Today is a special day. Yeah, yeah. It’s Labor Day. I, sure enough, am enjoying my day off in observation. But it’s also the birthday of one of my close friends. The fact that today is her birthday reminds me that I never blogged about our visit to see her and her adorable family in New Orleans earlier this summer. The focus of this post will be about this dinner I’ve yet to forget at Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans. If you eat there, you likely won’t forget either! I’m here to warn you – if you plan to eat at Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans, fast ahead of time. Don’t eat for days. I’m about to tell you why.
We had a great time chatting it up with our friends in the car, but next time I get the idea to take a ten-hour car trip while six months pregnant, slap some sense into me. We arrived at N’s beautiful home on Friday afternoon. Because N and her hubby had worked all day and we were worn out from our trip, we spent a quiet evening at home, eating some delicious pizza and catching up.
As with any trip to NOLA, the food was a huge element of the trip. We enjoyed a great breakfast on that Saturday morning before taking a horse-drawn carriage tour through the French Quarter. N, her husband, and the girls wound up heading back home after breakfast so the girls could take their nap. The rest of us had a great time tooling around the shops and exploring. Although all of us had been to NOLA several times, this was the first time for The Hubs to actually spend time there and not just pass through. The tour was great because the hilarious tour guide taught us things I had never known in all the times I have been in the French Quarter.
The heat of NOLA, the second-trimester pregnancy, and the backache I had from the long car ride equated to a bad triple-whammy all the way around, but I survived. For lunch, we ate at Sbisa’s, a historic restaurant with an on-again-off-again past that had been recently re-opened by one of Jenny’s friends from northern Louisiana. I had my NOLA staple of jambalaya. Mmmm-mmmm. Jenny’s friend met us on the premises while we dined and then gave us a tour of the four-story historic building. It had quite a sorted history, that building.
Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans
It is probably one of the most exquisite dining experiences I have ever had in my life. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just Google Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans. The hours-long wait in which many people endure outside in the heat just to eat at this place should tell the story.
N and her husband are friends with the owners and wait staff. Let’s just say we didn’t wait long to be seated. Had I known what all was in store for us, I would have fasted for days in advance. In addition to eating all day in the French Quarter, we had stopped at N’s husband’s cousin’s bar/restaurant and shared a few appetizers there on our way to Irene’s.
As soon as we were seated at Irene’s Cuisine, plates of appetizers started rounding the table, before we had even requested a single thing. Plate after plate. The atmosphere was amazing. Flickering candlelight, flowing wine, and romantic charm around the entire restaurant.
Most impressive was our waiter – a friend of N and J – who exuded the most charismatic and yet professional demeanor of any waiter I have ever noted. In total, I think he brought us seven or eight different appetizers before we ever even ordered our main course. I was already ready to pop at that point. We had fried oysters, breaded olives stuffed with veal, crabmeat au gratin, ravioli, artichoke and fig crostini, bruschetta, tomato salad with fresh mozzarella, and bread.
My photos cannot possibly do this food justice since I was using my iPhone and shooting via candlelight. This was a no-win situation for a restaurant review. And I didn’t even get pictures of all of it because there was SO MUCH FOOD. Trust me. The dishes were both gorgeous AND delicious.
|Appetizer: breaded olives stuffed with veal|
Our brilliant waiter even reminded me that I should not eat the fresh mozzarella since I was pregnant during our visit. I appreciated his reminder.
|Appetizer: Tomato salad with fresh mozzarella|
When it was time to order the main course, we were all so stuffed that we couldn’t even make a decision on what we wanted to order. With some guidance from the waiter and our friends, The Hubs ordered the chicken dish.
I ordered the lasagna.
Finally, it was time for dessert. Or at least, I was told that it was. I was already trying to figure out how on earth I was going to make my legs travel to the car. That didn’t stop me from helping N to devour three-fourths of the strawberry cheesecake when it came around. The other folks at the table didn’t stand much of a chance at a bite. The other two desserts making their way around the table were creme brulee and bananas foster bread pudding. I think. Like I said, the cheesecake had my full attention.
|Dessert: Cheesecake with strawberries|
|Dessert: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding|
Oh, my word! A person should simply never eat that much food.
But I will definitely eat at Irene’s Cuisine in New Orleans next time I’m in NOLA! I will just, I don’t know, starve myself for a day or two first.
Back to the birthday girl. It’s incredible to me that this is my 22nd year to wish her a happy birthday. Our friendship journey started in health class in the ninth grade. You know how there are just some friends you have no doubts will be your friends for life? Lucky me. I have two of them right here.
|Today’s birthday girl, N, on the left; J in the middle; me on the right.|
Happy, happy birthday, N! Here’s to many, many more.