Ah, summer in New Orleans, when we all find the sunny side of the street, and avoid it. When we take multiple showers a day, including the rain showers we get caught in. Yeah, it gets real here in the middle of summer in New Orleans. But hey, let me tell you about that dinner I just had.
I was at the French Quarter restaurant Palm & Pine, seated alone at a counter with a view of the open kitchen on fire. I ate plump prawns with a seared edge with butter smothered okra underneath and the sweet touch of peppers in between. With every bite it tasted like summer and even New Orleans summer.
In August, this shrimp and okra dish is also part of a very local summertime ritual, at least in the realm of New Orleans restaurants.
It’s part of the Palm & Pine’s three-course Coolinary menu, which is one of more than 80 restaurants participating in this seasonal event. These run the gamut from old-line French Creole restaurants to trendy modern bistros to casual, anytime spots that change their game for a little summery variation. You can find participant details and menus at neworleans.com.
The framework of the agreement is now familiar to many. Coolinary offers multi-course fixed price menus at different restaurants in the city. The idea is to use the lure of a restoration deal to bring locals and regional travelers to the table when tourism and conventions dip. Certainly, there is no problem getting a table during this time, even on short notice, even in restaurants that are usually difficult to book.
This year Coolinary returns as restaurants feel – not quite normal – but certainly as close to normal as they have been for two and a half years of this pandemic.
So yeah, it’s still summer in New Orleans and we know the drill. Take it easy, watch the weather and hang in there until fall finally arrives already. And yet, between the steamy and downpours of local life these days, when we go to restaurants in New Orleans, we can still look at menus and find silver linings in season.