My client flew into New Orleans from Parts North early in the week and spent two nights in town. The first night he and I had dinner at Bayona, and I can now count him among the people I’ve introduced to sweetbreads. (If you’re going to introduce someone to sweetbreads, by the way, Bayona is the place to do it.)
We spent the next day in Baton Rouge, and when we returned that night we were joined by a colleague whom I’ll call “R,” because I haven’t cleared using his name and he’d probably like going by an initial anyway.
I had a case with R years ago, but I hadn’t heard from him since it ended. Turns out that my client, whom I’ll call “L,” because that’s a letter in his name — I forgot to assign him an initial when I first mentioned him, but I also haven’t cleared using his name — also knew R. L said that R was considering moving to New Orleans, and put me in touch. Apart from a twinge of Midwest in his accent, R is already a local. Specifically, he’s already up to speed on the restaurant scene.
So when it came time to decide on a place to eat dinner I more or less blanked. There were too many places to consider; too many options. It didn’t help that we’d worked through lunch, and at 4:00 in the afternoon with torrential rain coming down, I was running on fumes.
But here’s the thing about New Orleans – you’re really never very far from a great restaurant, are you? I parked along the flood wall across from the French Market, and we stopped in for a drink and snacks at Cane and Table on Decatur. The idea was to push on from there and figure out where to eat dinner, but what with the fumes and all, I was having some issues deciding.
Maximo’s isn’t the sort of place I’d consider taking out-of-town clients under most circumstances. It doesn’t seem like a New Orleans place, and the food is not really New Orleans Italian, but it most certainly is a New Orleans place.
I don’t know the name of the chef who cooked my meal because Maximo’s is not a chef-driven joint, but I watched him cook our food, and it was good. They made me a small dish of angel hair pasta with garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese off the menu to start, and while my fire roasted shrimp were a bit overcooked, they were delicious and I’m still thinking about the fried polenta that accompanied.
There are Italian restaurants in New Orleans with more claim to authenticity than Maximo’s, but not many with better food.
I heard recently that Stella! was closing, and that’s a shame. I had some outstanding meals at that restaurant, and I’ve always considered it one of the best in the city. Chef Scott Boswell is an ambitious, talented chef, and while I’m a fan of his casual restaurant Stanley, I’ll miss the fine-dining experience at Stella! I am consoled by my assumption that Boswell will be back in the high-end game before too long and by my prettiness.
I am always consoled by my prettiness.