Familiar Places. Familiar Faces.

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris September 15, 2020 10:12 in Dining Diary

Our resident IG watcher told us about Date Night at Acorn Cafe in the Children’s Museum in City Park. I was very mildly interested in this because it was Friday night and I didn’t think of a Date Night at a museum cafeteria. We went anyway. It was a Dickie Brennan restaurant, after all.

After the show on Friday night we headed across the lake, arriving before the sun set at the beautiful new place in City Park. Sitting alongside a man-made body of water filled with lily pads, the cafe is more of a cafeteria with a line of pizzas and hot dogs and kid-centric food. The menu had ahi tuna and sliders and I’m sure it was good but a Friday night called for something more adult and substantial. We moved on to the French Quarter and the Rib Room, opting for the last night of COOLinary.

It was a lot less depressing in the French Quarter this night than it has been in six months. There was a lot of foot traffic, even a considerable line outside of The Royal House. Or it might have been a night tour, which would be even better. Either way, there was life in the French Quarter, and that was heartening.

Inside the Royal Orleans, the restaurant itself was still a little depressing, with its spaced out tables and booths removed. We had a table near the window instead of a booth, and the view out on Royal Street showed a busy evening, by COVID standards at least.

Inside, Tom chatted with old friends who were managers and waiters at the Rib Room. A couple at the next table looked and sounded familiar. They were clearly locals.

The COOLinary was typically COOLinary. Three choices that were at least mildly interesting. Tom started by ordering an extra appetizer. It was an unusual preparation of oysters. They were fried and placed over a generous portion of creamed spinach and topped with feta cheese and pimiento. This sounds weird but it worked. The oysters were smallish but crispy and greaseless.

I got a Rib Room salad, which is always good. Nice lettuce in easy-to-eat bites tossed with Bleu Cheese dressing with housemade croutons. Tom got a fried crawfish pile with remoulade sauce over a bed of Asian slaw. This was spicy and crunchy. Good stuff.

For entrees I was surprised to hear myself order anything but the burnt ends of prime rib. I opted instead for the rotisserie chicken with collard greens and roasted fingerling potatoes. The chicken was tender but slightly dry, with a somewhat crispy skin and a nice rub. The collards were a little sweet and full of pork bits. This was a very nice plate of food.

While I surprised myself with my entree choice, Tom shocked me with his. He opted for a pirogue of shrimp almondine. This was a simple half of a baguette, drenched in butter and toasted, topped with a pile of plump golden brown and very crispy shrimp. Generously ladled on top was Meuniere with slithered toasted almonds.

This was a beautiful presentation of what amounted to a glamorous shrimp poor boy. It was buttery and crunchy from almonds. Very nice. Very unlike Tom to get it, but I’m glad he did.

For dessert I cot the chocolate mousse cake with macerated berries, and Tom swapped the Key Lime pie with bread pudding.  The cake was very rich and I stopped after a few bites. I wanted to save it for breakfast Saturday. Tom liked his bread pudding. Nothing special, but then it doesn’t have to be for Tom and bread pudding.

It was a nice evening in the French Quarter. A nice chance to try a Coolinary, and a good excuse to get out of our now too-comfortable zone on the north shore.

On Monday ML and I had to go to her house and clean it up for her to show a prospective buyer. It has been many months since the two of us were there working on it together. Dropping in at Porter & Luke’s used to be the regular routine lunch spot because it is in the neighborhood, and because we love the food, especially the Number One club sandwich (at least to our taste.)

And here it was again today, the first one I’ve had in nearly a year. The toast was warm with a little crunch, the meats as plentiful as always, the bacon stiff enough to stick out of the sides a little. In short, Club Sandwich perfection, flanked by housemade potato chips that we like to dip in blue cheese dressing. Mary Leigh got a wedge salad and I brought Tom some red beans and rice for Monday with his preferred accompaniment - hot sausage. Nothing else will do for him as a side meat to red beans. This was the first time I have had the red beans here, and I have to say I’m not a fan. They are the ideal consistency of sauce to beans, but the flavor is not a favorite of mine. No matter. Tom liked them enough for us both.

They were busy and filled for their 50 percent. We ate in an adjacent room. It was not the same, but at least that Club was.