Late October Trip Report
- Jen Lehr
We were in NO from 10/25-11/2 and had a GREAT time. The weather was perfect for the first 7 days (low 70s & about 30% humidity)- upper 80s w/98% humidity last two days.
We had been concerned that we wouldn't be able to find anything to eat that wasn't fried or drenched in fat. Not a problem. Here's where we went/what we thought:
We searched long and hard for Johnny's - we had heard their shrimp po' boy was awesome. The place was very busy but not uncomfortably crowded. It did have a greasy spoon feel but the po' boys were very good - generous amount of shrimp - especially with several shakes of hot sauce.
Tried a vegetarian muffuletta (this was spelled differently on just about every menu we saw) at Central Grocery. Not bad, but maybe it just doesn't translate to a vegetarian version well. Didn't get an opportunity to try any others in town.
Uglesich - Well worth the trip! My sister and I had the shrimp uggie and my husband had a shrimp & oyster po'boy - both were delicious. We couldn't resist trying the fried green tomatoes - very tasty, but the tomatoes were more orange than green.......
Galatoire's on Halloween for a big 60th anniversary party for my in-laws (9 people) - we had a lot of fun, but were somewhat unimpressed with the food - the presentation left a lot to be desired. Good food but not great. I had the softshell crab - call me spoiled, but after a lifetime of fresh dungeness crab (we live in Portland, OR) the softshell crab didn't do much for me. My sis had the etoufee (not bad) and Scott had the fish special of the day, which was probably the best thing anybody ordered at the table.
We went to a place called the Alpine (drawn in at first because of the small quiet bar after a crazy first day in town spent checking out Bourbon Street). We ended up checking out the menu and eating there. The blackened shrimp po boy and blackened shrimp fajitas were awesome! The service was good - very casual place and big, tasty bloody mary's. We ended up returning to that bar several times and to the restaurant once more during our stay.
On our anniversary we had made reservations at Bella Luna - we walked up there and looked at the menu and peeked inside - it just didn't seem like our type of place for this kind of evening, so we cancelled them and ended up going to Irene's, which we had noticed many times on our walks (it was only a short walk from our place). They don't take reservations and open at 5:30. We showed up at 5:40 and the place was already full with a short line out the door. We were seated in the piano bar in the back. We ordered a bottle of wine and sipped on that for the hour-long wait - it was very pleasant and the piano player was fun. Dinner was well worth the wait! The mussels were excellent! My husband had a softshell crab dish that was very good, my sister had spicy shrimp with linguine and I had a spicy fish dish in a light cream sauce with roasted peppers and garlic. It was outstanding. Nice wine list too.
On another night when we hadn't figured out where to dine, we just wandered around and found Petunia's - a very nice little restaurant in an old house (817 St. Louis Street) - they are supposedly known for their giant crepes. It was comfy, casual, and the waiter was a hoot! Very personal service. We had the spicy cajun redfish and my sister had the blackened redfish (very very fresh fish of the day). The fish was awesome - the side dishes left a little to be desired - the broccoli was a little overcooked but we were thrilled to find broccoli at all.......it was a very nice dining experience.
One evening we were cruising around and ended up at the Royal Cafe and dined on the balcony. It was a beautiful evening! The food was quite good. My husband and I had the shrimp & crawfish etoufee - I will admit that I might have been taken aback by the semi-pureed nature of the dish if I hadn't already had a zillion shrimp during my visit already - but it was very tasty. My sister had the nut encrusted fresh trout - excellent.
The best po boys we had during the trip were at the Aft Deck Bar next to the Monteleone Hotel front entrance. I had the fried shrimp po boy and my husband had the blackened catfish po boy. They were awesome. The place was never very crowded when we walked by so we never thought to go in there, but our relatives were staying at the Monteleone, and we just ended up there one extremely hungover day. The po boys and a few cold beers made everything much better.
The last day after checking out, we decided to go out to lunch one last time before going to the airport. We ended up at Angeli. It was a very casual place with pizza, sandwiches & salads. We had panini sandwiches that were awesome (mine was artichoke hearts, mozzarella, roasted peppers & basil, I think, and my sister had the portobello mushroom & roasted garlic) and my husband had the mediterranean wrap - hummus, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, tomato & feta......the service was friendly and the prices were very reasonable. We had cruised by Angeli a bunch of times and it was always crowded. Lots of locals seemed to hang there.
We were totally bummed that we didn't make it to Mandina's or Bayona. If we ever manage to make it back to NO, those will be first on the list.
Other points of interest - bars etc.
We were staying near Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. We never ate there, but the people-watching and music were good and they served up great mudslides. We usually don't go for the sweet drinks but a few of these hit the spot.
Speaking of sweet drinks, we stopped in at the Remoulade bar to try the Bayou Self drinks I had read about in previous postings. The bartender got a funny look on her face and told us that they are "really really very sweet" - guess she could tell we're not really the super-sweet drink type - so we opted not to try them.
We went to the Tropical Isle bar and ordered Tropical Itches (we always have this drink at the airport in Honolulu and they're great). Don't try one at Tropical Isle. It was huge, cost $9.00 and was AWFUL. Think red kool-aid with Everclear. Ugh. I ended up throwing most of mine away. This bar is also the place that sells drinks called Hand Grenades - just about every obnoxious college-age kid that was visiting was walking around with one of these (neon green)...
Our favorite daquiri bar hands-down was Daiquiri's Delite - we had coupons which prompted us to try them. Their pina colada and mudslide daiquiris were especially good. We tried several other daiquiri places and didn't like them at all. We aren't big daiquiri people, but for a pick-me-up while out cruising around on foot, they work......
We had a great trip and, since we walked so much, didn't even gain weight. Thanks to everyone for all the great information!
Sounds like you did very well in N.O. I'm only sorry that Galatoire's wasn't a better experience for you. Whenever I've veered from a few dishes at Galatoire's, I've been disappointed. The dishes that never disappoint are the fish made with meuniere or amandine sauce -- trout or pompano. That and the shrimp remoulade make a foolproof meal.
re: Dave Feldman
Add oysters brochette and souffle potatos to your Galatoire's list too!
It is VERY important at Galatoire's to not order right off the menu (many locals refuse to take one) and ask your waiter for suggetions - what's good that night. They always rec. the fish, as mentioned above (had the pompano topped with crabmeat a few weeks ago and it was amazing).
re: Brad K.
Brad K wrote:
>>Add oysters brochette and souffle potatos to your Galatoire's list too!
>>It is VERY important at Galatoire's to not order right off the menu (many locals refuse to take one) and ask your waiter for suggetions - what's good that night. They always rec. the fish, as mentioned above (had the pompano topped with crabmeat a few weeks ago and it was amazing).
I pretty much agre with your post, although the menu itself puts most of the "good" dishes upfront for you, but things like the crab meat topped pompano remain off the menu.
I also believe that to really enjoy New Orleans, you have to a) do a bit of research b) get out of the french quarter.
As to the research, well just look at the follow-up thread on Galatoires. No offense, but I do not think anyone would have reconmended the ettouffe there (maybe we'd have pointed you to Bon Ton). The best part of Galatoires menu is the appetizers and drinks. How you start, or lack thereof, will totally influence your meal. At a lot of other places around time, knowing what to order will greatly influence your meal.
Getting out of the quarter is vital to experiencing New Orleans chow. It's not that there are many great places in the quarter, it is that there are so many great places outside the quarter that they more truly reflect the city's cusine. If you do not have a car and are staying in a quarter hotel, many places are within walking distance, say mothers for poor boys. The aforementioned Bon Ton is also within walking distance of the quarter. Public transportation can also get you easily to some great "neighborhood places". For instance, the St. Charles streetcar will drop you off practically in front of diner vahalla, Camelia Grill. You can take the Magazine street bus to such classics as Casamento's or Joey's K's. For the most part, it is the places outside the quarter that really make new orleans chow special.
Let the good times roll!
re: Vital Information
New Orleans is a weird town that way. Your choice of restaurant is based on what you want to get. At Galatoire's, skip the menu completely and go for the shrimp remoulade, crab, and oysters au brochette for appetizers with fish or whatever the waiter suggests as an entree. At brunch, get the milk punch. At Commander's, stick to the traditional and go with a complete dinner. At Antoine's, know that they are turn of the century (not this one, the one a hundred years ago) and will stay that way.
Vital information is right -- in some places, knowing how to order makes the experience much better. It's kind of a shame for tourists who visit to come away from some of our more acclaimed restaurants and wonder what the big deal is.
Gen, it sounds like you did get a wonderful visit in -- You hit the exact right time of year with the weather. Next time you visit, don't be afraid to explore. Come back soon!
re: Vital Information
well, "de gustibus non est disputatem" BUT----
The great thing about Galtoire's is that is does not give a worm-eaten fig about presentation. This "Presentation" business is overrated. (Maybe OK in sushi). I am sick to death of towers and squiggles and other garbage that detracts from the food. Galatoire's fries (sautees) a fish and puts it on a plate and says: Here! eat it. It is honest.
Now, if you want fawning waiters and goop on your Andean Mountain Lake Prawns with Nepalese chiggers baked in Alaskan Crocus leaves, go elsewhere. But Galatoire's will give you an honest meal--as will Mandina's and Antoine's.
The etouffee has not been as good since Nelson (a waiter) died. The trouble with etouffee today is that people want to make it too damn complicated.
I agree wholeheartedly with those postings that enjoin one to listen to the waiter. But, then, all of you know that already I am sure.
Thanks for coming in to Johnny's. We really try to answer everyone that writes us. The next time you are in please ask for my husband and tell him how you posted it on the net. We get so many people in that it is really still exciting to talk with as many as we can. We are really up for the Super Bowl & Mardi Gras, right after a wonderful Sugar Bowl...GO TIGERS!!!!!!!
Hope to meet you in N.O. someday. Josie, Johnny Jr.'s wife.