Stacey and I ate at Herbsaint Monday night while visiting New Orleans. We had a big list of restaurants we wanted to try and Herbsaint was on the top of that list. We had seen it across the street from our hotel room last time we were there, but this was the first chance we had to try it out.
Herbsaint is the brand name of an anise flavored liquor. It was originally made in NOLA. It was concocted in 1934 as a substitute for absinthe although it contains no wormwood. It was first produced at 120 proof, but today is sold at 90 proof. I don’t know why they named the restaurant after it, but it sounds good.
We had a 7 p.m. reservation and good thing cause the place was almost full when we arrived. I can’t remember that much about the place because we sat in the back with my back to the room. Didn’t matter, I was sitting across from Stacey, you know what I’m saying. We started with drinks and things just got better from there.
Herbsaint has won all kinds of awards and was a success from the start, which was most likely due to the name Susan Spicer. She is the driving force behind the very successful restaurant Bayona. Donald Link is her partner and head chef at Herbsaint. The food here has been described as Euro-local-classic-nouvelle. That’s a lot of influences but it works here. The small, tapas style plates are definitely Euro. I am sure they use as much local as they can as all the best restaurants do these days. As far as classic, I guess the gumbo and any other dish that is old southern and/or New Orleans would fall under classic. As for nouvelle, I don’t know, I really try not to think that hard about what I’m eating and just try to enjoy. And enjoy we did, that part was easy. We also had the pleasure of sitting next to two lovely ladies who were in town for business. They were from Vermont and we really enjoyed talking with them. As a matter of fact they told us about another restaurant owned by Mr. Link and said it was the best food they had eaten on this trip. On their advise we ate there the next day, they were right. But right now we are still at Herbsaint and this is what we ate.
Tomato Shrimp Bisque, velvety smooth and a nice yin yang of flavors with the acid from the tomato’s working with the creamy bisque.
Seafood gumbo, again a really smooth mixture, nice and dark with crab bodies.
Olive oil seared Potato Gnocchi with lemon, parmesan and tomato’s. This was served as a small plate and was wonderful. This will go on the menu at home, it is so simple and so good.
Beef rib on potato cake with a dijon horseradish dressing. We have been seeing a lot of dishes like this lately and we are glad. Fall off the bone tender and the horseradish was a prefect match.
Sauteed Jumbo Shrimp with house cured bacon, bean-cake and a Salsa Verde. I love Shrimp and I love Salsa Verde, I wish more chefs used it.
We had Strawberry-ginger sorbet for dessert. Man it was good and refreshing and oh so Strawberry flavored as they are in season now.
So this was great food and not your typical New Orleans fare, which is nice cause in NOLA you can get that all over the city. My only problem was with the service. They just don’t get it. They got to know it’s important in a restaurant of this calibre. They got to know there is more to it than getting the food to your table in a timely fashion. That’s not to say I wouldn’t go back, cause I would, in a New York second.