Thursday, April 21, 2011

NOLA On the Square (Downtown)

Last Wednesday a small group of us had the pleasure to attend a special preview of Bricolage's Hunter Gatherers.  Before the show, we met up for dinner at NOLA On the Square, a New Orleans-style restaurant in Market Square that has been on my wish list since the day it opened in mid-March.

From the outside, it's hard to see how spacious NOLA is.  A long, lively bar area inside the entrance leads to several dining areas with a view of the open kitchen.  There is a second floor as well although I didn't get a chance to go up and see what kind of seating they have up there (if any).  NOLA's decor is colorful and beautiful, and the atmosphere is quite pleasant with soft jazz music playing in the background.  (There is also live music on most nights.)  Our attentive server, Olga, led me to the back of the restaurant to our table.  I got there early when the back section was still empty, so I had the chance to snap a few photos of the gorgeous dining room:

NOLA dining room
The back dining section at NOLA.

Our Table at NOLA
Our table at the corner.

View of the chandelier at NOLA
Dining under this beautiful chandelier.

But what about the food?  Against my better judgment, I ordered both a soup and an entree. ;)  The Oyster Stew is a bowl of creamy goodness with oysters, mussels, and artichoke, and there is definitely no skimping on any of the main ingredients.  I highly recommend this one.

Oyster Stew at NOLA
Oyster Stew

For the entree I ordered the Creole Tartiflette, which is a wood-fired casserole with lots of potatoes, camembert cheese, artichoke, smoked bacon, in a Creole mustard cream.

Creole Tartiflette at NOLA
Creole Tartiflette

In hindsight, I probably should not have paired a creamy stew with a creamy casserole.  By the time I got to the Creole Tartiflette, I was pretty full from the stew and a little bit "creamed out."  Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike the dish, but I had trouble really savoring something so hearty and rich at that point.

All in all, I had a great first visit to NOLA.  Olga had made a few delicious-sounding drink recommendations earlier in the night that I had declined because we were headed for a Happy Half Hour right after dinner and before the show.  I promised Olga I would be back for drinks next time.

Keeping my promise, I was back a few night later.  I was out of food at home and didn't have time to cook, and not only did I feel like having a drink, I was also really hungry for a good jambalaya ever since regretting not getting it on my first visit, especially because a friend of mine did and thought it was fantastic.  So I decided to make an impulsive repeat visit before the week's end.

Seafood Jambalaya at NOLA
Seafood Jambalaya

The seafood jambalaya comes with shrimp, scallops, Andouille sausage, and mussels and it was delightful!  Just a little spicy, but not so overwhelming that you can't taste the food.  To go with my entree I also got a drink that was one of the specials:

Dirty Banana Pina Colada at NOLA
Dirty Banana Pina Colada

The Dirty Banana Pina Colada is thick, flavorful, and tastes as good as it sounds.  It definitely gave me a buzz, though I'm not sure if it was because they put a lot of alcohol in it (which would be great!) or because the jambalaya was the first solid food I had had all day.  Or both.  Once again, I had Olga as my server, and she was, once again, very helpful.  Overall I think NOLA has a great combination of atmosphere, food, and service and is a great addition to Market Square.  Flag this as one I'll come back to for sure!

Restaurant info:
NOLA On the Square
24 Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 471-9100 
On the web:

NOLA on the square on Urbanspoon