Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: NOLA Oyster Bar in SoNo

It was kismet. Our super cool friends Danny and Kristen over at OmNomCT just published a tantalizing review of NOLA Oyster Bar in Norwalk and then wouldn't you know it, Renato and I were invited there with a few other fellow bloggers to give the place a try. And let me tell you, invited or not, after reading the OmNomCT review this place was on my wishlist.

Background
Opened just this past March by people with some real restaurant cred (Southport Brewing Co. and The Sitting Duck Tavern), NOLA Oyster Bar and Restaurant is located in an awesome space at the corner of Washington and Main in South Norwalk. The menu created by Executive Chef Dan Kardos is New England shoreline meets Louisiana creole with a twist.  Chef Kardos may be young but don't be fooled, he's worked at some of lower Fairfield County's best spots including Chef Bill Taibe's Le Farm and The Whelk restaurants in Westport, as well as Harvest Supper in New Canaan and Bar Rosso in Stamford.


Atmosphere
We loved the old-fashioned neon sign out front. It just kind of calls to you. Once inside, the restaurant is a large open space with dark wood and leather seating, wrought iron, and large white chandeliers. Big windows wrap around the entire front of the restaurant. There's a nice bar, upper and lower seating areas, open display kitchen and lots of little seating nooks. It's just a really cool urban vibe.

Menu
The compact menu is broken down into Raw + Chilled, Greens (aka Salads), Small Plates, Entrees, Sandwiches and Sides.  The menu is pretty much a seafood lovers dream, but land lovers need not worry there are choices for you too. One a side note, I learned they source some ingredients from Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain.


Drinks
There was a decent selection of draft beer including a few local brews from Southport Brewing (of course) and Half Full. There's also a selection of bottled beer, wine and craft cocktails. I ordered a Sparkling Cosmo made with triple sec, cranberry and prosecco. It wasn't very strong and went down pretty easy, maybe too easy. Renato opted for a French Quarter made with rye whiskey, cardamaro, and old-fashioned bitters. It reminded him of a Manhattan, but better.


And it's worth mentioning the "Soon To Be Famous" Oyster Shooter. Imagine a shot of spicy Bloody Mary with a raw oyster at the bottom and a spicy salt around the edge. I was not brave enough to try it, but Renato went for it.

He actually liked it and said it went down pretty smooth and had a hearty spicy kick.

On To The Feast


CPA Beer Braised Mussels
Okay so let me make this clear: I don't "do" mussels. At least I didn't before these. After my first bite I muttered aloud, "This is so good." Renato looked up at me, confused, and asked "What did you say?" I replied somewhat surprised, "These are really good." Umm, wow. Total surprise of the evening! The broth was buttery and spicy. The mussels were amazingly tender. No chewy weirdness. And you can't go wrong with perfectly crisp toast to sop up all the beer and ham broth goodness. I will be back and order these mussels. Who knew?


Fried Brussels Sprouts
As the manager brought these over to our table he stated "These are our crack." Indeed. I am now an addict. A bit of maple syrup gives them a hint of sweetness and extra caramelization. There's also a touch of bacon and pistachios for a nice crunch. I especially love the extra crispy bits. Order. These. Now.


Crab Artichoke Fondue
I'm not a big fan of artichoke dip. This had a rich smokey flavor but was a little too heavy for me. I'd venture to say that anything immediately following fried Brussels Sprouts is just never going to stack up. It was good but not our favorite.


Cornmeal Fried Oysters over braised pork and creamed spinach
Big crunch and "of the sea" saltiness from the oysters ushered in the succulent pork and creamy spinach. A touch of pearl onion jam added a bit of sweetness to round out the savoriness.


Poached Lobster and Cornmeal Waffle
Obviously, for us, this was the evening's big winner. Forget chicken and waffles, from now on only lobster and waffles. Brown butter oozes from the light and crunchy waffle. The lobster was perfectly cooked and tender. This was simply amazing. Next time I'm not sharing it with anyone. I need this all to myself.


Blackened Shrimp and Pork Fried Rice
Perfectly cooked shrimp sat atop a delightful mound of pork fried rice. The pork is actually andouille sausage. Nice peppery flavor and the smoky, spiciness of the andouille seemed to pull all the ingredients together. This combination is unusual and totally works. Really good.


Dessert: Maple Pistachio Panna Cotta, Chocolate + Peanut Butter Pot de Creme
The panna cotta was not overly sweet with a fantastic creamy texture and tender crunch from the nuts. It may be cooked cream, but it was light and refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The combination of chocolate and peanut in the pot de creme is classically delicious and, again, this dessert wasn't overly sweet. I would have liked more peanut butter flavor, but overall a solid dessert.

Our tasting at NOLA Oyster Bar was a delicious intro to this new addition in SoNo. Definitely check it out.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. The meal was free of charge. The opinions contained herein are my own and reflect my experience. Your own may differ.

NOLA Oyster Bar + Restaurant
68 Washington Street . Norwalk, CT
203.957.3352
www.nolact.com
Facebook: NOLA Oyster Bar

Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 5-10pm
Friday-Saturday, 5-11pm
Sunday Brunch at 11:30am, Dinner 4-9pm

Nola Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon
iPhone Photos by Renato Ghio

7 comments:

  1. These photos make it all look so delicious!!! I love that you included the vine video of him trying the shooter!

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  2. Love your photos! Those Brussels sprouts look serious! Those were not there when I went, so that is on my list. The burger gets a lot of praise as well as the lobster and waffles.

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    1. Thanks. Definitely have the Brussels sprouts. I've heard good things about the burger too. It's on my list for next time.

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  3. Haaa! I didn't hear him say the 'sprouts were like crack, but that sure is an accurate description.

    I'm craving them like crazy, and can't wait to go back.

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  4. ohh this place looks amazing!! *puts it on the list*

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