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Thinking way ahead for JazzFest--when to reserve?

  • j

A Philly Chowhound asks: So, how early do I have to get on the phone to make dinner reservations for my May 2002 trip to NOLA for Jazzfest? (And please don't say I already missed my shot!)

Second question: For most of my 5 days in town, I'll be by myself, so where are the best places to eat solo? I did this once before and had some hits and some rotten misses. All suggestions welcome. (Of course, if someone wants to go out to eat with me, you're also welcome!)

Thanks!

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  1. v
    Vital Information

    Where did you eat solo last time? I believe a lot of New Orleans places are VERY condusive to solo dining. Will you have a car?

    I'll re-respond after I know where you DO NOT want to go, but here are some duh! suggestions that work well for a solo diner:

    - Camelia Grill (especially easy to get past the line when you are solo)

    - Mother's

    - The counter at Emeril's (no longer the place, however, to put leftovers)

    - napolean house - ask that they serve the mufalata un-heated!

    - coffee and beignets - if you have a car, morning call is better and more "new orleans" even though it is in the suburbs.

    Rob

    1 Reply
    1. re: Vital Information
      i
      Isabella Maja

      "- coffee and beignets - if you have a car, morning call is better and more "new orleans" even though it is in the suburbs.

      Rob"

      Rob,
      your post really has peaked my curiosity. As a New Orleans native, I am wondering what you find more "New Orleans" about Morning Call than Cafe Du Monde. Are you are visitor of New Orleans or a local? Just wondering ;-))

      thanks!
      Isabella

    2. Julie, please read my post on the D. C. board entitled "Sometimes A Great Experience Is More Than The Restaurant." You'll have to scroll down a bit but it involves what amounted to a 20 course meal sitting at the bar at Gary Danko...alone.
      I travel over 125 days a year on business throughout Europe and the U. S. Don't ever, ever stop to think that dining should be different if you are alone. I have made reservations for one a number of times at Michelin three star restaurants in Europe. Of course meals are better when shared (my wife is jealous of some of the meals I've had without her!) but at least business is creating the situation where you can have a dinner that you otherwise would not be able to have.
      Go anywhere in New Orleans. If you feel uneasy at first you'll get over it. Sitting alone at the counter is no different than sitting at a table whether in Starbucks or in Commander's. People will not pass judgment on you for dining alone. They won't think you have "cooties" or something seriously dysfunctional about your personality. Rather they'll respect and applaud you for your self assurance and comfort in dining alone. More than likely they'll know that you are travelling. Most importantly, you'll never see any of them again!
      So go make a reservation for one. In the dining room.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Joe

        Yikes! I didn't mean to appear so fearful of solo dining, since I do it an awful lot myself too. I travel overseas about 6x a year for business and don't have issues with the concept in general. However, there are a few things that I need to be conscious of:

        1. If there's no bar to eat at, the prospect of a table for one can often result in a fairly grumpy maitre d' or waitperson. If that "one" is female, multiply that reaction by two. Sad but true. Smaller meal, smaller check, smaller tip, same use of the table. It's understandable, if irritating. My New Orleans example: Palace Cafe (Canal St.). The most dreadful service I have had in a long time.

        2. I'm 5'2" and 110 pounds. While being so small can be a blessing in a cramped airline seat, it's no fun if you want to order an appetizer, an entree, AND a dessert. At Emeril's, I did sit at the bar and had great service from the grill chef, but almost started to cry when I saw the mountain of food he expected me to eat! The moral here: small portions are friendly for solo diners! I want to taste as much as possible!

        So those are basically my criteria (apart from the usual Chowhound desire for fantastic food). In order to best utilize your fine assistance, here are some of the other places that I've been already in your lovely city:

        lunch at Napoleon House (ate a muffaleta)
        breakfast at Old Coffee Pot (great callas--I almost exploded)
        dinner at Olivier's (excellent gumbo, but I couldn't fit in much more)
        breakfast at Magazine Po' Boy Shop (grits grits grits!)
        dinner at Palace Cafe (see above...can't even remember what I ate because I was so annoyed by the service)
        dinner at Emeril's (good, but the food wasn't so fabulous that I wanted to eat a bathtub full of it)

        I tried for Bayona, but when I went they had just had a fire and were closed for repairs.

        OK, other suggestions? And how about my reservations question?

        (By the way, I did happen to read your Gary Danko post a while ago and was very impressed. I frequent the DC/PA/Mid-Atlantic boards since I live in that area, and also spent time on the San Francisco board when I was planning a trip out there last August. Thanks for your helpful info!)

        1. re: Julie

          We live in Reston. Good luck in your travel. Honestly I hate eating alone. But I've grown used to it and accept it. The only time it really bothers me is when I have a truly exceptional meal because that's an experience I want to share. I'm fortunate in that almost every great meal that I've had-if it was alone-I've been able to return later with my wife to try to recreate it. (Free airline tickets are wonderful!)
          At Gary Danko's I actually called her from the bar on my cell phone (BRIEFLY-I hate it when someone talks on the phone in a restaurant!!!) just to introduce her to the couple I'd met. It was an experience that I had never expected.
          I've sat at the food bar at Emeril's when he was still there and had wonderful meals. In a post below I honestly feel that it has slipped today.
          Your first point is a very good one. I apologize for not considering or anticipating it.

          1. re: Julie

            I believe it would have been Peristyle, not Bayona, that was closed for repairs after a fire. As far as I know Bayona has not had a fire. Both are open now.

            Many restaurants do not take reservations more than a month in advance. You will need to check with the individual restaurants to find out what their policy is.

            1. re: Sarah C

              You're right, it was Peristyle (this was several years ago). I just went back and looked it up. Anyway, thanks for your suggestions.

        2. Check out my reply for the Majumdar Bros. I go there all the time alone on business and don't have a
          problem.

          If you want to hit a good place for tunes during the week be sure to go to the Mid City Lanes.

          Also get on the Jazz fest web site and see if you can find who will be playing where between weekends, these gigs are usually the best. I did that and wound up at the South Street Hall (I am a little foggy on the exact name, but I think that's right) one time. There was a great performance by some of the Mardi Gras Indians, Dr. John, Neville Bros., Rocking Dopsie and several others. In fact there were a couple of the Neville's were right there at the bar rubbing elbows with us normal folk before the performance.

          Laisse les bons temps roulez!

          1. g
            Gerald McGowin

            We'll be there the second weekend. Great food at Jazzfest and pretty darn engrossing. The music is truly wonderful. Not sure if you're into the scene that you'll want to go out for dinner all that much.

            You're more than welcome to come to dinner with the love of my life, Sandi, and myself. We usually go to places we've been before (Uglesich's, Mr. B's, Upperline, Commander's) and places we've never been (stand by for further developments).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gerald McGowin

              Gerald, you are a prince. I'll be there the second weekend as well. I'm going to hold you to that promise if you are serious! Keep in touch!

            2. Julie:
              As soon as you know what hotel you are staying at, call and ask the concierge to make the reservations for you.
              Commander's Palace, Palace Cafe, Bayona, Peristyle, and Bridgsens are all real good.
              No reservations policy at Irene's Cuisine and of course, Ugelsich's, but go off hours and you should be OK.