the pot.
  2. Let the water boil for at least 1 minute.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the water cool.
  4. Store the water in a clean container with a cover.

If you don’t like the taste of boiled water, pour cooled water back and forth from one clean glass into another to add air to the water.

The Louisiana Department of Health has a ten page pdf on Boil Water Advisories that includes lots of helpful information on staying safe during one (link here)

Dining Out for Life 2017

Every year, AIDS service organizations join with restaurants for Dining Out for Life. The restaurants donate a portion of the day’s proceeds so diners get a great meal and the organizations get financial support. Crescent Care (formerly NO/AIDS Task Force) is my local beneficiary and I whole heartedly support their mission, so I make an effort to take in as many meals as I can for the event.

For lunch, I went to Cafe at the Square (reviewed here in 2010) with my friend Ryan and we interviewed Seth Bloom, a candidate for New Orleans City Council for possible endorsement by the Forum for Equality. I had the Fried Green Tomato BLT and the sandwich was just as good as I remembered – thick bacon slices, tangy green tomatoes and spicy arugula on a ciabatta bun.

For dinner, I went with my friends Charlotte and Thomas to the New Feelings Cafe and Bar (previously reviewed here in 2011) in the Marigny. We had been excited to learn that Chef Scott Maki had recently won Chopped and wanted to see how the menu and space had changed since we had last been there.

The space is light and airy, with lots of quirky and nostalgic artwork on the walls. The menu had a lot of the things that made them such a great place before plus a number of new items. They still have the beautiful courtyard but, we opted for air conditioning, so we ate inside.

We started with cocktails. Charlotte went for the one with mezcal and enjoyed it enough to order a second. I really liked the coconut rum in my Hemingway.

For appetizers, we had the mushroom sopapilla with black beans and avocado – nice combo of flavors and also the smoked trout dip (pictured) with house made kettle chips. Very tasty, especially with a couple shakes of hot sauce.


I had the fried chicken sandwich. Piled high with chicken, crisp dill pickle slices, lettuce and tomato and their special sauce, it was an explosion of flavor.

Charlotte went for the curry spiced fish with yams and a lovely peanut sauce. She thought it was very tasty, even the kale.

Thomas had Shrimp and Grits – the grits were made extra decadent with gouda cheese. It was so gooda, I wanted to steal another bite but Thomas was keeping a close eye on me. The BBQ shrimp were also very good with a deep, rich sauce.

Dessert was the Vietnamese coffee flan and chocolate hand pie. Delicate flavor on the flan and the pie was reminiscent of the Hubig pies. Served hot, it was very delicious.

Attentive and friendly waitstaff. Creative chef. Romantic courtyard. Lots of feels for the New Feelings Cafe. Worth going to, even without the excuse of your dollars doing good.

 

Turkey and the Wolf

I went to lunch today at Turkey and the Wolf with Charlotte and Thomas. This is a quirky sandwich place that also serves creative cocktails. It is on Jackson Avenue between Tchoupitoulas and Magazine. Now that the street construction in that area is completed, it is easier to find and to park nearby.

Charlotte and I both had drinks with our meal. The names alone were fun. I went for the Put On Your Socks and Leave. It was a refreshing a mix of honeysuckle vodka, hibiscus tea, lemon and mint. Her No Shirt, No Shoebox, No Service was a mix of mezcal, basil syrup, pineapple and lime. If you’re at all a mezcal fan, you’ll really enjoy this drink.

Mine was the red one

We started with the deviled eggs. They came with a piece of bacon on top and a drizzle of hot sauce. The yolk mixture was a bit too smooth  for my preference but the flavor was good.

For lunch, both Thomas and I went for the meatloaf sandwich – it came with gravy mayo, pepper jelly and melted american cheese on Texas toast. Very big and very messy but also very good. There were a lot of flavors competing with the meat loaf but it was very satisfying. I really liked the pickles that were on it.

Charlotte had the ham. It came with cranberry and cheddar on a roll. It looked good, especially on the Hercules plate they served it on. She really seemed to enjoy eating it, too.

I was tempted by the ice cream sundae that was carried past for someone else. They have soft serve vanilla ice cream with a choice of coverings. We got it with a chocolate shell and tater sticks. Salty and chocolatey plus smooth vanilla ice cream was an All-American hit.

The place was quite busy at lunch and it can get rather loud. They only have a few tables, although there are more tables outdoors (but only one umbrella). Be advised that the sandwiches are pricey – mine was $12.50. It was all good and the staff were friendly and unobtrusive, so I thought it worth it (and worth another visit).

Cavan Restaurant

Last night, my good friends took me to Cavan Restaurant and Bar on Magazine to share a birthday meal. It bills itself as a Coastal American dining experience and the eclectic menu definitely reflects the variety of tastes that can be found along the seaboard and gulf coast. The atmosphere is a sort of modern decay chic with the pine tables contrasting with black and white photos on the distressed renovated style walls of the restored mansion. It did get a little loud as it filled up but the crowd was convivial.

We started with cocktails. I had the paloma while Charlotte tried first the Wilde #9 which was like a spicy sazerac with mescal. Her second had a pepper infused tequila and apricot liquor. Both were strong and flavorful.

We shared the corn fritters, served in a small cast iron skillet with honey lardo. It originally had five but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to capture them all. More like hush puppies than fritters, they were still good and the sweet and savory sauce was rather tasty.

Thomas had the jerk rubbed fish. I worried the jerk spices would overwhelm the delicate fish but they were really delicious together. The rice could have been warmer but the melange of flavors made one forgive a minor issue.

Charlotte and I both enjoyed the fried chicken. It came with Coca-cola braised collard greens. She raved about the flavor of the greens and kindly ate my portion. We also ordered their seasoned wedge fries that came with a tangy house made ketchup. The chicken crust was very good but the chicken itself (especially on the breast meat) was a bit bland and little dry.

The staff was helpful and friendly with lots of explanation of the menu. With regular checkins, they made sure our drinks didn’t run dry and we had all we needed to enjoy our meal.

I have great hopes for this place and continued success of their creative chefs.