Is Emeril’s NOLA Restaurant Worth the Hype?

79660_02_Emeril_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462One of my childhood heroes was Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network.  His show Emeril Live was one of my favorite shows on the Food Network and I always wanted sit at the taster counter on his show and try some of his amazing dishes.  He made cooking look fun and his shows were always entertaining.  And you can never forget his infamous line: “BAM!”  Emeril would often infuse the flavors of New Orleans in his dishes and when I planned to visit New Orleans, I knew that I wanted to visit one of his many restaurants in the city.  If his restaurant was anything like the food at the Commander’s Palace, where he served as the youngest executive chef for almost eight year, I knew that would be in for a treat. I missed his restaurant during my first trip in 2016 but this trip, I made it a point to get there.

e133140aad0389fd593cd678407a469fAfter looking over the menus and trying to decide what worked best and wouldn’t completely blow my healthy eating lifestyle, we ended up getting a reservation at 7pm at the NOLA restaurant located at 534 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.  The restaurant is located in the French Quarter on a small one way street, as many of the streets are in the Quarter, and they have complimentary parking located just diagonally at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. Awesome addition! The most stressful part about the dining experience was getting there.  We visited on a Saturday night and apparently the city of New Orleans sanitation department also picks up garbage on the St. Louis Street, blocking traffic, on Saturday nights.  So we were down the street, could see the restaurant, but were stuck for about 10 minutes.  The restaurant was understanding of the traffic and did not release our reservation which I can appreciate! Once we were finally there, we felt like we had made it.

2nd Floor Dining Room 1

 

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Pretty Much exactly where we sat

The restaurant has an industrial feel with exposed brick and open ceilings and was spread out over three floors.  Our table was on the second floor next to a balcony that allowed us to see over the first floor and the entrance.  I did not see stairs within the restaurant but the middle of the restaurant had an elevator that was most frequently used.  The third floor also had dining space but there was also an area for private dining.  I began to get annoyed that several different waiters had walked past our table and did not greet us. After nearly 10 minutes, a nice gentlemen came to our table and finally got our dining experience started. To start, my friend ordered the Lemon Drop martini ($15) that she enjoyed! I stuck with my usual bottle of sparking water ($5) with lime. After we ordered one of the servers brought out 2 different warmed bread selections, one a roll and the other a jalapeno cornbread, with soften butter.  The roll was my favorite and my friend enjoyed the jalapeno cornbread which I think is more of a personal preference rather than me not actually liking it as much.

While it was Lenten season and I had my fried food, red meat, and pork restriction, I decided to take a day off to enjoy good food in New Orleans because well, I was in NEW ORLEANS!!! To start, I ordered the Miss Hay’s Stuffed Chicken Wings ($13) served with homemade hoisin dipping sauce and chopped peanuts.  I also ordered the Wood Oven Roasted Oysters ($12) served with house-cured bacon, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.  My friend ordered the Pork Cheek Boudin Balls ($10) served with tomato-bacon jam and creole mustard aioli.  The highlight has of the round has to be the stuffed chicken wings!!! What an innovative appetizer filled with so much flavor and deliciousness!! They took the flat part of the chicken wing, carefully took the bones and meat, and replaced that with basically a spring roll mixture to add some amazing Asian flare to the dish! The hoisin sauce was a wonderful compliment to the flavor. After eating this, I can say that I would definitely return for this dish alone!

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The Wood Oven Roasted Oysters were on the lukewarm to cold side. After being spoiled by the amazing char-broiled oysters at Drago’s two nights in a row, I was expecting something amazing and fresh at the NOLA restaurant but was left a bit underwhelmed. The flavors were ok but pretty basic. There were breadcrumbs and cheese. I was looking for more of a sauce and buttery experience.  Nothing like I was expecting. The Pork Cheek Boudin Balls were good and flavorful. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting a little more of the pork flavor but really did not get much of that.  At this point, I was a little let down because I was expecting to be on a flavor ride of my dreams but was a bit confused.   On the one hand, the wings were out of this world but the other appetizers were not that great.

My friend had originally ordered the NOLA’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($27) served with pepper jack mac and cheese, bacon smothered collard greens, rosemary gravy, and pepper jelly.  However, once we saw the dish served to another guest, we decided that it was a bit overpriced and did not look all that exciting.  Nearly $30 for fried chicken is doing a lot. She instead ordered the Seared Sea Scallops ($26) served with shellfish pasta, garlic white wine sauce, and fresh herbs. Seems like a pretty safe dish that should be full flavor but it ended up being quite salty.  The scallops were cooked perfectly and the dish overall was good, but after several bites, the saltiness was a bit much for my friend. She was a little bummed but enjoyed her dish nonetheless.

I really wanted to try the duck so I ordered the Hickory-Roasted Duck ($34) with a whiskey-caramel glaze, bacon cornbread pudding, natural jus, haricot verts-fire roasted corn salad, and candied pecans.  There was a whole lot of smoky flavor going on in this dish but for some reason, it was not pairing that I enjoyed with my duck.  The dish included half a duck and presented well, but most of my exposure to duck has been in Chinese restaurants with Asian flavors or my all-time favorite, Peking Duck! I love Peking duck mainly because it is a roasted duck but the skin of the duck is crisp as if it were fried and the meat is still incredibly moist.  While the meat was moist there, I was a bit disappointed that the skin was soggy. The bacon cornbread pudding was awesome, I wish there was more of that and the hickory flavors with the pudding were a wonderful combination.  The dish also included green beans but I am used to the tips being picked or cut and their inclusion was a bit odd for me. At this point, I was pretty disappointed with my Emeril experience because I was expecting so much more. I am starting to think that maybe I should have chosen a restaurant that were more traditional New Orleans cuisine and not as contemporary because this was not as I expected.

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My picture did not come out so well

After looking over the dessert menu for several minutes and not finding anything awe-inspiring, I decided to order the House Made Sorbet ($6.5).  I tried each of the flavors of the day which was the Hurricane sorbet, flavored after the cocktail, and a tropical citrus blend. (I did not get a great shot but you get the idea).  I wish that would have ordered the Crème Brulee Trio ($9) of a vanilla bean Brulee with fresh berries, coconut with coconut truffle Brulee, and mocha with a chocolate almond biscotti.  This presented very well but I was turned off by the coconut and mocha but it still looked worth a try. So the Hurricane sorbet was gross! There is no other way around that. It taste like medicine and I thought it was just me but my friend did not care for it ether. But the tropical citrus sorbet was absolutely amazing! It was light and fresh, not too sweet but just enough citrus to make the sorbet wonderful. The waiter offered to provide me with another scoop of the tropical citrus sorbet since I disliked the other so much but I decided to just let it go. However, I really would have loved another scoop for later.

Overall, while there were some amazing moments in the dining experience, most of the dinner left me disappointed and confused.  I felt like I had finally met my childhood hero and was let down. I would be willing to visit one of his restaurant or revisit the bar for the chicken wings and maybe another dish but I’m not sure with all the other amazing places to visit in New Orleans. Our bill totaled well over $100 and my total was $78.25 and after tip was $94.25. I’m just sad about it all to be honest. The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:

NOLA Restaurant
Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 10
Customer Service 1-20 17
Cleanliness 1-10 10
Food Presentation 1-10 10
Price Value 1-10 8
Taste of Food 1-30 20
Overall Experience 1-10 6
TOTAL: 81/100

Please look of my next post as I share more dining experiences in and around Baltimore and DC, and my trip to Los Angeles.  Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to finediningdiva@gmail.com.

And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!

http://emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant/menus

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