We bit the bullet and went to Stella! It was a much anticipated event and we took our daughter and son-in-law with us to celebrate an early father's day. I was a little disappointed with our table. We had made a reservation a week in advance, but were still seated so near the door that people arriving were looking at our plates. That was kind of annoying.
The food was excellent, though, and we each sampled something different. At our table we thought the best entree was the duck five ways. Someone ordered the surf and turf and that was excellent for those who enjoy beef.
Our favorite appetizer was the Iron Chef Shrimp. Very spicy as promised. For dessert our favorite was the cannoli. Beautiful presentations made all the food appealing. We didn't try an after dinner drink, but there lots to choose from on the wine list.
Before our food arrived we were offered samples sent out by the chef. and...my husband was served as chocolate fondue at the end of the meal since it was his Father's Day celebration. Of course we shared it around the table.
I was impressed that the extensive wine list (I am talking 20 pages or so) had selections for many palates and price categories. We chose a white from Santa Ynez valley (Brander, Savignon Blanc I think) and it went well with the seafood dishes we tasted. It was in the $30 range.
The service was very attentive, but was not intrusive. The sommelier seemed knowledgable (spelling?) and kept the wine flowing throughout the meal. I was struck that the place was very romantic. Each table had a bouquet of roses and there was candlelight as well. Valet parking was available, but we parked in one of the brewery lots and had a nice stroll to and from the restaurant.
Our overall check was about $350 before the gratuity. We will go again for another special occasion. We live 80 miles away, so we don't eat in New Orleans that often.
I've been neglegent, and have not reported back on my trip to NO a couple of weeks ago. Stella! came strongly recommended by the kind participants here, and it was the first place we ate at.
Your description of the service and tables is spot on. My wife and I were offered a table right at the door - the hostess told us it would be cooler than some other tables. Apparently I had worked up a little perspiration on the walk from the hotel. Still, we requested a different table, and were seated at a nice, central table.
I found the service to be a little sterile, but remarkably efficient and well coordinated. We noticed that whenever a table received a course, everyone at the table was served at the same time. This is something that is so rare, I've become quite used to someone sitting without their order. This may seem minor, but it illustrates the extensive attention to detail that was present in the service.
We were offered a tasting menu that would have run us just under $100 per person. The cost didn't turn us away. Rather, there was a lamb course, and my wife has never enjoyed lamb. Despite our suspicions that the lamb at Stella! would have been exceptional, we decided to simply order from the menu.
My wife had a risotto appetizer that had lobster and truffles. She was very impressed, stating that it may have been the best thing she has ever eaten. I had the Iron Chef Chili Prawns, which were very good. I expected them to be hotter, but have to say that the spice level seemed very intentional and controlled.
We ordered salads that were fairly ordinary, but were larger than we expected. For entrees, my wife had a scallops dish that was very good. I had the Walu - a Hawaiian fish that I'd never tasted before. It was very meaty, rich and buttery. It was one of the finest pieces of fish I've ever had.
For dessert, we split what was called a peanut butter parfait. Very misleading name, but I wouldn't know what better to call it. There was a cylindrical serving of a peanut butter mousse/nougat that sat in a pool of rosewater with strawberries. There was a cookie "arch" that made a remarkable presentation. The flavor of this dessert was not far from a peanut butter and jelly candy.
One other detail worth noting - our server recommended a glass of wine to me after taking our order (no idea what it was... sorry). When I tasted it before the appetizers were served, I thought it was a very typical chardonnay, maybe a bit lemon sour. But when the food was served, the wine was a remarkable complement to both the shrimp and the Walu. It truly complemented the meal, and the server knew that this would be the case.
We enjoyed Stella! and our only regret was that it should have been the LAST meal we had. While we didn't have a bad meal, the standard was set too high right off the bat.
We felt the same about the tasting menu. three of our group of four expressed a dislike for lamb. I didn't say earlier, but I had the scallops and loved them. Someone else at our table had the Walu. She enjoyed it very much. An appetizer I forgot mention was the one I ordered. It was a gazpacho topped with crabmeat. Divine.
Next time we will insist on another table, because we want to go back.