Szechuan Stir Fry
900 Harrison Ave.
Like Bayona, its big sister in the French Quarter, Mondo runs all across the globe for its flavors and inspirations. That explains why, between the wood-fired pizzas and the Mexican-style roasted pork shoulder, this stir fry ($21) comes along with a full dose of Szechuan flavor, starting with the famously pungent, tongue-tingling qualities of this regional Chinese cuisine. Fat shrimp and slender, Japanese eggplant taste sweet beside the pulse of Szechuan peppercorns, which imbue the broth-like sauce. Crisp bok choy, earthy shitake mushrooms and wisps of fresh cilantro add contrast and the sticky, short-grained rice becomes a mellow, grounding foundation for all the bold flavors.
Mezze Mediterranean Restaurant
4330 Magazine St. (504) 267-3696 mezzenola.com
Like its recent predecessor at this address, Mezze is a Turkish restaurant. That means that while the format may be familiar from many other local Middle Eastern restaurants, the particulars are highly distinctive. The Iskender kebab ($16) dish is a good example of the Turkish approach. It starts with donor kebab, a pressed mix of beef and lamb roasted on the rotisserie and sliced thin to order. This gives the trademark variation in texture, from crisp and char-marked to tender. For the Iskender preparation, the meat is layered over slices of airy, crusty bread and soaked with a buttery-smooth tomato gravy. Hearty and filling, it’s comfort food with a different accent.
Red Maple Restaurant
1036 Lafayette St, Gretna, (504) 367-0935
Even as old dishes are getting fresh looks, it’s still rare to find a rendition of crabmeat Remick ($11). But this Gretna dining stalwart recently added it to the rotation and sticks with a traditional preparation, banking on the appeal of very large lumps of crabmeat, bound in a chili-spiked mayonnaise sauce, aromatic with paprika and smoky bits of bacon under a bubbly, casserole crust. Spoon it over small toast rounds and share it as a very rich first course.