Feb 8, 2012

A Commoner Reviews Muriel’s, New Orleans

It’s well into February, and the two big Mardi Gras 2012 weekends are fast approaching.  For the first time in about eight years I will not be hosting a Mardi Gras party to commemorate it, nor am I able to make it back to my favorite city to celebrate.  So, one way I’ve been getting my Mardi Gras fix is through the Facebook updates provided by Muriel’s, an outstanding restaurant nested on the corner of Chartres and St. Ann, diagonally across the street from Jackson Square. 

Muriel’s is literally in the heart of the French Quarter, and their photos of Mardi Gras decorations going up throughout the quarter are reminding me what it means to miss New Orleans (apologies to Louis Armstrong).  Check out their Facebook page and their website if you can.  It also happens to be where I had one of my most fabulous meals in recent memory when I was fortunate enough to be treated for a birthday dinner there by a mysterious and exotic Gypsy.  It was an uncommon meal for a commoner like me. 
I made it easy by ordering a three-course meal from their table d’hote menu.  To be honest, everything looked and sounded outstanding, so I needed some help narrowing down the choices. 
I chose the shrimp and goat cheese crepes for my appetizer – the cheese filled the crepes, which were covered with a creamy buttery sauce and large gulf shrimp nestled on top.  About four crepes filled a small plate, perfect for sharing with Gypsy.  They even have the recipe on their website if you want to try it yourself.  
I debated about the entrée, wondering if gulf seafood stew would be filling enough, but ultimately I couldn’t resist the combination of shrimp, fish and Louisiana crab meat swimming in a rich sauce alongside tomato and oyster mushrooms.  I’m no connoisseur, but I would choose the taste of Louisiana soft shell crab over any other I’ve ever had.  The stew, it turns out, was exactly the right size for a complete entrée.  And as delicious as Gypsy’s tournedos of beef looked, I didn’t really feel like I missed out in the lease by having a meat-free meal. 
For dessert, I opted for the vanilla bean crème brulee.  A perfect crust on top, cracked open to reveal the melt-in-your-mouth custard inside.  I know, I should have tried the bread pudding, but after having Court of Two Sisters’ bread pudding during brunch earlier in the day, I figured why not branch out? 
Truly, from what I can tell, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.  And the service, as you would expect, was impeccable.  We were also impressed with the restaurant’s interior, particularly the bar, but since we had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and more stops to make on my birthday bar crawl, we opted to return there another time, another trip.  Gypsies are such free spirits … I hope I’m lucky enough to come back to the Big Easy with her someday.         
Oh, one more thing about Muriel’s.  On our last night in New Orleans last November, we took a haunted history tour.  Guess where one of the stops was?  Apparently the ghost was off-duty the night we were there.

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