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Aug 21, 2002 12:58 PM

Herbsaint or Cobalt?

  • c

I am a die hard Bayona fan with only 2 nights to eat out in NOLA. One night is already reserved for Peristyle. I'd like to try one of Susan Spicers new places - Herbsaint or Cobalt. Has anyone been to either one?

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  1. n
    Neither, you'll be disappointed.

    Susan Spicer has spread herself too thin in the NO culinary world. At least that hack Emeril doesn't even pretend he cooks at his restaurants anymore.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Neither, you'll be disappointed.

      Cobalt is closed and thankfully Spicer is no longer a Herbsaint partner. Donald Link does a wonderful job at Hersaint without her. The food is excellent.

    2. I don't agree that Spicer is trying to do too much. Bayona remains wonderful, time and time again. But I believe that, at least with Cobalt, she only consults on the menu, and nothing more. I have had one meal there and it was nothing to speak of. The menu items sound like someone is trying a little too hard (e.g. I recall the bbq duck tostada with goat cheese/bean spread). Herbsaint is a step above, though nothing on par with Bayona, if that is your gauge. Their duck gumbo is equal to the gumbo ya ya at Mr. B's and I recall enjoying some very good appetizers a few weeks back. Admittedly, I have only been there at lunch, so my sampling of the menu is somewhat limited. If I were you, I'd stick with Bayona, with Herbsaint as the second choice.

      1. I have been to Herbsaint twice and thought it was great. But it is nothing like Bayona. It is Bistro food, of which I am a great fan.

        Others on this board and elsewhere have knocked it. Perhaps they are correct.

        I would say that if your interest relates to Susan Spicer, Herbsaint is not where you ought to go. If you like comfort food with a French accent, it is a very fine place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Abner

          I loved Herbsaint. Everytime I passed by Cobalt it never seemed to be open. We stumbled on Herbsaint for lunch and loved it so much we made reservations for our final dinner in New Orleans. I highly recommend the Eggplant Caponata as an appitizer and I really liked the Herbsaint Shrimp and Tomato Bisque! I loved the atmosphere and the Wait Staff. You wont be disappointed!

        2. Herbsaint may be spending too much time reading its press releases etc. We ate there Saturday evening at 8:00Pm. Do not for any reason let them seat you in the second dining room. It is the land that waiters forget. Service was very slow (the main dining room was not full), food was not hot (rib eye was done as odered but had been sitting, and frites were warm and not hot. A member of our party ordered the Louisiana shrimp with scallion spoon bread. The shrimp were tough and tasted of iodine. They were sent back and the rib eye was ordered in its place. It came piping hot with frites that were really crisp and super hot.
          There were supposedly two people waiting on our table, but we never saw them for most of the night. I spoke to the manager, but he seemed more concerned about getting his computer system to reboot, so he would not have to write cc bills by hand.
          Sometimes fame can spoil a good thing.

          7 Replies
          1. re: slowfoodie

            I ate there Friday night and had the complete opposite experience. Everything was terrific. Cobalt is long gone, now Luke.

            1. re: slowfoodie

              Sorry you had bad address the iodine shrimp thing: the flavor is caused by the shrimp's diet. Sometimes, the iodine smell is present when the shrimp are raw, but most often, it can only be detected after cooking. In a lifetime of cooking, eating, and (occasionally) trawling for shrimp, I still can't reliably tell you when the shrimp will taste of iodine, except that it is more common in brown shrimp than white. It is not an indicator of poor quality product or inferior handling; it's just a natural, biological condition.

              1. re: slowfoodie

                Wow, this totally reflects our experience. I was there with a large group of foodies when we visited for Jazz Fest, and our service experience was so bad that we had a hard time enjoying our food, which was delicious. Admittedly, handling a large group for the second seating, but they sat us down OVER AN HOUR after our reservation time. Apparently the large group before us wasn't budging. To me that speaks to bad reservation management. To make matters worse, the service didn't recognize our discomfort AT ALL. Not an apology, not a comped bottle of wine or dessert, nothing. No, in fact, after giving us our menus, the waiter disappeared for 20 minutes before coming back to take out drink orders. Nothing like 10 grumpy customers to guarantee you a nice (small) tip!

                It was just awful, more so because we were coming from out of town, and really looking forward to trying Link's restaurants.

                Happily, our NOLA restaurant experience was redeemed by Cafe Atchafalaya. We had a fantastic brunch there, despite the fact that they were also catering at one of the main stages at the festival. The service was prompt and friendly, and the food was delicious. It was definitely our favorite meal outside of the fairgrounds.

                1. re: ksherk

                  If you want to dine out at a popular restaurant during Jazz Fest, at 8:00 p.m. no less, you should expect to wait, and an hour isn't out of line. I'm not saying it's pleasant, only that it's something you should expect at a time of year when we have tens of thousands of tourists in town to enjoy the fest and eat out at our better restaurants.

                  I'm not sure what you expected them to do, given that it was a packed restaurant, and your wait wasn't unusually long. It's a shame you took your displeasure out on the wait staff by leaving a small tip, but I'm glad you had a better experience at Cafe Atchafalaya.

                  1. re: Robert Peyton

                    What can I say? I recommend those restaurants that treat all of their patrons well, regardless of whether they are locals or tourists, and I will not recommend those restaurants that don't, or that can't manage their bookings. It's not like this is the first year for Jazz Fest, nor is this Link's first restaurant.

                    By contrast, Timothy Howard at Cafe Atchafalaya was running back and forth between Jazz Fest and his restaurant (they were the caterers at the Acura Stage), and you'd never know it. From table to bar to owner, they were all great, and I look forward to going back.

                  2. re: ksherk

                    You may have thought you left a small tip, but Herbsaint (as do many rest.) add an 18% gratutity to parties of 7 or more. It is printed on their menu. Having said that, we dined with a party of 7 and it wasn't added in. Guess it depends on the server. BTW, being local, we avoid many rest. during big events due to over crowding and unavoidable long waits. Jazz fest brings an extra 400k to town.

                    1. re: ksherk

                      It doesn't seem to me that you were treated badly, just that you came to a restaurant on one of their busiest nights. Did you complain to your servers so that they had a chance to remedy the situation, or just suffer in silence and them stiff them?

                  3. COBALT has been replaced - It's LUKE

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jamielynn

                      Just to update since this is a very old thread: It is indeed LUKE, John Besh's attempt at a Brasserie - no longer Susan Spicer. I ate at Bayona two nights ago which Ms. Spicer has reopened and was great - ate last night at Besh's Restaurant August which was perhaps even better if different (more high-concept). Both very, very good at what they do, the food, and the atmosphere if the latter is different - more "good times" at Bayona, more of what you might expect at a more classic "French" (and I do not mean Cajun) restaurant at August. Will post more when I sample Luke in the room that formerly housed Cobalt, to which there is no relation.