Monday, June 11, 2012

The Green Goddess - New Orleans

After an unsuccessful attempt to find the classical stage, stumbling through the Friday crowds at Quarter Fest, and a refreshing cocktail at Sylvain, it was time to consider dinner. Normally that would mean thumbing through the openings on Open Table, but I had a particular restaurant in mind, The Green Goddess. Like so many other Nola restaurants, I had first heard about this hole in the wall on Exchange Place from Peter and Rene at Blackened Out, and like so many other restaurants, The Green Goddess had been shuffled to the backburner for some unimportant reason. However, as with Casamento’s, this trip to New Orleans was about tying up loose ends and I wasn’t going to let an hour wait for a table stop me.

Like the midday sun on a hot summer day, time seemed to stand still, but through aimless meandering and loitering around the French Quarter, I made it back to the hostess stand just in time for my table to be ready. Seated and taking my time to contemplate the menu, a beverage was in order. Cue the daily truth.
For that day, the daily truth was the Green Goddess’ take on a hurricane. Bold, fruity, and sweet, there was little doubt this drink also packed a potent punch.

Despite the temptation of char siu Korean pork belly, I took the high road with an order of the “Cornucopia on da Bayou” tasting menu. As with so many meals in New Orleans, the cornucopia began with oysters.
Grainy pictures aside, the oysters arrived in the form of oysters Delacroix, poached in a horseradish sauce and served on top of grilled ciabatta.
Accompanying the plump, perfectly poached oysters was butter-braised Romaine lettuce and Nueske’s bacon. Always a favorite, the Nueske’s bacon added a smoky layer to the already rich flavors of the horseradish cream sauce. Even though the crispiness of the grilled ciabatta quickly fell to the cream sauce, this was still an exceptional oyster dish.

The next dish had an amusing twist to the name, shrimp “wearing a grass skirt”
A trio of gulf shrimp had been roasted, wrapped in a skirt of shredded phyllo, and served with New Orleans barbeque shrimp sauce and a pineapple & coconut slaw.
Arguably the best dish of the night, these shrimp looked fantastic and from the first bite, it was all shrimp and spice.
Meaty and briny, these shrimp were complimented by the smoky barbecue sauce while the grass skirts provided a pleasant crunch and an extra dose of spices.

Course number three arrived with its own quotation marks. “Freaky” tabouli with smoked wheat is a play on the name of the grain, freekeh.
In this tabouli, bulgar wheat is loaded with herbs, tiny currants, crunchy pistachios, olives, olive oil, finished with a homemade ajvar and, finally, layered on slabs of roasted acorn squash.
Far and away the healthiest dish in the tasting menu, there were plenty of bold flavors in this tabouli.
While I especially enjoyed the olives, I was far too captivated with the flavors of the previous course. On its own, this toubli would be a star, but following the shrimp with a grass skirt was a hard charge.

For the last savory course, it was a return to seafood with andouille-crusted gulf fish.
Locally made by chef Greg Sonnier, there is little doubt that the andouille dominates this dish.
From the first bite, it was well cooked fish that was brimming with andouille flavor and smokiness. In fact, the fish was almost too smoky, but even teetering on the edge, it worked beautifully.
While the amount of fish was little more than a tease, there were plenty of rapini greens and potato gratin to go around.  The rapini was a nice contrast to the forward flavors of the andouille and fish, but I was surprised at the tartness of the foie gras vinagrette.

Before the fifth and final course could arrive, I had to make a choice between golden beet “ravioli” and Armagnac-soaked mission figs. Nearing my limit, I went with the lighter choice, the “ravioli”.
With no pasta harmed in the making of this ravioli, it was up to truffled chevre, pomegranate molasses, Sardinian saba, and avocado oil to help the beets. As you might expect this dessert was chock full of tart flavors from the chevre, pomegranate molasses, and saba. As for the avocado oil, it seemed lost in the sea of other bolds flavors and left little more than a slick on the plate. This ravioli, while satisfying, was certainly a departure from your typical dessert but it’s one that I had quickly come to expect from The Green Goddess kitchen.

It may be a catch-all term, but the term international really does seem to best describe the food that I enjoyed at The Green Goddess. In fact the description on The Green Goddess homepage really does seem to summarize my meal: “We are as comfortable with showcasing Louisiana seafood, sausages, and local produce as we are bringing in exotic ingredients that reference New Orleans’ historic role as one of the greatest port cities in the world, where anything can be found.” The flavors and ingredients from the Cornucopia of da Bayou tasting menu truly did seem to travel the world, and with each course, it was a chance to see how my palate would be challenged and rewarded. Even with their affinity for quotation marks, I wouldn’t hesitate to revisit the menu at The Green Goddess especially with the Korean pork belly calling my name.

The Green Goddess Address & Information
The Green Goddess on Urbanspoon

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