Our first visit to Couvant was late last year. My wife remembers it as far more pleasant than I do. We were seated next to a booth of tattooed and smelly young people, and that ruined the whole experience for me. MA did not understand my revulsion because she was much more focused on the food. Normally our roles would be switched and she would be more into surroundings and I the food, but she liked the food. We started with fresh-cut fries we both liked, and she got braised short ribs that she enjoyed. Nothing would have pleased me about that meal, she declared, and she might be right.
Lately though, we have been twice, and both times were delicious. She went first, for the $19 Express lunch prix fixe. I had some production to do at the station, so she ran over to the Eliza Jane Hotel for a quick lunch. She had the English Peas as a first course and Chicken Paillard with a frisee salad and a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate for a sweet nibble at the end.
She loved the lunch, and a new friend she met enough to bring her back to the show. The woman is from Tupelo, Mississippi and has a place in the Warehouse District. MA invited her up to talk about eating in New Orleans. My wife is famous for picking people up like this, but this was fun. Our guest was charming.
I was so intrigued by her report of this lunch that when I had an hour before show time and she had other plans, I took her suggestion to walk down there myself and have the Express lunch too. MIne was a little different. I had the Vichyssoise as a first course and the Skate Grenobloise for an entree, with the same shortbread cookie that comes in a little bag with a “C” sticker that closes it. I also had fries.
She was right. This was delicious. Skate is a fish rarely seen here, so I’m glad I had a chance to have it. The preparation was perfect. And the Vichyssoise hit the spot on that hot summer day. I should have saved the cookie for MA but I liked it and I ate it. There was no one for me to pick up but the lunch was fun enough.
I contend that Couvant has gotten much better since that awful first visit. Mary Ann says it was also pretty darned good then, but I just wouldn’t get past the neighboring table. And I’m not as enthusiastic about the surroundings as my design-obsessed wife.
The Eliza Jane hotel is beautiful, and Couvant has all the look of a charming French bistro, but now I feel the food is worth the visit. I look forward to dinner again soon. She would like to have breakfast, or at least pick up some pastries.
Mary Ann loves this place, and especially the courtyard bar out back. Bisous, she says, is not to be wasted on someone you’re not really into. I guess that counts me out.
Couvant at The Eliza Jane Hotel
317 Magazine St. New Orleans
Friday & Saturday 7am-11pm