A Bizarre Evening at Restaurant New Orleans

A few weeks ago, I had THE weirdest dining experience at Restaurant New Orleans on Fulton (nr. S. Portland). A friend I dined with took the time to summarize: Last weekend, though, we went out to dinner with some friends, R. and W., with the intention of grabbing dinner before seeing "There Will Be Blood". I suggested Restaurant New Orleans, a restaurant on Fulton not to far from BAM where were going to see the movie. I've passed by this place numerous times walking back from BAM and it always intrigues me. It is decorated like someone's parlor, but half the time its empty and sometimes we've passed by around 10pm and its been dark, with a woman sitting at a computer in the window.

Anyway, we decided to meet at 7, figuring it would leave us plenty of time to catch the 9pm movie. We sat down and browsed the menu while the man who sat us looked for a bottle opener and glasses for the bottle of wine we brought with us (byob). This took about 10 minutes, and the glasses we got were sherry glasses. When the waitress came to take our order, she nearly forgot to take W's order.

And then the fun started. R and W had ordered crab cakes and we had ordered shrimp cocktail as appetizers, but after about 20 minutes, only the crab cakes came out. After a few minutes, we tracked down our waitress (who was astonishingly hard to track down in a place that was also the size of a parlor), she said our appetizer was on its way. But then out came my catfish (which Sam and R had ordered as well), with a sweet potato on the side. I had ordered spinach and something else. The waitress said they were out of whatever sides I had ordered but they could make some nice garlic brussels sprouts. Sure, why not. About 5 minutes later, out came Sam and R's catfish as well. R's grilled catfish looked exactly the same as our blackened catfish. And they didn't have any sides. And there was no sign of W's gumbo. And it was about 8:30. The brussles sprouts never appeared.

We reminded our waitress about the appetizer, though we told her to just forget about it since we were already eating our main course. And then, about 5 minutes later, the reason for the missing shrimp cocktail became clear - they "were having a problem with the shrimp". And so they couldn't make the gumbo either. But they offered to make W a nice salmon fillet instead, on the house. She brought out a bowl of red beans and rice on the house too (we still never received any sides other than my sweet potato), so W ate those while waiting for the salmon, which came around 8:50. So we asked for the check too and paid that while W ate.

They felt so bad for all the trouble, so they comped us for two of the entrees and also offered us free brunch (though they didn't give us anything in writing indicating this). And they seemed so genuine that we weren't really upset about the service, mystified was the better word for our state. I mean, if they didn't have shrimp, they could have told us an hour earlier. Or the whole issue with the sides. W's dish came with collards, which both Sam and R had ordered but never came. How the place stays in business was the biggest question - its been there since we moved to the neighborhood I think. The food we did get was very good, but it just seemed like such a haphazard business that it was surprising that it was able to stay open.

I admit those crab cakes were delicious! Yet the dinner couldn't have been any more haphazard. Anyone have a similar experience?