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Magi Loupe

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Circuit Court New Orleans

Mr. B's Bistro
201 Royal Street. New Orleans, LA
(at the corner of Iberville St. in the French Quarter)
Map This Restaurant

3/9/02

Mr. B's is owned by the ubiquitous Brennan family of Brennan's and Commander's Palace fame, and is operated by the Ralph and Cindy faction of said family. The Brennans seem to own every third restaurant in New Orleans, which is fine by me, since they almost always know how to please. Fresh ingredients, a great wine list, and understated, efficient service are all hallmarks of a Brennan restaurant. They seem to have opened restaurants featuring every type of cuisine: steak (Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse), Italian (Bacco), old-style New Orleans (Brennan's). Mr. B's is their casual, neo-bistro place.

One of the most interesting things about Mr. B's is that you can feel equally comfortable in shorts as in a business suit. The atmosphere tends toward the upscale, with white linen napkins and tablecloths, waiters in bow ties, gleaming silverware. But there is a playfulness in the air, a familiarity with the surroundings. Large floor to ceiling windows let you watch the activity out on Royal Street. Have a cocktail or glass of wine at the bar while you wait for your table.

Great appetizers pervade the menu, most notably the Gumbo Ya-Ya, Mr. B's version of the venerable chicken andouille gumbo. The gumbo has a thick, dark, Hershey's syrup consistency, with thick slices of spicy andouille sausage and tender chicken. Resist the urge to add that dash of Tabasco -- you don't need it. The pepper from the andouille will build on itself and you will be wiping the sweat off your brow by the time you finish the bowl. Another great starter is the flash fried oysters wrapped in bacon, napped with a nice lemony butter sauce, an interesting variation on the standard oyster preparation. Coconut shrimp is just ordinary, but the sauce that comes with it is nice, with a sort of sweet and sour thing happening.

If this is your first visit to Mr. B's the entree ordering is easy. Two words: barbequed shrimp. Don't be fooled by the name, though. These shrimp have about as much to do with barbeque sauce as the French had to do with winning World War II. Huge -- and I mean huge -- heads-on shrimp, literally drowning in a cross-your-eyes-rich butter and pepper sauce. The sauce couldn't be simpler: butter, butter, more butter, some fresh cracked black pepper, creole seasonings, and a just an afterthought of garlic. Oh my, is this stuff good. I can hear my arteries clogging up just thinking about it. Break off some of that crusty loaf of bread to dip in the bowl. Now that's living, folks. Okay, if that sounds too intense for your taste, go for the filet with blue cheese mashed potatoes. They'll cook it the way you like it but remember, medium-rare means bloody but warm in the center. I have seen steaks sent back that to me were a perfect medium-rare. Blue cheese mashed potatoes may sound weird, but trust me, it's a great combination.

Still hungry? Just-got-kicked-off-the-island hungry? OK, indulge in the profiteroles for dessert. Flaky golf ball-sized pastries filled with ice cream made in-house, stacked up and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Say goodnight, Gracie.

Verdict? Get to Mr. B's. Don't live here? Charter a plane, steal a car, hire a limo, just do it.


 

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Contact Magistrate Loupe at magistrate@neworleans.com

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