We first ventured to try Orleans in November last year after watching Cirque du Soleil; unfortunately almost the entire audience appeared to have the same idea. Orleans doesn’t take advance bookings (possibly the only downfall of the place) and it was going to be an hour and a half’s wait – there was no way a heavily pregnant Mama M was going to be able to wait that long to eat! With CJ being three months old and our wedding anniversary providing the perfect opportunity, we weren’t going to miss another chance. Papa M must have been some sort of itinerant traveller in the American South during a previous life – boy cannot get enough of cajun and tex-mex foods!
We decided to head in early to guarantee speedy seating and arrived at about 5:45 only to find that we’d probably been a little on the conservative side. We were seated immediately at one of the indoor tables and settled in to enjoy our surrounds and peruse the menus. Note to the ladies: all indoor seating appeared to be on tall barstool and bench seats so this might be a restaurant where you want to leave your mini-skirts at home if you want to avoid an inelegant scramble. After deciding on drinks (a Sazerac for him, a Dr Pepper and Dark Cherry ice-cream float for me) we then began menu negotiations. Orleans focuses on serving southern food tapas style and so there are a multitude of dishes to choose from. We focused on their small bowls and sides as to get more variety and simply try more of the scrumptious-sounding food. After some back-and-forth, we decided on the following:
Hot Pimento Cheese and Artichoke Dip: Similar to previous queso dips that we’ve tried but made ever more scrumptious by the addition of perfect chunks of artichoke. It could have done with a few more tortilla chips, but that didn’t stop Papa M sneakily finishing off the dip with a spoon!
Orleans’ Fried Chicken: Perfectly set off with a delicious blend of ranch sauce and hot sauce for just the right bite without setting your mouth on fire. Bite-sized boneless chicken morsels made this an easy eat. This was definitely one of those dishes where we had to share very evenly – “one for me, one for you…”
Chicken Waffle: If I could hire someone to make this for my breakfast every morning… damn, I would. I’d also probably be the size of a house but I would be so happy! The perfect contrast of the sage butter and the chipotle maple syrup give it the ideal blend of salty and sweet and the fried sage leaves literally melt in your mouth.
Curly Fries: While this was probably the least adventurous of all our dishes (although served with chipotle mayo), these chips were perfectly cooked with a delightfully crispy outside and nice tender inside.
Everything was so delicious that it seems physically impossible to slowly savor it, but we weren’t quite ready to leave just yet. We decided to order two out of the four Po Boy sandwiches available – I’d definitely love to return and try the Wild Venison and Andouille version!
Fried Chicken Po Boy: More of that delicious fried chicken and more of that ranch! Seriously, if you go to Orleans and don’t try at least one of their fried chicken dishes, you are a fool.
Pig Po Boy: A delicious contrast to the fried chicken, the sharp tang of the BBQ sauce and the chill vinegar combined perfectly with the pulled pork
We had plans elsewhere for dessert but the cookie sandwich (with peanut butter semifreddo & raspberry jam, cereal milk) definitely caught my eye and will be a go on a repeat visit. As we tootled on our merry way, we could see that the cobblestone outdoor area had definitely filled up, so I suggest getting in early if you are wanting outdoor seating.
What else can I say but GO! It was a delicious, yet relatively casual dining experience for an extremely affordable time. Hot tip – if you sign up for their newsletter, you can currently receive a $12 voucher and you can use two per table. When trying to save for a house deposit, there really is nothing more romantic than being able to use a coupon! I hope you try it and love it as much as we did.
Orleans – 48 Customs Street East, Britomart Precinct, Auckland.