I spent two days in New Orleans this week accompanying my brother to his freshman orientation. My dad and I went out to eat at The Red Maple in Gretna (on the West Bank) Thursday night.
The Red Maple was pretty swanky, with entrees ranging from $20-$40, so I was glad Dad was treating :-) We started with one of that evening’s appetizer specials, duck spring rolls.
I didn’t think these tasted much different than a regular spring roll–i.e. I didn’t taste the duck. The spicy chili dipping sauce was good, but I think could have been a little sweeter (I was thinking something more like a sweet thai chili sauce).
For our entrees, dad recommended a dish with a name I’d never even heard of: Crispy Fried Mirliton. Apparently, a mirliton is a vegetable with a whole host of different names, the most common being chayote (Spanish) and christophene (French). Since I’d never even heard of this mystery veggie, I definitely had never tasted one, but was up for the challenge. The fried mirliton was topped with Louisiana Gulf shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat, andouille, fried oysters & bordelaise, all of which sounded yummy. Here’s the dish, and a close up of the fried mirliton:
[Insert Homer Simpson drool here] Wow. The seafood! The sauce! The mirliton? All of the seafood was fantastic. Crispy oysters and juicy andouille stole the show. The bordelaise sauce, which I don’t think I’ve ever had before, was amazing. According to its Wikipedia page, bordelaise is made a little differently in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to trying that one out in my own kitchen. I could probably eat the seafood/sauce mixture over rice as a meal in itself. As for the mirliton–which was not only the fried centerpiece but also had a few chunks mixed in with the seafood–it was intriguing to me. On one bite I described it as “like a savory potato”. The next, it tasted a little like a zucchini. Interestingly enough, the mirliton Wikipedia page I linked to above mentions that the texture of the vegetable has been described as a mixture between a potato and a cucumber. Way to go taste buds!
My only complaint about the mirliton dish was that the bordelaise was waaay to oily (which you may even be able to see in the photo). There was definitely a generous helping of olive oil added to the dish at some point, which of course added flavor, but way too much greasiness. When our waiter came by (very attentive staff, by the way) to check on things, he commented that this was his favorite meal at the restaurant and it had recently been reworked–reducing the oil. I can’t imagine how oily it was before that!
The Red Maple was not nearly full when we visited, but my dad commented that his previous visits found both the restaurant and attached bar at capacity. We had a great dinner here, and I’d love to visit again for drinks and charbroiled oysters when Dad’s not picking up the tab!