herbsaint, mr. b's, dick & jenny's
- keith k Apr 27, 2001 12:00 PM
people have mentioned these quickly but positively
anybody have anything specific to say about these places?
Mr. B's is one of my favorites in New Orleans. We just ate there Thursday night (4/26) upon our arrival for Jazz Fest, and it was terrific as always. Friendly service, great food. I had the blackened pork tenderloin -- ordered it medium, and ate the first slice, which was fantastic. When I saw the second and third slices were too rare, I pointed it out to the waiter, who whisked them away and returned a few minutes later with apologies and started me over with a fresh new serving of the entire entree and sides (even though I'd already eaten about a third of the sides). My wife had the pasta jambalaya, a long-time favorite that is scrumptious. My only complaint is that it's really very noisy -- hard surfaces and crowds do that. BTW, we also ate at Acme Oyster Bar (also a perennial spot for us), the Redfish Grill (a newer Brennans place on Bourbon that was good but not great), and Palace Cafe (yet another Brennans place -- we ate at 3 not by design, just coincidence -- on Canal which was excellent though pricey). Best of all, though, as always, was the food at the Fest -- crawfish bread, jambalaya, pheasant, quail & andouille gumbo, soft-shell crab po-boy...mmmmm.
While Dick and Jenny's is similar to Herbsaint, Mr. B's is a world apart from both. Mr. B's was the first local spin-off of the Commander's Palace bunch. It occupied a famous restaurant location in the Quarter and all the city waited for it to open. Most were very happy with this upscale bistro. One of the first chefs was Gerard Maras. The dining room is full of glass and brass and the waiters wear traditional undiforms. A delightful place. The food tends to be heavy and attracts those who want a big meal, including lots of businessmen and lawyers. Their Sunday brunch is festive and colorful and highly recommended. People tend to dress up and should. I believe this was Reagan's favorite restaurant as he would stay down the street at the Westin. If we asked him about this today he may say something different.
Dick and Jenny's is for the young and outgoing. Much more casual both in service and in style. Food is lighter with an emphasis on local foodstuffs. No reservations here. You basically show up and wait. Most don't mind as the food is inexpensive and very good. Casual in dress too. Richard Benz though is too good of a chef to continue with this type of place. Chances are he will soon open up a more elaborate showcase restaurant closer to the Quarter or CBD. Catch him while you can. Parking is a problem so take a cab.
Herbsaint has been a let down so far, at least to me. A formula that is being done all over town unfortunately, that of the mid-price casual bistro. If you want Spicer go to Bayona. Can't see Herbsaint sticking around too long. Spicer will not let Bayona suffer and when push comes to shove will direct all her attention to the mother restaurant.
re: Mark T.
Thanks for the reply. My lady and I were down for Jazzfest and ate at Dick and Jenny's with an indigenous friend. Executive Summary: Good but not great, Jaques Imos is 3 times better.
The wait was a tolerable 45 minutes, and the bar made good, big drinks. Decor is weird (I forget what it was, but I remember being distinctly unsatisfied), and makes your eye restless for something satisfying to land on. They would do better with plain painted walls.
Apps were the strength of the meal: spinach salad w/pinenuts, feta, & caramelized onions was great. The fried green (you say) tomatoes were awesome, best I ever had. Sweetbreads in a delicious carmel sauce were killer.
Happy Anomoly: very decent bread (unusual in NO), do they make it themselves?
Entrees: ss crab was good. black variant of the illegal redfish with wild mushrooms and asparagus was really nice (and gorgeous). smoked shrimp and scallops with the oyster brie beggars purse was good but not great, the shrimp and scallops were not noticeably seasoned or interesting, to my taste, perhaps it was too subtle for me! The oyster brie was, well, oyster brie, a runny little package of cheese. Didn't float my boat, but I imagine cheeselovers dig this.
Dessert: banana creme brulee was the big winner, pecan pie not bad either. Good wine recommendation from bartender. Slightly weird waiter but good service all round.