Vienna Dining: Modern Italian at Italic

22 Mar 2012

Italic

Johannesgasse 2
1010 Wien, Austria

Catching up from December...

Italic is a modern Italian restaurant in Vienna. I came upon it while walking around the high streets between Stephansdom (the cathedral) and the Opera House. Vienna is quite festive leading up to Christmas, so the place was very busy. When I came in and said it was just me, the maitre'd winced, but when I said I'd gladly sit at the bar, I got the royal treatment.

I ordered the table d'hote meal for the evening, which was four courses, a starter, pasta, main, and dessert. The starter was a seafood plate, thinly sliced poached salmon and some grilled shrimp. The salmon was just OK, but the shrimp were well-spiced and flavorful.

The pasta course was linguini and crawfish. yes, Crawfish. Im Wien. Usually this would violate my rule about Creole/Cajun food, and how it should not be ordered in restaurants east of Slidell, north of Baton Rouge, and west of Lafayette. This was Vienna, though, and it was part of the fixed-price meal, so what the heck. By New Orleans standards, these crawfish were small. Not sure if crawfish season runs the same in Central Europe, but the size would be expected at home; any non-farm crawfish would be that small.

All that said, the dish was good! The crawfish themselves were not boiled in Zatarain's, so they didn't have the zing of local bugs, but they served over the pasta with what we'd call a "bordelaise" sauce in New Orleans, buttery and garlicky.

I usually fully feed my riesling addiction in Vienna, and this meal was no exception. There were two rieslings by-the-glass on the menu. One was full and fruity, the other a "halbtrocken" (half-dry). The latter was less sweet than one expects from a riesling. making it a good complement to the main.

Grilled seabass in a lemon beurre blanc with grilled veggies. Good fish cooked just right. But it was the veggies that stole the show! You know how you often get to the point where you push aside the potatoes and veggies, saving room for dessert? Not this time, these were equisite. If I was in Vienna and dining with a vegetarian, I'd go to Italic and get them to make a plate of just the grilled veggies. It would be a winner.

Creme brulee and a banana pudding for dessert. The pudding was meh, and that was OK, since I ate absolutely everything on the plate for the main. The custard was nice.

Cappuccino to wrap up, and a walk back to Stephansplatz to take the Metro back to the hotel.

Overall, a lovely meal. As often happens with a prix-fixe meal, there's a thing or two you're not in love with, but the things that worked for me more than adequately made up for those that didn't. The tab was about €65, which included the two glasses of wine.

Service: Solid, since I was alone in the bar. The restaurant had no empty tables by the time I got my pasta course, but the bartender did a great job checking on me between getting drinks and/or wine for the other tables.

Shreveport Dining: Columbia Cafe

18 Mar 2012

Columbia Cafe on Urbanspoon

My BFF raves about Columbia Cafe, her Wednesday afternoon gathering place/watering hole in Shreveport. When I was working on the other side of the Red River in Bossier City a few weeks ago, naturally I joined the group for their "Wine Wednesday" excursion. All this time, I thought they just got together and did happy hour at Columbia Cafe, where wine by the bottle is half-price on Wednesday evenings. It was a pleasant surprise to discover their kitchen puts out some wonderful food!

Meet Dingo. Dingo runs the place, can't you tell? It was such a lovely evening, and Dingo was gracious enough to let us sit outside.

Grilled trout in a lemon-butter sauce with mashed potatoes and brocolli. Several of the gals at the table got this, mixing and matching the sides to their liking.

"Sante Fe Chicken" - fried chicken breast topped with cheese, tomatoes, and guacamole. The batter was a bit spicy, and that made for a great dish!

Dessert was a lemon tart. You can't see the crust, but it was divine.

Forget casino buffets if you come over to Shreveport/Bossier from DFW...go check out Columbia Cafe!

Vienna Dining: Wiener Schnitzel at Bastei-Beisl

18 Mar 2012

Bastei-Beisl‎

Stubenbastei 10
1010 Vienna, Austria
01 5124319
basteibeisl.at‎

"Beisl" is a Yiddish/Hebrew word that, in Viennese German, indicates a restaurant/pub. the decor and layout of a beisl is similar to inns and pubs across most of Western Europe. Since one does not need a 3-star Michelin place to eat deep-fried food, I go to beisls for schnitzel.

Potato soup for a starter, creamy, chunky, and bacon!

Wiener Schnitzel and boiled potatoes. This Schnitzel was made with pork. As a kid who grew up on panneed veal and beef round, schnitzels and I get along very nicely.

Another riesling! Don't you just love the little soccer-bal plant holder?

Ice cream sundae for dessert. Even with two glasses of wine, the tab for this meal was under €30.

Even though the Stubentor Metro station was only a block away from Bastei-Beisl, I wound through the neighborhood to get back to Stephansplatz and the Metro station across from the cathedral, window-shopping along the way.

Cafe Brulot from @Antoines: @Paulineagain debunks the Coffee-Pirate Connection

6 Mar 2012

Traditional cup and saucer for "Devilishly Burned Coffee," better known as Cafe' Brulot Diabolique.

I'd never heard of a connection between the brothers Lafitte and Cafe Brulot until I did some background research for my latest article for GoNOLA.com, on Dominique Youx. As part of the crazy pirate lore of the city, the invention of Cafe Brulot was attributed to the Lafittes and/or Dominique Youx. Fortunately, Pauline's Pirates and Privateers straightens everyone out.

Being a huge fan of Restaurant Antoine, I already knew, of course, that it was Jules Alciatore, son of restaurant founder Antoine Alciatore, who invented this coffee beverage in the 1890s.

Here's the Antoine's recipe:

Cafe Brulot

2 sticks cinnamon
8 whole cloves
peel of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces brandy
3 cups strong black coffee

Put the cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, sugar, and brandy in a fireproof bowl and heat on an open flame. When the brandy is hot, but not boiling, bring the bowl to the table and ignite with a match. Use a ladle to stir and pour the liquid around the bowl for 2 minutes. Pour the hot coffee into the flaming brandy and ladle the mixture into demitasse cups.

Weekend Breakfast at @CafeRalphie in #themetrys

5 Mar 2012

Cafe Ralphie on Urbanspoon

Had breakfast at Cafe' Ralphie over the weekend. The location used to be Cafe Angellina until a couple of months ago. Now, Chef Ralph Pausina is in the kitchen and his wife, Glenda Rhode-Pausina, handles the front of the house.

A new paint job inside, and they've created a space for video poker machines. That also means they'll have a liquor license.

Two eggs over easy, grits, sausage patties, and a biscuit. Pepper on the eggs is my addition. The eggs were cooked just right. Most importantly, the grits were excellent! All too many places rush grits and they end up a bit thin. Not these; they were solid.

Another change along with the paint and the ownership was table service. My server took my order at the table, and brought me the bill when I was done.

A good breakfast, now to come back for the lunch and brunch menus. If you're looking for a good breakfast in #themetrys, Cafe' Ralphie is a winner.

Parents must control their children in restaurants!

18 Feb 2012

Unruly children? Most pizza places have an option just for you...

 

Not sure this headline is fair to the restaurant or to Yelpers:

Georgia Pizzeria Kicks Out Crying Kids to Appease Yelpers

When I read this article, my first thought was to Tower of Pizza, in Metairie, LA. Tower of Pizza is a very popular place and arguably one of the best hand-tossed pizzas in the metro New Orleans area. It doesn't seem to be all that different in terms of what they're trying to appeal to than Grant Central Pizza, the subject of this Eater article. I've been in Tower of Pizza when people bring in their kids for end-of-season soccer team or t-ball dinners, and the place is a really a hot mess. If a couple walked in, they might well just back out the way they came in.

But that's not the real problem. Tower of Pizza isn't CiCi's or Pizza Hut, so there's a certain expectation there. Chain restaurants, particularly those with all-you-can-eat setups, are the Lowest Common Denominator of the dining world. Little local places aren't. The date-night couple heading out to CiCi's should expect children running to and from the game room, screaming infants, and parents who just don't give a crap. That's why they went up a notch on the scale in the first place.

Is it reasonable for a restaurant to ask diners to control their children? You bet. Here's what GCP put on their menu:

"Dear all present and future patrons: GCP is proud of its reputation as a family restaurant, a title that we will work to keep. Unfortunately a number of our diners have posted unpleasant experiences because of crying and unsupervised children. To ensure that all diners have an enjoyable lunch or dinner with us we respectfully ask that parents tend to their crying tots outside."

This isn't all that unreasonable, and not much different from the tongue-in-cheek signs you see in many indie coffee shops:

Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy

Parents should not expect the other diners in a restaurant to babysit their children! While I'll be the first to agree that many Yelp! users are unreasonable in their criticisms, this is not one of those times. In the GCP article, the manager is quoted as saying a diner complained once that another diner's child actually hit them. Totally unacceptable behavior, and the restaurant would be well within their rights to ask the offending parents to leave. If your kids can't sit still, it's on you to control them. If you can't control them, it's on you to take them someplace else.

Crying children are another issue. A small child's schedule often doesn't coincide with their parents' dining plans, and they have no issues whatsoever in communicating their displeasure. To me, this is a grey area when it comes to dining. You feed the kid, put them in the car, and drive to a local restaurant. They're sleeping and you hope they'll stay that way long enough for you to enjoy a meal out. Most of us who are parents get it (and probably have been there). I remember one pizza place not far from our house. We took my then-15mo-old firstborn with us, and he napped peacefully through most of dinner. Then he woke up hollering! As I was gathering him up to take him outside and (hopefully) rock him back to sleep (or at least calm him down), the mom of the owner came out from the back, took him from me, sat me back down with my wife, and walked him around in her arms. With the special attention, he settled down and started giggling, as we then ordered dessert.

You can't expect that sort of thing whenever you go out, though. A restaurant isn't an airplane. If your kid starts crying/screaming, you have an option--go outside!

Lunch at Liuzza's on Bienville!

1 Feb 2012

Liuzza's on Bienville is one of the great neighborhood/Creole-Italian places in Mid City. We had a nice lunch there just before Christmas.

Draw One! Abita Amber in Liuzza's big frozen schooners.

For a starter, we had fried eggplant with marinara sauce.

There were three of us on this visit, and we all picked interesting mains. The top photo is Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade. Deep-fry breaded green tomatoes. Cover that with some boiled shrimp, then top with remoulade sauce. Delicious!

This is a classic oyster po-boy, something Liuzza's does well. Leidenheimer's bread, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and oysters fried just right.

Usually you see Shrimp Remoulade on the menu, but on this visit, Liuzza's was doing Oysters Remoulade, and they were wonderful!

Wonderful lunch, good conversation, totally New Orleans!

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