New Orleans, Louisiana – Emeril’s New Orleans Restaurant

Restaurant: Emeril’s New Orleans Restaurant
Cuisine: American/French/Italian/Southern
Last visited: May 24, 2012
Location: New Orleans, LA (Warehouse District)
Address: 800 Tchoupitoulas St
Transit: St Charles at St Joseph
Where I stayed: Le Richelieu Hotel (Taxi recommended)
Price Range: $30-50+ ($25-35 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3.5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Modern Southern/Cajun/American food
  • Casual fine dining
  • Good for groups
  • Extensive wine list
  • Wine/cocktails/beer
  • Reservations recommended
  • Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11:30a-2:00p
  • Dinner: Mon-Sun, 6:00p-10:00p

**Recommendations: “Emeril’s” New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp, Saffron-Chili Dusted Jumbo Shrimp, Andouille Crusted Drum, and Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie and Cocktail: Blackberry Smash

“BAM!” “Let’s kick it up a notch!” “Let’s add a little more garlic!” *Clap hands*. Guess which restaurant I’m at?! No, it’s not Guy Fieri, if it was him I would have started with “That sauce is money!”. BAM! It was Emeril Legasse! The Food Network has produced many celebrity chefs and the most well recognized in New Orleans is likely Emeril. Of course there is also Chef John Besh and “old-timer” Chef Paul Prudhomme, but Emeril is likely the one everyone knows. It was Follow Me Foodie to New Orleans and a visit to Emeril’s just seemed like the expected foodie thing to do. I guess it falls in that foodie “tourist attraction” category, but it was something I had to experience once!

I had just come from New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, and was ready for dinner #2. I know the first thing you want to ask is if the famous celebrity chef was there. And the answer is no. I know. I too wanted to experience what it was like being part of the Emeril “live audience”, but I never really expected him to be there. I think Chef goes back and fourth between LA (Los Angeles) and LA (Louisiana) so a celebrity chef appearance is likely rare. The same goes for many restaurants at this level though.

Again, I got my favourite seat in the house which was smack in front of the kitchen where all the action is.

To be honest, it is a bit touristy and that’s kind of a given with a celebrity chef owned restaurant. The food has to be made in somewhat big batches and move quickly because it’s so busy. Although it’s not a chain restaurant it kind of has that feel and it was basically a New Orleans style chop house. I wouldn’t call it a funky or swanky neighbourhood restaurant, but it was still lively and energetic. It was slightly pricey, but the portions are generous and there is likely something for everyone so it’s appropriate for all ages and big groups.

I was invited to try Emeril’s food, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a proper representation of his style and what he can really do. It was very typical modern American food with New Orleans influence and although nothing was bad, it was just conventional. It was casual and approachable to the masses and I definitely know he’s capable of more considering his roots were at New Orleans fine dining restaurant Commander’s Palace.

He’s already won several awards and a James Beard Award in the past, but this isn’t that kind of restaurant to showcase those skills, which is fine if you go in knowing this. I mean a few of his signature dishes I tried were fantastic and he could have a restaurant just featuring those. However overall I found the restaurant catered towards a fun experience under a well recognized brand more so than say a unique New Orleans “foodie” experience.

On the table:

**Blackberry Smash – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Blackberry vodka, blackberry liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup and soda. About $10
  • This was on the “girlier” side of things and it was a fruity and playful drink that was more sweet than tart.
  • It was very fruit forward with the blackberry which made it quite dangerous because it was almost like juice.
  • There was some lime for acidity, but with all the blackberry components including the real fruit, it was definitely juicy and not a hard cocktail.

Flirtini – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Vodka and Cointreau, splash of pineapple and champagne. About $10
  • I’m not really keen on appletini’s or these sort of flavoured martinis, but they’re fun drinks and this one is recommended here so I wanted to try it.
  • It was a fun cocktail with tart notes and it was a bit bitter, citrusy and maybe not as smooth.
  • It wouldn’t really be a smooth cocktail considering the ingredients, but it was appropriate to start with especially with the added champagne.

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • Garlic and herb focaccia, potato bread, and corn bread
  • The bread was served warm and it was all made in house which is always appreciated.
  • The focaccia was soft and fluffy, the potato bread was a light and soft dinner roll and the corn bread was the best of the three.
  • The corn bread is famous here and there’s likely added sugar. I like my cornbread to have a crispy top, but this was nice and moist without being oily.

Amuse bouche – Panko Fried Eggplant with Olive Salad and Oyster Toast with Caviar

Yellowfin Tuna & Grilled Fresh Bacon Wraps2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • With Butter Lettuce, Citrus Hoisin, Jalapeno and Crisp Rice Noodles $19 (I tried the sample version pictured above)
  • These are supposed to be very popular here, but coming from Vancouver, BC, Asian fusion dishes like these are all too familiar.
  • There is the Tuna Tataki at Cactus Club or Ahi Tuna Tacos from Joey’s, and this was in that category.
  • It tasted fine, but personally I wasn’t a fan of the concept and putting tuna sashimi on a lettuce wrap.
  • The hoisin sauce is also quite aggressive for tuna and something like a citrus ponzu drizzle or a typical wasabi mayo would have done it.
  • The tuna was actually good quality tuna which surprised me a bit, so I would rather just have it without anything.
  • I’m pretty spoiled with the Asian fusion stuff I get at home, so it was hard for me to appreciate this although I still ate it and it was okay.

Char Grilled Gulf Oyster4/6 (Very good)

  • Uni butter, pecorino romano (Mine is a sample, but usually I think it’s 5 oysters for $20)
  • Almost every restaurant in New Orleans has their own signature chargrilled oyster.
  • I was so excited when I heard they used uni (sea urchin), but I couldn’t really taste it.
  • It was creamy, buttery, cheesy and crispy with Pecorino, and it was a bit salty, but still good.
  • The sauce was a sea urchin roe mixed with I think sheep’s milk cheese so it was quite rich and buttery in texture.
  • I still love Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters and Cochon’s Wood Fired Oyster Roast, but these were still very good.

**”Emeril’s” New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp 5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • With Petite Rosemary Biscuit and Fresh Chives $12
  • This is one of the signature appetizers and I loved it!
  • Almost every New Orleans style restaurant has their own version of Barbeque Shrimp, so I had to try it here.
  • The shrimps were huge and firm with a nice crunch and they were heavily dressed in a creamy brown butter sauce which tasted like an intense mushroom gravy.
  • The sauce was made from shrimp stock, shrimp tomalley, cream, Worcestershire sauce and a bit of lemon and it was really sweet and equally salty with a bit of tang.
  • It had that savoury umami flavour which I love, but it was a touch on the salty side.
  • The rosemary biscuit was garlicky, fluffy and flakey and perfect to absorb the sauce with, or dip with my gumbo.

Gumbo 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Gumbo is another traditional New Orleans soup or stew made from a roux (flour + fat) base.
  • This was likely oil and flour based, but there was no oil slick on top and it was well cleaned.
  • Compared to the gumbo I had at Herbsaint, it was more traditional, thinner and lighter.
  • It was almost reminiscent to a bean soup if you’ve never tried gumbo before.
  • It was smoky with a kick at the end and there was a lot of ingredients in it which I liked.
  • There was sausage, okra, baby shrimp and tiny oysters which are typical ingredients found in gumbo.
  • The okra made it a bit slimy, but the flavour was still very good.
  • I’m not sure how I felt about the oyster and okra combo because they were both similar in textures and a bit slimy, but I could still eat it.
  • It had a mild bay leaf flavour and a shrimp stock background base and although I’ve tried only a few gumbos to this date, I enjoyed this one.

Homemade Andouille and Boudin3/6 (Good)

  • With Southern cooked greens, beer braised onions, whole grain mustard and Emeril’s Worcestershire sauce $10
  • This was another Southern speciality that I hadn’t really tried much of in New Orleans so I wanted to do so here, especially because it was another favourite.
  • The Andouille sausage was almost like a chorizo with lots of seasoning and spices like chilies, cumin, garlic and paprika.
  • It was made from pork butt and it wasn’t that fatty or juicy, or dry and crumbly, but it was on the drier side if anything.
  • This was quite a classic Cajun Boudin-Blanc made without pork’s blood.
  • It’s a very traditional Louisiana sausage, and this one was a good introduction although still perhaps acquired.
  • The Boudin was made from pork butt, chopped liver, rice, fresh herbs, celery and green peppers and it’s naturally a bit mushy and reminiscent of stuffing.
  • The liver flavour was a bit more mild, but I could taste it.
  • The boudin was very soft, creamy and moist, but I prefer the mixture less puréed and more hand mixed.
  • It was braised in beer and the skin was snappy and a bit chewy, but for a Boudin, it was pretty good.
  • The collard greens were braised in molasses and house made Worcestershire sauce and they were very sweet and syrupy with a raisin like flavour in the sauce.

Daily Special Appetizer – Burrata Bruschetta 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Italian Burrata, Alabama peaches, ramp pesto, aged balsamic
  • I’m a bit biased because anything with Burrata cheese is almost always good.
  • The bread was quite hard and chewy and the peaches could have been a bit softer, but I like the flavour combinations.
  • The basil pesto was fresh, but I wish there were pine nuts in it.
  • This wasn’t the highest quality Italian Burrata cheese and it wasn’t as fresh and cream filled as I wanted, but it was okay and still good.
  • I loved the sweet peaches, salty prosciutto and pesto combination, but there was a lot going on and it was a very American approach to enjoying Burrata.
  • Usually I prefer just a high quality burrata and a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel on top.
  • I would have loved this smaller and de-constructed so I could play around with the combinations, but that’s a stylistic thing.
  • It was salty, sweet and tangy with the drizzle of balsamic vinegar and it was still very good, but I just prefer a different execution.
Crisp – Jerk Soft Shell Crab 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
  • Field pea, summer salsa – escarole $16
  • It was a tempura like battered and fried soft shell crab that was swell seasoned.
  • It was a crisp fish and chip like batter and there was a sweet and tangy dressing that was a bit spicy.
  • The crab was juicy and not overcooked, but I couldn’t see the field peas.

**Saffron-Chili Dusted Jumbo Shrimp4/6 (Very good)

  • With Sweet Potato-Smoked Corn Grits, Skillet Beans, Benton’s Bacon and Mango Chow Chow $30 (Portion above was a half order)
  • Based on the shrimp appetizer and shrimp main, they seem to do shrimp right here! I enjoyed both shrimp dishes a lot!
  • It was fresh shrimp with a nice firmness and crunch and they were heavily seasoned with Cajun spices like paprika, cumin and chilie.
  • The prawns carried heat, but they weren’t that spicy and the Mango Chow Chow was tangy and a bit sweet to contrast the spice and saltiness.
  • The grits were very creamy and buttery and infused with sweet potato and corn so it was on the sweet side, but it worked well with the savoury shrimp.
  • The French green beans (Haricots verts) were nice and thin and not overcooked which I liked considering many of the green beans I had tried in New Orleans seemed overcook and mushy.

Grilled Niman Ranch Double Cut Pork Chop 2/5 (Okay-Good)

  • With Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Tamarind Glaze and Green Chile Molé Sauce $32
  • This was the most popular meat dish at Emeril’s and it’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened.
  • This was a gigantic piece of pork and it was a lot of meat for one person. This could easily be shared and it’s enough for lunch and dinner.

  • It was a 15-16 ounce Wisconsin pork chop and I really wish it was a local pork chop, but that’s a personal preference towards local ingredients I have.
  • The sauce was a Tamarind Glaze and Green Chile Molé Sauce so it was nutty and smoky, but also tangy from the tamarind glaze which was almost like aged balsamic.
  • The mole sauce had maybe 20+ ingredients and it was made with pistachio, pine nuts, almonds, jalapenos, chocolate, cumin and various seasonings and spices, but I found it had a peanut butter flavour and texture.
  • The chocolate and cocoa powder in the sauce was very mild and I got peanuts more than any other nut flavour.
  • It was a creamy and rich buttery sauce with a good acidity from lime and it played well with the pork.
  • Although this is a house favourite, I can’t say I was a fan of it because the pork was overcooked and a bit dry.
  • It was just a big chunk of meat, and it didn’t really go beyond that for me, but the sauce and caramelized tender sweet potatoes were enjoyable.

This photo shows the size of the pork better. It’s the massive hunk of meat you see above.

**Andouille Crusted Drum4/6 (Very good)

  • With Grilled Vegetables, Shoestring Potatoes, Glazed Pecans and Creole Meunière Sauce  $29
  • This was the most popular seafood dish at Emeril’s and it’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened.
  • This was a very typical way to prepare fish in Creole cuisine.
  • Meunière refers to the sauce as well as the method of cooking which is usually a floured and battered deep fried fish, perhaps crusted with almonds or pecans too.
  • It was quite a heavy dish with all the brown butter Meunière Sauce and deep fried food, but this is what Southern Creole food is like.
  • Drum fish seems to be the most widely available fish in New Orleans and it was almost neutral in flavour and reminded me of cod or sole.
  • The fish was lightly battered and breaded in Cajun spices, pecan crumbs and bread crumbs, but the pecan flavour wasn’t obvious.
  • It said “Andouille crusted” and Andouille refers to a smoked sausage, but I didn’t taste any of that in the crust.
  • The crust was a bit nutty, smokey and charred flavoured with a sprinkle of cheese on top, but I wanted to taste more pecans in the crust.
  • The fish was crispy and mild in flavour and flaky, but without the sauce and breading it has very little flavour.
  • The sauce was just a brown butter sauce and it tasted similar to the Barbeque Shrimp sauce.
  • I could taste some home made Worcestershire sauce in the brown butter and there was a bit of lemon juice for acidity.
  • The shoestring potatoes were almost like Hickory Stick Potato Chips and each one was crispy and crunchy and well seasoned.
  • It was a big piece of fish and I did enjoy it and can easily see why it’s a house favourite, but I still think there was more potential for it.
  • It wasn’t really memorable or something I haven’t had, but it was still very good and well enjoyed and I love nuts with fish.

Artisanal Cheeses

  • $6 each
  • Humboldt Fog – Arcata, California
    • Pasteurized Goat, Served with Pickled Vegetables
  • Rogue Creamery Oregonzola– Central Point, Oregon
    • Creamy Buttermilk – Aged Raw Cow, Served with Honey Comb

Palate Cleanser – Ice Cream or Sorbet Trio

  • $6
  • It was a tropical mango sorbet and I could also taste some orange in it, but it was predominantly mango.
  • The sorbet was okay here, but I was saving room for the real desserts.

BAM! The desserts were classic chop house desserts and you can’t leave without trying the Banana Cream Pie.

Warm Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding Cake2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Vanilla Ice Cream, Satsuma Toffee Sauce $8
  • I love hot and cold desserts and anything served with good quality ice cream, but I found this too sweet so it was hard to eat a lot of.
  • Sticky Toffee Puddings tend to be really sweet like this, so I do get nervous ordering them.
  • The ice cream didn’t have any vanilla bean seeds, but it was a nice big scoop.
  • The sticky toffee pudding was really wet and a bit soggy from all the melted ice cream and toffee sauce so it ended up being even sweeter.
  • The cake was moist and almost melted with all the ingredients going on so I couldn’t tell which part was really the cake.
  • I could taste some fresh blueberries, dried dates, pecans, almond cake and cinnamon, but I did lose the cake texture.
  • It almost tasted like a sticky toffee pudding meets a blueberry pecan crumble and I couldn’t tell what I was eating.
  • The dates is what made it too sweet and that flavour was quite obvious once you knew they were in there.
  • I really like dates, but they have a lot of sugar especially after being dried and with the toffee sauce and sweet pudding cake it was really sugary.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie3/6 (Good)

  • Oreo Crust, Caramel $8
  • This tasted like a peanut butter cheesecake with a loose and crumbly Oreo cookie crust.
  • I thought it would be a hard crunchy Oreo crust, but the crumb was fine and not packed together or cookie like.
  • It was quite light and mousse like, but not that peanutty in flavour.
  • I could taste a cheesiness, but it’s not a heavy New York style cheesecake and that cheese flavour isn’t in your face.
  • It was a very rich and creamy cake, but I would have loved more layers and texture.
  • It was less intense with chocolate and peanut than a Reece’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cup.
  • I like peanut butter and chocolate, but I wouldn’t have to order this again although I’m glad I tried it.

**Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie5/6 (Excellent)

  • Banana Crust, Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Shavings $8
  • You can’t miss it unless you’re allergic to one of the ingredients.
  • This is Emeril’s famous dessert and it’s excellent.
  • On the scale of banana cream pies this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had.
  • It was a mile high banana cream pie topped with whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce and it wasn’t too sweet.
  • I loved the alternating chunks of banana in between the layers of old fashioned pastry cream and there was an equal ratio of each which I liked.
  • I liked having actual pieces of real banana rather than a mashed and puréed creamy layer of them.
  • The pastry cream was nice and thick and the crust was a graham cracker crust made also with mashed bananas.
  • It was a short cut from his original cook book recipe though which uses actual vanilla bean seeds in the pastry cream.
  • The whipped cream wasn’t a great whipped cream, but everything else made up for it.
  • I would rather more banana and pastry cream than whipped cream anyway.
  • It was light in texture, but still a very rich and creamy dessert and it was more satisfying than the value.

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