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Best 'Entertaining high-brow clients' Place in NOLA?

l
larspeart Jun 13, 2007 03:38 PM

Greetings, fellow foodies/Chowers! I am entertaining between 14-18 University Presidents and Law Library directors in July at a conference. I have been to town several times, but not in a few years, so I am way out of the foodie scene there. Where would be a good place to take a group of 'Educated Tourists' for a really bang-out 'OPP' (Other Peoples Money) dinner in town? I know there are LOTS of places, but I want something really stand-out.

I am looking to, if possible (and it should be, considering the place), stick to a quintessentially Creole/Cajun theme to the cuisine. Anyone can get a good steak anywhere, and these folks I am sure have had many. Atmosphere and ambience are both important, and the abililty to handle a medium-large group is as well. Money is (virtually) no object.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Places to consider? I want and need this night to really shine!

Thanks!
Kris

  1. k
    kpangaro Jun 13, 2007 03:44 PM

    Take them to Brigsten's. Frank (the chef) is an amazing talent and a generous guy. He donated time and food and love to my relief kitchen in New Orleans last Spring and had some of us to dinner at his restaurant, as well. Great guy and food, authentic to the area's tradtions and feel.

    1. bellyworth Jun 13, 2007 03:52 PM

      Bellyworth loved "Murial's" on Jackson Square.
      Here is the website- http://muriels.com/html/home.html
      Service and food was to die for "Murial's" was the culinary highlight of Bellyworth's 9 day NOLA food binge. Emerils in the warehouse district was also good not so much creole style.

      BW

      PS- if you read the rewiews on city search (not as smart as chowhounders) you'll see 15 reviews all good, 14 of them say excellent.

      1. j
        JGrey Jun 13, 2007 04:35 PM

        Well, there are the big 3, Galatoire's, Arnaud's and Antoine's. Arnaud's has private rooms upstairs, some including a balcony for pre-dinner cocktails and hors d'oevres. Those would be the classic Creole places. I love Galatoire's and Arnaud's, but I think Arnaud's might work better for your group.

        For more modern Creole, it's hard to beat the food and ambience at Commander's. It's well-known for a good reason. K-Paul's has nouveau Cajun, but the atmosphere might be a little casual for your purposes. Food is outstanding. I'd disagree about Muriel's, the building is really neat, and the food can be quite good, but definitely not a knockout.

        Finally, there's August. I don't know if it's Creole, but he uses many many local ingredients, the atmosphere is nothing but classy, and the food is arguably the best in the city. Have fun planning!

        9 Replies
        1. re: JGrey
          l
          larspeart Jun 14, 2007 12:45 AM

          See I haveheard mixed reviews on all of them. Lemme clarify. They are ALL 'good' by any definition. Galat's I have heard is stale, past it's prime, and becomng the creole equivilant of a Mortons steakhouse. With the moder creole idea, most of the menus and wine list suggest that 'modern creole' is little more then classic french, with crawdad's and a little gumbo as the soup. I get leery.

          August isn't from their menu or what I read, creole, but may be. Thoughts gang? My HUGE problem is that Brigsten's is telling me when I call that a party of even 15 ( on the lower end) is likely too many for them to take in on a Saturday, regardless of moeny. ARGH!!!

          1. re: larspeart
            h
            Hungry Celeste Jun 14, 2007 08:09 AM

            I think that August is perfect for this group. It's not old-line creole, but rather excellent new American cooking with Louisiana inspiration & locally sourced ingredients.

            Alternatively, you could do a lot worse than Commander's; the place is huge and can accomodate groups without batting an eye--they could provide you with a private room should you want one. If you want hard-core Louisiana, then take 'em to K-Paul's; be warned, it's not a diet friendly place.

            Brigtsen's is great, but too small to do justice to a large-ish group, I think. It's a nice, chef-owned, smallish place....cozy, quaint, but not a lot of "wow" factor.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste
              MMRuth Jun 14, 2007 08:11 AM

              My husband entertains a great deal on business trips to New Orleans, and August is one of his favorites. I've not been post-Katrina, but I very much enjoyed the food and the room was lovely.

              1. re: MMRuth
                c
                cor Jun 14, 2007 08:29 AM

                August.
                OR
                Arnauds.

                1. re: cor
                  j
                  jamy Jun 14, 2007 08:52 AM

                  I'm going to join the votes for August.

                  Brigtsen's, though I love it, is probably not gilded enough for this group.

                  Of the three old-line creoles you mentioned, Antoine's seems to have the most post-storm buzz. Though "stale" is sort of an odd term for Galatoire's. I'd be more inclined to say "staid" or "frozen in time."

                  As alternates, you might consider Broussard's, or a private reception/dinner upstairs at the Napoleon House.

                  If you're looking for a little less stuffy, maybe consider Cochon. Very Louisiana, still pretty hot off its opening.

                  1. re: jamy
                    h
                    Hungry Celeste Jun 14, 2007 09:02 AM

                    Upstairs at the Napoleon House is lovely for a small wedding, but the food isn't special. It's good enough for reception food, but ordinary fare, IMHO.

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste
                      l
                      larspeart Jun 14, 2007 09:06 AM

                      Great suggestions guys! Some names keep popping up, and there are some good new ones on there as well. Making this harder rather then easier, haha! Trying to get an idea of narrowing this down to 2-3 now. Brigsten's said they can't do a group of that size, which bums me out, because the menu was the fav I looked at so far.

                      1. re: larspeart
                        malenky Jun 14, 2007 10:15 AM

                        August is great for what you want. We often enteratain out of town professors at August. For a large group they have a wonderful upstairs room that is just fantastic with completely exposed brick walls and a great view. If money is no object, see if you can rent out the upstairs penthouse for an hour to do cocktails before dinner.

                        1. re: malenky
                          t
                          Tonto Jun 14, 2007 12:40 PM

                          Might Clancy's work or Gautreau's

        2. k
          kpangaro Jun 16, 2007 12:05 AM

          The food at Stella is exceptional, great wine list and wonderful service. The room is hideous. I don;t know if your group will care about that or not, but the decor is borderline ridiculous.

          1. Bill Hunt Jun 18, 2007 09:49 PM

            For a similar type group (hospital CEOs/CFO's/COO's - you know the O-zone) from around the US, I got us into Commander's. It was a party of 15 and all, even the vegan, had a wonderful time. Great food, great service and a memorable evening. Only little problem was when one of the guests, from Boulder, CO, asked if they had a "Healthmark" menu, and the waitress replied, " dawling, this is New Orleans. We don't even know what 'Heathmark' is!"

            I still get cards from these folk, telling me what a wonderful occasion that was, and it's been some years now.

            OTOH, I have to admit that we are doing a group of 10 at Brigsten's early next month, when we come over, and SO-O looking forward to it.

            Hunt

            1. g
              gginnola Jun 18, 2007 09:55 PM

              You really can't go wrong with Commander's. They have more than enough room for your size party, and has been mentioned already, could even get you a private room if that's what you want. I've never had a bad meal there. Pretty much all of them have been exceptional.

              6 Replies
              1. re: gginnola
                m
                marchperson Jun 19, 2007 06:20 AM

                The food at Stella! is wonderful, but bring a whole lot of OPM with you.
                I disagree respectfully about the room. The room that fronts Chartres Street is nice. The other room is large and noisy, though. They do have a tasting menu that is $95 per person without wine. The wine pairings are $75 a person. After ordering a la carte we wished we had done the tasting menu.

                My favorite is Commander's. I would take my guests there.

                1. re: marchperson
                  Sahel578 Jun 19, 2007 10:14 AM

                  I have to vote for Stella as well. I was just there friday night, for the second time in three years and its still just amazing. I also vote for the tasting menu. (But maybe pass on the wine pairing, as the other tables that had ordered it were completely sloshed. One lady at an adjoining table kept sticking her fork in her mouth an imitating a walrus, hahah)

                  1. re: Sahel578
                    m
                    marchperson Jun 20, 2007 01:58 PM

                    I was there Friday night, too! (June 15th) I was not the lady who imitated the walrus. (in fact everyone at our table was really dignified and polite) We had the table next to the hostess stand so we felt that we were on display. Everyone who came in after us had a good look at our food! I didn't like the table they gave us, but the food was superb. and...it was an excellent early
                    Father's day celebration for my husband.

                    1. re: marchperson
                      paz5559 Jun 20, 2007 06:34 PM

                      Dickie Brennan's is very much the upscale, clubby style you are after.

                      Cuvee is excellent, and has a New Orleans flair to it

                      Nola and Delmonico's are terrific, and may fit the bill

                      The New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court is elegant

                      Off the top of my head, I would probably chose those, given what you are looking for

                      1. re: paz5559
                        t
                        Tonto Jun 21, 2007 12:13 PM

                        Who is cooking at the Windsor Court these days? They haven't been doing well since Katrina. Word has it that they might be looking to hire the chef from Gabrielle's since their recent enterprise was squashed.

                        1. re: Tonto
                          paz5559 Jun 21, 2007 07:04 PM

                          Bret Breaux is the current chef, but Greg Sonnier (formerly of Gabrille) is joining them the first week in July (I just called and spoke to the restaurant directly)

              2. m
                mboard Jun 21, 2007 09:47 AM

                K-Pauls fits all the requirements, the food is authentic, they've room for your party, and it's definitely a memorable experience. My favorite chef, and he still is usually there, though he's out front, not in the kitchen so much. It's a joyous experience. The food is very rich, but imaculately seasoned. Often there is a brass band on the weekends, secondlining through the room after they play near the door.

                1. m
                  mikey Jun 29, 2007 02:39 PM

                  If you want great food and a dressy, elegant atmosphere here is what I would suggest. 1)If the crowd likes strong drinks, a good bar, and to perhaps let loose and cut up after dinner, go to Galatoire's or Clancy's. Both places are always packed and are well loved by locals who all know each other and tourists who don't mind a loud, bustling place. Food is better at Clancy's.
                  For another purely local place that is very refined and much more quiet yet with excellent food, you can do no better than Gautreau's. August has never been my favorite but everyone else seems to love the place. It is very nice inside and it is mostly dinner expense account types and generally tourists with a few locals but due to the high prices, you don't run into people you know. Both August and Gautreau's would be quiet, refined, and with very good food. Service at Gautreau's can be slow because everything is so freshly prepared to order and service at August can be a bit surly. If you want a casual place with no blazer or tie needed but with authentic creole or Louisiana cuisine, Stella is excellent, K Pauls is pure Cajun and touristy but the food is very good, or Cochon which is the most casual of them all. Good luck.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mikey
                    t
                    Tonto Jun 29, 2007 02:58 PM

                    The Windsor Court now that they have solved their chef problem is very lovely.

                  2. w
                    whabanker Jun 30, 2007 08:00 PM

                    August, Arnauds or New Orleans Grill at Windsor ourt now that Greg Sonier is there. Arnauds has great private rooms.

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