Sunday, April 19, 2015

O is for Oysters


Lu and I made the trek to Chattanooga once again, this time to visit our friend Dawn in the hospital and take her something to good to eat since she has been eating hospital fare for a while. Another friend had mentioned the Cajun/Creole food at a place called Blue Orleans, which sounded pretty good to us. We looked up the address and set the GPS. Turns out, Blue Orleans is right across the street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Of course, this was Lu and me, you just know things were not as simple as they should have been. Oh, we found the restaurant easily enough. What we could not find was a place to park. I thought we were going to be churned into butter we circled the block so many times. I, helpfully, pointed out a parking lot to Lu, but she was pretty certain she could find a (free) parking place on the street. Finally, my frugal friend gave up and pulled into the parking lot I had, helpfully, pointed out about about 45 minutes earlier. We are not city girls, however, and those automated parking attendant boxes always throw us for a loop. We stood in a giant puddle of water (it was raining), searching our purses for money and trying to figure out how to put the money in the box. The written instructions weren't helpful at all and then we noticed something about it being a restricted lot between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. We checked the time. It was 5 pm. Oh, great! Then we spotted a girl walking nearby. She looked local, so we asked her for suggestions on where we could park. She pointed to a nearby street and we took her advice. Finally, we made our way in the drizzly rain to Blue Orleans. 

                            
Blue Orleans is a small restaurant with lots of dark wood, brick and high ceilings. The bar is at the front of the restaurant and the tables are in the back. We were greeted as soon as we entered and waited for only a few minutes to be seated. We ordered a couple of interesting sounding drinks and an appetizer while we decided on our entrees. Lu got a drink called King Cake Martini, which I passed on because our server, the chef's wife, told us it was very sweet. Instead, I went with a Blue Orleans Margarita. Interestingly enough, the martini came in a margarita glass. We both enjoyed our pretty drinks. 


For our appetizer, we decided to split an order of oyster and bacon pops. Luanne and I love oysters. We like them any way you can cook them...fried, broiled, smoked, baked, grilled and sautéed. We are the Bubba Gumps for oysters. Our only difference of opinion concerns raw oysters. Lu loves them, I hate them. But these Blue Orleans oysters? We couldn't agree more. They were amazing. They were wrapped in bacon, battered and fried and served with a blue cheese dip topped off with hot sauce. The batter was just right, not too much. They were fried to perfection and the bacon was fully cooked, too. The blue cheese/hot sauce dip was delicious. We raved about the oysters. The nicest thing? The menu said five oyster pops, but our server brought us six, so we each got three. We were off to a great start. 

As far as entrees were concerned, we were pretty predictable. Lu loves gumbo, so she chose a seafood gumbo. There were crawfish tacos on the menu. You KNOW I could not resist. 

Luanne's gumbo was a light golden color. She knew right away it might not be her favorite, because she prefers a dark, rich, spicy gumbo. She was correct. Blue Orleans gumbo might be perfect for those who like a mild gumbo, but Luanne was disappointed. She likes big, boldly flavored gumbo. 


                           

My tacos were equally disappointing. They looked like no taco I have ever had before. Tightly wrapped, almost like an egg roll, they were then grilled and served with a strange mustardy sauce. They came with a side of slaw that I found peculiar and I think some of the same slaw might have been inside the taco. The grilled flour tortilla was dry and tasteless. Luckily I had saved some of the blue cheese sauce from our oysters and salvaged the tacos by dipping them in the yummy sauce. Since I had three tacos, I shared one of them with Lu and she agreed. The tacos were not very good and not at all what either of us was expecting. 


We weren't giving up, though. We decided to give Blue Orleans chocolate chip bread pudding a whirl. We chose to share one order of bread pudding and we were happy we did. It was a very generous order of the rich dessert. This time we were not disappointed. The warm bread pudding was not like any bread pudding we had ever had, but it was delicious. 

We took pictures of the menu and sent them to Dawn so she could decide what she wanted to order. She chose crawfish fritters and a slice of cheesecake. She enjoyed the fritters even though they had to be stone cold by the time we got them to her. Why? Because just as we got to Erlanger Medical Center, parked and started heading up to her room, I remembered she had been moved to Siskin Rehabilitation. With Luanne scowling at me the whole time, we asked for directions to Siskin, got back in the car, parked in what we thought was the parking deck for Siskin (even though it clearly said St. Barnabas), marched up to the front desk, asked for Dawn's room, were told by the elderly gentleman at the desk that there were no Don's there, we repeated "Dawn", were told there were no Dawn's there, asked if this was Siskin, were told no, it was a nursing home, got directions to Siskin again, left St. Barnabas, got back in the car, finally found Siskin, spent about fifteen minutes trying to park the car straight before giving up and parking crooked, asked for Dawn at the front desk, got her room number, almost got off on the wrong floor and finally trooped into Dawn's room. Those fritters had long since lost their sizzle. I am exhausted just telling the story!


We did enjoy our visit with Dawn, who happily got to go home the very next day. Lu and I reminisced about those delicious oyster and bacon pops on the way home and decided that we would definitely go back to Blue Orleans just for those, if for no other reason. But we also agreed that we would try some other entrees the next time. If the chef can work that kind of magic with oysters, we are pretty confident that there are other choices on the menu that we would enjoy. We did see some good looking poboys coming out of the kitchen. We might try one of those on our next visit. We were also pleased with the reasonable price of our meal. Our entire meal, including the food we took to Dawn, was only $80. Not too bad for a meal for three that included drinks, an appetizer and a dessert.


Three Friends and a Fork gives Blue Orleans 2 Yums UP. We give Blue Orleans oyster bacon pops a standing ovation! Check it out and tell us what you think.

Richi Reynolds
Richi Reynolds

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