|Smoked Salmon Starter at Martinique Bistro|
Every now and then I have a culinary experience at a restaurant which blows me away. With so many options in New Orleans for world-class cuisine, I've been equally impressed and disappointed over the course of time. It takes a unique combination of tradition and innovation to truly impress me these days. Not to say that I don't like almost everything that I get to eat. I most certainly consider myself to be a food and beverage enthusiast rather than a critic, but I mean to really impress me, it takes something special. To stand out to the point that I'll tell my closest friends that they have to eat somewhere. To meet a chef that reminds me about why the term culinary arts truly is an art, and why a master of kitchen magic is every bit an artist as someone whose medium is canvas or lyrics. Martinique Bistro on Magazine Street in New Orleans had that kind of impact on me. Sitting five blocks away from Audubon Park, it is a quaint gem with an outdoor seating area that is sure to bustle in the fall and an inside dining room small enough to shake everyone's hand from the center table. I got a spot with Aimee Abernathy next to a window overlooking Magazine. Chef Eric Labouchere greeted our table and told us to enjoy the ride as he prepared to unleash a flurry of his finest creations on the summer menu at us.
|Double Thyme at Martinique Bistro|
Manager Jennifer Sherrod started me off with a Double Thyme to go with a couple starters before our main courses started flowing. The Double Thyme blended High West Double Rye whiskey, Meletti Amaro, Rothman and Winter Apricot, Lilet Blanc, and thyme. I do love a good, well balanced whiskey cocktail, and the Double Thyme worked perfectly to whet my appetite and prepare me for the ensuing gorge.
|Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho with Cucumber-Lime Granita|
|Loup de Mer with Beurre Rouge and Butter Poached Chanterelles|
|Boneless New Zealand Lamb at Martinique Bistro|
Of course, with this much goodness, there had to be dessert. I wouldn't dare ruin an epic meal like this without giving it the proper ending that it deserves. Chef sent out a couple sorbets and a couple ice creams to kick off the sweet tooth rally. I don't actually remember what they all were, but I do recall that the ice cream on the far right below is a chanterelle mushroom ice cream. If that doesn't sound good to you, well, you'd be wrong. The earthiness of the mushrooms made love to the rich creaminess and sugar in the ice cream to create a truly unique and amazing dessert. Chef Labouchere had one last trick up his sleeve. He presented Aimee and I with a blueberry cornmeal tart complete with blueberry curd and lavender chantilly. Another splendid dish, this dessert hit right on the money balancing the natural sweetness from the berries with the nearly savory cornmeal crust.
|Blueberry Cornmeal Tart|