Coming in a liitle late on this one. However, we have eaten at Antoine's a number of times. It is still one of our favorite stops in NO. We are not locals but make it to NO for business from time to time. Every visit has been deliteful. Never had the same waiter twice. We always make a reservation and are always seated in the big room. Service is always excellent. Recommend the souflee potatos, the oysters rockefeller, the filet w/ a selection of sauces and the creamed spinich or the brocolli.
Betty's post hits many of the dishes that I believe make Antoine's a must. I go there about every other month, and rarely venture beyond Sazerac's and souffle potatoes to start, then crabmeat ravigote, oysters foch, and oysters bienville, then a filet with marchand du vin, chicken bonne femme and grilled pompano with crabmeat. This order will feed 6 people.
While I occasionally ask for a specific waiter, I have had a variety over the years, and the service has been nothing less than pleasant and efficient. The wine list has many reasonable offerings, both French and California. I've been seated in the front, when I want to see sunlight, in the large room in the middle, and 5 different private rooms. The service and food don't change with the location.
Have a great time. Its a wonderful place.
I don't want to sound as though I'm denigrating your choice of restaurant. It's your money, after all. If you're bound and determined to eat at Antoine's, you have to be prepared to be jerked around like the Mercury astronauts during their training period. The food is not finally the point--you can get better food at Galatoire's or Arnaud's. People don't go to Antoine's for cutting-edge food anymore. Not that you can't get a very serviceable meal. But Antoine's is very much a place that people seem to go just to say they've gone. Don't expect to be dazzled.
Antoine's is so very . . . particular about the way they treat customers. You have to do it their way or not at all. It's very much run for the convenience of the staff, who all seem to act like their days would be so much more pleasant if only they didn't have to interact with a bunch of tourists, who tend to interrupt their bull sessions at the bar.
First of all, you have to make a reservation. You make a reservation, technically, not with the restaurant but with a specific waiter. The waiter acts as a sort of middleman between you and the restaurant. Some names I've heard of in the past are MR. STERLING (first name unknown), GERRY, RICHARD MORELAND, and MATTHEW OUSSET. I don't know if these names are still current, but you can try. If you just call up and let slip that you're not a local, you will be treated like scum. Pretend you live in New Orleans and act like you eat at Antoine's at least once a week. Be authoritative (but pleasant, of course). If you're a good actor, try a New Orleans accent on the phone. Act like you do this everyday, like it's no big deal.
Demand a table in THE ANNEX, where the locals sit. Except no substitutes. The front room is where they put the tourists, and you will be shunned.
Men in your party should wear jackets. Perhaps ties would not be too much. You're pretending to be a local, and they tend to dress up for Antoine's.
When you get there, DO NOT go in the front door. This is a typical tourist mistake, and they use it to weed out the tourists, so they can put them in the front room. Instead, go through the little unmarked door to the left of the front door, and down a little hall. That's the REAL ENTRANCE. Ask for the waiter with whom you made your reservation. They should not put you in the front room, but in one of the back rooms, the "real" Antoine's, if you do everything right. If they try to seat you in the front room, do not sit there. Be firm: "My family has eaten here for generations, and I refuse to sit in the front room," etc. etc. If they say they have no room in the back, they're lying, the place is huge. Get huffy. Threaten to go to Galatoire's. They'll put you in the back, if only to avoid a scene. (You have to be prepared to drop serious cash after such a grandstand manuever, however.)
After you get seated, ask the waiter what's good, then order whatever you want anyway. The Oysters Rockefeller is still better there than anywhere else. Also souffle potatoes (twice-fried so they puff up). Also pompano en papiotte (sp?).
Go out the same way you came in, down the little side hall. If they offer to "show you the restaurant and the wine cellar" they're trying to smoke you out as a tourist: "Already seen it! Beautiful!" The wine cellar isn't a cellar, BTW; it's a long hallway in the back. Ask them casually how many bottles they could fit "in that hallway back there," and they'll really believe you're local.
Hope this helps. Pardon my cynicism, but I've dealt with them before.
"Pardon my cynicism",well, pardon my question: Where in the world are you coming from??!!.
"You have to have a reservation" heck yes you have to have a reservation. I don't know of too many places in the Quarter that don't request a reservation. Why shouldn't they.
"Demand" a table a table in the annex. Gosh, I've been comming to N.O. for a while and I've never met anyone so important that they could "demand" anything like that. You wait in line just like all the rest of us.
I guess the part that torqued me the most was your reference to those of us that must be "pretending to be a local." I suppose that the next time my wife and I come to your city, we should assume that we will be singled out as a tourist and should try to be just like you, a very important and influencial "local" person.
I have a flash for you.
Been to Antoines, dressed in a coat and tie because the dining experience in N.O. deserves it, went in the front door, was not seated in the front room, had a super waiter and enjoyed my meal.
Furthermore, I'm suspect that you're not even a N.O. native. If you are, you sure don't fit the mold. I've followed this site for a long time. The regulars such as Hazelhurst, Hungry Celese, etc. are fair but gracious. They are helpful and certainly non judgemental toward non locals ("tourists").
Granted, I,m just a Detroit Irish holligan that happens to love your city but I don't consider myself a tourist since I keep coming back as do most that visit N.O..
Sounds to me like you probably got what you deserved for being a very unpleasant customer.
re: Sony Bob
I stand behind my post.
On the reservation issue: Galatoire's is first-come, first-served downstairs--you don't NEED a reservation, but you have to wait for a table downstairs if you don't have one.
Antoine's very much DOES have a reputation for stand-offish service and relative contempt for tourists, as opposed to locals. My personal negative experience was not the result of waltzing into the place and making unreasonable demands or acting as if I were better than the staff. I was polite, they weren't. My suggestions were the result of my own negative experiences, and people unfamiliar with Antoine's can ignore them at their own peril. I submitted them so that someone who has never been to Antoine's would not have to learn the hard way, as I did, how to get the best out of the place. It's just that Antoine's especially has to be treated carefully, or a BAD experience will result. And I sincerely believe they're coasting on their reputation, which is sad.
You missed the humor, as well.
Don't be bitter just because I said that a restaurant you like has to be handled in a certain way to get the best out of it. No harm there. Besides, you validate many of my points: you can't just walk in, you have to be dressed appropriately, etc. (also works at many other places in the FQ). No need to get livid.
re: Sony Bob
Usually the locals start with cocktails and an order of souffle potatoes. Then get an assortment of appetizers to pass around. Ex: Oysters Foch, crabmeat ravigote, escargot bordelaise, shrimp remoulade, oysters Bienville. They used to do a mean chateaubriand. I liked one filet mignon, sliced with chopped garlic and a side of marchand de vin and bearnaise sauce. Don't forget to try the creamed spinach...
Well, in my day you got the Oysters Rockerfeller or one of the other oyster or egg dishes as an appetizer and either the Pompano en Papilotte, Pompano Ponchartrain or Chicken Rochambeau accompanied by the Souffled Potatoes as the entree. I remember some people having Bouillabaisse but it has to be ordered in advance (ridiculous, it's easy to make).
And if you were completely decadent or trying very hard to impress, you had a very rich dessert the Baked Alaska, Peche Melba, Cerise Jubilee and some of the very strong coffee.
Their menu is on line. I would go to their web site (search on Google) and check it out, there are some details of all their dishes.