Foodies Get Together at Nola Oyster Bar in Norwalk, CT
Since its opening in March of 2013, Nola Oyster Bar in Norwalk, CT was a subject of multiple blogger reviews, so I will not inundate you with the details which you can easily find online. This was our first visit to Nola, and I can tell you – we had the best time. The reason? Simple. Yes, the restaurant has a very good food, drinks and service, but what makes your restaurant visit special is the company. We visited Nola with the group of food bloggers! We only knew a few people at first, but you know, when you share a passion, the connection sparks faster than the lit match can fire up a stack of dry hay. From the moment we got at the table, we were in the company of the old friends – the conversation was flowing, and uncomfortable silence never took place. It was a great pleasure to share this experience with Wendy and Greg from Connecticut Bloggers, Bonnie from Home Place, Kaitlin from the For Love of Carrots, Jeff and Cristina from Cooking with Jeff and Cristina, Jenn from That’s So Jenn, Alicia The Natural Princess, and Linda from MaxExposure, who got us all together.
It is very interesting to see 8 cameras pointing at the same dish – when nobody would yell at you to stop using the flash (yep, this was my experience a few weeks ago). When the food is served, you almost feel as a judge on Chopped with all the comments like “hmmm, interesting, I think this is a bit too acidic”, “I would slightly reduce the sweetness”, “ahh, the regular waffle would become too soggy, this is why the corn flour is used”, “I would make this dish a bit differently”. I can tell you, despite this level of attention, there was not a single dish which we didn’t like, so I think it tells something about the mastery of Chef Kardos.
Let me tell you about the dishes.
I started from the tiny cocktail – as it was called on the menu, “soon to be famous” oyster shooter. Think of it as a shot of Bloody Mary with a fresh oyster right inside, perfect combination of spiciness, saltiness and freshness:
We started with Crab & Artichoke Fondue (bacon, smoked Gouda, sriracha, crackers) – perfect texture, nicely put together without being too heavy, as some of the artichoke dips do:
Next up – Beer Braised Mussels – smoked ham broth, chipotle butter, toast. Tasty, flavourful broth is a key to this dish – and we got it. Glad we also had enough pieces of bread, not to leave any goodness on the plate.
Our next dish was Cornmeal Fried Oysters & Braised Pork (creamed spinach, pearl onion jam, aleppo chili flakes):
This was definitely an unexpected combination for someone used to the New England seafood style – I’m sure this dish has New Orleans roots. Cornmeal fried oysters were delicious, and so was the pulled pork. Just enough spice without overpowering. I probably could live without creamed spinach in this dish, but all in all it was very tasty.
Meal is not a meal without a vegetable, right kids? Our vegetable was a side of Fried Brussels Sprouts (bacon, maple, coder vinegar, pistachio):
Very tasty, and again very unusual. Definitely unique texture, due to deep frying instead of pan frying – crispy flakes, with some sweetness of the maple syrup , cut through by the cider vinegar. I have to admit that I love Brussels sprouts and could’ve eaten the whole dish just by myself.
A culmination point of the meal – Poached Lobster & Cornbread Waffle (butter-poached lobster, griddled scallions, Queso Fresco):
In my book, lobster is a very difficult ingredient – yes, of course it is considered a luxury, but in a lot of cases, it simply doesn’t taste well, no matter how expensive the restaurant is. This lobster was excellent. Tender, very flavorful, and it worked very well with the cornbread waffle. This cornbread waffle was the one which solicited the discussion as to why the cornbread ( heavy and dense) and not the regular waffle (which would become too soggy). Needless to say, this dish was devoured in a blink.
We finished the main course with Blackened Shrimp & Pork Fried Rice (soy, sprouts, egg, scallion, sesame):
Perfectly cooked shrimp (some of the best I ever had), very tasty rice, overall very successful dish – this was a nice to finish our main course.
For dessert we were served Maple and Pistachio Panna Cotta (apple jam, pistachios) and Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pot Pie Cream (whipped cream, roasted peanuts):
Chocolate and peanut butter tasted almost like Nutella, only with a slightly different texture. Panna Cotta tasted very light – both dishes were quite successful, and I would gladly have them again.
That is all I have for you, folks, as an account of our great evening. Nola Oyster Bar is definitely recommended as a place where you will find the New England traditional seafood with the New Orleans, southern twist. If you live in the area or visiting, take the opportunity to try it for yourself.
Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.
Nola Oyster Bar
68 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT 06854