Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr. B's Bistro - a Happy Mistake!

One night there were a few of us who desperately needed to escape a *gasp* BAD MEAL.  We were in New Orleans, and we found ourselves facing a buffet of turkey cold cuts, French's mustard, and a faux etouffee served on Uncle Ben's rice.  Exactly.  So we assessed the crowd, slowly walked backwards toward the door, and then made a run for it.

Out into the street we scampered like rats, scared that we might get caught, but finding it strangely exhilarating to be so free from the torment.

By the time we careened around the corner, we had picked up a few other stragglers along the way.  Catching our breath walking down the street, all of us had our heads down checking our smartphones and various foodie sites to find our next culinary extravaganza.  For just one moment, a couple of folks looked up and saw this dive of a place that looked to be a Gumbo place.  This is a high risk, high reward type of situation, and it's not for the faint of heart.  It's polarizing, which doesn't quite work for a large group of people, even if it means escaping grocery store deli meat.  Not that there's anything wrong with that...

We all walked into the Bourbon House, and it was fine, a nice restaurant that looked like it could be on the corner of a popular street in Atlanta, or maybe Chicago, perhaps Sacramento... So an even smaller group decided to take the risk and backtracked back to the little divey Gumbo place.  But then we walked in, and a pungent stink of death came upon us.  If it hadn't stunk so much, we might have enjoyed the quirky atmosphere of every little piece of paper that had ever entered the place having been stapled onto the wall.  Thankfully there was nary a soul there to even notice us, even though the place was utterly empty, which made our spin around less awkward.

Wandering down the block, we ran into Mr. B's Bistro.  Its corner window emitted an inviting warm orange glow.  We glanced at each other - why not?

Mr. B's Bistro is part of the Brennan Family restaurant dynasty.  And as long as they keep serving up eats as good as this, I'm happy to methodically and systematically go to every single one of them.

The interior is rich and comfortable, yet I felt a little uncomfortable being so casually dressed, with dozens of beads adorning my neck.  What a tourist.  But they didn't mind.  We swooped in and were seated immediately.  Our servers were classically dressed and professional, but with a witty humor that brought levity to an otherwise serious environment.

For my appetizer, I ordered the Niman Ranch Pork Belly.  I am powerless against the words pork belly.  When I see it, I must have it.  Add the words Niman Ranch, and it's like kryptonite.  This particular dish was oven roasted with fig preserves and served with spinach and a nice crunchy crouton.  Truly melt-in-the-mouth wonderment came over me.  The fattiness lends a rich mouthfeel and a juxtaposition against the meat itself, and then throw in the sweetness of the fig preserve to counter the saltiness and this thing was cookin'!  Too good.

 And then came the entree.  I went through quite a bit of indecisive agita on this one.  Rarely do I see a menu where I would be willing to eat everything listed.  This was one of those few times, and my discourse with the server was akin to a therapy session.  "What do you FEEL like having tonight?" and "This dish always makes me feel really happy when I eat it" and "Nothing beats some good comfort food, if you ask me..."  I finally followed my initial desire for true Southern Shrimp & Grits.  The shrimp was wrapped in Maplewood Bacon and laid on top of creamy, sumptuous stone ground yellow grits.  It's not healthful by any means, but when in the South, and in a wonderful restaurant, I have decided to forego the agita and always go for this dish.  Can you imagine a PA Dutch version of this?  I don't even want to talk about it.
At the end of the evening, we began rolling ourselves back to our hotel happy as a shrimp wrapped in bacon.  Along the way we caught a whiff of some really sweet-smelling weed and hung around to find the source before realizing that we were not in the suburbs of Hershey, PA and that we should probably move along quickly.  I slept soundly that night, counting free-range hogs... 

1 comment:

Life in the Garden said...

Never been there and must go next time I'm in NOLA. If you go back, let me know. Craig found an incredible, out of the way breakfast place called Elizabeth's that was filled with local fisherman eating crab grits for breakfast with strong coffee and praline crusted bacon. one of my best meals ever.