I'm having trouble characterizing Green Goddess, in New Orleans' French Quarter. The restaurant is a labor of love by the chefs, who are determined to introduce new ingredients, textures, techniques, and flavor combinations to their customers - and combine them with rare wines and liquors fashioned into unusual drinks.
This is how the five of us ended up having a meal that ranged all over the world, from oyster and fennel chowder, through a traditional Indian lentil pancake, Thai flavored crab-stuffed eggplant, and very Italian pasta di castagne, chestnut pasta with smoked duck. It is also how we ended up pairing these dishes with drinks like the French Guillotine, in which French gin is flavored with Floc de Gascogne, a liqueur we'd never heard of, or glasses of an Alsatian Auxerrois or a "baby Super-Tuscan," or a digestif called Alkermes made by the monks of Santa Maria Novella in Florence and colored with crushed cochineal insects.
We were the only people in the restaurant throughout our two hour, eleven course meal, but we couldn't have felt more welcomed. When the chef, Chris DeBarr, noticed our photographing the meal and oohing and aahing (and probably the fact that we'd ordered most of the menu to begin with), he began coming out of the kitchen in between courses and talking with us, educating us about some of the odder ingredients and asking for our opinions. Our waiter, whose name I've unfortunately forgotten, was so well versed in their wide-ranging bar and generously provided tastes and off-menu recommendations to us. It was terrific.
It was so dark in there that the pictures aren't particularly good, so I'm going to present them to you in a slideshow. The place was a terrific experience, a true chef-driven restaurant of a type I feel we don't see much anymore.
My favorite dishes were the crab-stuffed eggplant and the truffled golden beet "ravioli," which used thinly sliced sheets of beet in place of pasta - the flavors of both of these were light and left me wanting a dish of my own. The table loved the richness of the chestnut pasta, which reminded us of the chill outside and the loveliness of fall. The only thing I truly did not enjoy were the poached crabapples (no pic) which were too tannic for me and Crystal, but that the boys loved.
All in all, the Green Goddess was an experience we enjoyed and which I can recommend. While I might not have loved everything, it was wonderful to be in a place where everyone working was truly passionate about what they were providing.
(By the way, I should tell you that clicking on a picture in this slideshow will take you to the photo's Flickr page, where I've provided more information about each dish.)
The Green Goddess is located down a little alley at 307 Exchange Place in New Orleans. 504.301.3347.