by Nancy Bestor
On a recent trip to New Orleans, Bob and I were studying Yelp reviews, looking for an interesting place to have dinner, when the words “Secret Feed Me Menu” caught my eye. That’s right, the Louisiana Bistro in the French Quarter has a “secret” menu. You tell the chef that you would like either a 3, 4 or 5 course meal and that you want him to “feed you.” After letting him know of any allergies or strong dislikes, you put your meal in his hands, and he prepares whatever he feels like cooking for you that night. This option isn’t listed anywhere on the restaurant’s menu, you have to know about it and ask for it, kind of like the animal or protein style burger at In N Out (but a whole lot better!). The restaurant is even a little off the beaten path, down a quiet street in the Quarter, with a simple unobtrusive front.
Bob and I could not pass on this opportunity. We both like to be fed, have no strong dislikes, and love secrets (well I do anyway). How could this meal go wrong? Turns out, it could not. We arrived at the Louisiana Bistro at 7pm on a Saturday night and left 3 hours later, both fatter and happier. We felt like royalty in this quaint spot. For every course (and guess how many courses we chose), Chef David would come to our table with our dishes, telling us exactly what he prepared for us. He got down on his knees at the edge of the table and told us his secrets—okay they weren’t really his secrets, but he did break each dish down by ingredient, and let us know exactly how he made it. I saw someone at another table ask the waiter what we were having, and when he told them it was a dish specially prepared for us, I couldn’t help but sit a little straighter, and delight a little louder in what I was eating.
And boy, did we eat well. Our meal included mirliton (or chayote/squash for us laymen) and gulf shrimp in a whiskey caramel sauce, alligator bread pudding, pork ribs and collared greens, blackened catfish in a creole tomato sauce and alligator tail with sweet potato hash. For all the food we got and the personalized service, the meal was not horribly expensive at about $65 per person. The dinner was delicious, the service great, and the surprise of not knowing what you were going to get an enjoyable aside. It reminds me a little of choosing a hotel on Priceline or Hotwire. You know the quality of the hotel you’re going to get, and the location, but you just don’t know the hotel name itself. We knew the quality of our food would be good, but just didn’t know what we would be eating. It was fun, and it also made me feel like I was in a secret club. And who doesn’t want to revert to middle school and join in a secret club every now and then?