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Two Business Dinners in New Orleans

I'm helping plan two days worth of meetings at the Ritz Carlton, and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for restaurants where we could hold dinners for the group. I went to school in New Orleans for a year, but that was long before Katrina, so I am unsure what restaurants are left and still tasty. A few requirements: must be able to hold a group of between 12-18 people, must have liquor, prefer to be an easy trip (walking, cab, streetcar) from the hotel, and must be able to get out of there with a bill that is under $125 per person including tax, tip, alcohol, etc. This group is not overly stuffy, and this will not be a dinner with solely a business focus but instead will simply be a dinner amongst people who work together and don't get to see each other in person very often. The only cuisine I know of which isn't particularly popular with the group is Asian Fusion, and there are no vegetarian, kosher, or food allergy issues to worry about. Oh, and two members of the group are from New Orleans, and thus probably won't be interested in a gimmicky restaurants such as those of Emeril, etc.

Also, one of my managers suggested we shoot to get a reservation at GW Finns for one of these nights. Does anyone have any comments on that restaurant? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I would go to Emeril's one night and Delmonico's the second night. They would really treat you royally if you dined at both in two nights. Ask for Saleem Nowatz at Delmonico's and tell him Henry McCaslin recommended your group. He will take care of you. Both are a short cab ride from the Ritz. I'm going down next month for three nights at the Ritz and dinner at Delmonico's and Emeril's. Bon Appetit.


    1. I've heard only good things about GW Finns, but have not been there.

      I went to a dinner at Arnaud's with about that number; we had a private upstairs room with access to a balcony, including passed hors d'oevres before the meal. It was $60/person plus drinks, and we still easily made it out of there for < $125 per person. Also consider that this was a hard-drinking crowd on Mardi Gras weekend, and I'm sure your costs would be less. Arnaud's has lots of neat memorabilia to look at upstairs as well. And it's very easy walking distance from the Ritz.

      1. I would not choose either of those Emeril's restaurants...or any of them in fact.

        I think right now the two best restuarants in New Orleans are Restaurant August and Galatoire's (the latter has been up there for as long as I can remember).
        August might push that $125 budget...it would be close.
        Pelican Club may run a close third...and is by far the must underrated restaurant in New Orleans. I would highly reccomend it.

        If you have two people form New Orleans, they probably love Galatoire's.

        Others I would reccomend....Clancy's, Herbsaint, Bayona...

        People may reccomend Brennan's, Emeril's, Palace, etc.....but stay away from tourist stops, they have good food, but you can do better for the kind of money you are looking to spend.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bbares81

          My guess is that yes, they have been to Galatoire's, so I'll check with them about that option, though probably won't be able to consider it if they don't take reservations. And back when I was in New Orleans I ate at Herbsaint with my parents and remember it being a good experience. I'll look into the other restaurants you recommended too. As an aside, I loved Commanders the few times I went there (I'm a vegetarian, picky eater, and all other things that don't fit well with the restaurant vibe in New Orleans) but found that Commanders was one of the few places where I could enjoy a good meal. Additionally, I thought their Strawberry Shortcake was amazing. However, the reviews I've read of it since its re-opening aren't favorable enough for me to want to send this group there, especially since they'll be staying downtown as opposed to in the Garden District. Thanks again for your suggestions and for your insight regarding the two restaurants owned by Emeril. I've never eaten at either so can't speak from personal experience, but I never got the vibe they were "great" places to eat. Instead I thought they were overpriced touristy places that survived on the name Emeril has created for himself (and in all fairness I'm sure there is a good reason why he is so famous so I doubt it is bad food...just perhaps not great).

          1. re: Laura D.

            Not pushing Emeril's necessarily, except to say that we went thinking we were going to get a novelty experience and we were blown away. Exceptional service (I believe they've won James Beard awards for it) and a wine list that one really ought to be able to spend a couple of hours with and the food was exceptional. I've had food as good, but not very often and honestly for far more money than we spent at Emeril's. This was only one experience, but it immediately moved onto our "must return" list when we are back in town, even with all of the other great restaurant options in NO. (In the interests of full disclosure...I can't stand watching the man on television.) So, I wouldn't discard the option just because he's famous...whoever he has minding the store down there is doing a lovely job in my opinion.

            We had a very disappointing lunch at Herbsaint, from a food and especially a serviced perspective. If the service were better, they probably could have made up for the food, but alas. Again, only one experience, and since I was actually far more excited about the food at Herbsaint than at Emeril's the dissapointment is heightened.

            1. re: ccbweb

              Thanks for your honest suggestions too. It sounds like the group will be dining at GW Fin's one night and K Paul's another. Basically, despite my research, it came down to what my boss wanted versus what others might like. Sorry to hear that Herbsaint wasn't overly impressive as it is one of the few places in New Orleans that has multiple vegetarian options.

              1. re: Laura D.

                You're welcome. I do think I'd give Herbsaint another try based on reputation alone. Though I'd have to go without my wife, she's not going back, period. And, I totally get the boss thing, I have to set up 4 dinners a year in New York and SF and we don't ever go with the interesting options I turn up.

                Of course, personally, I wouldn't complain about GW Fin's and K Paul's for dinner.

        2. GW Fins is an excellent restaurant and an easy walk from the Ritz. You can't beat the lobster dumpling app., and the fish dishes are inventive and tasty. My only complaint is the wine prices, but even they fit well within your budget.

          For the other choice, I would stay in the Quarter. While I like Bayona, I do not believe they do tables that large. Antoine's would be my next choice. It has been wonderful in my last four trips in as many months. Lastly, I would only go to Galatoire's if you can sit downstairs, which means sending someone early to grab a table.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pilaf

            I'll explore GW Fins more, as one of my managers suggested it and it sounds like it might work for this group nicely. I'll also look into Bayona and Antoine's as I do want to keep the group in the quarter if possible. Thanks for your thoughts!

          2. Delmonico's has been around NO for a long time and neither Delmonico's or Emeril's are "tourist traps" rather they are fine restaurants much like other fine restaurants in NO. August is a very fine restaurant along with Bayona, Peristyle, Brightsen's and Clancy's. In fact Emeril once told me Clancy's was his favorite NO restaurant. I mentioned his two restaurants because of the size of the group (12-18) and I know from experience Emeril's and Delmonico's would treat your group royally if you were to make reservations for your group for two nights in a row. I have been there many times.

            1. I was just at GW Fin's this past weekend and they had no problem hosting a crowd such as you describe. The food is fantastic, full (and I dare say quite capable) bar in a nice setting that is neither too stuffy, nor too casual. Business Casual attire is standard.

              They specialize in seafood, with 9 out of the 12 entrees being seafood, so that should be taken into consideration, but the other three entrees on the menu are the requisite beef, chicken and pork options for the non-seafood folks.

              I think you should come in under the $125 pp limit just fine, with some room to spare, and have a really enjoyable time.

              GW Fin is located on Bienville, just up from Bourbon. http://www.gwfins.com/

              1. I think it's so super lame to rag on Emeril's restaurants. Sure they're popular with tourists, but they're well-run, the service is great, and the food is excellent. I will never understand why some people hate Emeril so much. How can you give somebody a hard time because he's popular? Give me a break. New Orleans has never needed people like Emeril as much as it does now. Here's a guy who puts New Orleans in the spotlight in front of millions of people every day. So tourists like him. So what? Get over it. And a note to "Laura D.": if you've never eaten at any of his restaurants, how can you pass judgement on them? Just curious.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mississippi601

                  Hi Mississippi,
                  You are right about the fact that I can't rightfully pass judgment on Emeril's restaurants without having eaten at them. To be honest I specifically mentioned that I was looking to avoid Emeril's places (and the like) because of my boss and not because of myself. I won't be at this meeting, I don't have many feelings towards Emeril's places either way, and as long as the people attending this meeting are happy then that is all I care about. I don't think the celebrity chef via a television career as opposed to a culinary one=bad food...it is more that this type of experience wasn't what we were looking to have for this particular meeting. I am in full agreement with you though...if my Louisiana native manager hadn't completely ignored the suggestion I gave her that both of Emeril's places were great then I'd be all for sending the group there to find out. Thanks for your honesty!

                2. Sorry, don't mean to sound bitchy.

                  1. The person who posted specifically requested non-Emeril's restaurants, so I am unsure why this is even an issue on this thread. His restaurants are consistently good, sometimes great...there are better restaurants in the city and the person who posted wanted to here about them.

                    1. Directly across the street is Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House. They certainly could host your group.