Thursday, June 28, 2007

N'awlins Style

With a little over three hours between the time I got off work and seeing Kathy Griffin at the Lyric last night, hubby and I chose to have dinner in Fells Point. We hadn't been to Louisiana in a while, not since a somewhat unexciting New Years Eve meal a few years back, so we gave it a go. And what's more suited to 102º 60% humidity weather than New Orleans style food?

I've never been particularly fond of their entrées, so I did my usual 3-appetizer meal: crab bisque, beet salad, shrimp and grits. Neal went for a roast chicken dish with crushed potatoes and crawfish sauce to follow his bisque.

The bisque, as always, was flawless: extremely crabby flavored cream with no flour to gum it up, and several nice lumps of real blue crab meat on top. There must be 1000 calories per serving, but it's so good, I want to lick the bowl. The beet salad was prepared a bit differently than I remember: diced beets, formed into a little tower by a ring mold, and topped with a generous schmear of goat cheese. It was garnished by a hat of baby arugula and drizzled with truffle vinaigrette. The flavors were all there, but I think the old version, with sliced beets, was more tender and easier to eat than all the little cubes that kept falling off the fork.

The shrimp and grits were also pretty close to perfect: three large shrimp, perfectly cooked and coated with a mild blackening seasoning, were arranged around a timbale of coarse grits studded with nuggets of corn. Surrounding this was a moat of cream imbued with the flavor of fresh corn. I like shrimp and grits a lot, and this refined preparation is my favorite of all the versions I've tried.

DH's chicken dish, which sounded pretty good, was slightly disappointing. The chicken breast was an airline cut (boneless, but with the first joint of the wing attached, to add the flavor of bone but not the awkwardness of rib), roasted until crisp. The skin was indeed crispy, yet it was rubbery and somewhat thick, and the meat was tough, but somehow not dried out. It was impossible to cut with a regular dinner knife, so we requested a steak knife. Saving the meal was the crushed potatoes that were like fancy hash browns, and the generous amount of crawfish tails in the very spicy sauce accompaniment. Our waiter, upon hearing that the chicken was giving N difficulties, said we would have dessert on the house.

For dessert, N had the apple beignets, triangular dough pockets filled with apples, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I chose the chocolate mousse. The beignets reminded us of carnival-style fried dough, fattening and yummy. The mousse was extremely rich and topped with whipped cream and a lovely tart raspberry sauce. I couldn't finish it. I was actually full before I got to the shrimp.

Louisiana does some things so wonderfully that it's such a let-down when things aren't perfect. I've only ordered an entree a few times, and every time I wished I hadn't. So now I don't. The food is so rich that a few appetizers makes for plenty of food. And our waiter said that some customers order a double portion of the shrimp and grits as an entree, and they add a veggie side dish. I might just try that next time.

Although the food is never 100% at Louisiana, it usually comes in at a solid 85%, and the service is never less than wonderful. Go, and make sure you have the bisque.

1708 Aliceanna St
Baltimore, MD 21231
(410) 327-2610

Louisiana on Urbanspoon

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