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Back-up Plan
The wait at Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 523-0120) was 90 minutes two Mondays ago (move over Jacques-Imo's), a span of time that might be reasonable if you weren't tempted to spend it all drinking Monsoons. We zipped up Canal Street instead, and Mandina's (3800 Canal St., 482-9179) once again came through with thick, smoky red beans, impeccably fried trout amandine and spaghetti with red gravy the color of a Valentine.

Queuing Up
A hot line opened at Foodies Kitchen's Uptown location (7457 St. Charles Ave., 865-8646) last month, introducing Orleans Parish to the Black and Blue Burger, an indulgence of beef, bacon, blue cheese, remoulade sauce and avocado. The kitchen is also prepared to make po-boys, tuna burgers, pastas and other hot entrees on the spot. Karyn Champagne, who with husband Robert bought Foodies Kitchen from the founding Commander's Palace team last January, says that several new menu items are set to debut within the next few weeks at the Metairie store (720 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 837-9695).

All in the Family
Chef Andrea Apuzzo has declared Tuesday night Family Night at Andrea's (3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583). Families and large parties may order from a menu of roughly 15 dishes, each sized to feed four people. New Orleanians might recognize this Italian, family-style approach to dining from marathon dinners at Mosca's. Andrea's family-style menu includes tomato Caprese salad ($16), a marinated and chilled seafood platter ($17) and crabmeat ravioli in cream sauce ($20).

Thursday Thrill
Sit at Basil Leaf's (1438 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-9001) bar on Thursday evenings between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and for $12 you'll receive an appetizer special, 2-oz. fingers of three featured wines, plus a full glass of whichever wine moves you most. On a recent Thursday the tasting involved three Chardonnays and an appetizer of fried eggplant with minced chicken and basil. Diners wishing to sit in the dining room may begin a full meal with the $12 deal.

Summer Specials
Among the surfeit of restaurants offering mind-blowing summer promotions (call your favorite place and ask what they've got going on), Mr. John's Steakhouse (2111 St. Charles Ave., 679-7697) serves $14.95 Sunset Dinners Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Add wine for an additional $5.

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