Port of Call Saturday, Jun 19 2010 

I’m back! After a brief computer free month I am back online and will be back with a review of Port of Call tomorrow!

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El Gato Negro Wednesday, Apr 28 2010 

Lunch 4/28/10

El Gato Negro on French Market Place.

The Black Cat serves what they call authentic Mexican dishes.  The menu is not large, but consists of tacos, fajitas, quesdillas and some steak and seafood entrees.  The list of tequilla varieties is pretty impressive for such a small establishment.  Sadly, I’m on my way to work in just a bit, so I didn’t have a margarita. I haven’t been to this spot since the week they opened, several years ago, but I thought I’d give it a try for lunch today.  There are tables outside, both on the sidewalk and in the tiny courtyard in the rear, as well as a small dining room inside where the open kitchen resides.   I chose a table in the courtyard and was greeted and ordered an ice tea and given a menu.  My waitress Maria kept my tea glass full and took pretty good care of me.

On to the food!  I ordered two tacos: one chorizo and one pulled pork and a side of beans with sour cream.  On any of the tacos or burritos you have the choice of chicken, pulled pork, filet, shrimp or veggies.  Tacos are ordered individually and come with onions and poblano peppers at a cost of $3.75 each.  Everything else is extra.  The everything else includes salsa verde, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese, as well as beans and rice.  The extras range in price from $.75-$1.75   Beans and rice are the most expensive additional items.  The beans are well worth your $1.75.  In fact, I enjoyed the beans much more than the rest of my meal.  I would certainly return for these really marvelous refried pinto beans made with some sort of spicy pork sausage–I’m going to guess chorizo, but it was hard to tell.

Tacos . . . I really believe you should be able to pick them up.  I ordered both options on corn and both the chorizo and the pulled pork came so heaped on top of the tortillas that I couldn’t pick them up to eat.  I did make an attempt with the chorizo, but the soft corn fell apart in my hands.  I ended up eating the chorizo with the chips left on the table from the complementary chips and salsa.  The chorizo filling was quite good and the crunch left in the poblano peppers was a nice touch.  The pulled pork was another story all together.  To put it quite simply: someone  forgot the salt.  The meat was bland and tasteless, despite the fact that it had some kind of red sauce on it–someone forgot the salt there as well.   I didn’t bother to finish it–interestingly enough–no one asked if there was anything wrong with it either.  Maria just picked up my 1/2 finished plate when I asked for the check.

Go for the beans and the tequila.

Hello world! Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

I’m not a food critic.  I’m not a chef.  However, all I do all day is talk about food and restaurants with the guests of the hotel I work at.  I am a bartender.  About a week ago one of my guests said that I really should put all the information that I have out there for others to read and access.  I suppose that by starting this I could be putting myself out of a job.

So what about my credentials for writing a food blog?  Or more accurately a New Orleans Restaurant blog?  I eat!  I don’t just mean for sustenance.  I love to eat — eating out is one of my favorite past times.   I eat out at least five meals a week–if not more.  I’d like to tell you about what I liked and what I didn’t like in the places I choose to eat.  What worked and what didn’t work. Its valuable information for other diners and visitors to the city.  I know because I make my living giving out that kind of advice.   In addition, I work on the other side.  I know what service is supposed to look like and I can tell when something’s not right–and typically who is at fault.

I’m going to start from today.  I’m not going to go back and talk about anywhere I’ve eaten other than today’s meal and forward.  Be warned:  if I sit down at a table in your section —  I will be under dressed.  I wear a uniform and wait on folks six days a week–I’m wearing jeans out to dinner–or lunch.  I’m every bad waiter’s worst nightmare and every good waiter’s ideal customer.

So that’s my introduction!

On to the first meal!

4/27/10  Stanley

location: Jackson Square

meal:  late lunch or early dinner–it was right about 5pm.

Stanley is open for breakfast, lunch and early dinner.  I believe their hours end at 7pm.  The location is fabulous.  Its right on the corner of Jackson Square in the location that used to be Le Madeline prior to Katrina.  Chef Owner Scott Boswell did a nice job with the renovation.  Everything is white and resembles an old-fashioned soda jerk–clean lines and bistro seating.    There are New Orleans inspired photos and prints hanging both above the bar area and around the restaurant.  I love the look of the place!  I did not love that the temperature in the dining room was only slightly above freezing.  I spent the whole meal wishing I had a sweatshirt–goosebumps and all.

The restaurant has a soda fountain menu as well as serving breakfast and lunch all day.  I thought long and hard about ordering a breakfast item for my dinner, but ultimately onion rings won out in the end.  I ordered the poor boy sliders and a side of onion rings.  The sliders: one each of oyster, korean bbq beef, and club were $15 and the onion rings were $3.  What appeared on the table might have been enough to feed three people.  The sliders are advertised as being small portions of the larger sized sandwiches available on the menu.  I believe that what you actually end up with might be larger than the regular sandwiches.

The oyster po boy came dressed with slaw and ketchup– and was very tasty!   The oysters were fried perfectly with a cornmeal batter and there was just enough dressing to make it a little messy!  I am going to say upfront that I am not a big fan of the korean bbq po boy.  I took two bites.  It had way too much sauce and was all over the place.  The texture was a little odd too–the beef is topped with kimchi that is made in-house and it was still super crunchy.  I just didn’t care for it.  The chicken club slider had a lot going on–maybe too much.  The sandwich is a breast of chicken, bacon, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato with a pesto caesar dressing and I think there may have been mustard as well.  It tasted okay, but it was a little bit busy.

Onion rings–how I love onion rings.  I didn’t love these.  They came out piping hot and were not greasy, but I like more onion and less ring–there was just far too much batter on these babies.  I think they needed a good shake before going into the fryer!

Service was just fine.  I was acknowledged as soon as I was seated and promptly given a menu and brought an ice tea.  My tea glass was refilled as needed and my server was attentive.  I didn’t have any problems getting ketchup, hot sauce or extra napkins.

I would visit again–I think next time I’ll try breakfast–and I’ll keep in mind that the portions are outrageously large!

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