The Dish: Super Food
Sugarcane Skewered Bronzed Amberjack at Mike’s on the Avenue
True pleasure cannot be found without conscience – that’s a phrase you’ll never hear from a Southerner, especially when it comes to food. Still, by the time August rolls around, the thought of eating a warm buttered biscuit is torturous. How does one enjoy the piping-hot cotton of it or welcome the butter dripping down the chin, the steam that rises when the biscuit is torn open in hand during the sore hot summer of New Orleans? While it’s possible to eat heavily in this heat (really anything is possible if you’ve eaten gumbo and chicken livers at Jazz Fest without seeing the faces of long-dead loved ones in your Mango Freeze), it isn’t always a wise choice for health or self-esteem. Over-indulging in chicken and biscuits in the summer will only lead to tears after a few minutes on your pogo stick in the buggy yard, young lady. Trust me. So slow down and back away from the fried foods. Try clean, fresh produce and gluten-free cuisine that’ll turn you into a superfoods hero in no time.
Just set foot in Mike’s on the Avenue and you’ll feel instantly refreshed. Pristine white tables are adorned with colorful water glasses, as if the lush paintings by formally trained artist and chef Mike Fennelly have jumped off the walls and into your drink. Large picture windows overlooking St. Charles Avenue in the CBD only add to the ambience, making for an enlivening experience, day or night. After living in San Francisco and Hawaii and returning to reopen his popular restaurant here in New Orleans, Chef Fennelly brings a honed flare for mixing exotic and local food pairings – especially when it comes to seafood – and cultivating his palate as only an artist could. Beautiful sushi rolls abound, as does a penchant for Asian-inspired dishes, though fused with an unexpectedly local twist. The Creole sushi roll features redfish and Tabasco cream cheese, and crawfish spring rolls come with edible flowers and mint to be dipped in the lightest sweet orange sauce with chili. The smoked redfish pâté, which has more of a creamy rillets-like consistency, is the must-try appetizer, perfect for spreading on the house-made crackers with accompanying onion jam while daydreaming about your granddaddy’s smoked mullet dip. For entrées, the Sugarcane Skewered Bronzed Amberjack is light but filling, sitting atop a sushi rice cake with crispy jumbo lump crab and a large, vibrant leaf of seared red chard in a sweet and sour sugarcane glaze. Mike’s on the Avenue even has a gluten-free menu, so you can say goodbye to bread service and hello to grilled romaine salad with fire-dried pecans, oranges and crumbled goat cheese. Dining in the summer should make you feel radiant and cool, and as Mike’s on the Avenue reveals, there truly is an art to it.
Maca, Spirulina and Earth may sound like ingredients in a potent witch’s brew, but the only thing being summoned around the Superfood Bar is your good health. The tiny juice joint with two locations, one on Magazine Street (next door to Feet First) the other in Marigny’s Mardi Gras Zone, is home to an array of tasty smoothies, including a slew of seasonal concoctions like the M-inator with mango, mint, and maca with mango juice. The Avocolada is a green dream, with avocado, pineapple and coconut with almond milk and a touch of spirulina (algae!). All smoothies are topped with fresh coconut shavings and house-made quinoa and buckwheat granola. Though it’s hard to fathom a “raw” menu that doesn’t involve oysters, the extended raw menu at Superfood Bar features numerous vegan-friendly options for a nutritious lunch or a week of lunching. You can order food Monday through Wednesday for next-day pick up. Superfood adventurers can try “pastas” like the creamy cashew garlic alfredo sauce over butternut squash vermicelli topped with macadamia parm, or a BLT “pizza” with coconut bacon. Green Bars – surprisingly sweet and chewy bars made from spirulina and an assortment of nuts and dates – look something like a seaweed candy bar and pack enough protein for your daily intake, but are light enough for pre exercise noshing.
Beaucoup Juice on Freret Street is home to the Flu Buster, a spicy juice with orange, apple, honey, garlic and cayenne pepper that should fight off any back-to-school cooties.