Happy Hour at @ThreeMusesNOLA
Just before the Super Bowl, an article was published listing the "25 Douchiest Bars in New Orleans." Some of those on the list were more than well-deserved (hello, Fump and Manny's!). I scratched my head at the entry for The Three Muses. OK, yes, it's on Frenchmen Street, which is hipsta central, but still, I knew too many people who actually go there and aren't douches, so it didn't make sense. I messaged a friend who speaks highly of Three Muses, and off we went for happy hour and an early dinner.
Cocktails: I started with an Orange Blossom Sazerac: house-infused vanilla-sazerac rye whiskey, a bit of Cointreau, and housemade orange-fennel seed bitters. Interesting taste, but not something I wanted to drink all night. The lovely and talented @LunaNola had a Persephone's Downfall (left): Pomegranate Molasses, OJ, sparkling white Pama, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, and Absolut. After the whiskey, I tried The Muse: Cucumbers and strawberries with St. Germain and Plymouth Gin. Yes, this is me. As my friend Heather said when I posted a photo of the drink to social media, "you had me at gin."
We ordered a bunch of small plates for an early dinner.
Kurobuta Pork Belly, braised in Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider, with Apple Chutney and Scallion Pancakes. The toughest thing about anything pork belly is resisting the temptation to chomp it down like bacon. The subtle flavors here make each of these pieces a three-bite taste.
Seared Scallops and Housemade Saffron Linguini. These scallops were just perfect. Seared tops were crunchy, then full-bodied and tasty. The linguini was a great complement to the shellfish.
Bacon-wrapped dates. These were on the special board. We got two orders. Because it's bacon.
Steak and Cake: Grilled Harris Ranch Hanger Steak with a Crabcake, covered in Bernaise sauce. The steak is served medium-rare to rare, almost a steak tartare. Surf and turf with a butter sauce. Oh, yes.
Smoked Duck Pizza: Duck, Chorizo, Brussels Sprouts leaves, Tikka-Masala sauce Fontina and Goat Cheese. I missed the part about adding a fried duck egg on top for $2 more. I would've done it in a heartbeat!
Grilled Shrimp Polenta: rather than doing a shrimp-and-grits like so many places, the polenta was a very nice change. Very tasty!
Service at @ThreeMusesNOLA is tag-team and informal. You order at the bar, and food is brought to you by whichever of the staff is back by the kitchen when it's ready. Cocktails are also ordered at the bar, with a server bringing it over to the table so you don't have to wait.
As we were eating (we started this outing around 4:30pm or so), a Dixieland combo set up, warmed up, and started their set, around 6pm. The crowd picked up with the live music, but the acoustic nature of the jazz combo fit the size (maybe 900 sq ft) of the place. An amplified band would be a bit extreme for the space, but the jazz worked well.
So, is The Three Muses a douchey place? Maybe the crowd gets that way at some points, but the food is top-quality and easily outweighs any people issues. The writer of said article gave proprieter Christopher Starnes a hard time for his Twitter handle, @xtofer. Really? You're going to list a decent restaurant on your douchey list because of a Twitter name? Puh-leez. Not to mention that Christopher gets major props and total appreciation for chasing us down Frenchmen to bring me back my Nook Tablet, which I left on the table. He could've easily hung on to it and messaged me, but this is how New Orleanians roll, particularly the smart ones in the restaurant business.