Galatoires this Friday-Help!
Going on a last minute trip to NOLA. Haven't been since the storm. We have decided to do lunch at Galatoires on Friday. This will be our first time at the resturant that we have read about for years. Plan on getting there at 11:30 and will try to be seated downstairs. Is it customary to ask for a certain waiter? I have read several post on this board that suggest we do that. Please let me know if we should ask for a waiter and if possible give me a name. Also any suggestions on what to order would be helpful and any other tips would be great. We are also thinking of doing brunch on Sunday but have not decided where. Thanks
I have been to Galatoire's many times before Katrina, and a few times since. I think it's still a delightful restaurant, but there are some changes in service and polish since the storm. Some of the old timers on staff are no longer there, and some of the new wait staff is still getting their sea legs. Service is not always as seamless as it had been in the past, but it's always with a smile, and it's improving. Last time we were there, we had a great waiter who gave us his business card at the end of the meal, saying he's new and looking to establish himself at the restaurant. (Stop and think for a moment--does that happen anywhere else in America?) My advice to you, in light of the fact that there are a few newcomers who would appreciate the chance to serve you, is to NOT request a waiter, but to be as friendly and chatty with your waiter as you'd like. That includes asking "What's good today?" and sitting back and listening. You'll probably end up ordering some version of sauteed fish. (That'd be my recommendation. They do fish well.) The menu is extensive, and the food is rich and delicious, but keep in mind that people do not go to Galatoire's for innovative preparations. The best dish in my opinion is the assorted appetizer plate that includes shrimp remoulade, oysters en brochette, crabmeat salad, and a few other cold seafood preparations. I don't know the name of it, but it's always great.
What people go to Galatoire's for is an experience. Don't think of it as a being paced like a regular meal. And throw out your prejudices against drinking in the daytime. Waste an hour at the beginning of your meal on a couple cocktails (brandy milk punch is a milky concoction for brunch drinking that some people in my family love), maybe ordering the appetizer plate, souffle potatoes, or fried eggplant with bernaise and powdered sugar. A great thing about Galatoire's is, they aren't going to rush you out. I have never seen this happen in my many years of going. People watch to your heart's content. Order more booze. Order your entree. People watch some more. Smile at people when they catch you staring at them--chances are, they were just staring at you. Despite the formality, it's actually a very laissez-faire and friendly place. The hardest part is getting a table. Once you sit down, just enjoy yourself.
You certainly don't have to ask for a specific waiter. I don't go on a regular basis at all, but I always seem to get John when I go. I do suggest listening to your waiter's suggestions about what to order (with one caveat -- do not allow them to "grill" your fish for you as a "light" dish. They do many things well, grilled fish is not one).
I recommend the goute (with an accent on the e, goo-tay) platter, for a taste of a bunch of things, souffle potatoes, and trout meuniere or amandine as an entree. They have good-looking steaks and lamb, also. And do the cafe brulot for afterwards.
If you want fancy brunch, Commander's would be my top choice, if you just want some good breakfast food, try Elizabeth's. I've heard good things about EAT and Petunia's, also.
I agree 100% with everything HalfShell said. I was there pre-Katrina and only knew John to request. He was out so we had Shelley who was excellent and also gave his business card at the end. Don't know if he's still there.
The oysters brochette are a MUST. Simple grilled fish w/ crabmeat topping was fantastic. As HalfShell noted, ask for advice and then follow it. It will be a long, delicious and boozy party.
I always use Shannon. I was there last Sunday for the second time this month and she is just my favorite. You will love her. Shannon only works weekends. When I go with friends who use John, I always find him to be the most popular and hence, the busiest with less patience for people who don't know what to order.
So, what do you order? Get the grand goutee which is a fabulous sampler of all the best creole seafood dishes. It contains the oysters en brochette, the shrimp remoulade, and the crabmeat maison. Order some hot garlic bread too. For your main meal, stick to the freshest fish (Shannon will tell you the best), the lamb chops, or a filet of beef with bernaise sauce. The sides are always good-especially brabant or souflee potatoes and cream spinach. You should be okay going at 11:30 but you could also expect to wait upstairs at the bar. Some people hire men to get there at 5:30 in the morning and start waiting in line. The fewer people you have the easier it is to get a table. I like Sunday evenings much more as the crowd on Friday is VERY loud. Still, it is fun, but expect a lot of loud tables boozing it up all day long. I know you will have a great time.
Thanks to all for the great advice. We arrived at Galatoires at about 11:20 on Friday afternoon. We were seated downstairs and the room was full. It is a classic experience with great service and pretty good food. We drank, laughed and marveled at all that was going on around us. There were old New Orleanans there along with tourist and business people. The wait staff was busy and people were running all around the room. I had grilled fish topped with crab meat. We had oysters en brochette and the great sampler of grand goutee. It was a memorable dining experience.
We ate well all weekend with brunch at Commander's Palace, oysters at Acme and dinner at Delmonico. New Orleans is quite a changed town and our heart goes out to all who lost so much there. The Quarter was quiet and clean and we felt safe there. We ventured on Frenchman's Street to hear some great jazz. The Garden District is still lovely and many people are working on their homes there. I encourage everyone to visit the city and help bring it back. They need our support and business.
There were only two of us. Hubby and me. I am still thinking about the service at all three restaurants. I was amazed at how large the wait staffs were at each restaurant. Commander's Palace was a beehive of activity with all those people running around. There was apparently a room manager and then we had a waiter and he had a helper. Most of the people looked to be college aged. There was only one older waiter in our room. Loved the jazz band for brunch. What a great touch!
thanks for the helpful information, we went there on friday. we (me + eating partner in crime!) arrived at 11:05, and they had already opened the bar upstairs, so there wasn't a line inside. they put down our names, and we went upstairs to grab a bloody mary. at 11:30, they started seating. we had shannon, who was VERY friendly and helpful. we ordered the oysters rockefeller and brochette, salad maison (mixed greens/iceberg with roquefort dressing), lamb chops bernaise and, on shannon's recommendation, the pampano with crawfish tails on top. the brochette was the highlight of the meal--who wouldn't love deep fried bacon? crawfish tails were perfectly cooked, and the lamb chops were medium rare (see picture). we finished with cafe brulot and bananas foster. definitely lots of people watching and drinking.
p.s. if you get the cafe brulot, a pitcher of coffee will be brought over before the liquor. don't do like me, and pour a cup of coffee :) wait for your waiter to come over with the liquor and prepare it at your table...