13.5% Wine Bar

This hip and trendy spot is perfect when you are craving a glass of wine and some great food.  What is great is they have about 40 bottles of wine by the glass and an entire wall of bottles you can take to go or split at dinner.

We stopped in on a Thursday night and they were busy, but we found plenty of seats at the bar.  The bartender was incredibly friendly and helped us each choose a wine that we loved; I had a bold and light tannin Malbec from Argentina.

Foodwise – this place is perfect for sharing a bunch of plates.

We went with the charred squid.  The calamari is good, not Birroteca good, but way better than John Stevens.  It’s not fried – hence the charred verb on the menu.  But comes perfectly cooked – not chewy or slimy.  The chef here tops it with some lotus root and a sweet soy vinaigrette.  I liked the combo of the slightly sweet with the salty squid.

Our next small plate was a “fried” cauliflower.  It’s not deep-fried, but more of a broiled with butter and bread crumbs to give the veggie a nice golden brown and crunch crust.  They have a slight lemon garnish, which highlights all the flavor.

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Our larger plate was a gorgeous flat bread pizza.  We went with the caramelized onions, but had a difficulty choosing because they all sounded so great.  This is a crunchy, but thin crust flat bread topped with marscapone cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon.  Mmmm…. bacon.

This was not enough food for the three of us, considering, we were loving the wine.  Please try for at least two plates for the group for each round of glasses.

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La Petite Grocery: NO, LA

I was riding solo for brunch on this particular Sunday.  I was dying to try their blue crab beignets. IMG_2396 I must admit, I love this fried dough trend of this beautiful city.  There is a reason the chef earned a spot on Top Chef and that these are one of their top sellers.  They give you five super light and fluffy golf ball sized beignets.  The crab stuffing inside is so creamy it’s almost a crabby béchamel sauce, except for the chunks of blue crab.  The chives and creamy cheese added a great rounded flavor and a perfect amount of saltiness.  And that little ramekin has a malt vinegar aoili.  The tanginess complementing the sweet fried crab flawlessly.

I certainly didn’t need to keep eating too much.  I wanted to try a few more of their apps and entrées, but I was stuffed.  I simply went with grits and two fried eggs.  These were my favorite grits in New Orleans – stone ground with some butter and chives.  Yum.  The eggs were fresh and perfectly over medium.

Thank goodness for this reservation; I love love love the Garden District.  Get there during your trip – even if you spend all of your evenings on Bourbon Street.

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Cafe Du Monde: NO, LA

If any of you have been to New Orleans or read or watched a movie or listened to anyone talk about NOLA, you knew this post was coming.

This place might be intimidating for folks who don’t know how to stalk a table and hip check people out-of-the-way without doing the plate of powdered sugar that is still sitting on the table into your lap. Okay, so it’s not that hard, but if you are expecting someone to escort you to a clean table, you will be waiting for days.

The menu is quite extensive. Just kidding. Basically, how many beignets do you want – the come plates of three. You have a little more freedom with your became choice – when you choose from regular or decaf coffee (made with chicory) that can come hot, iced or frozen. They also have chocolate milk.

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None of that matters when the beignets arrive. Do not split an order; you cannot eat just one of these deep-fried balls of doughy goodness. You also cannot avoid getting powdered sugar everywhere.  These are thicker than most donut style fried food, rather than melt in your mouth airiness.  I think these were our favorites of New Orleans.  Maybe they do have the market covered.

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