Stella is an amalgamation of international flavors that join hands in New Orleans to create a completely unique fusion cuisine. It combines European, Asian and Gulf Coast American elements that unify into a deeply satisfying package, all contained in a beautiful restaurant with a fun atmosphere.
Chef Scott Boswell brings his fun personality to Stella. His adventurous spirit comes to play in everything you eat at Stella. It quickly becomes evident why Chef Boswell was nominated for a James Beard award this year.
The amuse bouche was a mango puree prepared with taro root strips and spicy kimchi. The sweet flavor of the mango puree is pronounced at first, and the tangy bits of kimchi and the crunch of taro root join into a synergistic whole.
My appetizer was a chef's garden Bibb lettuce and organic purple radish salad with sweet red onions, fiddlehead ferns and blueberry vinaigrette. The salad combined crispy lettuce and crunchy radishes with a tart dressing, and the pop of fresh ground pepper made the flavor explode.
Stella prepares a vegetarian composition daily. Its contents are determined by whatever the freshest ingredients of the day are. The latest creation is cauliflower, beets, turnips and white asparagus with sugar snap peas, wild rice and potato croquettes, cauliflower puree, tapenade butter and a micro green salad. The croquettes were soft, hot and delicious. The veggies were crisp and flavorful. The dish was presented beautifully
The most minor complaint I had about the choices available for vegetarians was that the appetizer/entree combination available for vegetarians on the night I went to Stella was a little too salad heavy. I like mountains of greens as much as the next guy, but the portions might have been more in order if there was a non-salad appetizer available, or if the entree had a smaller green salad and more of the fresh veggies and croquettes. Overall, this is a minor complaint. The fare was so amazing that it overcame this slight oversight.
The dessert grilled cheese (yes, you read that correctly), however, hit the bullseye. Small tea sandwich portions of bread were stuffed with Explorateur triple-cream cheese and luxurious chocolate ganache. It was augmented with artistically applied blueberry sauce and fresh berries. The dessert wa so rich, and it was impossible to tell where the chocolate began and the Explorateur ended. The acidity in the blueberries adds a great contrast to this fantastic dessert.
Dinner came with an additional lagniappe in the form of a plate of delicious candies and cookies. While the strawberry marshmallow wasn't vegetarian-friendly, the chocolate coconut macaroons, absinthe truffles, white chocolate coconut nougat and passion fruit candies were both vegetarian-safe and satsfying.
Service at Stella was outstanding. The staff was jovial, knowledgeable, and deeply capable of addressing vegetarian dining concerns.
The wine list runs the gamut from trophy wines from DRC, Guigal, Margaux, Ridge, Peter Michael and Antinori, to idiosyncratic labels like the Friedrich Becker Pinot Noir from Germany and Surh Luchtel Page Nord Vineyard Rhone blend from Napa. Stella also has a full bar.