Date Night and a Pork Chop

Friday night was a perfect night for a slow dinner in a nice restaurant. After a typically hectic week, my nerves finally began to calm with a Gray Goose (up with a twist) and a white tablecloth. Gabrielle Restaurant on Orleans Avenue is one of New Orleans' best neighborhood restaurants, with a cozy ambience and terrific food. The friendliness of our waiter made up for the aloofness of the server who seated us. The menu and wine list are small but carefully curated. The chef-owner sends out delicious familiar food, at once homey and elegant. My friend and I started with cocktails and duck-fat fries. You all know how much I love French fries. Mr. Sonnier has taken them to heavenly heights by frying them in duck fat and salting them to perfection. Perfect with a cold shot of vodka! And, then there was a beet and blue cheese salad that was satisfying if not exactly avant-garde. Who wants avant-garde anyway? Gabrielle Restaurant is serving dishes that celebrate the ingredients. Every component of that salad was distinct and flavorful, while the sum total was simple and delicious. And, then there was the PORK CHOP. That chop seriously knocked my socks off. I almost didn't order it because I was thrown off by the mention of a pepper stuffed with cheese. But with some encouragement from my date and the waiter, I took a chance. While I still don't know why that cheese stuffed pepper was plunked on top of that ethereal pork chop, I'm way past second guessing Chef Sonnier on that point. The chop was tender, moist and perfectly cooked. The sauce was thick, almost sticky, with a subtle dark-berry flavor. Have I said OMG yet??? Omg, omg, omg. I was soooooo happy. My friend and I had a leisurely evening talking about movies and everything else, and when I got home, I let the dogs sleep in the bed room. Does the poodle know when Mom is tipsy? Probably! The morning after I'm still dreaming about that double cut chop and wondering where I can find one to brine and grill myself. I do not aspire to the sublime chop that I ate at Gabrielle Restaurant, but... hey, I might be able to create something almost as wonderful. The weekend is off to a good start.

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