Saturday, November 7, 2009. Dead Batteries. Annadele Plantation.

Written by Tom Fitzmorris November 07, 2009 06:03 in

Dining Diary

Saturday, November 7. Dead Batteries. Annadele Plantation. I began a lonely weekend with a comforting breakfast at the Courtyard. While I was there, I tried calling the girls. My cellphone was dead. But it was on the charger all night! I hear that when the batteries in these things die, they die.

The lady at the AT&T store laughed at me. "That phone must be four years old!" she said. "We don't have those batteries. You'll probably have to get it online. But I'll bet you're due for an upgrade!" She pulled up my account and made a face. "It says here that Mary Ann Fitzmorris took one upgrade recently. . . Mary Leigh Fitzmorris got one a few months ago. . . hmmm. . . and Jude Fitzmorris is showing three upgrades. Unfortunately. . . you can't upgrade for about a year!"

No surprise there. I seem to be the only one in our family who doesn't need to replace his phone every few months. My phone works fine. I like it. Surely a battery can be found. I'd go looking for one later.

But I needed to get home with the groceries I picked up along the way. And to cut the grass. The ground is finally dry enough, if I stay out of low spots.

Another problem intervened. I have to jump-start the tractor with a portable battery. (The onboard electrical system shorted out years ago.) And portable no workee. I must have blown out something when I tried to start my car with it on Tuesday. I hooked up a charge to the onboard battery, and hoped than an overnight charge would give it enough power tomorrow.

And that was if I could beat the crazy, super-late-season hurricane that was in the Gulf of Mexico, heading right for us. Ida's winds are not expected to be a major problem, but the expectation is for lots of rain. I've got to get this jungle trimmed before the return of the Marys.

That project on hold, I spent the afternoon essentially waiting for dinner. I took it at Annadele Plantation, which I expected would be comfortable and welcoming. They would ask me where my wife and daughter were, since I usually have a date with one or the other when I attend that romantic spot. And I would get off a line or two about how they left me all alone at home, and isn't that awful?

That exchange actually did transpire, but it was downhill from there. It was not a good night at Annadele, for some reason. Maybe the wedding reception upstairs was the problem. (On my way out of the restaurant, many people in the wedding party greeted me as if I had been in attendance. I guess it was the jacket and tie that threw them.)

Oysters Rockefeller and Bienville at Annadele Plantation.

I started with the combination of oysters Rockefeller and Bienville. The oysters were too large and there was too much topping. It all overfilled the shell, andthe toppings got soaked with the oyster water as they baked. The addition of a superfluous (in every sense of the word) beurre blanc made matters even worse. They need to rework this a bit.

The chef redeemed himself with his good squash and andouille soup, and a rather large, fresh salad of baby greens.

Sirloin strip steak at Annadele Plnation, with too much other stuff.

Past steaks here were excellent, and the sirloin strip sounded right to my appetite. It was described as coming with a red wine demi-glace, mushrooms, and mashed potatoes. What was missing, but should have been mentioned, was the word "pile." A widespread belief among North Shore chefs--including quite a few otherwise excellent ones--is that Northshorinians require food nearly to overflow the sides of the plates. That was they way this was. Removing any three parts of this dish would have improved it. I vote the following off the island: The squash, an enormous mound clogging the northern perimeter. The mashed potatoes, served under the steak--a bad idea that I hope is at the end of its ten-year vogue. And the hollandaise or whatever that was draped over the good demi. The steak was lost in all this stuff. A steak should never fade into the background. I ate about a third of this and left the rest.

The dining room was filling with regular customers, on the older side. Whenever I see that condition--one that doesn't bother me, because I qualify as old myself--I become concerned that a restaurant practicing the grand Creole dining traditions will have a hard time attracting younger customers. No matter how good the food is. And, usually, Annadele's is a lot better than it was tonight.

*** Annadele Plantation. Covington: 71495 Chestnut 985-809-7669. Creole.