Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mr. B's Bistro: Is It Worth It?

I'd love to link to the Mr. B's website, but it still has an automatic loud musical interlude attached to it. Turn it off on one page and go to another page and boom it shows up again. If you watch tv, you are familiar with the song. Never a good sign. Note to restaurants: I am going to your website for roughly the same reason one goes to your restaurant. Loud, abrasive music in either location is not welcome, no matter how much you paid for the jingle.

Onto the food. The bread is good. Warm and crisp and served with lots of cold butter. Come in here, soak up the handsome scene, drink a few martinis and eat two loaves of bread and you may have a pretty good meal. Venture farther than that and you are on your own.

For example the gumbo ya-ya, a longtime staple, leaves plenty to be desired in the diner's mind. For one thing, the broth was bitter perhaps owing to the extremely dark roux. The mini coasters of sausage were mealy and wet. They fell apart at the slightest urging into a crumbling mess. Duck springrolls, had the opposite effect, as their filling was dry and chalky. The just barely cooked wanton wrapper was reminiscent of a wet cigarette. The sweet ginger-garlic dipping sauce that came along for the ride was sugar coma inducing and a mess of muddled flavors. But the big slab of radicchio saved the dish, by giving us a five minute conversation of what it was possibly doing on the plate.

Entrees arrived after a long pause. The paneed veal was tough and led us to wonder if the first time it had been introduced to milk was when it met the overcooked, soggy pasta coated in an insipid alfredo sauce. Perhaps so, but it was not a great first impression for the two.

I've become a big fan of barbecue shrimp, but these had me revoking my fan club membership. The dish works best with Louisiana shrimp that are in the 10-12 count range or smaller. A key element of the dish, in my opinion, is the sweet, briny flavor of smaller shrimp helps offset the heat of the sauce. The shrimp at Mr. B's were too big which leads to them being overcooked. Hence, they become tough to peel. The sauce had a little too much Worcestershire flavor and not enough heat. One is left with an abundant supply of sauce, but the bread served on the side is flabby. Ask for another order of the good bread and plow through. You are almost finished.

Mr. B's Bistro: Is It Worth It? No.
201 Royal St.


Fat Harry said...

Absolutely agree. This place is stuck in the 80's. Salads (for lunch) look like bagged lettuce with gloppy dressings. Service can be absymal. The people who loved it 20 years ago still show up, but I don't see any reason to return unless they are buying.

Anonymous said...

They do indeed have some really awesome bread. However, always seem to end up having disappointing meals at most of the Brennan affiliated restaurants - no matter the sibling owner...can never figure that all out anyway.

Things at these restaurants always sound/look good on the menu, but then you usually get some goopy, overpriced, extremely, over-seasoned mess of a plate. I don't need to pay $30 for a piece of mediocre fish covered in a mountain of Tony's - I can $%#@ up a $5 piece of fish just fine on my own at home.

Karl said...

It's disappointing that the barbecue shrimp left you wanting. I can remember a meal there sometime about 20 years ago or so when I was in my early teens and it was the first place I ever tried the dish. I've been a fan of barbecue shrimp ever since and will more or less try it anywhere it's on a menu. Obviously places change a lot. I haven't been to Mr. B's since then, but I romanticize it. May never go again unless I read a good review of it. Thanks for this one!

Brian C said...

That veal looks like the frozen kind that comes out of a box.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. dunno, but, we still love the BBQ shrimp...can't resist sopping up the sauce with the bread, either. I spend a lotta time on chowhound and it gets near universal praise from the regulars there.

Anonymous said...

These dishes were actually very good in the eighties. Sorry to hear they've gone downhill.

Mike S said...

What's your favorite place in town for BBQ Shrimp? Mr. B's was mine but that was ~20 years ago in college at Tulane. Haven't been back to Mr. B's in probably 15 years or so, and reviews like this make me think I haven't missed anything. Thanks.