Emeril's New Orleans was our first dinner in town. He has several restaurants in town and I was told that this was a good exemplar of the food he became known for. We started with the Rabbit on fried green tomatoes this was probably our favorite dish of the night. Delicious rabbit tender and flavorful, not the least bit gamey, on top of crispy fried green tomtoes. Just a beautifully balanced dish.
Our second starter was the smoked exotic mushrooms on angel hair pasta with tasso sauce. The smokey mushrooms paired perfectly with the creamy tasso sauce which had a paprika and smoked ham flavor. Sometimes I find smokey dishes over smoked and so that the smokey taste overwhelms the rest of the components. The smokiness here was pitch perfect, though I think the noodles and the sauce could've been tossed together a bit more. Some ended up stuck together as a chunk, but the noodles that were well coated in the sauce were great.
We went on to the seafood gumbo, which was a very good version of gumbo, not very spicy but really well balanced a lot of different flavors melded together, but not a soft of muddied overcooked taste that you sometimes get with gumbo. By the end of the week, I had sampled many gumbos and this one ranked among the best.
The entrees were good, but didn't stand out as much as the rest of the meal. We tried the double cut pork chopped topped with green chile mole and the crusted redfish. The pork chop was a huge cut coated with the mole which was spicy and slightly sweet with green chile flavor, it went beautifully with the pork. The redfish was good, the crust crispy and it was a huge single filet on top of a bed of shostring potatoes in a sauce. The sauce was delicious as was the redfish, I only wish there had been more sauce and that the redfish was very well coated in a crispy but not heavy crumbs, and although the fish itself was moist, the overall effect was dryness due to the crumb exterior. Well, at least it wasn't greasy, and the sauce was wonderful.
We ended with the banana cream pie. This was a much firmer banana cream than I expected, almost like a cheesecake texture, but with the flavor of a banana custard with banana bits on it. It was fine, not overwhelmingly sweet, nor particularly memorable.
Overall, it was a successful outing, the food was good, and the service friendly, if a bit rushed. There was a bit of a corporate feel to the restaurant, very professional service, but everything geared toward turning tables quickly, selling drinks and churning out a high volume of dishes. The food is fine, particularly considering the fact that it's being produced on an industrial scale. The menu features the dishes that most identified with New Orleans and the quality is only on par with the average around the city. That said, I give Emeril Lagasse credit for supporting his home town through his businesses and efforts in attracting folks to the area by sheer force of his personality.
Next Up: New Orleans Day 1, Road Food Fest, Commander's Palace, Dick & Jenny's and more.