Recommendations for a 20-guest grad dinner: Antoines, Arnaud's?
Planning my graduation dinner and I have about 20 guests coming from out of state who've never been to New Orleans. What would be the best place? Arnaud's? Antoine's? It's going to be a Saturday night in May. Thanks.
I'm no expert on either restaurant other than Antoine's food is overrated. Everything tastes like it was cooked in a pound of butter. But the private rooms at Antoine's are very cool and way over the top. If you dine right when they open, they will gladly give you a tour of the whole place which has a lot of pre and post Katrina history. The staff at Antoine's is very attentive and informative. They can easily handle a group your size. I would visit each place personally before deciding.
We were really happy with our meal at Arnaud's. The place was a little stuffy-as in the staff seemed to take themselves a bit too seriously, but the food was good.
I just went to a dinner in an upstairs room at Arnaud's on Friday night. I though it was very reasonable for the Friday before Mardi Gras, the food was good, and our servers were a very fun bunch. We had access to a Bienville St. balcony, where they served a few canapes pre-meal. Then we sat down to eat, and at around 11, they informed us that the people in the room on Bourbon St had vacated and we were welcome to hang out on the Bourbon St. balcony. We had a great time.
Dante's in the Garden District is great and they have plenty of room on their outdoor patio. http://danteskitchen.com/
I also love Jacques Imo's. i don't think you would have a private room though. http://www.jacquesimoscafe.com/
Ralph's on the Park has beautiful private rooms over looking the city park. i know it flooded during Katrina, but they have reopened. http://ralphsonthepark.com/
Court of Two Sisters would also be a nice place, and they also have private rooms.
I would suggest you visit both restaurants and look at which rooms would be available to you. Lock it up early since you'll want it for graduation, wedding season. Get a set menu with a choice of entrée.
I did a bridal luncheon at Antoine's last year and made the mistake of allowing too many choices, even on a set menu, to people who weren't familiar with classic haute Creole food. Too much explaining.
Eat there. Try exactly what you're going to be serving. Pick the specialties of the house. Antoine's invented Oysters Rockefeller. Their Baked Alaska is beautiful. Arnáud's Shrimp Remoulade is fabulous. Make sure your guests get a real taste of New Orleans - not salmon. And don't forget to think about traditional cocktails like Sazeracs, Ramos Gin Fizzes, or Milk Punches to offer before dinner. Why have the same-old, same-old?
If you go to Antoine's, I think the Rex Room might be suitable for your party. It has a long table that should seat all of you. The walls are hung with the robes of former Kings of Rex and the room is fabulous. Perfect New Orleans setting.
And if you're there at night, the ceremony of the Café Brulot Diabolique is a spectacular way to toast your graduation.