New Orleans CityBusiness
July 6, 2009
By Tom Fitzmorris
To say one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants is more touristy than another seems absurd. But NOLA is that, even though it didn’t start out that way.
In the beginning, it was a very cool place for locals to hang out. The menu was kicky and experimental even by Emeril’s standards. The least-known but best part of NOLA is the private dining room on the third floor. I wish Emeril or his lieutenant, David McCelvey, would invent a new dining style up there.
Why it’s essential
NOLA is Emeril’s most casual restaurant, at least in New Orleans. In recent years it’s evolved into Emeril’s Greatest Hits Cafe. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it likely appeals tremendously to the many visitors who wander into the superb location. NOLA has created more than a few of its own specialties, too.
Why it’s good
Although the prices here are a shade lower than at Emeril’s other two New Orleans establishments, all the bedrock standards that brought the chef his fame are in force. The kitchen exploits fresh local product, makes everything in house, maintains a full pastry kitchen and collects an impressive stock of wines. The service staff is sharp without being formal.
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