ABOUT AND BEYOND
New Orleans LA 70130
5:00 PM - 10:00 PM (Closed Wednesday) Price $7 to $22
The publisher of this magazine and his wife has been singing the virtues of this venue for years. I finally worked it into one of my recent trips to New Orleans. The main dining room exudes elegance while still remaining cozy. Wooden spindle backed chairs stand before tables covered in coral colored linens. A floor of large tiles sits underneath. Service is both professional and courteous with Armand Olivier Jr. stopping to chat with each table in the room, the epitome of a southern gentleman. The menu reflect recipes from five generations of this remarkable family
I stared off with the Gumbo Sampler. This plate contained samples of three styles of gumbo made by members of this family. They include Chef Armand's Creole Gumbo (roux based), this father’s (Papa Armand) File Gumbo (thicken with sassafras powder) and his mother’s (Mama Cheryl) Okra Gumbo. I waited with baited breath but when they came I met with disappointment. I found all three to be watery and virtually without flavor. I am happy to say that was not the case with the rest of the meal.
Next came an “off the menu” appetizer, Eggplant Olivier. I received thick planks of eggplant flash fried with a crispy exterior and a sweet tender interior. They enrobed it with a tomato based Creole sauce containing shrimp, crawfish and andouille. Garnished with green onion the flavor leapt off the dish. Everything was in balance, the spicy meeting unspicy and the crispy meeting the unctuous. As my Cajun ancestors would say “it made marriage in my mouth”. A simple salad of greens with garlic dressing followed. It turned out to be light, refreshing and quite good.
Next came Creole Rabbit. This is a recipe from the great grandmother (Jeanne). They braise seasoned bone in rabbit with a rich sauce. When fork tender they lay it on oyster dressing and serve with rice and carrots. This dish based on simple country techniques spoke to my soul. While quite messy it was so delicious. I am not ashame to admit I licked my fingers to get every taste of it, worth the trip
I ended with Bread Pudding studded with raisins and bathed in rum sauce. Again great balance of flavors, it is one of my favorite desserts. Based on my experience I would return and sample another family treasure. This fine establishment is a testament to a great family’s traditions and tastes.
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