Pinxo

An email correspondent has asked about — nay, demanded — that post about the meal. I feel honor-bound to comply:

Last week, R. took me back to the 1er, to the hotel we stayed in back in January (which, not incidentally, owns the category of Best Hotel Ever, in my book), so that we could return to Pinxo. Pinxo is, shall we say, not your average hotel restaurant. Created by super-chef Alain Dutournier as a relatively more economical alternative to his Carr?© des Feuillants (and when I say “relatively more economical,” I mean to contrast 20-25 ‚Ǩ mains at Pinxo with 55-70 ‚Ǩ at Carr?© des Feuillants), Pinxo presents a super-stylish but down-to-earth atmosphere. The menu updates some French classics with a tapas-style approach to service; all dishes, from starters to desserts, are served divided into three small portions, intended for sharing.

Our meal started with a carafe of a wonderful and relatively inexpensive ros?©, whose name I wish I could remember, and a small amuse-bouche from the chef, paper-thin slices of foie gras on perfect house-made melba toasts.

R. followed this with a marinated salmon appetizer, while I had a Vietnamese-inspired king crab roll, each of which were excellent (though if you ask me, mine won; the combination of mint leaves and peanuts and lightly tangy n??·ªõc ch·?•m-like sauce was perfect).

We were then brought two small cups of the best vegetable soup I’ve ever been given — a very simple, clear broth filled with a gorgeous variety of vegetables, enoki mushrooms, and a whole grain that I think may have been wheat berries.

My main presented, in each of three portions, two enormous spicy shrimp atop rice cooked with red and green bell peppers and coconut milk. Just to die for. R. had the golden goose fillet; each of his portions had several small slices of goose on top of two small mushroom-filled cannelloni. (His, again, was great, but I think mine won.)

Finally, dessert: we shared an order of the spicy bitter chocolate cake, which was not only dense and perfect, but which the chef also kindly provided us four of, so as to avoid domestic discord.

I honestly don’t think I’d have done anything any differently; it was one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory, from start to finish. And as sad as it was that we weren’t staying in the hotel this time out, the meal was made only that much better by the lovely walk we had back to the 9ème. We’re hoping to make it back there once again before we leave the city…

Galatoire’s

Taking the opportunity to gloat about being in Louisiana while I can: last night, my parents took me and my sister, who was visiting this weekend, to the new location of Galatoire’s (this one called Galatoire’s Bistro), here in Baton Rouge. We had the kind of meal that demonstrates conclusively why such an alarming percentage of Louisianians die of obesity-related diseases: it’s less that the meal was terribly fattening (which, of course, it was) than that it was so damned good. It almost certainly ranks in my top five meals of all time. (The number one such meal has been so enshrined for years, protected by the haze of fading memory, but it was all but impeccable: the Grill Room at the Windsor Court hotel in New Orleans, 1993. This is followed closely by dinners at Nola in 2001 and Commander’s Palace in 2000. You may sense a theme here.)

Last night’s dinner was just fabulous. The atmosphere is quite different from the original Galatoire’s, but I wasn’t disappointed in it at all, given that I went with somewhat lowered expectations, having read a pretty mixed review. The dining room is slightly crowded, as it should be, but not unduly loud. We had two lovely Sonoma wines, a Matanzas Creek sauvignon blanc and a Rodney Strong pinot noir. And then there was the food. I started with really fine oysters Rockefeller. Their only downside was their intensity; I could have shared the appetizer with someone and been perfectly content. My sister and stepfather had the salad Godchaux, which was piled with marinated jumbo shrimp and lump crabmeat, and my mother had a small, nice house salad. Our entrees were also impeccable: my stepfather’s duck was perfectly roasted and came with the best parsnips (yes, parsnips) I’ve ever tasted; my sister’s crab Sardou had two beautiful whole artichoke hearts topped with crab, nestled on top of creamed spinach and topped with just enough hollandaise to add a bit of a kick; my mother’s trout meuniere was fabulous, and my stuffed eggplant–stuffed with a crab and shrimp dressing, of course–was absolutely perfect.

Dessert? I’ll just say this: bread pudding topped with a bananas Foster sauce, and chocolate crème brul?©e.

I’d say I may never eat again, but I’ve already eaten the leftovers for lunch today.