[New Orleans] Muriel's

This was our fifth and final New Orleans dinner. Research had paid off and our selection meant we’d eaten well at the first four places. It was now fingers crossed that we’d get a full set. There were no worries on the food itself, although there were some minor gaps in service. Drinks were forgotten. Twice. And food seemed slow in coming out of the kitchen.

However, my companion in life later rated the meal as the best of our three week trip to America. Not the best dishes as such, but the best overall enjoyment. It was about expectations of what the food might be and how well those expectations were met. So, there was a courgette roulade. Strips of courgette had been smeared with ricotta and dotted with sun dried tomato. They had then been rolled up, dipped in egg & breadcrumbs and then fried till cooked through and the breadcrumbs crisp. A little salad garnish contributed to the five a day.

Fillet steak was accurately cooked as requested. It came with green beans which were perfectly al dente – crisp but not squeaky. The dish usually comes with mashed potato – but my companion in life may be the only person in the western world who detests mash, and asked for it to be left off. And there was a knockout sauce – a rich deep flavour which complemented the steak well.

Alongside their main carte, Muriel’s offers a table d’hote menu – three courses for $39.95 – which I decided to try. There was a choice of three or four at each course. To start a gorgonzola cheesecake – actually just a firmly set mousse, with no base as you’d get with a proper cheesecake. It was nicely cheesey and salty. Alongside, a scattering of candied pecan pieces acted as a sweet, crunchy counterpoint to the cheese. I liked this a lot.

For a main course, it was “bayoubaisse”, their take on the southern French classic. Here, prawns, mussels, crab, seafood dumplings and orzo sat in a slightly spicy tomato broth. Effectively a fish soup as everything could be eaten with a spoon. It was all pleasant enough, although the dumplings were underflavoured and overly dense in texture. For dessert, there was a well made flourless chocolate cake. Unfortunately, it came straight from a long period in the fridge, so flavours were muted.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold