Confessions of a Picky Eater: Dining Out in New Orleans
Gumbo. Jambalaya. Muffalatas. Crawfish. Did somebody say Po'Boy?
I could only be in one place: New Orleans. After traveling from the Big Apple to the Big Easy for a speaking engagement I found I had an afternoon to myself, so I entered Dickie Brennan’s Tableau, nestled in the French Quarter. After all, I had heard good things.
The venue itself was astounding with its grand staircase ascending three stories and connecting private dining rooms with rather high ceilings, a courtyard, and a balcony overlooking Jackson Square. Unfortunately, foreboding clouds threatened a downpour so I enjoyed the ambiance inside on the first floor with a window view and traditional jazz music playing in the background.
After perusing the menu, I’m not going to lie, their cheeseburger looked really appealing, as did their bleu cheese salad, but that’s not what I ordered.
This picky eater pressured herself into ordering something at least native to the city. Considering I could get a salad at a diner at home (or really anywhere in this grand land of ours), why would I order it here? So, I did what anyone with a limited palette would do: I ordered a local delicacy with several exceptions, of course.
The fried shrimp remoulade po'boy popped out on the menu – Louisiana shrimp fried golden brown with iceberg lettuce, shaved red onion, and housemade pickle served on French bread with pomme frites. Yes, please! Except, I told the waiter, to please hold the onion, ditch the pickle, and please put the spicy mayonnaise-like sauce on the side. Notice the pomme frites happily remained a part of in my order.
As I chomped away enjoying the atmosphere and tunes by a quintet jazz band outside as joyful tourists danced in the rain, I can officially say I had a po'boy even though it was essentially fried shrimp on bread, most of the dough of which I did not eat. Okay, so maybe it was more like a fried shrimp salad with iceberg lettuce and a tomato. Anyway, this delicacy dates back to the 1800s when fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in NOLA as “oyster loaves.” Now, it’s associated most often with seafood, chicken, or ham.
The dessert menu was tempting, too. Immediately captivated by flourless chocolate cake, my stomach said chocolate but my mind said, “Go local.” Pralines are popular down here as are pecan pies so I promptly ordered the pecan pie vol-au-vent – pecan filling baked into a puffed pastry with brown butter ice cream. It did not disappoint! And yes, thanks to the filling fare, this New Yorker was too full to even consider having a proper dinner.