I don’t consider myself a picky eater, though some might disagree. There are definitely things that I don’t like, such as mushrooms, sliced tomatoes (though diced is just fine), and yams. But in general I’m not a very adventurous eater either. Unknown food items on a menu intimidate me, so I tend to stick to something I recognize. This is something I want to change about myself, and I’ve been practicing a lot while living here in New Orleans. This city, as everyone knows, has its own culinary traditions. And while it was easy sampling gumbo, jambalaya, dirty rice, and po’boys, I had a much harder time with… well, anything seafood, which is half the menu at any given restaurant. Something I’ve discovered, though, is that if you’re going to try something new, the best place to do it is at a fancy restaurant.
For my birthday, Amanda wanted to take me to one of the many five star restaurants in New Orleans. I have eaten at a lot of really great places here, but none of them have been like Stella’s. This is the kind of restaurant where your server wears white gloves and brings out tiny silverware specific to the course in front of you. It’s the kind of place where you are served an amuse bouche and instead of appetizers, you order something “to begin with.” It’s also the kind of restaurant where you really want to take pictures of the food because it’s so beautiful, but you feel a little silly doing so and end up with grainy pictures from your phone. Let’s set the scene a little:
Notice the chandeliers, the leather chairs, the flower arrangements… very classy. Amanda and I had looked at the menu ahead of time and had an idea of what we wanted to try. I really wanted to be adventurous and get some things I had never eaten before, so I ordered the lobster, egg, and caviar “to begin with” while Amanda ordered the spicy Asian chili prawns. I really had no idea what to expect with the lobster, egg, and caviar, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this:
I felt so decadent, eating lobster and caviar in an egg custard from a delicate little egg shell. And Amanda’s prawns…
had the perfect amount of heat and just a nice tanginess. So far, the meal was off to a very good start. For our entrees, I ordered the tandoori roasted Tasmanian king salmon and coconut shrimp basmati fried rice and Amanda had the kabayaki glazed prime beef tenderloin. Don’t they just sound mouth-watering? And I don’t normally even like salmon, but I was being adventurous. And it paid off.
Our server said they normally cook it medium rare, which would normally scare me because I prefer medium-well, but I was willing to let them cook it how they prefer and it was amazing. Amanda kept saying that it was like a cloud, the salmon was so light and just perfect. And the tenderloin was truly tender. Amanda asked the server how it was cooked, and he told us about a very complicated process we had seen the contestants on The Next American Iron Chef use, so we were impressed. In fact, the chef at Stella! has studied with many an iron chef.
And since we were being decadent, we ordered dessert: the caramel pot de creme and the German chocolate cake with coconut cloud and milk chocolate mousse nitro.
We were pleasantly surprised to get an additional platter of sweets. We think it’s because they knew it was my birthday, but maybe every dinner at Stella! ends that way. Either way, we will take a platter of chocolates.
Here we are, both inside and outside of the restaurant:
And when we left, we got to walk the streets of the French Quarter. I always forget how much I love it at night.
It definitely paid off to be adventurous at this meal. I’m only grateful I got the opportunity. Thanks Amanda!