Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Monday, July 13, 2015

Star-Crossed Lovers: My Brief Affair with Ursa Major

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

Look, I'm a gentlewoman. I want to treat my lady to nice things on occasion. I'm no millionaire, but I'll drop my hard-earned dollars on a good meal any day.

So when Blair told me about Ursa Major, I knew it would be the perfect place to bring my girlfriend for our one year anniversary. She and her brother Jake had recently been there for drinks and had been impressed by the restaurant's selection of cocktails.

Ursa interior
Interior at Ursa Major in New Orleans

seperation anxiety
Separation Anxiety cocktail at Ursa Major

Ursa Major was opened recently by the same people who opened Booty's Street Foods, one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants. But Ursa Major is astrological themed – with each rotation of the zodiac calendar, they switch up their drink list and their menu to items inspired by that zodiac sign.

When Ryan and I went, the menu was Cancer inspired.

We started out with some drinks. I opted for the H.B.I.C., a mixture of Calvados Morin, Hochstadter's Rock and Rye Slow & Low, honey and green chartreuse. It was super sweet and strong. Definitely a drink for sipping.

Ryan went with the Separation Anxiety, featuring Smith & Cross rum, Hamilton Black rum, plum, orange juice, and Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear liqueur. The only alcohol Ryan will generally drink is vodka with orange juice (no beer, only recently some wine), so I was surprised she liked this drink.

We each decided to go with the Tasting Menu, the Chef's choice of six courses including dessert.

Japanese Yellowtail Tuna at Ursa Major
The first course may have been my favorite. It was a piece of Japanese yellow tail tuna served salted, cold, and garnished with a peach slice. Raw fish isn't something I'd have ordered on my own, but the tuna was tender and light, and it was a great start to our meal. 

Samusa atop cilantro aioli at Ursa Major

Next, we had samusas stuffed with confit potato, carrot, and pork belly with cilantro aioli dipping sauce. I can best describe these as potato-y wontons. I wished I had tasted more of the pork belly flavors, though.

Garbanzo salad at Ursa Major
The third course was a garbanzo salad with tomato, cilantro, and a heavy curry flavor. The garbanzo beans were a little hard for my taste, but the flavors worked well together. 

Fourth came the pork belly chow mein. Finally, I tasted the pork belly! The noodles and the sauce had a heavy vinegar flavor, so much so that I had to ask the waiter what I was tasting. He said it was Chinese black vinegar, a more potent vinegar used in East Asia. It was very odd, but yummy. 

Ryan enjoying the pork belly chow mien at Ursa Major

The main course came next. We were served perfectly cooked bedouin lamb from a farm in Mississippi with heirloom carrots, Japanese flavored green beans, tomato chutney, and a dollop of house made yogurt. 

Bedouin lamb at Ursa Major

The lamb was tremendous: not over-cooked, subtly seasoned, and paired perfectly with the yogurt and tomato chutney. The carrots and green beans were unnecessary. I wouldn't have missed them. 

Last, the dessert. We were served a red bean cake with smoky vanilla bean ice cream. The cake was pretty dry, but combined with the ice cream it wasn't inedible. I paired dessert with a decent sherry, and then we called it a night.

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