- Hoc Jan 30, 2001 03:32 AM
Is the Camelia Grill truly an experience not to be missed, or is it just decent omelettes, waffles and potatoes. We appear to be running short on food slots for our 1-week trip, and may have to cut something. . . .
The Camelia grill is really just a mediocre diner. If you are African American, you may be particularly offended by the shucking, jiving, eye-bucking, and toothy smiling of the predominately Black wait staff. When I was a college student at Xavier, we used to joke about how the Camelia Grill was precisely the type of place that a certain class of white Southerners loved to visit while staying in New Orleans...because it reminded them of the "good ole days." There are lots of good places to eat in New Orleans, where one is not subjected to a degrading and embarassing minstrel show.
I'm not African American, but if the "show" you describe is the only attraction of the place, I can skip it. On the other hand, if the food is as spectacular as some seem to suggest, I would not be offended by going there. (As an example, although some were offended by Louis Armstrong's mannerisms and onstage style, I still love him to this day because he is a musical genius and was probably one of the first performance artists ever.)
I'd like to hear if others on the board agree with your assessment (in which case I can cross Camelia Grill off my list and make room for someplace else with great food), or whether there are some here who think it's worth doing.
Also, nobody here ever mentions Bluebird Cafe? What is that like?
The single time I was there, it was quite late and I'd been imbibing overmuch, so I didn't notice any of this (though I think it's odd to suppose you'd have to be African American to feel put-off).
I did not find the food "spectacular", but it is very good, the omelettes are quite unusual (they puff up the batter in a blender, so they're huge things), and I had a good time there.
Service-wise, I just remember really friendly and capable waiters. But, again, I wasn't in my best form. Though if I did come across such behavior, I'd view it as a personal challenge to cut through the shtick....same as when I confront Chinese waiters who suppose I won't want the Real Stuff 'cuz I'm not Chinese. But that's just me...
Also, as for it being a destination of Old-South types, I've always been told that this place is mostly an after-hours destination for partying young people, which is one reason I went there that night...and the place was full of 'em. But maybe at earlier hours it's a different scene.
Guess What guy's
Say what you want about the food but,I'm here to tell you from an inside perspective ( A white waiter) that yes this is not a gourmet eatery, and yes in appearance is the same as it was in 1946;The same look and yes the same uniforms, bow tye and all. I work in an enviorment where everybody gets paid well (better than most N.O. resteraunts),we all as part of our jobs are responsible for certain tasks, and we all responsibly do our jobs without complaint or having a boss or manager watching over our backs-Can most of you really say that about your work enviorment.
As far as a minstrel show, all the waiters call there orders in a verbal shorthand and tend to be as friendly as possible, believe it or not you learn alot from others when you don't feel you have to front and try to look cool, so please don't mistake confidence with "shucking and Jiving.
In closing I want you to know that Camelia Grill is still owned by the same family who for you that that matters , happen to be Jewish, and have never layed off there employies in hard times;Again can you say that about your work enviorment. All the waiters are well educated and have kids and wives that they support,some even have other skilled jobs;Can you say that about your all your old school mates...
So please come on by and leave all your text book politicly correct preconceptions out side and you might gain a little more respect or at least learn somthing real....
re: WHITE WAITER
LOL, I was about to reply to the above messages saying that the last time i was there our waiter was white, and it didn't make a damn difference, same show, different cast. Now, as for what to eat if you do decide to go there, I remembered the pecan waffle from the first time I visited New Orleans -- too long ago to mention, and it was perfectly satisrying. But if you order pancakes or waffles, be sure you make them give you the Steen's cane syrup that's not out on the counter instead of the >>> stuff there.
Y'all should really check the dates on these threads...Camelia Grill now owned by the Byblos people, which really doesn't change much of anything. Very average food, very average experience. Anyone who's visiting New Orleans and contemplating the (usually) long ride out to Camelia should save the trouble and just head to Clover Grill for much better food and a certainly more memorable experience...
900 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Camelia Grill is definitely worth a stop if it fits into your itinerary well or you have a particular interest in checking it out. You won't miss something spectacular if you don't go, however. The omelettes are great and so are the burgers. I'm not a huge fan of the waffles - too thin. The pecan pie a la mode on the grill is also very good. I wouldn't give up a higher end meal just to try out Camellia though.
In 1946, Harry Tervalon Sr. was the first waiter hired at the new Camellia Grill and continued to work there for the next 49 years where he set a standard for service not normally associated with a neighborhood grill. By example, he taught the staff about serving customers with personality and professionalism. This attitude persists today and is not “the shucking, jiving, eye-bucking, and toothy smiling” behavior alleged by a previous poster.
Who can forget Harry’s “weather report”:
"It's chilly in Gentilly, rainin' hard in St. Bernard, raisin' hell in Slidell, two below in Tupelo, little slippy in Mississippi, and all wet in Chalmette."
So to reply to the original post: “Is the Camelia Grill truly an experience not to be missed?”
To use Harry’s words:
"Check it out!"
626 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118