Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hip To Be [Market] Square

NOLA on the square, a "New Orleans Jazz Brasserie" sits in a prime location on the recently revitalized Market Square nook of dahntahn Pittsburgh... and I love it. Granted, I've never been to New Orleans; but in my opinion, NOLA is the best that I can do for awhile.*

Here's the backstory: My aunt EGG, and my cousin JGS had come into town from Michigan for the evening, and the task of planning the evening's festivities was all mine. Without a doubt, I arranged some pre-dinner drinks at Bossa Nova. For dinner and dessert though I wanted something a little different and a little special... something that truly showcased Pittsburgh's third Renaissance. Of course Market Square came to mind, and my thoughts immediately drifted to NOLA.

Anyway, I made a reservation for 7:45 p.m. via OpenTable because The Olga Watkins Band was scheduled to start playing at 8:00 p.m. I wanted to get settled in before the music started. Fortunately we were seated near the open kitchen (I love being able to casually observe the experts at work); yet, we had a pleasantly entertaining experience because we were able to carry on a normal conversation (lively at that) and still enjoy the music.

When you add that music to the interior's exposed brick, unique lighting fixtures, New Orleans-inspired original artwork, and warm and cool hues, it's accurate to state that NOLA has a truly great atmosphere. One noteworthy feature was the tile work near the open kitchen. It was reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, and I certainly appreciate anything remotely Frank.

Our waiter, Mark was quite accommodating throughout the meal; and he handled the four of us in stride. Not that we are anything hard to "handle," but we are inquisitive and silly at times (and like any apple from the ESG/LKG tree, we laugh loudly). We are two sisters, two cousins, two mothers, and two daughters (you do the math on that one). Anyway, Mark offered strong suggestions, and actually all three appetizers were his idea. As for food, it seemed like we ordered one of everything (PSB actually did order one of each dessert because she's fun like that). Check ahhhht the menu here. Since each item we ordered exceeded expectations, I thought that pictures with captions might be the best approach for this review. There simply aren't enough adjectives to describe each one... Just know that throughout the dining experience, the following words were used: "Oh my goodness!" "Incredible!" "Excellent!" "Amazing!" "This is so authentic." "Sublime!" "This is the golden ticket!"

Fried Atrichokes (Abita Battered, Laurel Dust, Creole Mustard  Ranch)
A special... beans, wild mushrooms, egg, and wonderfulness
A salad special... figs, tomatoes, goat cheese and wonderfulness

Scallops Mac Daddy (Fresh Cornucopia Pasta, Sea Scallops, Mornay, Spicy Toasted Breadcrumbs)
Smoked Pork Chop (Tasso Lyonnaise Potato, Wilted Greens, Creole Mustard Beurre Blanc)
Shrimp and Grits (Wild Caught Shrimp, Buttermilk Grits, Smoked Bacon, Trinity)

Chocolate Pie with Raspberries
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Maple Vanilla
Beignets with Mango Raspberry Sorbet
I would order all of these items again, especially the Scallops Mac Daddy (PSB claims it was the "best" she's ever eaten) and the Shrimp and Grits. The Artichokes were great, but very filling. When I return, I will probably pass on the appetizer course and save my calories for an entree, dessert, and a Hurricane (or three)!

NOLA on the square on Urbanspoon

(4 stars, 4/4)

*At best, we have a few trips to DC on the table and our honeymoon. JTP went with his friends to New Orleans last fall and all I got out of that trip was a mouse in my house, walking pneumonia, a suitcase full of dirty laundry and a souvenir shot glass (which I love by the way).