Five Guys (Elmwood, New Orleans, LA)

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Burger. 

 

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Seasoned Fries. 

 

I’m a burger girl. There’s not a single day that I don’t crave a burger. Thank goodness for Five Guys, but I just wish they were a little closer to home for me.

Five Guy’s burgers are mid-size burgers with homemade patties. The beef patty is on the thinner size and they don’t typically offer a temp here (medium, well-done, etc.) but that’s quite okay!  I order the double patty, because a single patty just never seems to fill me.When I think “burger”, I think of a hearty-sized bite and the mess that comes afterwards. Ketchup dripping. Pickles falling and that delicious conglomeration of different condiments, toppings, and that juicy beef in every bite… (This is probably the worst thing to post during Lent!) I’ve had cleaner, more organized burgers, but they never seem to satiate that craving, especially after a long day at work. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a cute, dainty burger (like Smashburger). Those are great, but if you’re craving a hearty and wholesome burger, Five Guys has it! The service is awesome and they serve quickly.

spoonspoonspoonspoon spoon point 5

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Five Guys Burgers & Fries on Urbanspoon

GW Fins (French Quarter, New Orleans, LA)

GW Fins is easily one of the top 10 restaurants in New Orleans. It’s classic French meets sophisticated Cajun and even has a hint of Asian influences. Despite it’s location right off of Bourbon St. , it’s far from being a tourist trap…

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Delicious GW Fins biscuits. They’re tiny and about 2″ wide and so delicious..

 

 

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Shrimp Remoulade. Chilled Louisiana shrimp. Roasted Red Peppers. Fried Green tomato.

 

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Blue Crab Potstickers. Country Ham. Creamy Pea Shoot Butter.

 

 

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Barbeque Shrimp. Deglazed with Abita Amber. Crispy spoonbread.

 

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Lobster Dumplings. Fennel. Tomato concasse. Lobster butter.

 

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Fish and Etouffee. Special of the day.

 

Although everything was super delicious, as usual, the most notable thing here has to be the bite-sized, sweet, buttery biscuits. As for the menu, Chef Tenney Flynn consistently puts out classic French-Cajun seafood dishes. Each of his dishes consist of fresh seafood and the menu changes every day depending on availability and what’s in season. I’m a creature of habit and I use to ALWAYS order his Diver Sea Scallops and Mushroom risotto. It’s delicious! The scallops are extra large and juicy and the risotto is permeating with flavor. More recently, I’ve been loving the change-up and have been loving the Lobster Dumplings and Blue Crab Potstickers, which are appetizers that are almost always on the menu. The Shrimp Remoulade was so fresh! The Fish of the Day with etouffee was a bit bland, but the etouffee was flavorful and balanced the fish well. I would have preferred a dash more flavor/salt, but I believe this dish would be perfect for Northern or Western palates who aren’t used to the *bang* or saltiness that we are adapted to down South.

G.W. Fins is among my top ten favorite restaurants in the city. I would recommend G.W. Fins to anyone visiting New Orleans. It’s perfect for the seafood lover, but there are a couple poultry or beef dishes for non-seafood eaters (Sorry vegetarians/vegans, this isn’t the best city to visit. It’s not very accommodating for your diets, but they are some out there!) . The food and atmosphere is a perfect mesh of fine dining meets New Orleans casual, which is why I love this place. It’s upscale dining without being too fancy schmancy!

 

spoonspoonspoonspoon spoon point 5

Rating: 4.5/5 spoons
GW Fins on Urbanspoon

Philz Coffee (SF Bay Area, CA)

Philz Coffee was on top of my list as a must visit spot in San Francisco. Everyone I know was raving about their Mint Mojito Coffees so I had to try it for myself…

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Bean selection. 

 

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Hot Mint Mojito Coffee.

 

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I’m a dark, black coffee kinda girl, but every now and then, I like a little change up. The mint mojito coffee was refreshing and I enjoyed the fresh mint that they use. The hot one was perfect for this cold day wandering around San Francisco! I’d love to try to the Iced Mint Mojito next time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try any other coffees, but I’ll be back. I hear the Tesora is pretty good too! As you can tell, they have quite a large variety of beans and I’m looking forward to trying them when I’m back in SF!

 

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Rating: 4/5 spoons
Philz Coffee on Urbanspoon

The French Laundry (Yountville, CA)

I’ve learned about Thomas Keller through my my fiance, “The Chef”, and read through TK’s books only to dream of tasting his food. Thomas Keller’s theory is based on “the law of diminishing returns”. Think about that first bite of a dish and that feeling of wanting more and more? That’s exactly what his tasting menus are aimed at…teasing your every taste bud for more and more with the perfect amount in the next dish/bite. In this post, you’ll find one of my most memorable moments in my life…

In preparation of my San Francisco/Napa Valley trip, I’ve read the cutest blog post of a little girl participating in her own little tasting at The French Laundry and her comments are adorable! Click here for the blog post: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/5607-a-four-year-old-reviews-the-french-laundry. I’ve been holding out for sometime on this blog post, only because I wanted it to be as perfect as the meal itself. It’s been a little over a month since my experience and I can remember every bite.

Our French Laundry experience…

The restaurant in nestled in a quaint and homey area in Yountville, California. It has a “coming home to grandma and grandpa’s house in the country” kind of feel. There’s a garden right across the street, which is where TFL farm their fresh vegetables. The hosts were very pleasant and greeted us nicely. Despite the recognition and caliber of the restauarant, the service is still very warm and casual…

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The French Laundry (TFL) has a preset tasting menu that varies from day to day at a set price of $295. Some dishes have an extra option to substitute your dish for another, upgraded dish. “The Chef” and I decided that since it was his birthday, he would order the menu with all of the upgrades and I would order the regular tasting menu. That way we could both try “everything on the menu”!

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Orange Cornet and Smoked Salmon. This was one of many amuse bouches and a great start to many more bites…

 

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Aged Gruyere Cheese Ball. About 3/4 inch in size, but so good. I wanted to eat a whole bucket of these, but luckily, there was so much more to look forward to…

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“Oysters and Pearls”. “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca. Island Creek Oysters. White Sturgeon Caviar.

This is one of Thomas Keller’s classic dishes. It can even be found in his “The French Laundry Cookbook”. Sure it looks great, but the just to taste it is a completely different experience. The oysters tasted as if they came straight out of the water and freshly shucked onto the plate. I loved the play on “oysters and pearls”…

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(+) Royal Ossetra Caviar. Smoked Sturgeon “Panna Cotta”. Garden Radishes. Oyster Crackers.

This dish was substituted in place of the “Oysters and Pearls”. It was more refreshing and there was a slight  difference between the two caviars. In my opinion, I preferred the Oysters and Pearls due to its richness and savoriness, but the freshness and lighter flavors in this dish was still really good.

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White Truffle Oil-Infused Custards with Black Truffle Ragout. 

Lyla, the 4-year-old food critic, described this as a “chicken that tastes like a fluffy marshmallow”. I’ve never seen a child with such descriptive and a refined palate. I’d agree with her on the fluffy marshmallow texture. It was a rich and soft custard with a deeply, infused truffle sauce on top. Who can say “no” to truffle sauce? (See link here: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/5607-a-four-year-old-reviews-the-french-laundry). 

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Croissant with a variety of butters. A break from all the savory goodness…

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Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm. Tangerine “Supremes”. Garden Beets. Petite Lettuces. Green Peppercorn Vinaigrette.

This salad was very light and sweet. The slowly roasted garden beets were divine…I could eat a whole bowl of this stuff! I noticed that Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc also shares the same beets, because the Garden Beet Salad at Ad Hoc was just as delicious, just a tad more wholesome since they serve their meals family-style.

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(+) Carnaroli Risotto Biologico. “Castelmagno” Mousse. Browned Butter. Shaved White Truffles from Alba.

The major theme of Thomas Keller’s tasting menu is elegance, richness, and truffles. Every other dish had a truffle component. If you order the risotto, the waitress brings out a cigar box full of large, whole truffles. Once it’s opened, it infuses the whole room full of an earthy and shroomy goodness. Next, they bring out the plate of risotto and the waitress shaves the truffles for a whole minute. I’ve never seen so much truffle in my life and it was definitely a moment and experience I’ll never forget…I regret not recording the whole process. I guess we’ll just have to go back!

The Truffle Box.

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Sauteed Fillet of Japanese Medai. Young Fennel. Compressed Cucumbers. Brokaw Avocado Puree. Garden Herbs.

You don’t know perfectly cooked fish until you have it done by The French Laundry…Flaky, moist, and lightly seasoned.

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Assortment of Breads: (left to right) Pretzel, Sourdough, Multigrain, French

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Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster. Marinated Tardivo Radicchio. Carmelized Sunchokes. Toasted Sunflower Seeds. Brown Butter Vinaigrette.

This was THE best lobster I have eaten in my life.  It’s easy to overcook lobster and I was so used to the rubbery stuff served at most restaurants. There was something different about this piece and it has changed how I look at steamed lobster. This bite of lobster..So juicy! And it almost melts in your mouth? How do you do it French Laundry??

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Thomas Farm Squab. Hopper Creek Quince Puree. Celery Branch. Sicilian Pistachios. “Sauce Perigourdine”.

It’s not often you find squab (domesitcated baby pigeon) on a menu. It reminded me of a really lean, yet tender duck…but better…

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Herb Roasted Elysian Fields Farm Lamb. Black Trumpet Mushroom “Pain Perdu”. Glazed Petite Turnips. French Pumpkin Puree. Swiss Chard Leaves.

At this point, I’ve just said so many great things about the proteins in this menu, it’s almost unbelievable. I’m not the biggest game meat fan and I’ve always gotten lamb quite overdone, but this piece? I am just amazed…Another favorite of this dish is the easily overlooked black trumpet mushroom “Pain Perdu”. It was so powerful in mushroom flavor and I just wished it was larger than a bite size. I was slowly slicing the pain perdu just to savor each bite!

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(+) Charcoal Grilled 100 Day Dry Aged American Wagyu. La Ratte Potato Puree. Matsutake Mushrooms. Arrowleaf Spinach. “Sauce Bordelaise”.

This was “The Chef’s” substituted dish in place of the lamb. There’s no picking of which dish is better than the other. Each dish was unique on its own. The wagyu was tender and well-seasoned. I only had a bite, but I sure wish I had more!

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“Ossau Iraty”. Globe Artichokes. Meyer Lemon Confit. Marcona Almonds. Romesco Sauce.

A well decorated cheese! A great break in between courses. That’s right. You break by eating at The French Laundry.

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Green Tea and Pomegranate Custard. 

This was the first of many desserts. I love the bits of Asian influence in his tasting menu. This custard was itty bitty and so delicate.

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Feijoa Ice Cream and Pistachio Sauvignon. 

Simple looking dessert? I think not! There was so much flavor jam-packed into this ice cream and it was balanced so well with the Pistachio sauce.

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Chocolate Layered Birthday Cake for the Chef. Rich. Decadent. Chocolatey? I don’t know how you can’t like it!

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Desserts: Cinnamon-sugared doughnuts. Persimmon. Pumpkin and Vanilla (?) Macarons. Cappuccino Semi-freddo.

I have never seen any restaurant offer so many desserts. And they were all perfectly delicious at that! My favorites had to be the cinnamon-sugared doughnuts and the Pumpkin macarons.

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Assortment of Chocolate Truffles.

I’ve never received so many desserts in one meal. During this bombardment of desserts, the waiter brings you a tray of chocolate truffles and you can try as many as you’d like! Dessert heaven!

Just when you thought when you were finished,  they bring out souvenir baggies of shortbread cookies to thank us for dining with them…

So, what is the verdict? The French Laundry was literally a parade of euphoria one bite after another…Each dish was rich and explosive. Each component screamed perfection. Perfection in plating. Perfection in technique. Perfection all around!

With that said, now I can say that I’ve eaten at a Michelin star restaurant…Three stars actually! And I can see why…

Rating: 5/5 spoons!
The French Laundry on Urbanspoon

Brunch @ Atchafalaya (Uptown, New Orleans, LA)

Just taking a quick break from my SF restaurant reviews for my NOLA readers! More San Francisco/Napa Valley restaurants coming: The French Laundry, San Tung, and more…

Back in NOLA…

Years ago, I ate dinner at Atchafalaya and I loved it. I remember an Atchafalaya Pasta that I don’t see on the dinner menu anymore, but since then, there may have revamped the menu. Considering how much I loved it then, I found myself craving brunch and found my way back…

There was about a 25-30 minute wait, but while you wait, grab a Bloody Mary at the bar. You can personalize your own drink at the Bloody Mary station. From what I here, it’s supposed to be the best in the city, but personally, I’m not a Bloody Mary fan. I’m more of a mimosa kinda girl!

 

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Mimosa. I’m more of a mimosa kind of girl!

 

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Soup Du Jour. Crab meat soup.

 

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Eggs Atchafalaya. Poached eggs. Fried green tomatoes. Jumbo lump crab. Hollandaise. Brunch potatoes.

 

 

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Boudin cakes.

 

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Cochon du L’eggs. Sunny-side up eggs. Pulled Pork. Cornbread pudding. Creole coleslaw. Blackberry cane syrup.

 

The crabmeat soup was so homey and light, and I loved it!  It was a great starter for brunch. The Eggs Atchafalaya was refreshing and elegant yet had some good ol’ Southern fried tomatoes for a touch of hominess. If I see crabmeat, I usually order it because you can never have too much! Finally, we had the Cochon du L’eggs, which is as delicious as it looks. Moist, savory pulled pork and eggs. Yes, please!

It’s been years since I’ve been back to Atchafalaya and I’m so glad I went back for brunch. I’m excited to come back for dinner again and hopefully it will be very soon…

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Rating: 4/5 spoons

 

Atchafalaya on Urbanspoon