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Single Diner Brush-Off at Galatoire's!

I am in New Orleans for a few days. Ate a fantastic dinner at Dick and Jenny's last night (steak tip salad and duck two ways) and wanted to try for Galatoire's tonight. Called and asked for a reservation for a party of one upstairs in the bar area -- no dining in the bar, I was told. I asked for a reservation in the upstairs dining room. No reservations available for a party of one. "You can do a walk-in," the young woman informed me. I asked again if I could reserve a table for myself upstairs. "I don't think nobody wants to sit at a table by theyselves." was the answer. I thanked her and rang off. What gives? This is a first for me, in New Orleans or anywhere else for that matter. Did I do something wrong?

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  1. She didn't brush you off...she told you to come as a walk-in. G's is a place with its own rules, nay, its own culture. So go stand in line and enjoy your solo dinner downstairs. The double-negatives and improper pronoun useage don't make her a bad person, either. Long live the non-standard spoken vernacular...

    1. Yeah, little did you know it, but that woman was trying to steer you in the right direction. Upstairs is just for tourists. Downstairs is the party. I always end up talking to people at tables around me. I assume that would be even more likely to happen to a solo diner.

      1. I believe that until recently G's didn't even take reservations so it's not inconceivable that she just told you to come on by, especially since you were on your own. You should have taken her up on the offer. I just had an exceptional dining experience there last week with a party of 12. They're a little quirky but true pros.

        1. Whether it was rude of her or not, I actually think it would be quite depressing to dine alone at Galatoire's. Normally I endorse the idea, but this is a different kind of restaurant, where the focus is on the social aspect and not exactly on the food. I think it would be like attending a wedding reception by yourself, not knowing anyone there, and having to sit at your own table. I would go somewhere else like Herbsaint or Stella for their delicious food. Save Galatoire's for when you've got a few friends to share a table with.

          I agree with the other posters who say that the show is downstairs, not upstairs. Upstairs, Galatoire's resembles every other restaurant in the city--and the food, while good and solid, is not quite special enough to hold one's complete attention. Downstairs there tends to be a lot of distraction.

          1. AmySue, I say go ahead and fly solo downstairs which, as noted, is where the action is. I wouldn't be surprised if a table 'adopts' you and you end up with a tableful of new friends.

            I'm curious if you're English or European as I've never heard anyone from the U.S. say "rang off" insted of 'hung up". I've read that term in some Ian Fleming novels.

            Thanks,

            Kevin

            1 Reply
            1. re: KOK

              I wasn't intending to comment on the staff's English useage or in any way imply that she is a "bad person." I'm not sure how that idea got out there, but that's electronic communication for you.
              Though I am a professor of English at a small college, I am no grammar nazi; I actually relish and appreciate this country's rapidly vanishing regional linguistic novelties and New Orleans is full of delightful dialects and charming coloquialisms (my favorites are "cornder" for corner and "zink" for sink). I quoted her only as a way of rendering the exchange as accurately as possible to get reader insights.
              I asked for upstairs precisely because I thought I would feel awkward at the party downstairs, where I have dined often and well, but always with a companion. Alas, my dining companion will not be joining me until after July 1, when Galatoire's will be closed for the month. I had a hankering for a couple of Galatoire's dishes, that's all.
              In any event, I will probably pass on Galatoire's this time around and go somewhere where I have eaten alone and been treated very well in the past: NOLA, Arnaud's, Irene's, Upperline, Tommy's -- any will be fine.
              I'm not English or European, I just thought "rang off" was more accurate than "hung up," which seems sort of abrupt and rude.

            2. Consider Brigtsen's for dining alone. I ate there alone once after driving out to Jacques-Imo's, only to find they were closed for vacation. I thought it might be uncomfortable to eat at Brigtsen's as a solo diner, but I drove over there anyway and had a wonderful time.

              1. AmySue, If I were you, I would go stand in line. Galatoires alway's has one unless you go early. I am surprised you couldn't sit at the bar as I have done that in the past. Maybe it's a post Katrina thing. It seems that you want the food there, so go for it and have a good time. New Orleans people are very friendly, so I don't think you will feel out of place.

                1. In a book about Galatoire's, it mentions a wealthy widow who at dinner at Galatoire's six nights a week for fifty years! She would spend hours getting ready every day for a dinner by herself at a specific table, and her chauffer would drop her off and pick her up.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: tennreb

                    Well. I am 0-4 on the apparent requirements for dining alone at Galatoire's--not wealthy, widowed, can be ready for anything in 15 minutes, and, sadly, sans chauffer. I'll work on it for next time! I ended up eating at Irene's and had a lovely meal (creole tomatoes with Maytag blue cheese crumbles and bacon with a glass of Reisling, canneloni and a glass of Zinfandel, cheesecake for dessert with a little glass of some-somthin') at a cute table that gave me a clear view of the rest of the dining room. Irene came over a couple of times to chat. No dining companion or extravagant lifestyle required.

                    1. re: AmySue

                      you know what amy, i was also planning on going to Galatoire's alone, alas it was closed on Mondays so i didn't get the chance anyways, but from what everyone has said you really don't want to eat at the bar (actually when i spoke to them before, they only allow drinks at the bar for whateever reason) and the downstairs dining room is the way to go. Esp. if you're going to spend upwards of min $50 per, it sounds like downstairs is the experienc.e how are the desserts at galatoire's ive heard that they are pretty pedestrian at best? so just get some pralines on the road afterwards or what?

                      1. re: kevin

                        Desserts are nothing spectacular, just excellent executions of New Orleans classics (like all of their food).

                        1. re: tennreb

                          All right, dammit, it is time to get back into the fray. Galatoire's has never "been about" desserts; it has never "been about" so-called Presentation. If the restaurant has any "statement" it is: "Here's a nice piece of fish, well cooked, withou frou frou..eat it" The original post wondered about not being seated upstairs. As Hungry Celest has (as ever) accurately pointed out, the Joint has its own rules...It is unfortunate that the posting party was unable to reserve a table for one...yet we recall when there were no reservations at all. Downstairs is a "free-for-all" Upstairs is a chance to turn tables. Reserving a table for one person is silly...and one person can get into the joint with ease...it takes a little bit of effort sometimes---but who wants to do that?

                          The rich widow referred to earlier was Marion Patton Atkinson. She was a friend of mine (and everyone else who ever knew her) Let's clear the record here...she, and her husband Mr Gene, ate there for years and years and years. Marion never bothered about makeup beyond the essentials....but when she sat at the restuant, she reigned (and, in truth, she reigned everywhere she went...all of you reading this know the same woman in your life

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            I'm going to join hazelhurst for a minute here. The Grand Creole restaurants like Galatoire's have never "been about" tourist versions of desserts. New Orleans classic desserts didn't include chocolate or cream cheese (except for Creole Cream Cheese but that's another story altogether) until tourists started expecting them and restaurants complied. Hey! Emeril is from New England, remember?
                            The old desserts used citrus and tropical fruits like pineapple, coconut and bananas that came through the Port, plus the wonderful local pecans. We used local agricultural products like cane syrup and rice for callas and puddings. Pontchatoula strawberries are magnificent. The French tradition gave us wonderful pasties and our frugality gave us bread puddings and crepes.
                            New Orleans has been eating dessert local and seasonal for centuries - long before it became fashionable. Pity it's so little appreciated even by the current residents.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              I don't think I was being "silly" at all in trying to reserve a table for one. I do it all the time, in New Orleans and points both east and west. I was trying to be considerate and not take up a two top in the prime real estate downstairs. Indeed, I wanted that "nice piece of fish, well cooked, without frou frou." Further, I did try to make an "effort" -- I tried to respect what I perceived to be "the rules" of Galatoire's -- downstairs is a locals only party. Had I been instructed by the staff to join the party downstairs "with ease" I would have gladly done so. But to be told that what I requested wasn't what I wanted, (nobody wants to sit at a table by themselves) and now to be called silly for asking, is, well, insulting. But what do I know -- I'm just a frequent visitor willing to spend a lot of money in a town recently in need of some love. My bad.

                              1. re: AmySue

                                And a little more to AnySue: I love Galatoire's and I'm local, but I do go there solo all the time and often don't know anybody in there myself. But I always enjoy the show and go there to get some of my favorite food which is always cooked beautifully and served well, whether I am solo or not. I like the big mirrors where I can see everybody and not look like I'm looking. New Orleans still needs some love and plenty of it. The city needs you and others like you desperately and we're so glad you're coming to visit. But you do have one thing wrong. Downstairs is definitely not a "locals only" party. It may be like a club, but anybody can join and have a good time. The waiters take fine care of you, people are friendly and the whole thing is a show anyway -- a show with great food.

                                1. re: AmySue

                                  Amy...don't sweat the comments...Gs is OK but you did great at Irene's...I've had good luck at the bar at Redfish Grill and KPaul's for dining alone- next time try one of those...

                                  1. re: AmySue

                                    AmySue, my guess is that the "insult" was really just the befuddlement of an extrovert. A coworker asked me who I was going to NO with, friends or family, and when I replied I was taking my dog who loves people, riding in the car, and going on walks, she replied (several times!), "Isn't that ... interesting. Isn't that ... interesting." Which I believe translated to, "That is the effing wierdest thing I've ever heard in my life!!!" Most extroverts simply cannot understand the concept of actually enjoying your own company.

                                    I once attended a conference where we were divided up for a discussion with others of our own exact Myers-Briggs personality type. One of the discussion points was describing your ideal short vacation. We filled out the questionnaires on our own first. Every last one of us said we would take that ideal short vacation alone ;)

                                    1. re: foiegras

                                      i think there is nothing wrong with that.

                                      in fact, sometimes (and usually) i enjoy the food more on my own and the surroundings, because you don't have discussions to get in the way. you're focusing on the food and service and if you really feel like it in the case of G's you can possibly join on the table and discuss politics, jokes, etc. with your neighbors.

                                      but yeah, if you have people at your table that you're already with then it may detract from your enjoyment of the food.

                                      just a possiblity. others will call you crazy for eating at a fine dining establishment by yourself.

                                  2. re: hazelhurst

                                    Be still my heart....Hazel has returned from the wilderness! And for the record, cup custard is a darn good dessert, even if it isn't cutting edge.

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      HC...good to hear from you and gl;ad you are still in there pitching. I took time on the DL--or something similar--when "things changed" 'round here. But I was compelled to jump into this one.

                                      Lessee if I can correct a mistake I made that Amy pproperly jumped upon. When I commented that reservations for one were "silly" I did not intend that Amy should fell she was silly. The idea was that it would be foolish for the restaurant to reserve tables upstairs for one when they can seat a single person downstairs, with a little effort of a wait. It may not be the way of All Restaurants but, in this Modern Age with the new Upstairs, well, I am not going to argue. Somehow I think the whole escapade enhances the "experience" (a term we have learned to use in The Modern Age). The place is simply Galatoire's.

                                      On the other extreme, I will not bother "dining" at some place that gives me a table at 6:15 PM and tells me I must be "out" by 8:00 PM. The hell with 'em.

                                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                        My thoughts precisely! I was happy to see you here Hazelhurst!

                                        AmySue, please take everything that happened on the phone & on the board with a grain of salt. We New Orleanians are somewhat peculiar to the rest of the world sometimes. Nothing to debate or apologize for, just is. We are glad you came to New Orleans & are supporting our city. We greatly appreciate it. And if you ever feel like company on what would be a solo dining excursion, just let us know. Some of us have regular dinners with folks we have met on other N.O. food forums and didn't know before. It is always a lovely time. In fact, this week, I will have dined 3 times with different food forum groups. I have plenty enough friends on my own, it is just fun to be with folks who share our passion of food!

                                        1. re: Isabella

                                          Isabella,

                                          Could you share with me those other boards. I am always looking for people to dine with and am relatively new to town compared to native New Orleanians. Thanks

                                      2. re: hazelhurst

                                        As to the lady and the chauffeur, Marion Patton Atkinson, she truly was a special soul at Galatoire's. The owners were kind enough to allow her family to put a plaque in her memory on the wall next to her table. When you enter her table is directly to the left. And remember, have 2 Old Fashions before dinner because you can't fly on just one wing.

                                        -----
                                        Galatoire's Restaurant
                                        209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                                2. re: tennreb

                                  There was a tender article about her in the Times Pic at least five years before K.
                                  "and her chauffer would drop her off and pick her up." And her waiter would greet her and serve her.

                                3. AmySue, as someone who has dined solo all over the country I know the feeling.

                                  If I had gotten that reception to a phone inquirey I would have been a little chafed. I don't know if it was better to have not known anything about the restaurant or to be familiar with it.

                                  But I've had much better experiences as a walk in where in a face to face you have more control over what they are going to do with you. Like the two top by the kitchen door or buss station,

                                  And as a walk in you may also have plan B so it is easier to be a walk out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: collardman

                                    Though Amy is probably long gone, as one, who is forced to dine solo on many occasions, I have never had any problem. Now, when I return with my lovely wife, the staff will line up and tell her how fortunate they are to have her accompany me, but still, they accommodate me with a gracious demeanor. This goes for NOLA, DC, Chicago, London, San Francisco and Las Vegas. None has been anything but welcoming, when it is just me - they just hope that I return with HER!

                                    Hunt