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Tujaques -- feh!!

  • s

That's the sound I felt like making while eating at Tujaques on Saturday evening. The only reason we ate there was because my husband had been given an $80 gift certificate to the restaurant and it was about to expire on Sunday, so we didn't want to waste it. My husband said his food was mediocre. Mine was downright awful.

First course was about five tiny mushy thawed shrimp on lettuce with remoulade sauce. The sauce was fine. Second course was so-called crab and corn bisque. The only trace of crab in mine was a bit of shell, and instead of cream, the soup was thickened with cornstarch. The serving was about 1/2 cup. After that came the famed boiled beef brisket with horsradish sauce. I know it's traditional but to me it is simply stringy bland overcooked beef. My husband ate mine.

He chose the crawfish bisque for his entree and thought it wasn't bad, but I had the "shrimp bordelaise" served over pasta. The shrimp tasted old and funky. I took one bite and had a hard time swallowing, and then there was that unpleasant taste that lingered. Even the sauce tasted funky. My husband tasted a shrimp and agreed that they weren't good. To the restaurant's credit, the waiter inquired about our meals and we told him about the shrimp, and he offered to bring something else, but by that time I had lost my appetite. A little later he brought a new plate of shrimp bordelaise and I tasted one shrimp and it was slightly better, but I really didn't want it. The owner came over and apologized and said that the first dish "had too much thyme in it." Sure.

The bread pudding at least cleansed my palate a bit, and they took my entree off the bill, so our gift certificate covered the meal and two drinks, and left us only with the tip to pay. Too bad we didn't just let the gift certificate expire.

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  1. Interesting observation. My wife and I are coming to New Orleans this weekend, and Tujaques was on our list for dinner either Friday or Saturday. I hope your experience was the exception rather than the rule. Maybe your post will generate some more observations/opinions. Should we delete Tujaques from our list??

    6 Replies
    1. re: David
      h
      Hungry Celeste

      It's definitely not one of my favorites, though I do think the bar has a cool, antique vibe. I go there with my mother for nostalgia lunches and b/c she loves boiled beef. I wouldn't choose it myself--boring menu and (mostly) boring food.

      1. re: David

        I would definitely take it off the list. If you want classic New Orleans food, Galatoire's would be a much better choice. The dreadful shrimp could have been an exception, but the rest of the mediocre food is, I'm pretty sure, the norm now.

        1. re: David

          I'd also recommend NOT going to Tujague's. I think it's one of those tourist traps that only attracts people because of its location and it's (formerly good) reputation. It wouldn't be in my list of Top 200 restaurants in the area and it won't make a good impression. Places in/near the quarter that you might want to try: Galatoire's, Bayona, Marisol, Muriel's, G.W. Fins, Bella Luna, Palace Cafe, etc.

          If you want to take a cab, street car, or drive: Gabrielle, Dick & Jenny's, Brigtsen's.. and a hundred or so others...

          1. re: David

            Yes, delete it. There are 100 better choices.

            1. re: David
              t
              Tha Groovin' Gourmet

              With only 2 nights in town, there are plenty of better choices.

              If you've not been, I would certainly give Brigstsen's some serious consideration. The pinnacle of modern Louisiana cuisine IMNSHO.

              1. re: David

                Can't really say, as it was so very long ago, that we last dined there. It WAS a good restaurant once. Maybe the laurel branches are getting worn out?

                Then, the food was good, and the service very good. The venue was worth a few "bonus points," but times do change.

                I'd look to the locals for an update. This review does not bode well.

                Most of all, enjoy,

                Hunt

              2. Come on everyone, lets be fair. Tujaques is one of our oldest and traditional. It would be a shame to let one bad experience spoil the great things it has done in the past. Lets give them a chance, bring things like this to their attention, they will correct it. I recall many years ago, the complaint about Tujaques were the waiters. The old liners could not be fired, so as they retired new waiters were brought in and problem was solved. Does the Gichet family still operate it?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Wendel

                  Why on earth would they not correct the waiter problem?

                  1. re: Bob Ferell

                    Story goes that the waiters had been with the place from back in the days of the great depression. They worked only for tips and no salary and even gave some of the tips to the owner in order to keep the place going. After the hard times were over they were promised to have a job at Tujacqes for life. The Owner put it in his will. Thus, his son and grandsons who ran the operation honored his wishes and put up with the rude waiters.

                2. My son and I ate at Tujaques for lunch a couple of months ago and while it wasn't the best meal we had while we were in NO, (that would have been the dinner we had at Clancey's) it was by no means awful. In fact we enjoyed it quite a bit. What I liked was the old time feel and service. The service was very good and reminded me of going out to eat with my grandparents when I was a young child decades ago.

                  1. Well past the time of this post, but this popped up when I was looking for something on Tujaques to send someone. Why in the world would anyone who knows anything about Tujaques walk in and NOT order the boiled beef? At least one of you? That is the only reason to go to Tujaques. It is a fabulous New Orleans restaurant, but please- there specialty is the boiled beef and it is outstanding. Go to the bar and have a boiled beef sandwhich. Feh? Please!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gimmetheold

                      And you can get the shrimp remoulade at the bar as well. And that bar is truly a place to linger for a little while.

                    2. Either my post was deleted, or did not go up.

                      I'm sorry to hear the report. We had (many decades ago) quite a few good to very good meal there. Have not gone back, since we moved - 1980. Still, from those days, it held a warm spot in our hearts.

                      Seemed that whenever we dined there, the main was chicken. I would rather have had seafood, but that is life with such a restaurant. Still, the chicken was always good.

                      Sorry that it has fallen down. Have not seen them mentioned much, so there may be a reason.

                      Hunt

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        UH, Bill--------Do you realize the negative post you're answering was posted in 2004?

                        1. re: Plano Rose

                          Had not checked the date - duh!

                          I wish that this board had the date of initiation listed on the Board page, like the Adobe forums do. There are other great things about the CH layout (and I recommend these to Adobe all of the time), but when old posts pop up from the grave, I often miss that.

                          Thanks,

                          Hunt

                      2. I just wanted to make a note that I went there in 2007 and had a great time. This restaurant has one of the most unique atmospheres I have ever been to.
                        ---
                        My food review would not suit most of you, as I got the vegetarian option, but just so you know ...

                        They were polite about providing a non-meat choice and I found the entree of vegetables and pasta with tomato sauce to be quite tasty, spicy and interestingly seasoned. They brought my alternate courses to match my friends so I did not feel left out, and the dessert was amazing. The cocktails were also excellent. It's obviously not a vegetarian restaurant and their specialties are all meat-based, but they did a good job in making me satisfied and comfortable, which can be a rarity anywhere these days.

                        That being said, my four friends, who are all serious NYC foodies were all very pleased by both the presentation and the flavor of the selections. Very, very pleased !
                        -----
                        Perhaps they have heard some of the regulars and implemented changes since 2004. I don't know. I do know that next time I go back, this place is one place I will definitely go back to. I just thought it unfair to see these old negative postings for a place our whole party truly enjoyed.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: milovoo

                          Cant say anything about the food never tried it but the antique stand up bar only with the 250 year old mirror imported straight from france rocks.

                          1. re: milovoo

                            Just as a further update, we rented out one of the rooms and had the rehearsal dinner for our wedding here (Oct '09) and again the food was excellent and all 24 people had a great time. The brisket and the shrimp remoulade were both lauded and the overall atmosphere was all we could have asked for. Oh, and the dessert - bread pudding with bourbon sauce, wonderful.

                            (they were also accommodating to our 3 vegetarians and when making the reservations they were friendly and easy to work with)

                            I still think this is one of the most interesting and enjoyable restaurants in NOLA, and especially after this last visit I would list it among my all time favorites.

                            -----
                            Tujague's
                            823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

                            1. re: milovoo

                              I like it for lunch, it has a bit of a Galatoire's type vibe in the dining room, what with the white tablecloths and all. But I don't like it for dinner.

                              -----
                              Galatoire's Restaurant
                              209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                            2. I love the bar there...so historical and a great vibe. But to me..the food is just a big disappointment and there are at least 50 restaurants in Nola that I'd choose before it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nikinik

                                The bar is awesome. especially on a hot summer day! I can't tell you how many times I have snuck into the cool darkness of the bar and met quite a few interesting characters. (During Tales of the Cocktail esp.) The food doesnt do it for me but it is one of my all time favorite NOLA bars!

                              2. There are three good reasons to go to Tujague's. First is its status as an old and traditional New Orleans restaurant. Another is the bar, where one can have an excellent cocktail and enjoy some top-flight people-watching. Third, and most important to chowhounds, is the outrageously good chicken bon femme, a classic New Orleans dish which is crispy, succulent, and heavy with garlic and parsley. In my mind, Tujague's prepares the best version of this great dish in New Orleans; it has been delicious each time I've eaten it. Also, I've been told that one can order a plate of dandy fried chicken in the bar at lunch, but I've never had it.

                                1. After reading all the posts I wonder how truly busy they stay. I love the atmosphere of the place....so Old New Orleans. I don't know this to be true but I imagine they must use the same recipes they always have, but it seems to me that in order to be successful one must somehow keep up with the times and perhaps they could get a really good chef in there to raise the quality of their food and to tweak their recipes to make them more flavorful. I've always been told to order the Chicken Bon Fon, which is not on the menu....why is that?