Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chill Out Cafe

I don't know what the best method for getting settled into a new house is, but I guarantee I haven't found it. This is absurd, especially considering how many times I've moved in my life (I believe this is number 29 but it may be 30). We have been in the new house for 12 days and are still completely surrounded by boxes, boxes and more boxes. I don't know where they are all meant to be unpacked to, but I do know that I feel less like a new home owner and more like a squatter.

We spent the weekend trying to get the last odds and ends out of the old apartment (still not completely done there) and learning about lawn maintenance. I say "lawn" as though we have one, when really it's about a 6x12 patch of grass with some sporadic overgrowth into the gravel driveway. Having only rented in the past, we have not been responsible for our yards and when we were, there was even less to maintain than this, so we are untutored and a bit ridiculous at the outdoor maintenance. Rather than purchase a lawn mower, we opted for a trimmer/edger that we hope will be adequate to keep things in hand. Armed with our brand new Grasshog XP, we spent a couple of hours on Saturday working on cutting back a few weeks worth of grass growth and cleaning out the flower beds. Or rather, that was our intent. What actually happened was some ineffective hacking and divoting. It looks nearly as bad now as it did before. Amateurs.

One highlight of the weekend was a quick dinner at my newest restaurant crush, the Chill Out Cafe on Maple Street. We found it the first day we moved in to the new house and loved it instantly. Actually, at first sight, we passed it by (thought the name was goofy and the Thai plus American breakfast concept odd) and walked up to Figaro's but as luck would have it, they were closed so we headed back. What we found was beautifully and properly prepared, very fresh ingredients in a charmingly casual, art filled environment. I am almost always terribly disappointed in the Asian restaurants that we have in New Orleans. I find that they are usually full of overcooked, overly Americanized dishes with flat flavor and heavy, one note sauces. Those that aspire to more are rare and generally too expensive to justify a visit as the quality still doesn't make the grade. Chill Out Cafe is the first place I've found that is both well-priced and well done.

On our first visit, I had a Ginger dish with Beef which included the perfect amount of ultra fresh ginger, onion, bell pepper, very nice mushrooms (wood ear, I think) and bamboo shoot with sliced beef and a bit of rice for $8.75 (very reasonable). Kid Cayenne tried lo mein noodles with vegetables and was pleased to find that the dish included a variety of good vegetables that were perfectly tender/crisp as well as nicely sauteed tofu. All of the dishes at Chill Out Cafe can be made with veggies only, making it an excellent place for vegetarians or, in the case of Kid Cayenne, the merely meat squeamish. We also ordered the Thai Iced tea (the first for both of us). The very sweet, creamy, Chai- reminiscent drink was a hit for me but was far too sweet for Kid.

This weekend was our second trip back and we are still impressed. I was determined to try a dish that I heard another diner oohing and ahhing about from the next table on our last visit: the Thai Curry. I ordered it with seafood ($10.95) and got a beautiful dish full of prawns, squid, scallops and crawfish in a well balanced creamy red curry sauce that was just sweet and just spicy enough. Basil leaves, onion, peppers, carrot and bamboo shoot rounded out the dish (perhaps a bit too much bamboo shoot, but as it was crisp and tasty, I can't complain).

Kid Cayenne ordered a simple vegetable stir fry with rice and was satisfied but not as pleased as she had been with the noodle dish before.

We shared a dessert of Cheesecake tempura over ice cream ($4.75) which we adored. The tempura was made with shredded coconut and was fab. Fresh berries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce were just the right finishing touch.

We hope to try the Chill Out Cafe breakfast menu at some point but for now, I'm so thrilled to have found a really good Thai restaurant that I'm certain to exhaust that portion of the menu first. Highly recommended.

Chill Out Cafe on Urbanspoon


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