Tag Archives: Sandwiches

March Madness at Redline Gastrolounge

28 Mar

‘Tis the season for games, games, and more games. My friends and I decided to meet up for dinner and drinks last week, and what better place to watch some March Madness games than at the new Redline Gastrolounge right across from the Verizon Center. My friends Alicia and Matthew got there early and we were able to secure a table after waiting a bit at the bar.

Sadly, we did not get one of the coveted booths with table top beer taps. We were staring at the nearby tables in jealousy, as the idea of having the ability to pour as much beer as you wanted without having to wait for a server was very appealing, but also dangerous. We couldn’t tell if you had the option of switching the taps as we would have preferred Dogfish over Bud Light, but it was definitely a cool idea.

Pita Tuna Sandwich

With our drafts glasses in hand, we ordered our food and took took in the sensory overload of games and TVs all around us. I decided to get the pita tuna sandwich, with grilled Ahi tuna, toasted sesame seeds, avocado, and cucumber sauce. I asked if they had anything other than tater tots or fries, and the vegetable option turned out to be what looked like a bowl of fajita veggies.

The sandwich itself was huge, and although it was somewhat messy, it had a great combination of rare tuna with the spicy sauce and creamy avocado. The pita was more sandwich-like than a pita pocket, so it fell apart quite a bit, but it wasn’t too heavy or overpowering. The vegetables were okay for what they were, but I should have just stuck with the tots.

Pizza with pesto sauce, cheese, and tomatoes

Alicia got a make-your-own pizza with pesto sauce, cheese, and tomatoes, and while I didn’t try any, it looked like a respectable size for a personal pizza. Matthew ordered the pulled pork sandwich and I don’t think he had any complaints, although it looked quite small compared to my giant pita that took up almost the whole plate.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about Redline given the mixed reviews. However, considering we visited during one of the busiest sports watching periods of the year, our food arrived promptly and it was a fun, if not incredibly loud, atmosphere for checking out games with friends. Just don’t expect to hear too much of each other’s conversations!

Redline is located at 707 G St. NW in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Redline Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Geste Offers Convenience for Commuters, Quality Wine and Food for Locals

22 Mar

When Crossfire closed down at the corner of Edgemoor Lane and Old Georgetown Road, we were curious as to what would replace the mediocre burger spot. About a little over a month ago, Geste Wine & Food opened its doors to downtown Bethesda.

Geste is another welcome addition the neighborhood. Not only do they offer sandwiches and salads, but also calzones, Panini, and even some Indian dishes such as a Chicken Tikka Roll.

Furthermore, the store offers a New York style pizzeria with 10″ and 16″ sizes to choose from.

Geste Pizza

Lest we forget the name of the store is Geste Wine AND Food, and the former part of the description sets it apart from other wine stores in the area. Geste offers a vast selection of wines to choose from – modern labels along with reasonable prices. You can even pay a $3 corkage fee should you want to drink your bottle inside the store. Cork and Fork this is not, and that’s a good thing.

In addition, Geste offers a variety of beers as well. Patrons can also buy wine or beer by the glass and sip on them at one of several tables in the dining area.

Rachel and I ordered a 16″ Gourmet Veggie Pizza to go as it is always hard to turn down a new pizza place. Being originally from New York myself, it didn’t quite match up to its city’s brethren. While the toppings were very fresh, the crust was rather flimsy and the slices overall didn’t just capture the flavor nor crispiness of our pizza benchmark – Pete’s New Haven.  That’s not to say it wasn’t bad by any stretch, but just okay. We’ll have to try their other menu items on our next visit.

Overall, it’s hard not to imagine Geste as a great lunch spot. Conveniently located next to the Metro as well as the Tripper bus stop to New York City, it’s an excellent location for commuters and office workers alike.

Geste Wine & Food is located on 4801 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda.

Geste on Urbanspoon

Nando's Peri-Peri: Portuguese Flame-Grilled Chicken

10 Feb

While I certainly love all the lunch options I have by working in Bethesda, there are times when it’s good to mix it up. One of my former co-workers now works in Silver Spring, so a few of us decided to meet at Nando’s Peri-Peri in the downtown area.

The neighborhood is like their own version of Bethesda Row, with Lebanese Taverna, Potbelly’s, Panera Bread, and Macaroni Grill as options, just to name a few. I have always heard good things about Nando’s and have wanted to try their food, but since I don’t work in downtown DC, it’s obviously not that convenient for me. I didn’t even realize that there was a Silver Spring location until today, so I was excited to try it out.

At first glance, Nando’s looks like a typical Peruvian chicken joint, however, that is not the case. The food chain’s origins are in South Africa, where the original restaurant opened based on cooking flame-grilled chicken with a Peri-Peri spice taught to Portuguese settlers long ago by Africans in Mozambique.

Butternut Squash and Couscous Salad

Their grilled chicken is marinated for 24 hours in the Peri-Peri sauce, and then basted before serving with a sauce of your choosing based on the level of spiciness. You can get anything from a whole, half, or quarter chicken with sides, or choose between various sandwiches and salads.

For those of you who don’t love chicken, they also offer veggie burgers, a steak sandwich, and a portabella sandwich. You can also order any salad without the chicken.

I decided to get the butternut squash and couscous salad, with red onion, olives, grilled corn, and the famous chicken on a bed of greens. I choose the mild lemon and herb sauce, and then topped the salad with additional sauces at the table.

One unique feature to Nando’s is the sauces, which come in tall bottles with metal spouts that can be brought to your table. You can add as much spice and flavor to your dishes as you like. I mixed in some medium spicy sauce, garlic, and wild mushroom, and they all added a nice flavor to the salad.

Chicken Breast Wrap

While Nando’s is a fast casual chain, the staff was very friendly and greeted us at the door with menus and led us to a table. We ordered at the counter and the process seemed very smooth, until two of us got our order while our friend had to wait an additional 10 minutes for hers.

It was odd, since she ordered the same exact thing as my other friend – a grilled chicken wrap with yogurt sauce and two sides. When it finally arrived, the waiter explained that the macho peas side takes longer to prepare. In the end it was fine, but it is never fun to wait for someone’s dish while we all awkwardly look towards the kitchen.

I’m glad we discovered the Silver Spring location of Nando’s, and we will definitely be back soon. It’s a nice option for an easy meal that is also healthy and very satisfying.

Nando’s Peri-Peri is located at 924 Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.

The store plans on opening two more locations in Bethesda and Gaithersburg, according to their website.

Nando's Peri-Peri on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Mon Ami Gabi

30 Dec

While we have dined at Bethesda’s Mon Ami Gabi several times in the past, this was our first time eating brunch at the French bistro.

We had some friends in town and thought it would be a great place for brunch choice given the reasonable prices and expansive menu selections.

Even though the entrees on the menu sounded appetizing, I ordered one of the daily specials instead.

Open-faced Duck Confit SandwichThe restaurant offered an open-faced duck confit sandwich served on a slice of toasted brioche, greens, bleu cheese spread, and a side of frites. Combined with the fact that it was only $9.95, I was sold.

The sandwich was as delicious as it was described. The duck was succulent and really worked-well with the “open-faced” presentation.

The only thing I was not prepared for, however, was the overflowing cone of frites. It was clearly quantity over quality as I have had much better frites at other establishments, but that of course clearly did not keep me from shamefully finishing the entire portion.

Rachel ordered the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. She likes to have the Hollandaise sauce on the side to dip, and usually asks for the eggs to be poached well so that they don’t run. The waiter took note of both requests and said, “No problem.”

Eggs BenedictHowever, there was a problem. When everyone’s food arrived, it was evident that both requests were ignored, prompting Rachel to request a new dish.

The waitress profusely apologized and said that they would bring her another one right away. She didn’t mind waiting, but there is always that awkward time when one person is missing their food while no one else knows what to do because they want to be polite despite their food getting cold.

Rachel kept insisting to our friends that they go ahead and not wait for her, but it is honestly never fun when that sort of situation occurs. Fortunately, the new dish didn’t take too long to come out of the kitchen, and she was happy with the result.

Overall, we were very pleased with Mon Ami. Outside of Rachel’s Eggs Benedict snafu, the food and service was great. The waitress truly seemed apologetic regarding the error and continuously made sure that our waters and coffees were refilled. It’s definitely one of the better brunch spots in Bethesda, especially given the reasonable prices.


Mon Ami Gabi on Urbanspoon

Annie's Bistro Francais

17 Dec

A few weeks back, we mentioned some new restaurants opening in Bethesda, one of which was Annie’s Bistro Francais on St. Elmo Avenue. My coworkers and I were looking for a lunch option with some good soups, and I had been meaning to try this place for awhile, so off to the “other side of Bethesda” we went.

Annie’s is a fairly small space, and it wasn’t crowded when we arrived. The menu was fairly simple and consisted mostly of sandwiches, salads, and some daily homemade soups. I had a hard time deciding which to try, so I opted for the small house salad and the roasted tomato soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup and SaladThe soup was simply made with tomatoes and water blended with fresh herbs and spices, and there was no dairy in it. It was the perfect soup for a late fall day, and the small salad was more than big enough to complement the soup. They also served the meal with fresh bread, and it was a nice touch to have a large bottle of water on the table to refill our glasses if needed.

My coworkers chose a heartier soup and some sandwiches, which they said were delicious as well. If the space was a little closer to the office, I could see us going there all the time.

It looks like they are planning to serve alcohol there at some point, but as of now, they don’t have their liquor license yet. It appears that they are only open for lunch at this point and will begin serving dinner at a later date.

If we have any recommendation for Annie’s, it would be to have a legitimate website so customers can easily find the place and menu. As of now, the only information about Annie’s comes from a few reviews on Yelp and a Facebook page that is sparsely updated.

We hope a small new eatery like this survives the dizzying Bethesda restaurant scene, and will be going back soon to see how it develops.

Annie's Bistro Francais on Urbanspoon

Bethesda Restaurant News

15 Dec

It seems Bethesda has lately become a revolving door for restaurants. After a flurry of new restaurant openings in late summer and early fall, it had seemed that things cooled off a bit as Bethesda residents were busy trying out the new arrivals.

Well, it looks like new spots are on the horizon as we head towards 2011.

We already told you about Cava Grill, and it seems the place is coming along quite nicely and should open as planned by the end of December.

In other news on the Bethesda Row side, it looks like Rock Creek is closing its doors on December 31st to make way for a new restaurant, Newton’s Table.

Dennis Friedman, the former chef at Bezu in Rockville, will take over the space and hopes to reopen in March 2011 offering American food with an Asian twist while focusing on farm fresh ingredients. Thanks to BethesdaPatch for the heads up!

Friedman can also be seen on Sundays at the Bethesda Central Farmers Market serving woodfire pizza from his food truck, Fired Up Pizzas, so he already has a relationship with local farmers.

Moving to the Woodmont Triangle area, it looks like Grapeseed chef Jeff Heineman is opening a casual eatery next door to his formal restaurant, Freddie’s Lobster and Clams.

It will be a seafood shack serving food such as lobster rolls, clams, and fish and chips. This seems like a great new addition of a more casual dining establishment, and I can always go for more lobster roll options! Heineman plans to open by the end of the year. Thanks to Table Talk for the tip.

In another scoop from Table Talk, Jetties, a sandwich and salad eatery, will open in the Spring of 2011 on Fairmont Avenue next to BGR. There is already a location in Northwest DC on Foxhall Road, and they are known best for their carved turkey sandwiches.

I’m always glad when a new sandwich and salad place opens, since there never seems to be quite enough options around lunch time aside from old standbys like Sweetgreen, Potbelly, and of course, the new Taylor Deli.

Check back for updates as these new spots get ready to open, and for other breaking restaurant news.

Culinary Adventures in New Orleans: Day Three

8 Dec

After spending the first day or so in the French Quarter, we had the opportunity to walk around the Garden District on Saturday. We could not have asked for better weather while passing by all the historic mansions on our way to lunch.

We had made reservations at Coquette after reading such glowing reviews about the restaurant both on the Interwebs  (I diligently do my research, as you can tell). They also featured a prix fixe lunch menu which included three courses for $20.

Cochon de LaitThe drink list reminded me of something you would see at PS 7’s or The Passenger as Coquette is well renowned for its excellent cocktails.

I ordered the Coquette Collins which featured bourbon, Pimm’s, Cherry Herring, lemon, and soda. It was so clean and refreshing given how warm it was outside.

Rachel went for the traditional Bloody Mary which was made with house-infused black pepper vodka. She remarked how it was one of the best she has ever had, and after I had a sip, I could not agree more, and I don’t even like Bloody Marys!

I started the meal off with the Burrata appetizer. Severed atop pieces of crostini and layered with roasted tomatoes, the burrata and its creamy texture really worked well with the rest of the ingredients. The cheese had a mild flavor, which was perfectly fine with me as I am not the biggest fan of strong cheeses, while the tomatoes were simply savory. It was quite the enjoyable first course.

Burrata CrostiniFor the entrée, I opted for the Cochon de Lait, another one of New Orleans’ specialties. After tasting the first bite, I could see why.

The dish’s main component is the suckling pig that is marinated and then pit-roasted. The presentation made it appear like a variation of pulled pork, but regardless of how it looked, it was simply fantastic. Accompanied with pepperonata, fingerling potatoes, and pork jus, the tenderness of the pork combined with the well thought-out seasonings made this one of my favorite dishes of the entire trip.

Rachel ordered the drum fish since, after hearing about it at NOLA the night before, she wanted to try a local, regional fish.  The filet was served over a mushroom broth with some pieces of smoked ham and leeks. Much to her delight, it was moist and not too heavy for a lunch meal.

Beignets with Chocolate Coffee Pot de CrèmeAs for dessert, I ordered the beignets with chocolate coffee pot de crème. The beignets were light and fluffy, but the pot de crème might have stolen the spotlight from its fried counterparts. Between being not too heavy and possessing such a fresh, potent chocolate flavor, this item could have been served by itself. Not that the beignets weren’t bad, but I preferred the ones we had the night before at Café du Monde instead.

Dinner, on the other hand, would be much more casual that night.

As stated before, I am a big Maryland fan, and since they were playing Florida State in a rather important matchup, I wanted to find a decent place to watch it as well as enjoy some good Louisianan bar fare.

I recalled walking past a place called Tracey’s in the Garden District when we were heading over to Coquette earlier in the day, and the place was jam-packed with LSU fans who were watching the Tigers take on Ole Miss.

Turns out that it is a rather popular sports bar (used to be named Parasol’s), and since it appeared like more of a local hangout as opposed to tourist central on Bourbon Street, it was right down our alley.

First off, I was in love with their beer selection. Three dollars for Abita bottles? That alone won me over.

Roast Beef Po-BoyThe restaurant didn’t really have waiter service per se, but instead you just went up to the kitchen and ordered your food off of the blackboard menu hanging on the wall. While I was scrolling through my list of options, there I saw it: roast beef po-boy.

Rachel and I split a sandwich knowing it would be huge as well as ordered a side of gravy fries, because, well, they’re gravy fries.

We had no idea, however, how good the roast beef po-boy would actually be.

Now, I despise mayonnaise on my sandwiches, burgers, you name it. I didn’t realize the po-boy came with mayo, but you know what, it was pretty frickin good.

I think that can be attributed to how the hot roast beef au jus, gravy, and mayo combined together inside the po-boy and created a sauce I can only describe as purely delicious.

Gravy FriesThe bread played a crucial element as well as it held up rather well despite the greasy, appetizing mess that was stuffed inside. Observing the fresh loaves stacked in the back of the kitchen further emphasized why the sandwich was on such a level of greatness.

As for the gravy fries? They went hand in hand with the po-boy. Freshly fried and topped with the same gravy found in the sandwich, you could not ask for a better dinner at a reasonable price.

A day later, I found out that Gourmet Magazine had named Tracey’s roast beef po-boy the best roast beef sandwich, ever. And we had gone there on a whim! I love it when stuff like that happens.

Oh, and the publication was absolutely right by the way.

Stayed tuned for Day Four of our New Orleans adventures…

Coquette Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon Tracey's Irish Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Hanukkah Dinner at Star and Shamrock

7 Dec

Before heading over to the Free Energy show at Rock and Roll Hotel last Wednesday night, we thought to ourselves, what better way to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah than by having a “holiday meal” at nearby Star and Shamrock?

While we have been to the Atlas District countless times, we finally had the opportunity to step foot into H Street’s Jewish deli meets Irish tavern.

Open Face Roast Beef SandwichWe grabbed two seats at the bar and, without hesitation, ordered the latkes. It is Hanukkah, after all.

Just a few minutes later, six huge, freshly fried potato pancakes arrived in a basket with a side of apple sauce. While I wasn’t too crazy about them being deep-fried as opposed to being traditionally cooked in a pan, they were still rather good.

And since I’m the type of person who strays away from having his latkes on the soggy side, I came away impressed with the crispy texture. Just judging from their sheer size alone, these are not definitely your bubbie’s latkes.

For dinner, I ordered the open face roast beef sandwich with gravy, one of the specials Star and Shamrock was offering that night. While the roast beef itself was decent, the bread was ridiculously over-buttered to the point that you could nearly taste the food that was cooking on the griddle earlier that day.

The butter flavor nearly overpowered the sandwich’s contents, and that includes the subpar gravy. While the bread surprisingly did not become too soggy, it was unfortunate the meal took such a dive after the latkes.

Potato Latkes and Matzo Ball SoupRachel, on the other hand, played it safe and went with the traditional matzo ball soup. The matzo ball itself was very large, yet had good density – not too hard but not soggy either. Yes readers, there is a science involved when it comes to matzo balls.

In fact, it was so big that it took up nearly the majority of the bowl. It was difficult to enjoy the broth when you had to cut through so much of the matzo ball. In regards to flavor, it was just average.

All and all, nothing really stood out except for maybe the latkes, and considering we recently cooked some frozen ones from the Golden label a few days ago (which are excellent, by the way), that’s even a stretch.

At least Free Energy put on a great show.

Star and Shamrock on Urbanspoon

Culinary Adventures in New Orleans: Day Two

3 Dec

We decided to rent a car for the day so that we could not only drive out to Abita Springs and tour the famous Abita Brewery, but also take a swamp tour up in Slidell, Louisiana.  After seeing several alligators, turtles, and birds, it was nearly lunchtime and the group was pretty hungry.

Crawfish BallsI checked out some well-received places on Yelp and came across Southside Café, and since it was only ten minutes away from where we were at the time as well as a local hangout, it seemed like a no-brainer.

We started our meal off with an order of crawfish balls. It was basically crawfish meat blended with stuffing that was then breaded, deep-fried, and served with a side of remoulade. It proved to be an excellent starter as the homemade remoulade really complimented the flavor of the crawfish.

Learning from my past mistake at Johnny’s, I opted for a half order of the house specialty, the muffaletta, in fear of receiving too large a sandwich this time around.

Well, it turns out that I should have ordered a quarter of a sandwich had such an option existed on the menu. The supposed “half order” was monstrous! I cannot fathom someone actually ordering let alone eating a whole muffaletta. It would feed a family of four easily.Seafood Muffaletta

As for the sandwich itself, it was not only very good but also unique. One of New Orleans’ signature dishes, the muffaletta features ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, all of which is piled high on round Italian “muffaletta” bread.

The centerpiece, however, is the olive salad that is layered on top. The combination of the meats and cheese with the marinated olives and slightly toasted bread was divine, so much in fact that I could only eat half of it. Rest assured the remaining half would not make it the rest of the day.

Rachel ordered a half order of the seafood muffaletta and, needless to say, hers was even harder to consume given the shear height of the sandwich. She got a seafood combo of shrimp, oysters, flounder, and catfish, and while delicious, a quarter was more than enough food to last through the late evening. She decided to get the olive salad on the side, which proved rather difficult to manually place inside the sandwich, and wound up just trying some of it a la carte.

After lunch, we made our way towards the Abita Brewery to checkout the home one of our favorite brews (Purple Haze, for those inquiring).

Abita BreweryAbita BreweryAbita Amber on tap

This might have been my favorite brewery tour as we not only got to see the brewery actually in operation, but also had the opportunity to serve ourselves from nearly a dozen or so brews on tap!

And the best part? It was all free!

After we returned the car and took a nap back at the hotel, it was on to Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA for dinner.

We started things off by splitting two appetizers amongst the four of us. First we had the stuffed chicken wings with homemade Hoisin sauce. We found out from the waiter that the “wings” were stuffed with shrimp, pork, and noodles, almost like a Southern take-off of an egg roll. Seeing how the table quickly devoured them, I’d say they were a hit.

Miss Hay's Stuffed Chicken Wings with Homemade Hoisin Dipping SauceAndouille sausage and shrimp gumboShrimp and Grits

The second dish was the andouille sausage and shrimp gumbo and it was simply outstanding. Rich in flavor and perfect texture, it was arguably the best gumbo I’ve ever had. Then again, being in New Orleans while eating at one of its most famous chef’s restaurants, this should come as no surprise.

Grilled Pork ChopFor my entrée, I ordered the grilled pork chop which was served with sweet potatoes, toasted pecans, and a caramelized onion reduction sauce.  While I thought the pork chop was rather flavorful, it was a bit too dry for my liking despite asking for it to be cooked medium rare which took it down a notch or two (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Rachel got one of the most famous Southern staples, shrimp and grits. These shrimp were really large and coated with a delicious barbeque sauce. They were swimming in a pool of cheddar smoked grits topped with apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and red chili-Abita butter sauce. Delish. I was actually drooling more over her dish than mine, and of course, finished it off.

At the end of the night, we decided on splitting the chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Accompanied with sweet potato ice cream (!), chocolate sauce, and caramel, it was decadent to say the least. Chocolate Bread PuddingThe bread pudding itself was great, especially since it was still very warm, but mixing it with the sweet potato ice cream made it that much better.

As for those muffaletta leftovers? Let’s just say a late evening spent on Frenchman Street took care of that.

Stay tuned for Day Three of our New Orleans adventure…

Southside Cafe on Urbanspoon NOLA Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Culinary Adventures in New Orleans: Day One

1 Dec

New Orleans is a city that we have always wanted to travel to, both for its fun factor and famous Creole cooking. I was originally planning to go this past February for my bachelorette weekend, but thanks to Snowmageddon, that didn’t quite happen.

I still had a credit on AirTran that was going to expire at the end of the year, and Brett had always wanted to travel there too, so we planned a four day weekend on the weekend before Thanksgiving with our friends Jess and Travis.

Of course, we could not go to a culinary mecca such as New Orleans without doing our diligent research, so by the time we arrived we already had most of our meals planned out.

Since we did so much and had so many delicious meals to tell you all about, we thought it would be best to break our trip up into days instead of establishments. So, without further ado, we bring you Day One…

We arrived in New Orleans around lunchtime, and as soon as we checked into our hotel, we made our way towards the French Quarter. We knew we wanted to try po-boys as our first meal, and since Johnny’s Poboys was a short walk and a staple destination for the New Orleans sandwich, off we went.

Shrimp and Oyster Po-BoyClub Po-BoyShrimp Gumbo

The menu was very overwhelming with at least 20 types of po-boys to choose from, as well as muffaletta, gumbo, fried chicken and more.  I decided to get the special which consisted of half a shrimp po-boy and a bowl of shrimp gumbo, and boy, was I glad I did!

Not only was it the perfect meal to start the trip, but I would have been in trouble if I ordered the full sandwich as they were easily 12 inches and pretty much a meal for the entire day.

Brett got a full po-boy with half oysters and half shrimp, and he could barely eat it all while Travis’s BLT po-boy looked like it could feed an entire family. We left completely stuffed, and ready to explore the quarter.

The next stop was Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop at the lower end of Bourbon Street. Hurriance at Pat O'BriensA friend recommended that we check it out as it is the oldest bar in NOLA and perhaps the entire country.

It was pretty deserted (then again, it was 3pm on a Thursday) but definitely a cool atmosphere and we consumed our first of many Abita Amber Ales there.

Shortly after, we strolled up Bourbon Street and made our way to Pat O’Briens to try the bar’s legendary cocktail, The Hurricane. Since it was still early, each couple split one. We realized the trick was that while they taste strong at first, by the time you get to the bottom, the ice melts a little resulting in a very tasty yet dangerous combination.

We started our night early since we wanted to watch the Maryland Terrapins play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, so we took the St. Charles Trolley uptown, and after a very long ride, we made it to Cooter Brown’s Sports Bar. (Note to self: the trolley seemed like a good idea at the time, but it took an hour to travel nearly three miles on one street.)

Cooter’s had a huge beer selection that rivaled that of the Brickskeller in DC, but I have a feeling they actually had more in stock as well as much better food.

Once our Terrapins put up a good fight but ultimately lost to Pitt, we headed to the famous Jacques-Imo’s Cafe only a few blocks away for some traditional New Orleans cooking.

Cornbread MuffinsWe already knew we would have to wait awhile since they only take reservations for parties of five or more. Fortunately, they have a relationship with the Maple Leaf Bar next door, and after an hour of chilling there with some drinks, our table was ready.

The hostess took us to our table, but not before cutting through the kitchen in order to seat us in the rear dining room.

The waitress came by and served us a basket of cornbread muffins that were to die for. While heavy on the butter (but hey, it’s New Orleans), they were incredible as they proved to be crisp on the outside and moist in the middle with more than a tinge of garlic provided in each bite.

We were told by nearly every person we encountered before stepping foot in Jacuqes-Imo’s is that we must order the Alligator Cheesecake. And, well, they were right.

Alligator CheesecakeMore of a quiche than a cheesecake, it featured pieces of alligator sausage and shrimp and was decadent to say the least.

It might have very well been the single best piece of food we ate on our entire trip. It was bittersweet provided we still had three more days of excellent cuisine down the road, but in all seriousness, this was the dish to top.

We also split an order of the fried green tomatoes which was accompanied with a highly addictive shrimp remoulade. Eating this southern classic while drinking an Abita Amber… life cannot get much better.

As for our entrees, I decided on the stuffed catfish with crabmeat dressing. The catfish was impeccably cooked and slightly blackened, and it came with a hollandaise sauce, which I ordered on the side. The crabmeat dressing was basically stuffing with crab, and it melted in my mouth it was so good.

Each entrée included two side dishes, so I went with the collard greens and beets. The greens were steamed to perfection but the beets were just OK. I know I got some boring sides compared to others that were offered, but I decided to pick the somewhat healthier options, which was a challenge to say the least.

Fried Green TomatoesGrilled Duck BreastStuffed Catfish with Crabmeat Dressing

Brett ordered the grilled duck breast served with an orange soy glaze, shitake mushrooms, and pecans. He said the duck was extraordinary as the meat was not only juicy and well-seasoned, but the flavor encapsulated New Orleans with each bite.

Brett opted for the mashed potatoes and red beans and rice for his choice of sides. He devoured both of them with ease and was impressed with the quality given how easy it is for most kitchens to lose focus on the sides while putting all their effort into the entrees. Not the case with Jacque-Imo’s!

We were so stuffed that we skipped on dessert, as tempting as it was, and made our way home as we had an early start the next day to head to Slidell for our Swamp Tour!

Stay tuned for Day Two of our New Orleans adventure…

Johnny's Po-Boys on Urbanspoon Jacques-Imo's Café on Urbanspoon