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.

 

Graham’s Fish Camp

On Highway 588 in Collins, Mississippi there is a small restaurant that does a booming business on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Only open from 3 to 9 on those nights, Graham’s Fish Camp is packed the entire time.

689 Highway 588. Collins, MS 39428

They start you out with a huge bowl of coleslaw while you look over the menu, although most folks seem to already know what they like. From looking at the other tables, catfish (Mississippi farm raised) was a heavy favorite.

We started with fried dill pickles and onion rings. One of Elvis’ favorite snacks, the dill pickle chips are battered in cornmeal and quite crunchy and tart. The onion rings were thick and hand battered. The baskets are huge, so I’d recommend the half portion sizes.

I had the fried shrimp platter – 12 shrimp, 3 hushpuppies and a mess of French fries. Crunchy batter on flavorful shrimp – quite tasty. The house made tarter sauce was tart and creamy.

Michelle had chicken tenders plus a catfish filet. Thin sliced with a delicious cornmeal batter, it was fresh and clean tasting. I can tell why so many people come here.

They end the meal with soft serve ice cream and your choice of toppings. For as busy as they are, the wait staff is friendly and quick with refills on the drinks and to check to make sure you don’t need anything else. The cost is quite reasonable, too – for under $20 a piece, we had a huge amount of great food. Definitely worth a visit.

La Boca

My parents are in town for my birthday weekend and we went out to La Boca for steaks to celebrate. I’m so glad we did!

I started with a pisco sour – more Peruvian than Argentinian but, close enough! It was very good, nice and limey.

Dad went for the 14 ounce New York Strip. It was cooked to medium rare and he ate more of it than he expected, it was so tender.

Mom and I splurged on the 24 ounce cowboy cut Ribeye Steak – it was ordered rare and came out nearly blue. One of the few times I haven’t had rare steak come out more medium than rare. So nice and tender, there was no talking, only moans as we chewed.

As you can see, we only had a little left on the bone at the end. Just perfect to take home in a doggy bag. Not that my dog got to gnaw on it until I had done so!

Accompanying the meat were some super good mashed potatoes. Creamy and buttery, it was some of the best I’ve eaten that I didn’t make myself.

As it was my birthday, the waiter brought me a piece of flourless chocolate cake. So very dark and delicious.

We also shared some dulce de leche ice cream. Decadently smooth and rich. I could see myself stopping by the restaurant just for the ice cream.

This is the top rated Zagat steakhouse in New Orleans and it shows. The cuts of meat were cooked perfectly and the portions sizes were immense. The waiter was very knowledgeable about the wine list and helped us find perfect pairings with some glasses of Malbec. I highly recomend La Boca.

Jo Bob’s of Grand Isle

My parents and I took the scenic drive down Louisiana Highway 1 to Grand Isle. We stopped at the Grand Isle State Park to read more about Jean Lafitte (pirate, privateer and patriot) and to watch the pelicans and seagulls fight to fly across the strong wind currents off the gulf.

On our way out of town we stopped at Jo-Bob’s Gas and Grill for burgers.

The burgers are 100% beef and made to order. Mom got the Jo-Bob burger with mushrooms and bacon and melty cheese with the seasoned fries. Very tasty burger and I ended up eating part of hers! Mine was the basic cheeseburger. Very good and meaty.

Dad ordered the cheddar burger and and it was deliciously cheesy.

They don’t have many tables upstairs but do offer free drink refills. Very friendly staff and a menu of more than just burgers. Definitely worth a stop after a day on on the beach.

 

 

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

When coming through Mobile, Alabama, it is worth the while to pull off I-65 and get yourself to Dreamland Bar-B-Que.  We could smell the woodsmoke as soon as we got on the service road and, no wonder, their pit is big and beautiful:

I had the pulled pork sandwich with house made BBQ chips. The sauce is tangy and, as they say, “Ain’t nothing like it nowhere!”

Michelle had the rib tip wrap with jalapeño slaw. Very good combination of tender meat and spicy slaw.

We ended the meal with banana pudding but it was so good we inhaled it without waiting to take a picture. Lots of big pieces of banana in every bite

The prices are very reasonable and the staff is super friendly and very fast. Give it a try next time you’re nearby or call for them to ship you some directly.

 

2016 Reveillion Dinner – Cafe Adelaide

A writer friend of mine came into town and we took advantage of the holiday season to go to Cafe Adelaide for their Reveillion dinner. The word comes from special meals that were served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve (ie the awakening or reveillion). These days, the special menus are available all December. You can find a list of all the restaurants participating in Reveillion HERE.

We made reservations through Open Table but the first one they had was for 8:30pm. The restaurant wasn’t that busy so they sat as soon as we arrived around 8pm.

We started with the Crab Bisque. Very smooth and light. The saffron gave it a lovely color. It went very well with the Hemingway Daiquiri that I ordered.

bisque

This was followed by fried oysters with a bacon covered cauliflower log. Separately the oysters and roasted cauliflower were good but, when eaten together the flavors really popped. Of course, how could you go wrong with bacon and oysters?

oysters

I’m a fan of snails (even the ones which aren’t basil-fed as these were) and the next course of pasta with escargot, sundried tomatoes and truffle butter was very, very good.

escargot

For the next course, I had the tournedos of beef with whipped potatoes. The ganache was a little sweet and took a little away from the flavor of the meat (which was cooked perfectly medium rare) but that didn’t stop me from eating every bite.

beef

Cindy had the shrimp and grits. The shrimp was barbecued and pretty spicy but the grits did their job in cutting the heat to a manageable level.

shrimp

Dessert was a chicory coffee custard in a orange flavored tart shell drizzled with caramel. Yum!

dessert

The fixed priced menu with its four courses was plenty of food for about $50 per person (not counting drinks). The staff was friendly and quick to check in but also allowed us lots of time to catch up and chat.

If you want to see their holiday menu, it can be found here: https://holiday.neworleansonline.com/reveillon/cafe-adelaide-4/#sthash.5up87PQE.dpuf

Dining Out for Life and Spuds

dining out for life 2016One of the organizations close to my heart is the NO/AIDS Taskforce. Each year, they do a fundraising drive called Dining Out for Life, where a portion of the day’s proceeds goes to NO/AIDS Taskforce and the Food for Friends program (they home-deliver meals to those affected by HIV/AIDS and cancer in the New Orleans community).

The list of participating restaurants grows each year (check out the list here) so I always have new things to try as I make a meal matter.

This time, I headed over to Metairie to enjoy Spudly’s Super Spuds. After hanging a hard right to get onto the service road that runs alongside I-10, I found the little shack with big potatoes.

The menu offers a lot of choices if you just want a meal in a potato – over 20 varieties! I started with the fried mushrooms and then had a cheeseburger to the side of a huge baked potato.

spuds

The mushrooms were scorching hot but the ranch dressing cooled them down. The potato was light and fluffy and the burger was darned tasty with lots of melted cheese and a toasted bun.

The place is small and it gets busy but the staff stayed cheerful and friendly. All the servers were quick to check in, even getting me a refill on iced tea before I could ask for it.

I’m definitely coming back to try more of their potato concoctions.