I’ve made a trip down to the Big Easy, also known as New Orleans. This city captivated me for sometime for the many cultures that meld over the centuries (as complicated as it was and probably still is) that created an interesting food culture because of it—and it’s the supposed birthplace of several cocktails like the Sazerac, Brandy Milk Punch, Vieux Carré, and the Hurricane, to name a few.
It will be a slightly random order of posts related to this city’s dining and stunning boutique hotels but I’m starting off with a very satisfying yet seemingly simple Mediterranean inspired food at Shaya. (Or if you get the gist of the entire trip, head over to my Instagram page.)
Shaya’s food is rustic yet sophisticated. Every table will get a fresh baked pita (the oven is in the back of the dining room and you may see it baked like I have seen on the video clip above) and za’tar dipping oil. If I didn’t care about eating anything else, I can easily make a meal from this hot and puffy bread (many rounds of this) and any of two half portions of their delicious and some creatively topped hummus! The lamb ragu with fried chickpeas had so much depth of flavors and the silky smooth hummus was a great canvas for any delicious topping. The fried chicken was a fun one and I really adored that date salsa verde and aleppo pepper to add enough spice, acid and herbaceousness.
But since I can’t just eat hummus and pita, I had to really stop myself and focus on other dishes. To start something relatively light the heirloom tomato salad with summer squash, basil aioli, amba vinaigrette, sunflower seeds was delightful, substantial enough and perfect for a sweltering late summer day.
From the “salatim” side of the menu, the small plate of roasted okra with tomato vinaigrette and sesame seeds was tasty. The okra did retain its signature slimey texture but it wasn’t off-putting since the tomato sauce had a similar texture and added the subtle acid that’s needed in this dish.
To finish off this lunch, the chicken schnitzel sandwich with harissa mayonnaise and a side slaw was delicious. If anything I wanted to ask for extra hot sauce since I like my fried chicken spicy and have a vinegary or acidic kick even though it’s beautifully fried.
Overall, lunch here is very good. The service is a little bit relaxed since I arrived during the later part of lunch service. The crowd is a mix of locals (mostly business lunching) and tourists like myself who are curious of the food.
4213 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70115
Phone: (504) 891-4213