NOLA, Emeril's or Delmonico?
It totally blows my mind that so many people on this board think that Emeril's is the best experience the 3 restaurants.
For me, it is Delmonico hands down.
I've never eaten at Luke's. I think it is pretty new. I just read a post by another person that said it wasn't up to par with what they'd expect from a John Besh restaurant.
All of the food you'll get at the Emeril restaurants are great. I just think that the atmosphere and service I've always received at Delmonico has been the best of the best - on par with any kind of service you'll get at a Brennan or Besh restaurant.
The atmoshere at NOLA, in my opinion, is too rushed and cramped.
Emeril's is terrific too, I just think Delmonico trumps them all.
I agree with you on Nola but I haven't been to Delmonico (next trip), we loved Emeril's. Delmonico's was his first, correct?
John Besh is now owner and chef at La Provence - fabulous restaurant - I believe he worked under Chris (before his passing). Has anyone been since John took over - Chris made it a success since early 70s.
Sons and one of my nephews visited New Orleans over Memorial Day...we had lunch at NOLA and every one of us thoroughly enjoyed our meal; in fact, they STILL talk about how awesome it was. Specifically, the shrimp & grits are out of this world; tomato & herb soup also fantastic. One son had the gumbo & oyster soup for appetizer and he just went nuts over how great it was. Oh, yes, I had the stuffed chicken wing appetizer upon the recommendation of someone on this board and was not disappointed. That said, I have not been to the other 2 establishments but they seem to get very good reviews on this board. My brother, who lives in Mandeville but works downtown at the Shell Oil building, has been to NOLA and Delmonico's and he says both are fantastic. Delmonico's is a bit more formal, he said.
The one in Vegas actually has a slightly different menu with different preperations than the one in NOLA. Don't get me wrong, both were amazing experiences, just different.
I will say that the mashed potatoes we had in Vegas were some of the best I've had in my life. I was a little disappointed that they weren't the same in NOLA, but the lobster mac and cheese more than made up for it.
Nice to hear. Of Chef Lagasse's restaurants in the City, NOLA is the one we have not made it to. It does not get a lot of love on this board, but I have no clue how good, or otherwise, they are. Service seems to be the biggest issue, but I have no direct experience.
Thanks for taking the time to comment,
I just got back from Vegas last night and went to Delmonico's for dinner Sunday night. Overall it was great. The chateubriand was wonderful and carved right at our table. The bread was so so - nothing special. The same could be said for the sauces that came out with the chateaubriand. The Parmesan chips were amazing! Even the day after since it is a huge serving. We were able to get a good bottle of wine for $40- pretty reasonable. We also had the duck confit as the special of the day- pretty good. Would I go back? Maybe, but that might just be because there are so many places to try out in Vegas. All in all great but not "spectacular".
I would have to agree with the none of the above option others have mentioned. I've only eaten at NOLA, but it was so bad that I don't feel Emeril deserves to get any more of my money.
Here's the experience in relatively chronological order:
I tried to book dinner for two on a Sunday night. The phone was answered by a recording and I sat on hold for twenty minutes before speaking with a person.
When we arrived at our reserved time the host was rude and carried himself like a member of the cast of the Sopranos. We weren't seated until twenty minutes after our reservation time (which was for 9:15 pm on a Sunday night). An awkwardly silent and nervous second host escorted us to the elevator and to our table on the second floor.
We entered the second floor and found an extremely loud and impersonal dining room. There was no music playing in the background to soften the blow. The combination of bad acoustics and a restaurant packed like sardines made it impossible to hear our waiters' suggestions. It had the ambiance of a bar at closing time on a busy weekend night, not a restaurant charging $30 for an entree.
My girlfriend and I were seated at a two top squeezed between two other two tops. There was nothing intimate about it. Everything we said could be heard by the couples adjacent to us and vice versa. The upside is that we learned that we weren't the only diners unhappy with our food (I'll get to the food shortly).
Other notes on ambiance: we kept getting a different server - a total of three over the course of the night. It was a little confusing with each introducing themself and saying that they would be taking care of us - ordering appetizers from one person, drinks from another, and entrees from a third. And then the first server arrives at the end to give us our bill. There were servers and hosts running around everywhere, but that didn't seem to make it any more efficient, just chaotic.
But the craziest thing was their obsession with arranging napkins and cleaning bread crumbs. Our entrees took forever (over a 1/2 hour) to arrive, and in that period I swear at least three servers stopped at our table to either fold our napkins or place them on our laps for us (which made it even harder to have a conversation). One of our servers kept cleaning the crumbs from one side of the table (the seating was so packed that he couldn't reach my side of the table without disrupting the other diners next to us). Finally another server, seeing the crumbs on my side, threw caution to the wind and squeezed his butt between the tables to clean my crumbs. Meanwhile I'm thinking "I'm hungry. I came here for good food. All of this crumb and napkin business is starting to get annoying as the wait grows longer."
As for the food:
We both ordered the gumbo as an appetizer. It arrived lukewarm. It contained shelled shrimp, but for some reason that didn't prevent us from finding other shells in both of our orders - kind of gross biting into a hard shell. Sadly it was the highlight compared to the entrees.
We had a difficult time getting bread. It must have been twenty minutes before it arrived. One of our servers said he needed to take the elevator downstairs so that he could offer us both kinds of bread. He had run out of the jalapeno cornbread and promised to bring us a fresh warm batch. The bread was cold. Maybe I misunderstood what warm meant.
I ordered an $8 glass of Cotes du Rhone (a bottle goes for $3 in France, this is the cheap stuff) to have with my entree. As I mentioned before, we waited a 1/2 hour for our entrees to arrive, during which time I finished my glass.
For the entree I ordered the shrimp and grits and my girlfriend ordered a salad with pistachio encrusted goat cheese. She wanted the special but they were out (though they neglected to take it off of their menu posted next to the front door). I'm not sure why it took a half hour (from when we had our gumbo) for the entrees to arrive.
The shrimp and grits were sad. To their credit the shrimp were of good quality and tasted fine. But the flavor combination of grits, bacon, and the kind of nasty cheddar drool they put on the grits had a strong resemblance to hot dogs. What's more the presentation looked more like the work of a cafeteria cook with one too many squeeze bottles than that of a thoughtful chef. The woman seated next to me ordered the ribs (which she didn't touch) and was presented with a pile of meat and a side of some greenish gruel, some drops and smears of which were burned to the edge of the plate. It looked like leftovers reheated in the microwave. I'm not saying that's what it was. But I was shocked.
My girlfriend's salad was forgettable. The goat cheese was cold and the greens were drowned in vinaigrette.
At this point coffee and dessert were not an option. We wanted to get out of there. In fact, if their angle is to rush people through then I guess the atmosphere is conducive to that - it makes you want to leave.
So why have I spent so many words griping about this dining experience? Probably because I watch Top Chef. I'm kind of pissed that you see a guy like Emeril be a judge on Top Chef, and his own restaurant like NOLA would probably lose restaurant wars. It wouldn't even be in contention.
I watch Bourdain too, and I know he used to dis Emeril, but now speaks highly of his food. This makes me come to the conclusion that probably the only way that you can eat the "real deal" is to know the chef and have him cook for you.
All told, when these celebrity chefs no longer have anything to prove, if given the opportunity they'll just take your money. It made me long for a nice Chili's were the line cooks might aspire to higher things and make a little more effort to impress.
Having missed NOLA, I do not have any firsthand experience, but we normally do a few courses, prior to our mains, so that timing would go unnoticed by us.
The wine is probably US$8.00 at wholesale here, so I doubt that the price would be too far out of line. I did not catch the producer, so I do not know for sure.
As for the cramped tables, well that is a peeve of mine too. I hate for a server's bottom to clear MY table, as he/she serves the folk next to me. You can sweep my crumbs, but it had better be with a table comb, and not your rearend.
The presentations do not sound that good either. That, plus the taste, is inexcusable. At least make it look great.
Still, I have to go, because of the polarization on this board. I've gotta' see for myself and will grade them hard.