Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thumbs up: Marigny Brasserie in NOLA

Frenchmen Street Po-Boy
Our venture into the popular Marigny Brasserie (pronounced MER-ih-nee) on our pre-Thanksgiving jaunt to New Orleans has put that establishment firmly on our “visit-again” list. Yes, that po-boy above is as huge as it looks, and I ATE ALL OF IT.

We had had a scrumptious feast of rich seafood dishes at Mary Mahoney’s the night before we left home. Our plan for the Marigny was for more casual fare. I still wanted something distinctive and if possible, unique to this new-to-us eatery. Just reading the menu (you can read it here) was a treat.

The Frenchmen Street Po-Boy caught my eye. I anticipated two problems. I have eaten my share of po-boys, a popular sandwich on luscious French bread (the degree of lusciousness depends on the restaurant’s source of bread). A half is usually a meal for me.

Walter had his own meal picked out, but valiantly agreed to help me finish the po-boy if I ordered it. The result of our dual compulsions to “clean our plates,” and eat and eat to “get our money’s worth” can get us into dietary trouble at buffets and in restaurants known for abundant servings. But Walter was ordering the traditional club. He anticipated no trouble agreeing. First problem solved.

The second problem was that the Frenchmen Street included fried food—fried green tomatoes and fried gulf shrimp. The little diet-policewoman in my head screamed “No, no, you know fried doesn’t agree with you!” My brain’s vacation side said “Oh, shut up!” Second problem solved.

Waiter Tommy O
Tommy O was our waiter. I am not sure if that was his real name or stage name. Regardless, he was great. He was new to the Marigny and had never tasted the Frenchmen Street Po-boy but assured me that locals loved it. When he delivered it, it was even bigger than I expected and a visual feast.

The French bread looked crusty perfect; lightly breaded shrimp spilled out the sides. My first bite was an explosion of tastes. It took me a LOT of bites to identify the ingredients that were exciting my non-gourmet taste buds so much. There was the green-onion mayonnaise, the lightness of the fried green tomatoes and shrimp, a good pop of hotness, Cajun style. I couldn’t tell if it was the shrimp or the fried green tomatoes that supplied that distinctive Louisiana spiciness.

And I didn’t dare sacrifice a single bite to culinary detective work. My taste buds and the part of my brain wherever those taste sensations wind up would have mutinied and done something terrible to me. They wanted that marriage of flavors.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing! Contributing to our experience was the lively -- but not Bourbon Street raucous -- atmosphere. All the tables outside were filled with diners obviously enjoying good food and beverage, conversation and laughter.

Although there was a larger dining area, we chose seats in the bar next to the windows with a great view of the vibrant Frenchmen Street scene. We are teetotalers, and Tommy O kept our water glasses filled. While we were there, several families with little ones, all seemingly well known to the wait staff, shared the bar and the dining area.

Our walk from our hotel to the Marigny seemed a little creepy to me. We hit an area that wasn’t well lit and had little traffic, pedestrian or vehicle. We hadn’t quite charted our path accurately but kept going east until we hit familiar territory.

The walk back to our hotel in the French Quarter was an entirely different story. It topped off the evening perfectly. In our stroll on Frenchmen Street, we saw restaurants, bars, coffee shops and establishments with live music pouring forth, all packed together in just a few blocks. Music wasn’t the only thing flowing out of the doors. Customers spilled out. They expanded their obvious enjoyment of the lively establishments to include doorways and sidewalks.

Now I am looking forward to another visit to sample more of the Marigny’s fare and Frenchmen Street’s music. More about the Faubourg Marigny district from Wikipedia here.

5 comments:

Sandra said...

i do so LOVE all things sandwich and this looks superb and BIG and i would have eaten the whole thing to

Ginny said...

I have read this post intensly, backing up to re-read some parts, and drooling all the while! Hey, I didn't know our brains had a vacation side! I think my vacation side was replaced with an indulgence side! You did even tempt me to look at the menu, as I've never seen one from New Orleans, that took almost a whole afternoon, ha ha ha!! Interesting that they also have Italian food! Perhaps next time you will be bold enough to try the fried alligator and report back to us!!! Pictures of it would be appreciated. No better yet, order something tastier and take a picture of the alligator on someone else's plate! Ha ha ha!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, alligator is very tasty. But get it blackened instead of fried. When it is fried it just tastes like chewy chicken. But when it is blackened (seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cayenne, paprika, etc etc etc and thrown into a cast iron skillet that is red hot) it is just pure heaven. The next time I order some form my local eatery I will take a picture for y'all.

-J, the son

LC said...

Hmmmm! May have to tag along with my Louisiana son J for a personal introduction to gator! Can't wait to see that photo!

Anonymous said...

I have just recently been employed at the Braserie. The waiter you are speaking of is Jonny O. He is amazing!