Dick and Jenny's
4501 Tchoupitoulas St,
New Orleans, LA 70115
A casual and well-known New Orleans neighborhood eatery, Dick and Jenny's has been serving ambitious Southern fusion cuisine to the neighborhood for a while now. (I hate using the word "funky" to describe New Orleans dining: why must every New Orleans eatery be funky? Surely there are some outposts, some tiny enclaves of this city that are *not actually funky*, where the funk is an unknown and curious quantity?
Anyway. On to the food.
First up were the fried green tomatoes with boiled Gulf Shrimp, celery root, slaw and green onion aioli ($9.00.) This was a homey preparation of a classic New Orleans dish, and a pretty tasty one: I liked the plump shrimp, the creamy, crunchy slaw, and the general freshness of the dish. Not so good: the fried green tomatoes were a over-fried, rendering the batter hard and difficult to cut.
The corn fried Louisiana oysters with Southern slaw and New Orleans remoulade sauce ($8.50) were tasty little suckers - big fresh specimens fried in a flavorful corn batter, served with a thick remolaude sauce. A good representation of the city's favorite snack (well, if you're asking me, anyways.)
The goat cheese puff pastry with grapes, arugula, and sherry vinaigrette ($8.00) was a tasty and buttery nibble - liked the rich goat cheese and the buttery pastry, as well as the light salad served on the side. It's not all that New Orleans per-se but it's definitely good.
I chose the seared diver scallops with gulf shrimp, cauliflower puree, citrus and watercress salad and sugarcane vinaigrette ($25.00) and was glad I did: this is a light and airy and exceedingly *spring-like* dish, a real success. The buttery cauliflower puree was a perfect match to the meaty and perfectly cooked scallops and slightly smoky shrimp: the citrus gave a lightly fruity edge to the subtle flavors on the rest of the plate. My only caveat: I happen to be very much a proponent of smaller portions, but a heartier, Joey Chestnut like eater might be disappointed upon receiving only two (hefty) scallops. Of course, I don't imagine hearty eaters do much scallop ordering anyway, but I might as well issue a warning.
My dining companion, Claire, let me try a bit of the stuffed pork tenderloin with goat cheese, basil and pine nut stuffing, spring vegetables, cheese grits and a port balsamic reduction ($20.00.) It's a nicely conceived dish, but my sample was a bit overcooked: the pork could have stood a few minutes less in the oven. The stuffing was, however, quite tasty and Dick and Jenny's does an admirable cheese grit. (Another beautiful speciality that is so distressingly rare on the West coast - por que, por que?)
For dessert, we tried the the chocolate Tchoupitoulas cake, with cocoa cookie crust, Swiss chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse and a white chocolate drizzle ($8.00.) A nice looking and hearty chocolate mousse cake - not the most complex of flavors, but I liked the crumbly, crunchy cookie crust.
Howzabout that ambience? Although the dining room's ambience is more "barn decorated by your crazy aunt" then "white tablecloth," that's exactly why many locals like it: personalized plates and drinks in Mason jars complete the picture. Service is friendly and efficient, and food comes out of the kitchen fast - no indeterminate waits for rapidly cooling food here.
I think Dick and Jenny's is a good addition to Uptowns-upscale dining scene - and provides a casual, funky (oh that word again! that word!) and much needed respite from the 40 dollar entrees and lingering hordes of tourists that populate many of the city's other Nice Restaurants. It's not haute cuisine, but it is good Southern fusion cuisine without a ton of pretensions, which is something I can get behind. I anticipate heading back for tasty food in a chilled out setting in the near future.