NOLA

24 Market Sq. Pittsburgh, PA 15222(412) 471-9100nolaonthesquare.com

NOLA_shrimp_po_boy_1967_600

No, not the one actually in NOLA. The one in Pittsburgh. And sadly there’s no relation. Emeril has nada to do with this one. That said, strangely enough, this one held its own for a place not exactly born on the Bayou.

Inside, the décor is heavily influenced by that Memphis-meets-garish 80’s style with bright blues and purples mixed with vibrant triangular details that seem to make no sense other than to scream “Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!” Of which I beg to differ. But cutting them some slack, I get the theme. I mean, after all, it’s not like Mardi Gras is laced with subtleties. But apart from the walls and the dated ambiance, the service is friendly and lightning quick having us, a party of five (without the parental tragedy), in and out in under 30 minutes during the height of the lunchtime rush.

And in those 30 minutes they managed to pack in a few head-turners like the kale salad with chunks of cantaloupe, Cajun sunflower seeds and ricotta salata all dressed in a grilled watermelon vinaigrette.

Or better still, the turkey Cubano, piled high with warm roasted turkey breast, home brined pickles, Jarlsberg, sweet pepper jam and creole mustard. I’m not too sure how Cajun a Cubano is, but I’m pretty damn certain it was fabano. And so were the generously seasoned fries served with it, but be sure to ask for their honey mustard to dip them in. It’s homemade and homazing.

But then NOLA pulled a NO-NO when it came to the highly recommended blackened catfish, a dish I normally love the whiskers out of. But this one lacked the true kick any self-respecting blackened dish should have. And while it might’ve been deemed spicy by local standards, it is a true bottom-feeder amongst dishes by the same name.

All in though, I have to give NOLA props. Not necessarily on its Cajun cuisine per se, but for the little creole influences that yielded dishes way better than I ever expected from Steel City.

3 teeth

Serendipity 3

225 E 60th St. New York, NY 10022(212) 838-3531serendipity3.com

Serendipity_3_Frrrozen_Hot_Choc

Two words: Frozen Hot Chocolate (pictured). Okay so that’s technically three words, but once you take a sip you won’t care because your lips will be pursed around that straw so tight you’d think you were trying to give it a hickey. And while some may discount it as a glorified chocolate milkshake I would argue that the absence of ice cream makes all the difference, making it icier and lighter than a shake. And while I could practically do a dissertation on the frozen hot chocolate itself, I will spare you, because there are other things worthy of mention at Serendipity as well.

For one, the décor. It has an eclectic, artistic vibe about it, mixed with a touch of shabby, a dash of Victorian and a pinch of bohemian. And I know some call it touristy, but I actually don’t find it to be so. It has been this way for ages. Way before the crowds started pouring in. It’s not like a cheesy theme restaurant in my opinion. I think people just chalk it up as such, now that it has become such a tourist attraction.

Speaking of attractions, the sandwiches are also pretty money. Both the Virginia Slim and the Summer Bries are terrific. The former is made with turkey and asparagus on wheat bread with Russian dressing and melted Jarlsberg. The latter is also turkey, but with, you guessed it, brie. And apples, sprouts and again Russian dressing (seem to have a thing for it here) set between slices of raisin pumpernickel.

So, here’s my advice. If you’re in town, shopping at Bloomingdale’s down the street, pop in here for lunch. And in the summer, be sure to get the frozen hot chocolate. Scratch that. Even if it’s 40 below outside get the frozen hot chocolate.

3 teeth