10 May 2010

Green Goddess

Green Goddess is a small French Quarter restaurant with a great array of vegetarian and vegan fare paired with exciting cocktails. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for with gigantic flavors that come from the fresh ingredients.

Calling Green Goddess intimate would be as apt a description as calling Shaquille O'Neal big or Glen Beck opinionated. The place isn't just intimate; it feels like you are sitting in the chef's home kitchen. The decor is eclectic and eccentric.

The menu at Green Goddess allows you to order a degustation or to make selections a la carte. While the degustation may have meat or seafood ingredients, the staff would happily prepare a vegetarian degustation if you ask nicely.

I started off with a cheese plate as an appetizer. The menu features about seven local, national and international cheese choices. I selected Mont St. Francis, a crumbly goat cheese with a full flavor, Veneto d'Estate, a medium bodied cow's milk cheese with grassy, herbal notes, and Brillat-Savarin, an unctuous triple cream. The cheeses were presented with pepitas, olive oil and a soft pita bread. It would have worked equally well as an appetizer or as dessert.

The main course was an example of how Green Goddess turns great ingredients into exciting international fare that defies category. The huitlacoche crepes made with fresh mushrooms in a brandy sauce are a great fusion of French technique and Mexican ingredients that combine into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. There are layers and layers of earthy flavor that pick up additional richness from the crepe and sweetness from the brandy. Still more layers of flavor come from the porcini salt and butter. Any time I see huitlacoche (a corn fungus) on a menu, I must order it, and Green Goddess rewarded my predilection for corn smut kindly.

My dessert, Saturn Calling, is a black rice pudding with rings of coconut milk and Arborio rice stars surrounding it. Instead of being cloying, the rice pudding had a subtle sweetness that envelopes the mouth. The cinnamon adds a horchata note to the dish. It is deeply satisfying.

The beverage list has some very interesting cocktail choices. Since it was Derby weekend, I sampled the See Rock City mint julep, made with Catdaddy Carolina moonshine, ginger syrup, lychee juice and muddled mint. I am not a mint julep fan, but this drink was absolutely delightful. Other cool cocktail options include an absinthe/sugar cane juice drink, a Rob Roy made with Scotch finished in Sauternes barrels with high-end vermouth and a cherry, and a horchata and brandy milk punch. Green Goddess also offers idiosyncratic wines by the glass and bottle, and it also has a decent selection of craft beer.

The staff at Green Goddess is tremendously friendly, and their service is outstanding. They did an excellent job presenting the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, and the effervescence of the menu is matched by the vitality of the service.

The intimate environment at Green Goddess does create a few issues. The best plan involves showing up early on weekends, because the 25 seats fill up quickly. Once you get yourself in the door and in a seat, however, the fun of the Green Goddess is immediately evident.

Green Goddess

The Green Goddess on Urbanspoon

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