Thursday, September 23, 2010

Short Order Reviews

Back again, with some quick reviews of places we have been eating. As you can tell Rene has been in something of a slump, so if you can suggest a place to cure his grumpiness, please do.

Peter - When I wrote about sushi for our "Fish Friday" series during Lent, a number of commenters recommended Mikimoto as worthy of inclusion in the list of New Orleans' top sushi bars. I finally had my first meal there a few weeks back, and here are my first impressions.

In a restaurant with no more than a dozen tables, we counted no less than 7 servers and 5 chefs shuffling in and out of the open kitchen. As such, service is attentive and the kitchen moves quickly. Spicy tuna salad (recommended by an anonymous commenter) was simple and delicious: thinly sliced cucumbers mixed with avocado and chunks of fresh tuna, dressed with ponzu and plenty of sriracha. Dynamite Roll had a layer of wasabi potent enough to singe the nostrils with every bite. Jalapeno Madness Roll (pictured) was almost too hot to eat - an entire jalapeno stuffed with tempura fried salmon and cream cheese, topped with crabstick and drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce. In short, this place can bring the heat and everything tasted fresh, but further investigation is necessary before I can crown Mikimoto as one of the best in the city. Mikimoto - Par/Birdie.

Rene - The restaurant that is Jackson was formerly a restaurant named Jackson that served slightly ambitious food at ridiculous prices. We went once and enjoyed it. The new Jackson is a restaurant that is serving slightly ambitious food at ridiculous prices. We went last weekend and did not enjoy it.

Lindsay ordered a tuna steak salad. The waitress cautioned her "That it might be served pretty rare." For $18, what arrived was a piece of tuna the size of a deck of cards. One side had been cooked to medium while the other side barely kissed the flame. In the middle was a strip of pink the width of a single playing card. The seasoning on the tuna was heavy on the cumin and spice and completely overwhelmed what may have at one point been a nice piece of fish. The greens were wilted and slimy; the promise of jicama slaw arrived as a tiny ornament on top of the fish.

I ordered the bernaise burger. Couple problems here as well. First the patty, while cooked to medium as per request, had a gritty texture from the charring. It was as if the burger had been cooked in a bed of coals rather than on top. The bun, a brioche job, disintegrated almost immediately. The bernaise while housemade (could hear it being whisked in kitchen) got lost under a blanket of sweet, caramelized onions. There were fries that came with it, most of them stayed on the plate. I rarely leave fries on the plate.

The melted cheese appetizer with andouille, green onions, and chiles was a hearty, spicy companion to conversation. While good, it was just Cajun spiced queso and maybe not worth a $7 price tag. To be fair, the waitress did mention it was the first day of a new menu, so perhaps after practice things will even out. All told this was a lunch that cost in excess of $50 (with one Guinness served in a can). At that price point, they can do better than that. And you can, too. Jackson - Bogey.

Peter - It's one of life's few guarantees: If The Folk Singer and I are making an airport run, at some point we are stopping at Taqueria Sanchez on Williams. All meals start with a complimentary bowl of chips and mild red salsa, but you are advised to supplement these precursors with a bowl of freshly made guacamole. Tacos, which are served with a small bowl of smooth, fiery green salsa, vary on their deliciousness depending on their fillings. Desebrada is dry, shredded beef, but the barbacoa is meltingly juicy and flavorful. Lengua is cooked in a tomato sauce instead of on the griddle, which results in a much more tender tongue.

Prices have increased across the board this unpretentious taco shack, and the overall value has slipped lately. On several visits the kitchen has been completely out of our favorites (desebrada on one visit, pork and cheese pupusas on the next). The bread to meat ratio in the tortas are now sadly tilted toward the former. Still, I can't imagine a taking a trip to MSY without a stop here. Taqueria Sanchez - Par.

Rene - Hogs for the Cause will be here before you know it. To that end, Becker and I went out to City Park last Friday to diagram the site with some music industry people. On the way there we stopped at Cafe Navarre, in the former location of Weaver's. We went halfsies on a roast beef po-boy and a Cuban. While the roast beef was good, the Cuban I really enjoyed. In place of sliced roast pork, which has a tendency to be dry, Cafe Navarre used a shredded, moist pork (likely butt). Mustard, pickles, ham, and Swiss rounded out the sandwich. If this place was in my neighborhood, there would be issues. Cafe Navarre - Birdie.


Bloggle said...

still boggles the mind why someone would take a failed restaurant in a crappy location and reopen it with THE SAME NAME. Confusing.

Jonathan Maki said...

I order mikimoto all the time (mainly b/c of their prices and they deliver) Try the fresh salmon box, crunchy dynamite, and squid salad are all some of my favorites. While it's not the best in the city (that goes to Kanno in Fat City...) it is pretty good.

NOJuju said...

Kid Cayenne and I both hated our one and only meal at Jackson (a few months ago). I found it overpriced and the food poorly prepared. Won't go back.