Sunday, June 23, 2013

Restaurant Speed Date: Cafe B's

I'm calling this a "speed date" because it's based off of one meal and one visit, so it's not comprehensive enough to be a full-out restaurant review. Also possibly because buzzwords both corporate and pedagogical have leaked into my brain and rooted there like a horde of flesh-eating bacteria.

Cafe B's is a Brennan's restaurant on Metairie Road. The place is upscale-casual, the decor chic and not too aggressively nautical. Average dinner entree price: ~$24. An early-bird special (called, to this diner's mild chagrin, the "b4 Sunset Menu") offers three courses for $18.50 from 5-6:15 nightly.

Appetizer: Crispy Panko Eggplant Sticks

These freshly fried eggplant sticks may have been my favorite thing on our menu.

The coating was crispy (as advertized) with a very light dusting of parmesan, and the tubes of eggplant were almost liquid in their tenderness. The smoked papriki aioli was both tangy and peppy, its coolness a nice contrast to the hot eggplant sticks.

I liked it so much, I'll give you two photos.

First Course: Corn and Crab Bisque

This decent-enough soup improved as it cooled, and while it's hard for me to pinpoint anything wrong with the bisque, it's also hard for me to point out anything exceptional about it. It was good; just not outstanding. Perhaps it could have used just a touch more heat?

Main Courses:

Bronzed Salmon

Citrus butter added some sweetness and zing to a moist, flaky slab of rare-cooked salmon. This is one of the best servings of salmon I've ever had; one of my dining companions said it rivaled salmon he'd eaten in San Francisco. The spaghetti squash did nothing for me, but then, spaghetti squash never does. Cubed zucchini and eggplant were a nice accompaniment.

Garlic Shrimp Linguine

My comrades in this gustatory enterprise ordered the garlic shrimp linguine. The shrimp were excellent, but for me this dish was most notable for its other ingredients: olive oil, garlic, tomato, and, especially, pesto. The pasta carried just the right amount of basil flavor.

Dessert: Warm Whiskey Bread Pudding

Where do I begin with this thing? The custardy, raisin-studded innards? The slightly crispy sugar-coated crusts? The warm, gently sweet, thoroughly complementary but not overpowering whiskey sauce? Or the way the whole shebang comes together with a spoonful of whipped cream? Hoo boy.

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a laidback version of fine dining and are willing to pay for it, Cafe B's is a great option.

Atmosphere: Informal affluence with a Gulf Coast vibe
Cost: A little pricey
Food: Excellent
Service: No complaints
Kid-Friendly: Kids' Menu available
Veg-Friendly: Many pescetarian options, vegetarian options created on request
Would I go back: Yes, if I had the money and wanted to splurge

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