Sunday, November 12, 2017. So here’s the deal. Mary Ann’s dog Bauer allows only restaurants where he can be tied up next to our table. The other option leaving the dog in the car, but on hot days that won’t cut it. The dining people wind up having to make all the adjustments. There must be a better way. But here we are again, eating from the menu of La Carreta.
Another development: Saul Rubio, the owner of La Carreta, was at the Mandeville location with news that the first La Carreta on the South Shore will open this week. It’s on Magazine Street, where the family has had another Mexican under a different name. He invites MA and me to come over to see the new look and taste the menu, which Saul says will include molé poblano, my favorite dish in the world. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Monday, November 13, 2017. Lola Sandwiching Again. Mary Ann so much liked the menu of soups and sandwiches last week at Lola in Covington. Once again we have a pair of hearty, thick soups, followed by a big salad for MA and a sandwich of turkey and ham on a rough-hewn bread seemingly baked for precisely for this sandwich. We encounter one of Mary Ann’s nieces, who recently announced their engagement. They’re sitting at the adjacent outdoor table (it is a lovely day) and they both look like models for LL Bean. I buy a lot of LL Bean clothing, but it doesn’t transform me into a wholesome, well-shaped guy. (However, MA does indeed have that look, and always has.)
Tuesday, November 14, 2017. First taste of the Uptown Saffron NOLA. Among the most unconventional schedules for a local restaurant is the one that puzzled people for a decade or more on the West Bank. Arvinder Vilkhu and his family operated a catering facility in Gretna. There, one evening a week, Saffron NOLA one that kicked up much discussion as to whether the restaurant would ever extend its a la carte menu operation more often.
A few months ago Dickie (Arvinder’s nickname) found a possible location for that expansion. Uptown, at that. Getting renovations and all the permits together (never an easy matter in Orleans Parish) kept the project running slow.
The new Saffron NOLA has been worth waiting for, according to the many people who’ve sent me their thoughts about the place. My daughter Mary Leigh has a taste for Indian food, and offered to join me to a taste of Saffron NOLA tonight.
The first thing we noticed is that the place looks great. Perhaps it has to, being across the street from the phenomenally busy Shaya. A lot of that crowd has crossed the way to find a full, bustling house. The crowd is young, well dressed and hip. Dickie’s son Ashwin orchestrates the busy service staff.
The menu is not much like the ones served by the few other other Indian places around New Orleans. The list of dishes available is surprisingly short, and they are curiously assembled. For example, about ten small plates are meant to be served with naan–the claypot-oven-baked bread for which Indian kitchens are known. Indeed, here are the lightest versions of naan I’ve ever tasted. You eat that assortment of small plates with it, and see if you can pick out the saffron flavor. Here are lamb dishes and goat dishes. A good bit of shrimp and–of course, numerous vegetable-only items.
I’m tempted to say that we tried everything here, but that will take up a few more surveys. But it’s safe to say that in most of the indices by which Uptowners measure restaurants, Saffron NOLA is off to a strong start.
And I finally have something else to dine upon when ML and I are at the table together.