Green Goddess for a Bacon Sundae

Corey sent me a link about this bacon sundae when we first planned our New Orleans trip, so there was no question that Green Goddess would be our dessert destination. I mean, come on! Look at this deliciousness!

The Green Goddess

Don’t you want to catch that drip of caramel and lick it off your finger?

My only criticism is that it needed more bacon. Admittedly, that’s my one criticism of life (needs more bacon!); but in this case, the savory sweet balance leaned heavily on sweet and I wanted a tich more of the smoky crunchiness. I loved the praline ice cream and caramel though.

For variety, and Ryan McAlpine, we also got the Sultan’s Nest, which featured absinthe ice cream and some crunchy stuff.

The Green Goddess

I wasn’t in love with the dish but the texture mix was fantastic. Little creamy, spiky, fluffy bites of goodness.

New Orleans, LA

I have to give the Green Goddess staff high marks for attentiveness, in a very New Orleans kinda way.

When we arrived, the hostess sat us and after we’d been there a minute or two, a guy sitting at the table next to us came over and started chatting us up about our Mardi Gras experience (spectacular, thanks) and then asked if he could take our order. Turns out he’s the chef who was having a little sit down with some customers.

We had questions about the drink menu so the chef said he’d send the bartender out to talk to us. When the bartender arrived, he answered questions, promised a specialty custom drink for Matt, took our drink order and vanished.

One of the servers brought out our food and drinks, the bartender came back by to ask if we were happy with our drinks and then 20 minutes later, a different waitress delivered the bill and announced that they were closing but we could stay as long as we wanted. She just needed to make sure we didn’t need anything because “we’re all getting our shift drink and we have a tendency to forget about our tables.”

After a bit, Matt went in to use the bathroom and when he didn’t come back out, I peeked in the restaurant and saw him sitting at the bar with the servers. He was eating boudin with them and telling them all about our progressive dinner. I went in to retrieve him, tried the boudin (better than Gumbo Shop) and joined in the discussion, wherein they gave us directions to a local bar for a nightcap.

Super casual, friendly and laid back. Very Louisiana.

We took them up on the nightcap (because why let the night end when it’s going so well?) and went to the Chart Room, officially the darkest bar I’ve ever stepped into.

New Orleans, LA

So dark I couldn’t see the bottles behind the bar. Or the bartender. Or my money.

We had one drink there and then hit Bourbon Street for our final course of the night.

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, LA

I had a “hurricane flavored” daiquiri so I fulfilled my mandatory hurricane quota in NOLA.

And after 7 restaurants, 7 courses (? does each nightcap count as a course?) and 6 hours we wandered through the French Quarter and caught a cab home.

New Orleans, LA

Thanks New Orleans for an epic evening! At some point we’ll be back for progressive dinner #2!

Don’t worry, that was just one night. I’ve got a lot more food coming at ya next week.

Have a good weekend. See you then.

Gumbo Shop for Mediocre Gumbo

New Orleans, LA

After so much spectacular food and the generally good reviews at Gumbo Shop we didn’t think we could go wrong. We were wrong about that.

The Gumbo Shop gumbo is blandly seasoned mush. I’m not even going to apologize for this blurry picture because it’s better than the food.

New Orleans, LA

Harsh, right? Would I have been less disappointed had I not eaten great food at 3 other restaurants in the past 3 hours? Perhaps. Would I have been less disappointed if I hadn’t had incredible gumbo made by my aunt less than a week ago?

New Orleans, LA


I dunno. It was disappointing. And nothing about the rest of our experience served to balance out my disappointment. The boudin was decent but nothing to write home (or here) about:

The Gumbo Pot

The wine was ok:

New Orleans, LA

Overall, the atmosphere and food were casual, bland and touristy. Gumbo for people who are afraid of food.

Cajun food isn’t for the weak or the hesitant. Cajun food is firey, spicy, in your face and full of meat and seafood. It’s deep, rich and full of flavor. It makes your eyes water and your tongue burn and you taste it in your mouth for hours afterwards. Gumbo Shop, on the vastly other hand, has none of those qualities and is easily forgotten. My best advice is to avoid it.

I’d love to recommend better gumbo in New Orleans, but unless you know my aunt I have no suggestions.


But, the evening got better in a hurry once we got to dessert. And that’s my post for tomorrow.

Mimi’s in the Marigny for Tapas

New Orleans, LA

Mimi’s is a tiny little tapas restaurant above a bar with spectacular food and super dim lighting, as you can see from the pictures. We’d tried to eat here our first night in New Orleans but it was too crowded. Fortunately, most of the Mardi Gras tourist crowds had  thinned out by the night of our Progressive Dinner.

We started with a bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc

New Orleans, LA

Ryan was pretty stoked when he saw the bicycle on the label and thought that boded well, which it did. And then came the question of what to order. Matt was along for the ride and said he’d try anything (which is true since he ate an oyster even though he hated it…), Corey wanted a little adventure and pushed for the mystery tapas entry called “Trust Me”, I wanted to order something interesting and Ryan doesn’t eat meat and doesn’t care for seafood.

Goat cheese croquetas with caramelized onions and honey were an easy choice for everyone

Mimi's in the Marigny

And they were as delicious as they sound. It’s hard to go wrong with fried cheese.

But our next entree was killer (though the picture is much less so): Escargot in a white wine reduction with cream

Mimi's in the Marigny

Normally escargot are tough and chewy like little pencil erasers but I order them anyway because even pencil erasers taste amazing with enough garlic, butter and cream. But these escargot were pillowy and tender, much like portobello mushrooms and the sauce was to die for.

Ryan and Matt both ate and loved them and we scraped every bit of that creamy sauce out of the pan and licked our fingers. Decadent.

At Corey’s request, we ordered the “Trust Me” mystery tapas, which turned out to be fried frog’s legs tossed in buffalo wing sauce.

Mimi's in the Marigny

And the worst blurry picture ever. Sorry bout that…

They were good. Again, I’ve had frog’s legs before and they can be really tough and chewy but these ones were well cooked. The meat has the texture of stringy chicken but actually tastes somewhat like fish, which is a weird contrast to wrap your mind around. In this case the crunchy buffalo wing coating obliterated any hint of that delicate flavor, but it wasn’t a great loss. I liked them. I don’t know that I’d order them again, but it was fun to be surprised.

There were a bunch of other things on that menu I’d have loved to try but we had more restaurants waiting for us. So, after an hour or so, we headed to our next destination. By this point it was about 8:30 and we’d reached the 3 hour mark.

Tomorrow: Course 4 and the only failure

El Gato Negro for Chips and Salsa

New Orleans, LA

Little El Gato Negro is a cute Mexican restaurant with outdoor island-table-seating across from the French Market. It’s also a good 20 block hike from the Bourbon House, which was ideal. We could have used a 20 block hike between each course! That might be a future rule. We’ve even talked about a future progressive dinner with biking from place to place. Let’s call that situation: pending.

But back to the food. When comparing food/drink combinations, I’m not sure they come around more perfectly paired than chips and salsa with margaritas. Sweet, salty, crunchy and fizzy. Delish

In this case, the chips could have been warmer but the salsa was garlicky and incredible. We ordered an additional salsa trio of Habanero, Serrano and roasted tomatillo, which were all good but I thought the house salsa was best.

New Orleans, LA

The tableside guacamole was fresh and full of jalapenos

New Orleans, LA

My margarita was fresh pineapple, cilantro and lime and if I ever try to make margaritas at home, I’m going to recreate this combination.

New Orleans, LA

Pineapple, Cilantro and Lime Margarita

And the boys got a free shot of tequila when they checked in on Yelp. Bonus!

I would come back to El Gato to try their food because I loved everything we had there. But after too many chips and with several more restaurants waiting for us, we heaved ourselves up and onward.

Tomorrow: Course 3

Bourbon House for Oysters and Champagne

New city + impossible list of food recommendations = progressive dinner

For people who always have more restaurant recommendations than they have time, progressive dinners are the perfect solution. Why eat three courses in one restaurant when you can eat in three courses in three different restaurants? You have better plans for an evening? Please.

Ryan’s and my previous progressive dinners have come in conservative trios of threes (3 courses, 3 restaurants and 3 hours) but NOLA called for something bigger and grander so Ryan said he’d do some research and figure out an extravagant plan for Progressive Dinner NOLA 2012. The rules, such as they were, required that every course have a drink option, that each course be held at a different restaurant and that there be no repeated food or drinks.

We spent a lot of time figuring out how many courses we wanted, which led to conversations about whether two appetizer courses would be too many (no), if chips and salsa could be a course (yes) and if post-dinner Hurricanes on Bourbon Street were mandatory (when in New Orleans…).

But once we had our menu set with 2 appetizers, dinner, dessert and a New Orleans nightcap, Corey said “It’s New Orleans, shouldn’t we add an oyster course? Maybe with champagne?”

I heart my friends.

And we all know the answers to those questions.

Without further ado, here’s course #1 of our Progressive Dinner NOLA 2012, starting  at

New Orleans, LA

With a classic combination

New Orleans, LA

The oysters were big and accompanied by traditional condiments

New Orleans, LA


Bourbon House, New Orleans

I like raw oysters but I prefer them smoked so I can’t speak to whether Bourbon House is your best bet for raw oysters in the Quarter. But I do know they have a $1 oyster special during happy hour so even if you don’t love them, they’re cheap.

For us, the restaurant was lovely, the service expedient and it was the perfect start to the evening.


New Orleans, LA

Tomorrow: Course 2