NOLA Experience: Part I

royal senestaI traveled down to New Orleans for Mother’s Day weekend 2016.  I was beyond excited for all the good food I would soon enjoy as well as spend time with my mother who lives in Los Angeles. This was my first time in New Orleans.  We made a reservation at the Royal Senesta right on Bourbon and Conti. The hotel was beautiful with a great friendly staff.  Considering all the noise on Bourbon Street, it was refreshing how peaceful the hotel was.  We were recommended to get the pool side room which was nice and quiet in the evenings. We were pleased. Now on to the food!

On our first night, we went to Oceana Grill because I had numerous recommendations about the food and it was literally across the street from our hotel.  Saturday (NOLA Part II), we ventured to a delicious hole in the wall called Li’l Dizzy’s Café for brunch, Café Beignet for mid-day snack, and Pat O’Brien’s for dinner. On Sunday for Mother’s Day (Part III), I took my mother to the House of Blues gospel brunch, got some beignets from Morning Call in City Park, and had dinner at the amazing Commander’s Palace (separate review). We had a late night treat back at Oceana Grill.  On the way to the airport, we stopped at the popular Café Du Monde for the coveted beignets.

Oceana Grill

ocean grille

As I mentioned, this restaurant was directly across the street from the hotel. It was very convenient for us on our first night out. When I posted about places to go on my Facebook page, this restaurant recommendation came up several times and specifically about the crab cakes.  Living in Maryland, I know a good crab cake. So, I decided to give it a try.

The restaurant was luckily not overly crowded on a Friday evening and we were seated right way.  Customer service was excellent and the restaurant was clean.  People were together in large groups and it appears to be a private party outside in the courtyard area enjoying a celebration. My mother and I took a look at the menu and were so excited for all the good food that was presented.  She ordered a Hurricane cocktail that was a deep blue but was very very sweet.  We love to drink sparkling water so I decided to pour the Hurricane into a separate glass and diluted it with sparkling water.

We ordered the Louisiana Crabmeat Cakes ($14) and a dozen Oysters Rockefeller ($17.50) for our appetizers, both seen below.  The crab cakes were served in a pair with a crawfish and mushroom cream sauce. I was a little disappointed that they were fried but they were flavorful and a nice generous size.  The crabcakes would have been just alright but the sauce on top took them to the next level.  Please remember that I live in Baltimore so I know a good crabcake! These were probably my favorite part of the meal. The oysters were char-grilled and served with sauce that included spinach, smoked bacon, pernod liqueur, and topped with a blend of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  The plate looked intimidating at first because of all the shells but once you got down to the meat, we realized that we did well.  The oysters were flavorful and the sauce was tasty with the right blend of salty and savory.  The bacon and cheese were a wonderful added bonus to the dish. We were searching for more but had come to the end our appetizer and were enjoying the sauce.

As an entrée, my mother ordered the Blackened 10oz. Ribeye steak ($23) and double veggies (collard greens) an I ordered the Crawfish Etouffee, both seen below.  My mother loves her steak cooked rare and unfortunately, it was served medium.  She enjoyed the flavor of the meat and did not send it back.  I think she was a little full and did not eat all of her collard greens.  That isn’t to say that they were not good but you don’t leave steak behind. I enjoyed my Crawfish Etouffee but I was not overly impressed.  I have had better but this also wasn’t the worse either. It is traditionally served with rice but I requested it be on the side. But, it was a bit chunkier than I remember.

On Sunday night, we were craving some fried oysters and seafood and decided to go there because they were open late and we knew what to expect. My mom ordered the Fried Louisiana Oyster Platter ($18) and I ordered the Fried Seafood Platter ($20) which included oysters, shrimp, and crispy catfish.  The fried oysters were the highlight. They were seasoned well and fried to perfection. Both dishes were served with jalapeno hushpuppies, French fries, and coleslaw.  I was disappointed with the fried shrimp. They were fried too hard and lost most of its flavor in the process.  The fried catfish was alright but I’ve had better. I left feeling like I could have wasted those calories elsewhere.IMAG0684


Overall, both experiences were pleasurable and I ate well.  I would definitely visit again but stick to the few things I know they do well.  This was the first experience that was my first warning that I may need to leave Bourbon Street and/or talk with a local for the hidden gems.

Please stay tuned for the NOLA Experience Part II where I share My Saturday trip adventures.




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