Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz Cruise

Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz Cruise

Toulouse Street Wharf - Behind Jax Brewery
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 569-1401
www.steamboatnatchez.com
cruises@neworleanssteamboat.com
 
natchez-steamboat
Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz Cruise
 

Let it be known that many native New Orleanians are aware of the beauty that lives within this wonderful, beautiful, photogenic city. Taking into account the long-running advertisement, “Be a tourist in your own hometown,” I was bound for the Mississippi River and The Natchez Riverboat Dinner Jazz Cruise. It was an evening well spent! The view from the river of the city at sunset is breathtaking. As the sun goes down, the city and its skyline of lights come to life. From the many colorful lights of Harrah’s Casino to the lights of the many hotels that line the river, it is a sight to behold. The majesty of the Mighty Mississippi is a sight better seen then told and there is no better view than cruising amongst its powerful, muddy waves. Be it a birthday celebration, anniversary, reunion, or if you just want to experience life cruising on an authentic steamboat, The Natchez is the place to be. It is and has been a popular destination for locals and tourist alike. If you decide to take this venture, hourly parking is available a short walk away at the lot on Decatur Street (not included in cost of cruise ticket).

There are two ways to experience The Natchez. It can serve as a dinner buffet (lunch and a Sunday Jazz Brunch are also available), or you can just board to take in the atmosphere, scenic view from the deck and the wonderful music of a Grammy nominated authentic jazz band, the Dukes of Dixieland. The sights and sounds package is at a cheaper price of $43.00 for adults (children 6-12 are $21.50 and 2-5) are free. This is an ideal choice for families who are traveling on a budget. Payment is accepted in all forms from traveler’s checks to credit cards. My partner and I decided to splurge and take in the dinner buffet, sights along the river, and the sounds of the Dukes of Dixieland. At a price of $72.50 for adults (children 6-12 are $34.00 and children 2-5 are $14.00), a buffet of regional food was served piping hot. It included a green salad, dark roux file gumbo with shrimp, Andouille sausage and chicken, Louisiana style fried catfish, pork lion with Creole mustard sauce, maque choux (a Cajun dish of deep roasted corn and tomatoes, creole spices, peppers and celery), creole creamed spinach, and to top it off, bread pudding deliciously complimented with a Jim Beam bourbon sauce. No meal is complete in New Orleans without French bread and French Market coffee, and this buffet is no exception. There is also bottomless unsweetened tea to quench your thirst if you prefer not to purchase the alcoholic beverages and sodas available at the well-stocked bar on board. I found the wait staff to be very friendly and courtesy. Many held conversations with the tourists regarding suggestions on attractions to visit before leaving the city.

Dinner Cruise

If your plans are to attend the dinner cruise, note that there are two seatings. You are given the choice of a 7:00 p.m. seating or a 9:00 p.m. seating. The riverboat boards at 6:00 p.m. and cruises promptly at 7:00 p.m., so make sure you are on time. There is a lot to take in at The Jax Brewery if you would like to go down to this area early to ascertain you arrive on time. If you decide not to purchase the dinner, lunch or brunch on The Natchez, there are loads of places around to catch a quick bite. Shopping is also plentiful in this area. The city’s first H&M Store opened recently and I hear bargains are plentiful. Tickets for The Natchez can be purchased in advance online or you can take a chance if it’s a last minute decision and purchase them dockside at the Lighthouse ticket office if spaces are still available. It is recommended that groups of 10 or more make reservations to make sure they are accommodated and to receive a special group rate. There is a package deal with Gray Line Tours which also includes a city tour for the cost of $102.00 and $49.00 for children 6-12. We opted for the second seating of 9:00 p.m. so that we can take in the sights along the river in daylight. We were also able to view the magnificent sunset with this choice. Make sure to have your camera ready because the best view of The St. Louis Cathedral can be seen from the river’s view from the left side of the boat. The captain will point out locations and bits of historical information to you as you cruise along the river over the loud speakers. It’s a good idea to take along a sweater or jacket.Some may find the breeze from the river to be a bit cool. You can always revert to inside quarters, but it is better to experience the ride and view from the deck. There will also be Natchez employed photographers on board to capture you on your cruise. The photos will be made available to you when you debark. If you are not ready to purchase, you will be given a card with information instructing you on how to view and purchase your photos online at a later time.

The Natchez has a wonderful informative website (www.steamboatnatchez.com) that answers many of the questions you may have regarding in climate weather to reservations and discounts. The Natchez Riverboat has it all! Great regional food, New Orleans jazz, and sightseeing from a picturesque vantage point, all while cruising down the river on an authentic steamboat. Wow! Because this is all obtainable in one location, Nola Roux recommends this attraction by awarding 4 fleurs-di-lis. During the cruise, make sure you take time to visit the gift shop to take home a remembrance of your time spent on the waters of the Mighty Mississippi.

Restaurants in New Orleans

Nola Roux
November 2013
 

Snug Harbor

 

Snug Harbor Jazz Bristro

New Orleans Premier Jazz Club

626 Frenchmen Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 949-0696 
www.snugjazz.com
New Orleans premier Jazz Club
Snug Harbor

Let’s just call it “Friday Night on Frenchman.” Please do not get it twisted. This is not the only night this street comes to life. I just love the sound of it and it is fast becoming a ritual for many local New Orleanians and tourist alike.

Personally, Frenchman Street means Snug Harbor which is located in an old storefront from the 1800’s that has been renovated. Whether you are there to catch the next jazz show or settle in for a delicious meal, Snug is the place to be. Located on the edge of the French Quarters, in the neighborhood of the Faubourg Marigny (known simply as “The Marigny” to locals), it is quickly becoming the place to catch live, up close and personal, jazz music. Singer Lizzie Miles and jazz musician/composer Jelly Roll Morton were residents and this neighborhood is still home to many of the same professions. Those who are familiar with HBO’s Treme, will recognize many of the venues along this infamous street.

Musicians that have regular sets at Snug are jazz vocalist Philip Manuel, jazz percussionist Herlin Riley (check out Herlin’s Facebook page), jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis (father of musician’s Wynton, Bradford and Delfeayo-who is also known to gig here), Leah Chase (namesake daughter of restaurateur Mrs. Chase of world-famous Dooky Chase on Orleans Avenue), jazz saxophonist Victor Goines, and Charmaine Neville (daughter of Charles Neville and niece of the remaining Neville Brothers). As you can see, New Orleans is a very connected city, with many families carrying on the traditions that make this city so special. Show times are 8 pm and 10 pm Monday through Sundays and tickets are purchased at the edge of the well-equipped bar. Local artists CDs can also be purchased here. There is floor seating, as well as my preference, taking the stairs to the balcony. It is best to arrive early because seats do fill fast. Also note that parking can be somewhat of a burden. There is a public lot located on Elysian Fields that charges guests by the hour. It is easier to park for the first set as opposed to the second set because Frenchmen revelers tend to come out later in the night and are present until the early morning.  Usually sets lasts approximately an hour and a half, therefore parking could be satisfied with a $10 dollar bill. This lot is a short walk to Snug and there are many sights and people watching to hold your attention. While walking you may encounter the next musician to emerge because there are many street musicians. It is not out of the ordinary to catch entertainers that are already known such as the Rebirth Brass Band. For Hollywood star followers, you never know what celebrity you may see strolling Frenchmen Street or who may show up and decide to take the stage at Snug. Also located across the street is an art alley with local artists peddling their crafts.

If you would like to dine at Snug Harbor, dinner begins at 5:00 pm and the closing time depends on the day (Sunday thru Thursday – 10:45 pm/Friday and Saturday – 11:45 pm). It is the home of one of the best steak burgers in the city, and the side baked potato is so smooth, it has the texture and consistency of a mashed potato. With a price tag of $9.75, I consider it a true bargain. If burgers are not your forte, Snug’s menu is quite extensive. Consisting of seafood, chicken, steaks, sandwiches, and of course, those wonderful burgers, I am sure you will find something that will satisfy your taste. Make sure to save room for dessert. Bread pudding with hard sauce and traditional pecan pie are listed. Reservations can be made to make sure you are seated. If you are able, request one of the tables by the window and people watch while you dine. Remember, you never know you who may stroll by!

Restaurants in New Orleans

NOLA Roux 

Restaurants in New Orleans

Some of the best food in the world can be found in the restaurants in New Orleans. No trip to this much-loved destination is complete without a foray into the local cuisine. New Orleans food is truly like no other food you can get anywhere else! A New Orleans tradition not to be missed is the Sunday Brunch. Wake up late after a Saturday night of listening to live jazz, partying or a cruise excursion. No need to worry about missing breakfast or being too early for lunch.

Must-Visit Restaurants in New Orleans

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Imagine a delightful, music-filled brunch with the most delicious food you can imagine. Brunch in New Orleans is festive and gets to the heart of the city’s pulse: food and music. Enjoy down home New Orleans southern classics such as fried green tomatoes, entrees with a New Orleans twist, to one of the scrumptious New Orleans desserts, pecan pies.

Restaurants in New Orleans
shrimp po-boy

Besides getting a Po-Boy sandwich in most of the restaurants around New Orleans be sure to try the Gumbo. This dish is full of history and flavor. Each chef has his own recipe (most say the secret is in the roux) for gumbo. There are okra gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, seafood gumbo and filé gumbo just to name a few. All make a nearly perfect traditional New Orleans gumbo.

If you haven’t tried crawfish yet, you must try it here. Louisiana is known for their mud bugs or crawfish “a delicacy” you probably can’t find in your hometown. Crawfish etouffee is thicker than gumbo and full of flavor. And do not forget to taste Jambalaya, a dish full of seafood, chicken, sausage, spices with hit of hot sauce.

Katies

Katies in Mid City

3701 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 488-6582
www.katiesinmidcity.com

True friendships to me should be everlasting. Therefore, one day recently I took the opportunity to revisit one of my old Saturday friendships, an eatery that was established in 1984. Katies in Mid City is that old-time corner restaurant/bar where regulars tend to meet up and new friendships are made. She is so special that she was featured in a segment on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri. I was so happy for her! At Katie's, complete strangers pass your table smile, wave, nod or even verbally greet you with a hello. The chef comes by to check on you. This is what makes New Orleans and it is why it is one of the friendliest cities on this earth and a wonderful place to live and dine.

I was asked by an acquaintance to schedule a lunch and to decide where I would like to dine. After giving it some thought (you know I take my food seriously), my mind drifted back to my past. I had not visited Katies since it reopened in March of 2010 following its devastation from Hurricane Katrina. It was time that I checked on my old friend and rekindled an old relationship. I remember it as an eatery where all sorts of people would drift in and all sorts of activity going on. Remarkably it still is. There are many tables strategically placed in this narrow dwelling with many conversations going on, along with 2 flat screen televisions running sports coverage. All this while there is also a backdrop of piped in music. Conveniently located a block from the Canal Street streetcar, it could easily become and should be a regular tourist eatery attraction.

New Orleans's po-boy

We were directed to our table by the greeter at the door and handed an extensive menu by a very friendly waitress. If someone says they cannot find anything on the menu to suit their taste, they must not be in Katies. Truthfully, I could probably make a meal from the appetizers offered. There are all types- from onion rings (tempted to grab one as I eyed the next table), crawfish or seafood beignets, crab cakes, eggplant fries (I must try these one day) and the list goes on and on. I decided to go straight into the main course and chose a dressed, grilled catfish sandwich substituting the usual side of potato chips with coleslaw for an additional $1.50 (fries, green salad and potato salad were also choices listed). For an additional $2.50, those wonderful golden fried onion rings or sweet potato fries are available. This po-boy was truly heaven. The french bread was so light and airy complimenting the grilled catfish perfectly. Having smothered my fish in both tarter and cocktail sauces, I am sure I used at least 10 napkins to clean up, but while eating an authentic New Orleans's po-boy, the messier, the better.

Katie's in New Orleans
Katherine's Cajun Cuban Sandwich

My partner was also extremely happy with the choice made. Being a little bit more adventuresome than I, they decided on Katherine's Cajun Cuban Sandwich (named after the co-owner). Perfectly stacked, this sandwich of smoked cochon de lait, grilled ham, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles is placed between two slices of french bread then buttered and pressed. This was topped off with a cold Barq's Root Beer straight from the bottle, the only way to do it. Sticking with the regular chips, after seeing our neighbor's onion rings they were sorry they did not substitute. The rings are the size of woman's bracelet and I am certain they are as delicious as they looked.

When you get a chance, check out the website. Katie's is conveniently open seven days a week (Monday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and also a Sunday brunch 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.). There are daily specials that are written on the chalkboard near the front door. The brick oven pizzas are wonderful sellers and on Thursday nights, there is a $10.00 special. Pre-Katrina, the walls of Katie's were outfitted in LSU and purple. She has had a complete makeover, and I must say it is quite appealing and looks good on her. I simply love the new look. I am sure Katie's would be proud to know she is perfect (5 fleurs-de-lis) and should never change. We all need those friendships that we can always count on through thick and thin. In this case our thick was Hurricane Katrina and her absence and the rebuilding process. Let it be known Katie's back. She is named like an old friend, and to me that is just what she is.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ Nola Roux
October, 2012

New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company

New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company

4141 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
(504) 247-9753
www.nohsc.com

Recently, my family was visiting the city and wanted to get together for lunch. They asked my suggestion for somewhere to dine, but because I am local and they were visiting, I felt that they should be given the opportunity to choose. I informed them that anywhere they decided would be fine with me. Honestly, I must say when the reply was New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company I thought that maybe I should had chosen.

New Orleans Shrimp Platter
New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company

We agreed on a time and which location we would meet. I was happy when I was given the St. Charles Avenue address thinking that if the food was not all that great, a ride in route down the avenue is always picturesque and adventuresome. We were in perfect sync, all arriving at the same time. I approached the counter to decide on my order, but was quickly greeted by a waitress and ushered to a table which was large enough to accommodate our party. We were all given menus and told to take our time deciding and that a waitress would be right over to take our drink orders. What a pleasant surprise! This was unlike my last visit and the reason why New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company never really appealed to me. I somehow always felt rushed having to glance over a menu and placing an order at a counter. My indecisiveness always caused the line behind me to grow and I am sure the cashiers were not happy as I would change my order several times before I would get it right. With the ordering from my table concept, I felt more at ease and able to not only study the menu and look around at the other diner's choices, but also to discuss with my table members the selections we would all make.

As the waitress made her way around the table, some people knew exactly what they wanted. Others were undecided. I must commend the waitress on her ability to be cordial and make small talk even though we were taking forever. I decided on the jumbo shrimp platter (my favorite to eat here because the shrimp are deveined), substituting my fries for onion rings. Don't really know if I would do this again, because I felt that the cost should not have been the additional price of $5.00+ for the rings. Although I have known this Company to serve wonderful gourmet burgers, the only person in our party to make this choice was a young nephew. From the looks of his plate, he enjoyed it because there was no indication that a burger was ever on his plate.

New Orleans Hambuger and Seafood Company Platter

The wait staff constantly visited our table asking if we needed drink refills and assuring us that our orders were on the way out. The appetizer that was ordered, boudin balls, were brought out and the recipients commented on their tastiness. Shortly after, the main courses were delivered and some sampled the different selections. I did not hear complaints from anyone. I must say that I was totally pleased with my jumbo shrimp plate. It consisted of a dozen fried shrimp, coleslaw, onion rings (I substituted my fries), 2 hush-puppies, buttered French bread, plus tartar and cocktail sauce. It was totally filling even after sharing at least half of the shrimp and onion rings. There were no complaints on the taste of any of the wide variety of dishes that were ordered. Unfortunately, one diner did not receive their order and we believe that there was a misunderstanding when the orders were taken. Mistakes do happen, and I must say, the manager stepped in and her order was placed and was complimentary because of the screw up. There was such an abundance of food at the table, it was requested as a to go order and it was promptly prepared.

The St. Charles Avenue Location

New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company is child-friendly and a great place for family dinners. The St. Charles location also has a bar and televisions for sports viewing. Also available is an oyster bar. There is also a bar with dressings for sandwiches or burgers (tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, etc.) Don't forget to save room for the lagniappe vanilla ice cream cone. I suppose guests were really taking advantage of this freebie, because for the first time I noticed a" one per customer" sign posted near the ice cream machine. In my opinion, this is my favorite location. I am not sure whether the other locations have adopted this style order taking. If you are able, grab a table near the window and you can watch the hustle and bustle of the streetcars and people along the avenue. There are others locations in New Orleans (French Quarter and Clearview Parkway in Elmwood). The surrounding areas are also home to several locations (Metairie, Harvey, Houma, Laplace, and Mandeville). If you require take-out, you can call and order in advance. I would definitely recommend the St. Charles location to anyone looking for a child-friendly restaurant with a menu of variety. In my opinion, New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company earns 4 fleurs-de-lis for its taste, wait staff, and wide variety of menu selections that pleases all tastes.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux
September, 2012

Dat Dog

 

Dat Dog

3336 Magazine Street

New Orleans, LA 70115

(504) 324-2226

www.datdognola.com

Dat Dog on Magazine

My love affair with hot dogs began years ago. Long before there were nationally televised hot dog eating contests and eateries comprised of mainly hot dogs on the menu, my love for a great dog was already developed. At the age of about 12, I can recall eating six loaded hot dogs throughout the day one Fourth of July. Who knows? Maybe if I had kept that up, I could have been groomed to be a competitor in the Coney Island or Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contests. Their hot dogs are eaten straight, mine were loaded! My taste for a good hot dog was so great, that during my high school years my friend's Mom would prepare stuffed crabs and homemade mac and cheese every Friday. She knew that was my day to visit, so instead of the menu her family feasted on, there were always two hot dogs awaiting my arrival. Displaying love through food, she is an example of the wonderful cooks and Moms we have in New Orleans.

Dogs DOgs DogsTo me, hot dogs are a traditional football menu item and what better way to start the 2013 New Orleans' Saints Football Season in Dat City, than with a dog from Dat Dog! Football was truly in the air on this Saturday before the much anticipated, big season opener of The New Orleans Saints vs The Atlanta Falcons. Magazine Street is on our tourist map and it was filled with natives as wells as visiting folk from The ATL. If there is one bit of advice I would like to relay about this area of town if you are going to dine, leave for your destination early. Most eating venues only have on-street parking. There is no "off time" because nestled among the many restaurants, are all types of shops making parking a difficult task. Don't be afraid to park a distance away because there is plenty to entertain you during your walk before you reach your destination. Also, after dining you will need to walk off one of the best hot dogs in the area.

After finding a place to park about five blocks from Dat Dog, my sidekick and I started our lengthy walk. My first visit, their second, I was glad to have someone that knew the ropes. We walked into a sea of orange and blue Florida football fans enjoying the menu and the large screen television. There was also a long line of guests waiting to place their orders. After looking at the chalkboard menu, I was glad that the line was so long because it gave me time to ponder on what exactly to order. There were beef dogs, pork dogs, crawfish sausage dogs, alligator dogs, hot sausage dogs, smoked sausage dogs, hot bratwurst, just to name a few. For non-meat eaters, there is even a sea dog (fried cod fish with homemade tartar sauce). I felt like I was reliving Forrest Gump substituting the shrimp with hot dogs! There was even a turducken dog (a mixture of fowl: duck, turkey and chicken). My sidekick was ecstatic to corral this one because the word on the street is that it is known to sell out fast. From the looks of his empty basket, he truly enjoyed it. Toppings (included in the initial cost) for this list of dogs is extensive. I felt a need to gently test these waters, so I settled on a pork dog. Okay, call me boring, but the next time I visit, and I will revisit, I promise to be a bit more adventuresome. From your traditional toppings of chili, cheese, relish, onions and mustard, there are also bacon bits, mushrooms, Andouille sauce, creole mustard, just to name a few to please your palate. All this served on a tasty, somewhat sweet bun and an order of fries that were enough to satisfy two diners. I don't know how it is done, but incredibly these fries stayed hot to the last bite of my dog. Toppings for the fries (plain or sweet potato) can also be numerous chili, tomatoes, crawfish etouffe, and sour cream, plus much more. They can actually serve as a complete meal. Drinks are plentiful; from tea to soft drinks to local and international beers. There is something to quench every thirst.

Dat Dog

We feasted outside on the patio because of the large football crowd inside under large umbrellas that guarded us from the sun. There is an outdoor bar with two large screen televisions for outside viewers and restrooms nearby. While inside waiting in line, I noticed a sign about reserving the upstairs for birthday parties. How cool would that be to have a hot dog party at Dat Dog? I should really think about this for my next birthday.

Dat Dog

To owner Skip Murray, I would like to thank you for returning to your native New Orleans after 27 years from the UK after Hurricane Katrina to join the list of ever growing restaurants in our city. We need each and every one of you to satisfy the taste buds of our citizens and visitors. Currently, there is one great hot dog at two locations (original location still in operation at 5030 Freret Street). Hopefully, there will be more. Some diners may think that the prices are steep (hot dog, fries, and soft drink averaging about $12.00), but this is not your average dog. It's Dat Dog, on that Dat Street in Dat City and I top Dat Dog with 4 fleurs-di-lis and I know Dat you will not be disappointed!

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux

September, 2013

Cafe Dauphine

Cafe Dauphine

5229 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 309-6391
www.cafedauphinenola.com
cafe dauphine new orleans
Cafe Dauphine

Down in the Lower Ninth Ward in the Holy Cross section of town, sits a gourmet treasure Cafe Dauphine. On the Friday before Hurricane Isaac, my party of three visited Cafe Dauphine by luck of chance. While most people in other parts of the country would be bunkering down for an approaching storm, people in New Orleans try to locate an open restaurant where they can feast on their last meal. Our party consisted of just the right combination of food lovers. We each ordered totally different dishes and settled in for a relaxing evening and talk of the approaching storm. The atmosphere and hospitality at Cafe Dauphine was wonderful.

I cannot remember the last time that I visited a neighborhood restaurant and a worker actually greeted me at the door and held it open with a smile. We were ushered to our seats and not one but two waitresses came over to record our orders. I started off with an appetizer of gumbo, which I found quite tasty, but a little on the salty side. It was loaded with seafood and also chicken and sausage. My main meal consisted of the house salad of numerous fresh greens, tomatoes, cheese, fresh eggs and croutons with homemade thousand-island dressing, stuffed mashed potatoes and stuffed shrimp. The fried stuffed shrimp were humongous and wonderfully seasoned. I usually don't leave any restaurant carrying a Styrofoam to go container, but it was impossible to finish the order that consisted of four. The potatoes were loaded, but unlike the gumbo, I found a need for a dash of salt.

If I had to choose downsides for Cafe Dauphine, it would be the slow service, lack of adequate parking because it is located in the middle of the neighborhood, and I had to request bread, which I believe should be a staple along with butter on any New Orleans's restaurant table. Just maybe if hot bread and butter were offered, the wait for the main course would not seem so long. The other members of my party were also pleased with their choices of red beans (slightly on the runny side) with a traditional stuffed pepper, the house special of two deep-fried battered stuffed peppers loaded with crabmeat and shrimp and for the sandwich lover a hot sausage on French with a side of fries.

All dinners include two sides and my only disappointing moment when ordering was that there was no macaroni and cheese. One party member was adventuresome and ordered the bread pudding topped with pecan rum sauce that was granted his approval. In my opinion, with more foot traffic so that the staff can get a smooth flow of things, Cafe Dauphine will become a hot dining experience for locals and guests alike. On a scale of 1 to 5, in my opinion, Cafe Dauphine is given 3.5 fleurs-de-lis. I think for them, the best is yet to come.

restaurants in new orleans rating

~ Nola Roux

September, 2012

The Munch Factory

The Munch Factory

6325 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70122
(504) 324-5372
www.themunchfactory.net

Recently, I hesitantly accompanied someone to dinner on a Thursday night after an extremely grueling day at work. All I could think of was going home and taking my usual nap on the sofa before bedding down for the night. Now all I can think of is a revisit to The Munch Factory.

The Munch Factory on Elysian Fields Avenue
Fines Herb Chicken

If you ever felt that the native, young residents of this wonderful city of New Orleans have no direction, think again and take a ride over to 6325 Elysian Fields Avenue. Have dinner and then give me your opinion. Hat's off to 20+ Chef Jordan Ruiz and his young wife, Alexis, the owners of this eatery that has the community both talking and eating. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, I am ecstatic that Chef Ruiz returned to New Orleans, his hometown, to showcase his trade.

After being totally impressed on my dining experience, I researched the history of this restaurant and discovered that they were previously housed at 5339 Franklin Avenue. I was told by my dinner date that those quarters were too small and could not accommodate the many regular guests and that the parking was horrible, consisting mostly of on street. The new location has a well-lit, convenient parking lot that will hold not only the guests seated vehicles, but also those that have agreed to wait their turn to dine.

We were greeted at the front counter by Chef Jordan's mom. Yes, this is a family affair and it gives you not only wonderful cuisine, but also a homey atmosphere while dining. Alexis the wife/co-owner promptly welcomed us and showed us to our table and handed us menus. She answered the many questions I had trying to decide what to order and graphically described each item as though they too were part of the Ruiz family. After placing our dinner orders, I began to understand why it is called The Munch Factory. You want to munch and sample everything because it all sounds so tasty. My partner, a regular, ordered an appetizer and insisted that I follow the cue. I agreed and am glad I did, ordering a bowl, not a cup, of classic "old school" chicken and sausage gumbo as the menu describes it. A side item of tomato and basil salad for sharing was also ordered at a price of $3.50. I could have devoured this on my own. Chilled perfectly and with just the right dash of basil, it was perfect. Sorry folks, Nola Roux forgot to photograph the gumbo, only realizing it when all that was left was the spoon and bowl.

the munch factory in New Orleans
Rib Eye Grilled Steak

I settled on the Rib Eye Grilled Steak (medium well), topped with a homemade steak butter sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed green bean, all for a reasonable cost of $20.00. Although bread was not listed on the menu, my dining partner and I requested it for an extra .50 each. If I had to use one word to describe this meal, it would be simply delicious. There was a perfect touch of crusty grilled edges on the steak that was appealing. My dining partner decided to have the Fines Herb Chicken (a whole half of chicken) having heard so many people rave about it during her frequent visits and never trying it before. This chicken is unbelievable! Yes, I also helped her finish her selection. Remember, it is called The Munch Factory; this chicken is pan-fried and roasted at the same time, topped with a creamy herb sauce. I know that sounds impossible, but trust me, you have to try it! Chef Ruiz definitely has skills! It is accompanied by potato croquettes (something I have not seen on any menus locally) with smoked Gouda and Tasso, plus green beans. This is a deal at only $16.00. There was no room for dessert, but it is offered - Tres Leches Cake (angel food cake soaked in milk, topped with whipped cream) and bread pudding (traditional in a bed of rum sauce) for $6.00 each. There are also sandwiches of various types from an Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich that I have heard is very good to Mo's Patty Melt (hot sausage patties pressed with American cheese, tomatoes and mayo). Seafood (oysters and shrimp) and roast beef are also listed on the menu. Check out the website to get a glimpse of all that The Munch Factory has to offer. It is kid friendly and offers a kids menu and also vegetarian options. Visit the newly opened bar if you like to have alcoholic beverages with your meal or after.

Wall of Frame

I must confess. Since sampling the Fines Herb Chicken, I have thought of it constantly and am planning a return visit. I now feel part of the inner circle that knows one of this city's culinary best-kept secrets. I am hoping that this secret gets out of the inner circle and makes its way into other circles around the city. Note that the hours of operation are Tuesday thru Saturday 5-9 pm and on Friday, lunch is served from 11:30 am to 2 pm. After dining, make sure you check out the "Wall of Fame" showcasing photos of frequent visitors. If this is an indication of the Ruiz's culinary future, it is a successful and bright one. In my opinion, The Munch Factory earns 5 fleurs-de-lis for not only for the wonderful cuisine, but also the determination and dedication of the Ruiz's to this city.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux

September, 2012

Big Shirleys of New Orleans

Big Shirleys of New Orleans

5222 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70122
(504) 252-4835

Every so often, I feel the need to have a down-home cooked lunch. Suddenly, Big Shirleys of New Orleans came to mind. I have heard their advertisement frequently on the radio and decided this would be the day that I paid them a visit. My party and I were quickly greeted at the door by a very tall gentleman. With a straight face he asked were we sent over by the radio station to answer the question that would net the $1,000.00 check for the restaurant sponsored contest. I quickly asked what the question was. He stated, "How many midgets can you put in a Volkswagen?" My response was "as many as you have." He laughed and said you answered correctly but I don't have the check. Enough of the small talk, I was ready to take on the task I had ventured out for "eating a home-cooked" lunch. He offered us the Obama table, but I opted out because who knows, it is campaign time and Mr. President may be in the neighborhood.

Big Shirleys on Elysian Fields

My party and I pondered on the menu not knowing what to order. The tall gentlemen pulled up a chair while we read the menu over and over again. Trying to divert his attention away from the time we were spending trying to make a decision, I asked him was Big Shirley in. He told me Big Shirley was his mom and she was not in right now. I asked did he think she would be in shortly, and he answered that she was deceased. At that moment I felt that there had been a strong connection between mother and son and that she would be forever with him in his place of business. After taking a moment to recollect myself, I settled on one of the entrees pork chops and 2 sides. My choices of sides were macaroni and cheese and yams. There was an option of having my chops grilled, barbecued, jerked, or fried. Trying to stay somewhat healthy (while ordering those fattening sides); I decided to have them grilled. Pork chops are something I hardly ever place on my "must eat list" when dining out, but I was happy I choose them.

Although the wait was quite lengthy for the amount of patrons seated, I felt it was worth it. My plate arrived with not one, but two boneless chops grilled to perfection just for me. Also on the plate in separate containers were my sides, all surrounded by sprinkles of parsley. The mac and cheese and yams were delicious, but would have been knocked up a notch if they were just a little bit warmer. No meal to me is complete without bread, which I requested and was not charged for. I was given a serving of three crunchy slices of French bread, toasted with butter and sprinkled with parsley. Topping it off was a bottle of Barq's Root Beer. It doesn't get any better than this in New Orleans! Entrees range from $7.95 for boneless chicken breast also with order options as the pork chops to $16.95 for a seafood plate (catfish, shrimp and oysters). There are local favorites of red beans and rice, jambalaya and also blackened shrimp or chicken Alfred. Also included on the menu are 7 types of salads and 8 poor boy sandwiches. If you have room for dessert, bread pudding and a dessert special each for $3.50 is listed on the menu. Big Shirley's is also open for breakfast from 7:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. On Friday nights, visit them for live jazz at 6:00 p.m.

I am going to contribute the length of waiting time to receive my lunch to the love and care that is given to each plate that passes over the counter to each and every customer. I am sure Big Shirley's would have wanted it this way. Big Shirley's receives 4 fleurs-de-lis for its taste, selection and that warm, fuzzy feeling we all need every once in a while.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux

September, 2012

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