I first fell in love with New Orleans cuisine while working as a waitress at Thanksgiving in Paris. The owner and cook, Judith Bluysen, is a native New Jerseyian (although she’ll tell you New York) who fell in love with New Orleans and decided to open a restaurant dedicated to cajun cooking. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss. Judith is one of those cooks who just makes everything she touches taste a-ma-zing. She’s also one of those cooks who does pastry just as good as salty. Bitch.
Every Saturday and Sunday after brunch, we’d sit down to a staff meal: spicy potato gratin, jambalaya, pecan pancakes…I got fat and I liked it.
Then I moved to Buenos Aires, the land of no spice, and felt lost. Until I met Liza Puglia one fine spring day. Liza is a good person to befriend. She loves food, good food, and she’s got a positive energy that just makes you feel good. So, Liza is indeed the perfect owner for a puerta cerrada.
Liza’s been making waves in Buenos Aires with her New Orleans and Mexican pop-up nights. But she’s also been planning for several months to open up a closed-door restaurant with her Argentine boyfriend who is currently studying wines at a local institute.
I’ll be honest here. I’ve never been to a closed-door restaurant before. Something about having dinner with a group of strangers makes me start sweating. I am, by nature, an incredibly shy person. But, I called up a friend and we decided to face the awkwardness together.
The night started with a glass of champagne and a bit of chit-chat with our fellow diners. NOLA seats 8 diners (for now, as they plan on doubling their capacity in the near future), so the atmosphere is quite intimate and friendly. Luckily, the other guests that night were fellow lovers of food (and wine) and the night absolutely flew by as we all got to know each other and enjoy the dinner.
Liza prepares a 4 course menu with New Orleans and Mexican-inspired flavors and her boyfriend pairs and serves the wine.
The first course was a warming chorizo, crab and shrimp gumbo. This was by far my favorite dish of the night. The flavors were complex, the shrimp was cooked perfectly and the chorizo provided just the right amount of spice. The Torrontes was paired beautifully with this spicy dish.
For the second course an endive, hazelnut and haricots verts salad with a creole mustard sauce was served to freshen and cool our palettes. The vegetables were crisp, perfectly seasoned and most importantly- the endive was delicious…I’ve never had good endive in Buenos Aires. The salad was served with a fruity shiraz, perfection.
The third course was a slow-roasted pork served with a creamy polenta and a smoky chili ancho sauce. The wine was…red. Hey, I had already have a glass of champagne and two glasses of wine by this point!
The dessert (my favorite) was a classic Bourbon Pecan Pie, served warmed and with a dollop of whipped cream. The crust was absolutely divine: flaky, buttery and tender. The pie was served with a sweet, but not too sweet, white wine.
Make your reservations for NOLA here.