Let's eat out 5/9

Friday, May 9, 2003

When friends asked what restaurant I was reviewing this week, I replied "The N'Orleans." "Oooo, Rhon, that's a fancy-schmancy, high-faluntin' place," they said. Now, mind you, these people are of good character, fun, warm and of high intelligence, but when they hear the words "fine dining" (where eating with utensils is a requirement, not an option), they become possessed by a tribal agrarian ancestor, "Farmer Fred." You know the one. Farmer Fred says, "I was born on a farm, never left the farm and I'll die on the farm." These are the same people who said, "Yuck, I got dirt under my fingernails."

Fine dining isn't a curse word. It is the right and privilege of every hard-working man and woman, and it was my privilege to sit down and have dinner at the N'Orleans.

Everything about the N'Orleans says elegance, formal and sophisticated. That doesn't translate into elitist, stuffy and intimidating. I loved the big bay windows, the high ceiling, the hardwood floors and the pristine white tablecloths. I had the special of the day, and it was special: barbecue shrimp in a Chilean beer sauce served with saffron rice and a sprig of rosemary. It was sumptuous. I sopped up every bit of the sauce. (Hey, I, too, can become possessed by ancestors.) The sauce was warm and spicy, and the shrimp was plump, juicy and tender. The texture and taste made them good partners.

The saffron rice was another good choice for this dish. The tanginess of the saffron worked well with spiciness of the sauce. My partner had the chicken pesto with capers. It was served with roasted garlic potatoes and roasted red bell peppers and yellow squash. The red, yellow and white colors made the dish very appealing.

We couldn't finish everything, so we got to-go containers. If I pay for it, it's coming home with me. No good food gets left behind. Supper Fi!

I got to speak to Chef Matt, who shared with me that the N'Orleans is the only restaurant in town to serve prime New York rib. They also are known for their chateaubriand and their seafood and excellent specials of the day. We received our bill, and I was impressed. It came out to about $20 per person.

Some of their entrees are pricey, but the majority of the menu items are not. I still consider that affordable feasting.

There will be some of you who will only go to the N'Orleans for a special occasion. By all means, do so. We have Mother's Day coming up (Hmm, who's on my list for a short guilt trip?). Let's not forget Father's Day, too.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make your experience pleasant:

Make a reservation.

Get the name of the person who took the reservation.

These things could make all the difference. If the restaurant you want is booked, that's going to leave a sour taste. If the restaurant you made a reservation with can't find your name and you don't have the name of the person who made it, you will feel bitter. So let's avoid an unpleasant dining experience. Restaurants are our friends.

$$$ 1/2

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