By Todd Barron @ Foodiecuisine.com
The last time I ate in the French Quarter, before Hurricane Katrina hit, I did not find any good restaurants. I know what you are thinking “How is that possible? You are in New Orleans!” The problem was, I did not know what I was doing and failed to perform research.
This time around I read every guide I could on the city, asked people from the Quarter, and read online feedback from multiple places (including UrbanSpoon.com). Luckily my research paid off and I had some of the best food I have eaten anywhere in the country. The best place I ate while there this last Spring Break in 2012 was Stella! Stella! is best described as an American Gourmet Bistro with food creations by Chef Scott Boswell. Chef Boswell is described on their website as:
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, Boswell initiated his career with Chef Kevin Graham at the Windsor Court in New Orleans before embarking on a best-of-Europe search, where he credits Chef Pascal Morel in Salon de Provence, France, with his foundational techniques. His work in the kitchen of Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Italy, solidified his reverent, sophisticated cuisine. Florence is where he started work with Masahiko Kobe, now known as “Iron Chef Italian.” – Sourced from http://restaurantstella.com/
My wife and I have reservations at 6:30pm and are seated at a 2-top table next to a brick wall. The room where we eat is small but is well decorated and is quiet. Three servers wait on us which gives it a very personal feeling and stands out in my mind as one of the nicer service experiences I have had.
We both order Iced Tea, which comes out in empty glasses filled with ice cubes which have been frozen with liquid nitrogen. They pour piping hot fresh-brewed peach tea over the ice, which instantly cools the hot tea but leaves perfectly frozen ice-cubes behind. The tea is wonderfully fresh and the fruity notes from the tea are very easy to discern.
My wife orders escargot, each with a different sauce, and I order the foie gras BLT. The escargot comes out, with each one sitting atop a line of sauce, and my BLT foie gras is realized by small squares of toast, with bacon atop each one, and topped by a round of foie gras. The “BLT” appetizer is very rich but tastes great. The foie gras is cold and creamy and the bacon helps to offset the richness of the liver.
For dinner I order the Veal Tenderlion, topped with crab meat, and surrounded by a demi glace. The veal is very tender and flavorful and the brown sauce (demi glace) adds richness to the dish while also offering herbal notes. I clear my plate and cannot wait to have the dish again if the opportunity arrises.
I am full but order the Bananas Foster French Toast for dessert. It is by far the best dessert I have ever had and is realized by a large piece of “toast” which has a cake consistency and is covered in melted brown sugar and rum, with homemade vanilla bean ice-cream on the top. I can taste the real vanila and the consistency of the cake is very moist.
I travel many places through my job and am lucky enough to try a wide variety of food. Even with this, Stella! is at the top of my list of best places in the United States. Our entire meal was less than $150 which puts it well cheaper than “gourmet” places you can eat in many other cities. Give them a try, you will not be disappointed.