|Hurricanes at TruOrleans|
On Monday night, some fellow Tulane alum friends and I headed to H Street to check out the two-week old TruOrleans, a restaurant which boasts New Orleans flair, food and cocktails.
You might say we're something of a critical crowd, having spent the better part of four years in the Crescent City and also searching for the best po' boy in our new city.
We had high hopes for TruOrleans. Its exterior could come straight out of Bourbon Street, with a cute French Quarter-esque balcony. We settled into the bar for a cocktail, and three of us ordered Hurricanes, one of New Orleans signature drinks. TruOrleans offers three levels of strength - Categories 1, 2 and 3. Tyler ordered the 3, which I thought tasted the most authentic. I stuck with a level 2. (Don't bother with the level 1 - I tried it Friday and it was not good). We agreed that they were pretty tasty, but we missed the side of piano bar that comes with the Hurricane's New Orleans home base, Pat O'Briens.
But that's pretty much where the good times stopped rolling. We sat to eat, and when two of my fellow diners tried to order Abita (a Louisiana beer) on tap, they were told they had none on tap (even though the menu advertised three kinds - later we discovered tons of empty kegs in the basement - guess the restaurant had a fun weekend?). Settling on Turbodog bottles, we moved to order.
First, they were out of three sides: maque choux, grits and hush puppies (of course, those were three we wanted to order). The waitress didn't tell us until we were making our orders (my pet peeve), so we had to regroup. We were wondering, how can you make corn bread and not hush puppies? Better yet, how can you make corn bread and not CORN (which is the main ingredient in maque choux)? Then, the kitchen was entirely unaccommodating for my vegetarian friend's request to get a large order of red beans and rice without the sausage on top (she was willing to eat around a little meat - just didn't want giant chunks of it). So we started off the meal a little salty.
I settled on a fried platter of soft shell crab, which comes with two sides. I chose red beans and rice and cole slaw (I really wanted maque choux - bummer). This is definitely the best bang for your buck at the restaurant - $15 was not much more than what my other friends spent ordering sides and appetizers a la carte. The fry batter was so-so. The cole slaw was fine. We all agreed the red beans were a little different/less authentic than we expected or wanted. It needed some Tabasco also. Tyler really enjoyed his BBQ Jalapeno Shrimp appetizer, but wanted more food, so ordered a salad - which didn't arrive until all of our plates were cleared. Our cooked entrees came out faster than a plate of bagged lettuce.
Basically, this restaurant was a huge letdown to us. The service was mediocre at best and the food left a lot to be desired. We agreed we'd go back for hurricanes and Abita (if they ever have any).
My dining companion Jenna said it best when she said, "It's like they told me in grade school: You have a lot of potential; you're just not living up to it."
So we're not writing off TruOrleans forever, but we left wanting a lot more.