Friday, March 14, 2008

1179 and Vega Tapas

Went to lunch yesterday at 1179. Started off really promising. The building is a brick and beam structure which is rumored (and no reason to believe otherwise) to be the oldest building outside of the French Quarter in New Orleans. 1179 is extermely convenient to downtown New Orleans, so while Lady had an hour for lunch it would do nicely. Now, previous to this I needed a haircut, only problem is I was shedding the whole lunch which really ruined an appetite, and caused more than a few confused stares from the waiter and busboy as they wondered "I hope the customer didn not notice all the hair on the plate". Lesson learned. We split a Minestrone soup with Italian Sausage. Very fresh tomato based soup that worked well with the fennel flavor which dominated the sausage. So far, so good.

Then with the entrees things went a little south. My lasagna was heaped onto a plate and run under the salamander. No probem with that but it came out sloppy and looked more like cafeteria lasagna. The taste was ok, but just that, ok. Lady got the Veal Milanese with Pasta Afredo; except they forgot the Pasta Alfredo. That omission pretty much sent the lunch into a tailspin. Eventually pasta was brought out with the remark of, "that is how we serve it at dinner not at lunch." Well, then maybe you should have a different menu for lunch. Not ready to give up on 1179 because overall I think it is a great place, just not a great first impression.

For dinner neither of us were very hungry. For about 15 years, it seems, I have been wanting to try Vega Tapas on Metairie Road. Tonight that noble goal became fulfilled. Great spot. In fact the entire row of restaurants in the Metairie Road Shopping area (Oscar's, Great Wall, Mark Twain's, Chateau Du Lac, and Vega) had decent crowds and Du Lac was almost overflowing with people. We started with a Carpaccio and a Tortilla (Spanish for Omelet). The carpaccio was topped with a mixture of onions and big fat wild mushrooms in a light vinagrette and shaved manchego cheese. This was then topped with a light touch of truffle oil. Amazing flavors on that plate and we both marveled at how thinly the bef was sliced. The tortilla was layered with wild mushrooms as well. Lady has a thing for them. A nice Verdejo went well with everything.

Next, Patatas Bravas with a Garlic Aioli. Spicy, garlicy, and earthy. I remarked that I could eat three thousand of those things. That is a lie, if pressed I could eat many more. Gambas al Pil Pil. Firey, paprika flavored shrimp which provided two courses really. One the shrimp, the second as an oily, spicy dip for the pita bread they serve with each course. Arterial blockage be damned. Then an empadanilla de cochnilla. This missed the mark just a little for me. Perfectly cooked pork shoulder (menu describes it as a Cochon de Lait) set on top of Puff Pastry. What I didnt really love was the over abundance of shredded red cabbage. Taste just did not seem to mesh well, but I am not positive as to why. As succulent pork, crispy butter (come on thats all puff pastry is) and a vinegary cole slaw should work.

Dessert was a light affair. One scoop each of Pistachio and Saffron Ice Cream. An Osborne's port for me and some coffee and liquor concoction for Lady (the Nutty Vega was the name of the drink). Really comfortable place with comfortable booths, pillows, and a feeling of being in a Harem's tent. All in all a pretty nice Thursday evening, no time for Home Depot though.

P.S. I decided to drive in from St. Louis on Wednesday afternoon, thereby being in the car for Top Chef. I still have not seen it. In case you were wondering. I am just as disappointed in myself as you are in me.

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