Friday, March 4, 2022


New Orleans is my favorite city in the world. If you're into food, drink, music, art and culture, aka letting the good times roll, I can't recommend it enough. Unfortunately, it's not just a hop, skip and a jump away, so the next time I'm craving a NoLa vibe, I'll be heading to Rey's in Raleigh. It's a little taste of New Orleans, and an absolute gem. Top-notch service, spectacular food and two ambiances to choose from - the boisterous Voodoo Room or the elegant dining room - this is one of my new favorite restaurants.

At Rey's, you'll want a reservation. Every seat at the bar and every table in the restaurant was full, including their multiple private dining rooms. Our server had been there for 17 years, so they clearly run a tight ship. Multiple maitre d's checked on us throughout the course of the evening and our water glasses were never empty. We even got two types of bread to start - Rosemary Sourdough and a Wheat studded with Walnuts and Golden Raisins. For a busy Wednesday night, service was prompt and food came out fast. All good things in my book.

Upon perusing the ample menu, my eyes went straight to the Grouper Lafayette, a large portion of the white fish topped generously with Crab Meat over a lemony, herb butter. I was immediately transported to the French Quarter. My only complaint is that I didn't have a starch underneath to help absorb all of that delicious sauce, but the sides are ordered a la carte, so I suppose that was my bad. Instead, my hubby and I chose to share the Vegetable Medley which was the sexiest veggie side I've ever seen in a restaurant. I was preparing myself for mostly onions and limp squash, when this boasted Red and Yellow Peppers, Broccoli, Carrots, Mushrooms, Squash, Green Beans, Red Onion and Zucchini. And they were cooked al dente, leaving some integrity to the vegetables. At $10 a side, this is exactly what it should have been!

My husband ordered the Beef Tournedos, two 4-ounce beef medallions cooked a perfect medium rare, served with 4 Fried Oysters. I don't think I've ever seen him eat this fast. The plate was hot, so the butter that finished the steak started to turn brown. And if you didn't know that brown butter + steak = magic, now you know.

My favorite dessert in the world is Bananas Foster. And believe me, I've had a lot of it, so when I say that Rey's does it the best, I mean they do it the BEST. First of all, it's tableside, so you're really paying for the entertainment too. Our server took his time browning the butter (pro move) and sauteeing the banana slices, but didn't let them go too far and turn mushy. He cooked out the rum so that no potent alcohol flavor monopolized the dish, but just the deep sweet, subtle molasses notes remained. Finally, and here's what really sealed the deal for me: he let the sauce cool slightly and went to the blast chiller to retrieve two plates with two scoops of ice cream practically frozen to the dishes. A lot of restaurants have the ice cream sitting there in a room temperature bowl throughout the fosters prep, so when they pour that liquid magma atop, the ice cream totally melts away, and you're left with a bowl of creamy caramel with floating bananas. Not the worst thing in the world, but not how Bananas Foster is intended to be enjoyed. The ice cream remained frozen throughout our consumption of the dish, so I was able to ladle up that velvety, subtly salty sauce and really savor it. I could pontificate about the beauty and joy of Bananas Foster for hours (clearly). Just do yourself a favor and don't get it anywhere other than Rey's. It's heaven on Earth.

I eagerly look forward to my return to Rey's when I can continue eating my way through the menu. It was really difficult for me to decide what to order, but if this first dining experience tells me anything, it's that you can't go wrong.

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