In today's Short Order Reviews we check out a Frenchmen Street spot that might as well be in Anywhere, USA, a French Quarter favorite that fell short of expectation, and a Mid-City mainstay stuck in mediocrity. An uplifting Thursday post to get you ready for the weekend.
Marigny Brasserie - It's bizarre to me that a restaurant on Frenchman Street - the most bohemian, eclectic, funky street in New Orleans - could have such an uninspired menu. The list of gumbo, jambalaya, fried seafood platters, and po-boys reads like a greatest hits of the New Orleans dining lexicon. Maybe one or two of the ten appetizer choices is not dropped into the deep fryer. Note to self - piling olive salad on top of a head of fried calamari does not hide its chewiness. Pasta dishes were bland, thin, and under seasoned. Burger was of typical quality for your neighborhood bar, which is to say disappointing. The lone worthwhile dish on the table was the macaroni and cheese, whose rubbery layer of melted cheddar gave way to a creamy, cheesy penne underneath. Your best choice on the menu it is; reason for returning it certainly is not. The front bar room is comfortable and unique enough, but the red upholstered booths and generic wood tables and chairs in the main dining room could fool any diner into thinking that he is in the restaurant of the Hampton Inn in Plano, TX or Hoover, AL. The cocktail list is interesting enough, and there was a 2 for 1 special on canned beers leftover from the Halloween festivities. Unfortunately, cheap beer could not save the day. Bogey.
Muriel's - With The Folk Singer's mom in town, we decided on brunch at Muriel's so that she could hear hear the jazz trio and so that I could figure out if there was more to Muriel's than just shrimp and goat cheese crepes. The building is one of the French Quarter’s best dining locations, with the inner atrium and long, comfortable bar hidden in the rear. Unfortunately, the food leaves much to be desired. Shrimp and goat cheese crepes were great as always, but it was slow roll downhill from there. Special soup of duck and jalapeno had a tan roux, plenty of shredded duck, but not enough spice. Alligator hash was dry and could have used an extra helping of hollandaise. Eggs Sardou sat in a pool of thin, buttery sauce with spinach as a lesser spin on the classic. Vegetable plate was a haphazard mélange of pickled cauliflower, roasted tomato, and deliciously fried oyster mushrooms. (Don’t ask me why TFS ordered that.) With such a nice atmosphere, I can't help but think that if the food improved then locals would easily supplant tourists as the primary clientele. Oh, and one another issue: Since when is pecan crusted puppy drum considered the staple of a “classic New Orleans brunch”? Bogey.
Fellini's - The restaurant was surprisingly empty for a Saturday night, but that’s probably because of the 2:30pm LSU kickoff against Auburn and the Jesuit vs. Brother Martin game around the corner at Tad Gormley. The cool fall weather beckons a table on the patio out front. Started with the hummus, which is a small portion but a sufficient starter with the soft, thick pita. I prefer the smoked tomato dip though. Lamb roll is prepared and then baked so that thin thin lavash cracks and crumbles with each bite. The lamb was tough and dry, and the tzaziki was buried toward opposite ends, which was unfortunate because the lamb could have used the moisture. Accompanying pasta salad was a healthy alternative to fries but nothing more than filler for the plate. Fellini's is honest about what it is - an affordable restaurant that offers a menu of healthier alternatives to pizza, po-boys, and burgers. Bogey/Par.