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New Orleans Indulgences??

l
Lisa Antinore Apr 9, 1999 12:03 PM

Hola ChowHounds!

I finally planned my first trip to New Orleans for over the Memorial Day weekend. I'm very excited about it and want to really indulge in local cuisine. I've looked through this board at previous New Orleans posts and found Jim's Mother's tip and a few others very helpful (eg. Uglesich's, Acme Oyster House, Central Grocery, la Madeline French Bakery etc.)

As much as I love the tiny, divey, backroads places I'd also like to experience the famed culinary strongholds of New Orleans and have made reservations at the following thus far:

Three jazz brunches/breakfasts:
Brennan's (I must have the eggs sardou and bananas foster...)
Court of the Two Sisters
Commander's Palace

Three dinners:
Emeril's (I couldn't resist and could only snag an 11:pm two months in advance!!)
Antoines (baked alaska!!!)
Bayona (I have heard tons of wonderful things about Susan Spicer's cooking...)

Questions:
Am I going overboard with the jazz brunches? When will I have time to sample the debris at Mother's??? or the Po' boys at Johnny's?? Should I lose the Bayona reservation in favor of something more traditional such as Tugague's, Galatoire's, Arnaud's, K-Paul's, Napoleon House, or Rib Room??? All of these choices are sending me into a culinary anxiety attack and I'd love for some of you who have visited New Orleans to set me straight with your ideas of ESSENTIAL New Orleans- the very best and nothing else.....

Thanks so much and happy eating,
Lisa

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  1. h
    Heidi RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 9, 1999 12:36 PM

    Two different friends on two separate visits mentioned
    they preferred their meals at Nola to Emeril's.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Heidi
      h
      Heidi RE: Heidi Apr 9, 1999 12:49 PM

      I can't belive I forgot to mention this: One of my fav
      website: www.gumbopages.com a site put together by
      Chuck Taggart, A New Orleans raised expatriate in
      California. TONS of insider info on everything you may
      be interested in New Orleans; lots of food, where to
      go for Jazz and other entertainment. I need to eat
      while I'm reading the pages 'cos I get so hungry
      imagining the meals.

      1. re: Heidi
        j
        jim benzian RE: Heidi Apr 9, 1999 12:55 PM

        I agree. I really think you are going to be dissapointed with Emeril's. It was a great place when Emeril was cooking. Now that he is off being a TV star the place puts out assenmbly line food. NOLA really does do a better job.

        Three jazz brunches are definitely too much. Commander's is the best by far. Ask for the garden room. If you must have bananas foster then go ahead and go to Brennan's, otherwise there's not much to it. Avoid The Court of Two Sisters. Just a big breakfast buffet you would find anywhere, including Shoney's. No reason to miss Mother's for that.

        The only traditional place I would recommend is Galatoire's. I would exchange that for Antoine's unless you must have Baked Alaska.

        1. re: jim benzian
          m
          Michele Fuchs RE: jim benzian Apr 9, 1999 01:45 PM

          I forgot to mention, I have also heard that Galatoires
          is a must, this from friends who along with being
          foodies/chowhounds, went to Tulane and still frequent
          the city quite often...

      2. a
        Alan Divack RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 9, 1999 12:49 PM

        Welcome back Lisa -- i was tempted not to post unless
        you promised to post more frequently (where have you
        been?) but why stand on ceremony.

        Some of my impressions from the high end places --we
        were there four years ago, and several people who I
        trust went last fall and reported back as well
        Bayona -- great -- great food, great place
        Commanders -- avoid it , it is pretty but you feel
        like you are in a factory, and the food tastes it.
        Emerils -- we liked it, and had nver heard of him
        before, but we have heard mixed things since -- also,
        we have heard uniformly bad about Nola recently.

        The other high end place we really like was
        Brigsten's. At all of these places you pay much less
        than in NY.

        Be sure to report back when you return.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Alan Divack
          j
          Jim Leff RE: Alan Divack Apr 9, 1999 01:17 PM

          "where have you been?"

          Rather than put Lisa to the trouble of reciting her resume once again, it might be easier to send you and others interested to her exuberant self-accounting posted a couple of months ago on the Outer Boroughs message board (look for "Lisa Antinore where are you?")

          1. re: Alan Divack
            m
            Michele Fuchs RE: Alan Divack Apr 9, 1999 01:41 PM

            A friend went last weekend for a little jaunt and was
            also disappointed with Commander's Palace, though she
            enjoyed Nola's, go figure! I have a call in to her as
            to which of the others she may have dined in...

            I will post again!

            1. re: Alan Divack
              j
              jim benzian RE: Alan Divack Apr 9, 1999 01:42 PM

              Sorry to here that NOLA is no longer good. It's been a few years since I've been. Was at Bayona within the year and it was great as ever. I really have a hard time ordering anything but the sweetbreads. The texture is incredible. A light crisp on the exterior.

              Commander's can definitely be avoided for dinner, but if you have to do a jazz brunch it's the one to go to.

              1. re: jim benzian
                s
                Sarah RE: jim benzian Apr 10, 1999 08:18 AM

                We ate at NOLA a couple of weeks ago. The first
                courses were fine but the main courses were
                disappointing. My husband ordered the tasting sampler,
                only to be told about ten minutes later that they had
                pulled it from the menu because it was "not up to
                standards." He then ordered a grilled chicken dish
                that was on the overdone side. Whatever I had was so
                unmemorable that I can't even think what it was just
                now. We shared a chocolate peanut butter pie which I
                liked a lot because it wasn't very sweet (he didn't
                like it so much for the same reason). I liked the
                decor, which is very un-typical of New Orleans (more
                like Barbara Lazaroff's touch on Wolfgang Puck's
                restaurants) although the place is noisy. We may go
                back in the summer when the place is quiet and sit at
                the counter to watch the cooks. Can't do that very
                many places in New Orleans.

            2. j
              Jim Leff RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 9, 1999 02:02 PM

              Hey, Lisa

              As Jim Benzian said, don't do so many fancy jazz brunches that you miss breakfast at Mother's. Also, bear in mind that New Orleans is to food what Atlantic City is to architecture...there are the towering, expensive landmark places, and then there are the down-home places, which constitute an entirely different scene/cuisine. As a New Orleans native was complaining a couple of months ago, there is very little in between, so it's easy to get tired of the food scene if you live there.

              Your list is way too heavily weighted toward the high-end places. And from what I've tried down there (and heard from learned local chowhounds), most of 'em are as overrated and past their prime as the tired, tired jazz you hear in bars on Bourbon Street these days

              ciao

              13 Replies
              1. re: Jim Leff
                j
                jim benzian RE: Jim Leff Apr 9, 1999 02:18 PM

                Most people who go to New Orleans from great restaurant cities are dissapointed by the high-end places. They can't match what's going on in New York, L.A., Chicago or San Francisco. The fun really is in the local joints. Ugelesich's should not be missed. Consider going uptown to places like Franky and Johnnies. A great spot for crawfish. Make sure to suck the heads.

                1. re: jim benzian
                  j
                  Jim Leff RE: jim benzian Apr 9, 1999 02:34 PM

                  "Ugelesich's should not be missed"

                  yes, of course (but did I hear that they changed owners? I'm only about 25% sure I've heard that). And that late-night diner at the opposite end of the trolley line from downtown that makes the big puffy omelets (you surely know it...)

                  The essential point is that the fancy places serve a completely different cuisine...it's the old Creole cooking. So while they don't serve chow as vibrantly delicious as places like Mother's and Ugelesich's, they're still well worth at least ONE meal in order to sample that cuisine, faded though their kitchens may be.

                  Hey, do you live down there? Know any Armenian places? Or any Armenian places ANYWHERE for that matter?

                  Jim Chowhoundian

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    j
                    jim benzian RE: Jim Leff Apr 9, 1999 02:56 PM

                    The place you are thinking of is the Camelia Grill. Definitely the best late night place in town.

                    I don't live there anymore. I was there from '89-94. I try to get back at least once a year.

                    By the way, one of the best ways to get good local food is to check out the booths at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. One of the great things they have had in past years is the crawfish bread. Crawfish tails in a creamy sauce stuffed and then baked in a wonderful yeasty bread. Some local restaurants would try and duplicate what was made at the fairgrounds but I never could find the real thing. Jazz Fest is the last weekend in April and the first in May

                    My name fools a lot of people. It's actually not Armenian. I don't know any Armenian restaurants in New orlenas

                    1. re: jim benzian
                      j
                      Jim Leff RE: jim benzian Apr 10, 1999 12:14 AM

                      "By the way, one of the best ways to get good local food is to check out the booths at the Jazz and Heritage Festival"

                      strangely, the best cajun food I ever had was at the Stockholm Blues and Jazz Festival, which I played in 1988. There's an expat there who prides himself on making great gumbo for all the musicians. It was great.

                    2. re: Jim Leff
                      j
                      jim benzian RE: Jim Leff Apr 9, 1999 03:37 PM

                      About Ugelesich's. I don't think there has been an ownership change. My wife was there about two weeks ago and she was greeted by Mr. Ugelesich as usual. So at least he's still hanging around if he did sell the place.

                      1. re: Jim Leff
                        s
                        Sarah RE: Jim Leff Apr 10, 1999 08:34 AM

                        Don't think there are any real Armenian restaurants in
                        NO. The closest is probably Mona's on Banks St., which
                        is more or less Middle Eastern and is attached to a
                        grocery which miraculously makes fresh pita bread daily
                        (nearly the only pita to be found in this city) and
                        carries other Middle Eastern ingredients. There is
                        also Odyssey Grill, which is sort of Greek, and very
                        good, and serves some of that sort of food, as well as
                        various Mediterranean dishes. I have been told there's
                        a Middle Eastern-type (maybe Lebanese?) restaurant on
                        Carrolton, on the streetcar line, but haven't tried it.
                        In Los Angeles I worked in an area that had a small
                        concentration of Iranian restaurants, and I miss that
                        kind of food.

                        1. re: Sarah
                          t
                          Tom Armitage RE: Sarah Apr 10, 1999 01:59 PM

                          So, Sarah, what are some of your favorite Iranian
                          restaurants in Los Angeles?

                          1. re: Tom Armitage
                            j
                            Jim Leff RE: Tom Armitage Apr 10, 1999 02:22 PM

                            tom and sarah--sorry we don't have the ability to modify subject titles
                            here, so please start a new thread to discuss L.A., ok?

                            thanks!

                            The Management

                            1. re: Jim Leff
                              t
                              Tom Armitage RE: Jim Leff Apr 10, 1999 02:53 PM

                              Woops. Busted! Sorry, Jim.

                            2. re: Tom Armitage
                              s
                              Sarah RE: Tom Armitage Apr 10, 1999 10:46 PM

                              I'm aware of the Iranian restaurant enclave in
                              Westwood, but I never got out there to try any of them.
                              I worked for a couple of years at the Transamerica
                              tower near the garment distict, and there are a bunch
                              of little Iranian cafes in that area. The closest one
                              to our building was called the Golden Olive or
                              something like that (on 11th and Hill);then there was
                              another one a few blocks closer to downtown LA or Hill
                              that a lot of people liked. In a food court on Los
                              Angeles Street on the western edge of the garment
                              district was another one that served a boiled (!)
                              chicken that I crave in my memory, and they would
                              always give me the crusty part of the rice. I've found
                              a place to buy barberries in New Orleans but haven't
                              been able to come up with the right-tasting barberry
                              rice. I think the rice needs some saffron?

                      2. re: Jim Leff
                        j
                        jen kalb RE: Jim Leff Apr 9, 1999 03:17 PM

                        I noticed there is an Eclectic Guide to New Orleans as
                        well as our own precious tome. How does it stack up?

                        1. re: jen kalb
                          j
                          Jim Leff RE: jen kalb Apr 10, 1999 12:14 AM

                          Precious...gosh!
                          I haven't seen it, but most of the other books in the series that I've read are a bit less in-depth and a bit more mainstream. I sort of ran away with the format for mine (I'm not sure why the publisher let me get away with it, actually)

                          1. re: jen kalb
                            t
                            Ted Lovato RE: jen kalb Nov 21, 1999 07:17 PM

                            My good wife and me are headed for the big easy in March. Going for the National Elementary Principals confab. Not rich, so steer us in the right direction for some great New Orleans food.

                        2. s
                          Sarah RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 9, 1999 08:49 PM

                          (1) Don't pass up Bayona. The food there is the best
                          in town. (2) Mother's is good but locals find it too
                          expensive. But if you're in the area I'd still
                          recommend it. The last time I had seafood gumbo there
                          it was really good. (3) We didn't find Emeril's to be
                          all that great, but if you must . . . NOLA, his
                          slightly downscale (but NOT inexpensive) restaurant is
                          pretty good too. If you feel compelled to try
                          Delmonico's, his latest venture, it is VERY
                          expensive by New Orleans standards. (4) If you want
                          to go to K Paul's, go at lunch. The prices are much
                          lower and the food is about the same. (5) Rib Room as
                          been getting good reviews lately. (6) If you have a
                          car and can get to Chalmette on the east side of the
                          city, Rocky & Carlos is a real local experience. (7)
                          From what we hear, breakfast at Brennan's is really
                          overpriced and you will be so full of high-fat food
                          that you won't want to eat for the rest of the day.
                          But go if you must. (8) I had a totally tasteless
                          crawfish po-boy at Johnny's. But people still say the
                          place is wonderful. ----- We're heading over to the
                          Quarter now for dinner so I'll add more later if I
                          think of it.

                          1. d
                            Dave Feldman RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 10, 1999 01:15 AM

                            Lisa,

                            I haven't been to N.O. in a few years (I'm remedying
                            this next year) but I'm passionate about N.O. food,
                            and I have to say that Jim B. is steering you well. I
                            think you could easily skip all three brunches, but
                            agree that Commander's Palace is easily the best.
                            Court is a tourist trap.

                            I'd seriously consider taking one day and doing zero
                            traditional meals and sample some of the best dishes
                            New Orleans has to offer. A dream day for me might be:

                            1. A trip to Mother's for whatever looks best for
                            breakfast (debris sounds good).
                            2. Oysters at the Acme Oyster House.
                            3. A walk to Uglesich's for fried green tomatoes.
                            4. A stop at Galatoire's (easily the most charming
                            of the old-line restaurants) for what is possibly my
                            favorite single dish in N.O., the trout or pompano
                            amandine, that contains a meuniere sauce conceived in
                            heaven. I would never have tried this "tired" dish if
                            it weren't for the raves of Robert & Rima Collin in
                            their sadly out-of-print indispensable food guide to
                            New Orleans. The shrimp remoulade is also wonderful
                            here. (Note that there are no reservations, and a
                            jacket might still be mandatory for men, although this
                            seems to be loosening)
                            5. Bread pudding at Zachary's or Mr. B's Bistro.
                            6. Beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde.

                            Such a day will let you walk over a good portion of
                            the city and you'll eat so much better than at
                            Antoine's or Brennan's.
                            I also agree that Bayona is the best of the new-
                            line restaurants. I especially like the salmon with
                            sauerkraut in gewurtztraminer sauce.
                            Regrettably, I've never been to Brigsten's, but
                            I've heard nothing but good things about it.

                            Have fun in New Orleans. It's hard not to.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Dave Feldman
                              j
                              Jim Leff RE: Dave Feldman Apr 10, 1999 01:22 AM

                              "I would never have tried this "tired" dish"

                              Dave, great message, great advice in general, but for the record
                              I didn't say every single dish in every single expensive restaurant
                              there is tired. But as a general rule, I think you, me, and
                              Jim do agree.

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                d
                                Dave Feldman RE: Jim Leff Apr 10, 1999 02:15 AM

                                Jim,

                                I didn't mean to use the word "tired" to refer to food
                                in general -- just to "trout amandine." For me,
                                "amandine" sauce has usually been a refuge for
                                restaurant scoundrels. It would never have occurred
                                to me to order it. But it's just superb at
                                Galatoire's (anything with the meuniere sauce is).

                            2. s
                              Sarah RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 10, 1999 08:28 AM

                              Have just read through all of the followups and
                              basically agree with everybody. The thing is, though,
                              you will not be able to eat all that food. Before we
                              lived here, when we used to visit, we had the same
                              problem. There just wasn't enough time and appetite to
                              eat at all the places we wanted to go. Pick out a few
                              high points for your reservations, then wing it
                              depending on how you feel for the rest. Don't kill
                              yourselves with jazz brunches every day.

                              1. m
                                Martha Gehan RE: Lisa Antinore Apr 20, 1999 02:58 PM

                                I haven't been to New Orleans in a while, but I concur
                                with those who recommend Galatoire's over Antoine's.
                                Not only is the fish amandine divine, but the
                                old New Orleans atmosphere(ceiling fans,tiled floors,
                                white-coated waiters)is romantic and evocative. The
                                menu is old-fashioned, but I think that's what you're
                                there for. I prefer my oysters raw, but my ex-husband
                                flipped for the oysters Rockefeller. Galatoire's also
                                makes a mean martini. For po-boys, I think Casamento's
                                on Magazine Street is the best. All fried seafood is
                                delicious, and the steamed shrimp and crawfish are
                                luscious as well. Casamento's also has a gorgeous
                                tiled interior that reminded me of charcuteries in the
                                south of France (all blue and cream tile, bright and
                                clean). If you have time, try a muffuletta from the
                                Central Grocery in the Quarter-it's the world's best
                                Italian deli sandwich. Share it- it's HUGE, and take
                                home a jar of their delicious olive salad.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Martha Gehan
                                  s
                                  Sarah RE: Martha Gehan Apr 21, 1999 10:37 PM

                                  I just atelunch at Galatoire's today, and I had that
                                  fabled trout amandine. Its fame escapes me -- a piece
                                  of rather dry, tasteless fish, fried, topped with a LOT
                                  of toasted almonds and some slightly garlicky butter.
                                  After lunch I did a bit of research and found out it is
                                  probably the speckled trout, a salt water fish that is
                                  not a true trout, that they use, and which to me seems,
                                  well, dry and tasteless. But the atmosphere is
                                  definitely charming and Old New Orleans, and several in
                                  our group ordered soft shelled crabs, which were
                                  enormous, and can be broiled or grilled rather than
                                  fried if you so request. And there are quite a few of
                                  the seafood-stuffed-with-seafood-and-topped-with
                                  -hollandaise offerings on the menu, if you like that
                                  sort of thing.

                                  1. re: Sarah
                                    d
                                    Dave Feldman RE: Sarah Apr 22, 1999 01:56 AM

                                    Sarah,

                                    Say it isn't so! I haven't been to Galatoire's in
                                    several years, but with the possible exception of the
                                    gumbo at Eddie's, it has been my favorite single dish
                                    in N.O.

                                    Never in my experience has the fish been overcooked.
                                    Did you complain?

                                    1. re: Dave Feldman
                                      s
                                      Sarah RE: Dave Feldman Apr 23, 1999 01:14 PM

                                      I don't think the fish was overcooked, I just think I
                                      don't like speckled trout and the charm of the entire
                                      dish escaped me. The menu doesn't say it's speckled
                                      trout, just says trout, which to me means the much
                                      smaller, sweeter, freshwater trout. But from now on
                                      I'll be more alert when I see that word on a local
                                      menu, since as somebody reminded me, we don't have a
                                      source of freshwater trout locally, so why should the
                                      restaurants fly it in when they have so much locally
                                      available seafood.

                                      1. re: Sarah
                                        d
                                        Dave Feldman RE: Sarah Apr 23, 1999 10:23 PM

                                        Galatoire's also offers pompano with meuniere/amandine
                                        sauces. The fish is just as good or better than the
                                        trout, but I've always thought the sauce went better
                                        with the trout.

                                        I sure hope your experience was an aberration,
                                        although Galatoire's has gone through some spotty
                                        stretches in the 1970s and came back strong.

                                        1. re: Sarah
                                          j
                                          jonathan gold RE: Sarah Apr 24, 1999 12:12 PM

                                          I hate to nitpick, but no restaurant, even
                                          sweet cafes perched right on rushing Colorado
                                          streams, has access to fresh river trout. 100
                                          percent of the trout commercially available is
                                          farmed trout. Which means that although the
                                          trout at Galatoire's may not be local, it's
                                          as local as it is anywhere else.

                                          Personally, I've always loved the trout amandine
                                          at Galatoire's. But an old-fashioned aesthetic
                                          is definitely at work in the dish, which is a
                                          living relic from the days when sauces were
                                          designed to hide, rather than enhance, the
                                          flavor of fish. The role of the trout here is
                                          to provide crispness--oh, what crispness!--
                                          rather than succulence.

                                          1. re: jonathan gold
                                            n
                                            N. Henry RE: jonathan gold Oct 31, 1999 04:57 PM

                                            The trout served in Galatoires and other restaurants in New Orleans, is not a trout from fresh water, but sea trout also called in the Northeast "weakfish".

                                  2. l
                                    Lisa Antinore RE: Lisa Antinore May 17, 1999 11:10 AM

                                    Thank you all from the bottom of my
                                    soon-to-be-gumbo-filled tummy!

                                    Thanks to your generous suggestions I'm confident I'll
                                    be the best-fed visitor to the city. I've nixed quite a
                                    few of the jazz brunches in favor of places like
                                    Mother's, Central Grocery, and the Acme Oyster House
                                    and I've restored Bayona to the list because Susan
                                    Spicer and her salmon dish seem hard to resist. I'll
                                    let you know if I encounter anything extra-delish...

                                    I'm off to San Francisco for the Furth of July (believe
                                    it or not I've been to California many times and never
                                    made it to SF- I got a great deal on
                                    Lowestfares.com and couldn't resist. You should check
                                    their fares out..) and will be asking for suggestions
                                    shortly after I re-read former posts....

                                    Love and yummy things,
                                    Lisa

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