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Brennan's - HUGE dissapointment

I went because it was the first time I've visited NOLA in years, and this place held warm fuzzies in my memories as being such a great place...should have left it to memory.

Where to begin?

Seated in the front, second-story room and the floor (I assume from the air-conditioning) was vibrating enough to put ripples in my coffee. Very distracting and annoying toward the end.

Three other groups were then seated as we waited for our mimosas.

It took forever to get our soup appetizers and my oyster stew was bland, gloppy and all around unappetizing. Tasted like canned condensed cream of whatever. Hardly touched it and the waiter never even blinked as he picked up the nearly full bowls.

As we waited FOREVER for our entrees, it occurred to me what they were doing - they were serving us "en masse". We were waiting for everyone in the room (not our table - the ROOM) to finish each course before ALL of us were severed the next. WTF?

I ordered Eggs Hussarde and was going to split with my dining companion who ordered Eggs Sardou (we informed the waiter we were going to do this, as he said they couldn't split orders...you'd think he'd at least bring out an extra plate, but I digress). I ordered mine sans poached egg and was absolutely shocked when I was served one regular Hussarde and one SANS EVERYTHING BUT THE HAM AND BREAD. That's right. No Merchand sauce/no hollandaise. Serves me right for special ordering no egg, I guess, but the waiter served it to me like that. Good grief.

On top of that, as I said everything came to the doorway of our room with little metal covers and sat for quite a while until everything arrived. That meant those unlucky ones whose entrees arrived first, received cold, soggy breaded entrees (when I tried to pry one of them off my plate to share with my companion, half the rusk stuck to the plate). To add insult to injury, I SWARE the hollandaise was a mix. If not, I shudder to think of the "chef's" training.

Again, all diners were made to wait for everyone in the room finished. As most of my table hardly touched their meals (again, no concern from the waiter, even after we voiced our disappointment) this made for a very long wait.

Instead of the intimate table-side show of their now famous bananas foster was, you got it, en masse. The waiter actually parked in the middle of the room and loudly called us all to attention. He then gave a "history" of the dish/restaurant and didn't even know the dates or details. I felt like I was on a very bad tour group. He even did a "one, two three" for the flambé. Again, we were all served en masse.

I wasn't paying, so I can only say how sorry I was that this horrendous experience cost the gracious host $245 for four people. Outragous!

I suspect they are catering to the old crowd and tourists, but I must say this was the singularly most disappointing meal I've had in a very, very long time.

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  1. Your report seems to be the consensus lately. Wonder why?

    1. We ended up there for Sun brunch. Can't say the food was bad but certainly over priced. My in laws were satisfied and that was more important. Glad I wasn't paying for that one.

      1. Yikes. We are going to be in NO in a couple of weeks and have brunch resers as Mom loves all that kind of eggy food. Are we making a mistake and if so, where else should we go? It'll be a Monday, not a Sunday...

        1 Reply
        1. re: MellieMac

          For brunch, I recommend Ralph's in the Park. It is a Brennan property, but is excellent. They have live music on Sundays. Make a reservation so you won't have to sit at the bar as we did. (we didn't mind sitting at the bar, but would have been more relaxing to be at a table)

        2. I don't know who you might mean by "the old crowd" but it can't be New Orleans natives. I don't know anyone who's been there in ages.

          Do you really think that locals would sit still like orphans out of Oliver Twist waiting for their food, listening to a lecture on the history of a restaurant that they probably knew better than that waiter? They had made that history before the place went downhill.

          The last time we went in the late 80s, we ordered some classic New Orleans brunch drinks like Ramos Gin Fizzes and Milk Punches and the waiter looked at us like we had landed from Mars. It's been a tourist place for years.

          1. WOW. Is the member of the Brennan family in charge of this restaurant still alive? I think this may be the worst restaurant experience I've ever heard of.

            1. I get the feeling with some of the old greats here in New Orleans that they really don't do their full service for everyone who comes in. During prime tourist times (both on the calendar year and also in terms of when it is in the week) I think quality goes down, sadly. A friend and I had Eggs sardou and hussard at Brennan's only 2 months ago, and it was a Monday around noon, and everything was delicious -- my eggs and artichokes were really perfect, amazingly so. I suspect this was because there was only one other couple in the entire room in which we were seated.

              I had a similar experience to the OP however when I had lunch at Bacco last spring - although they did not mess up my order, they did let all of our food sit in the corner of the room until the whole restaurant's orders were done, and I got my ravioli COLD (not warm, not lukewarm, COLD). I complained and they refused to heat it or replace it. But that was lunch during a conference time and even though I live here we had conference bags and we basically decided they didn't care about our table because we were likely to be out of towners -- we let them know better when we left.

              There is another post where this is being discussed but I think it's really sad that restaurants are not more willing to cater to tourists (or perceived tourists) considering the financial status of New Orleans.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Adrienne

                I think that it is unfortunate that the great restaurants of our city rely on thier reputation and not the dishes they put out. Brennan's on royal street, Antoines, ETC. Refuse to update theri menus, correct thier 15-20 year veteran servers and the like there is a new wave of diners out there that want to experinace the "greats" of our city but I know I won't spend my hard earned money on terrible service and cold food. They need to step it up a notch becuase fine dining is only getting more competitive, and while tourists may all ways eat there i think the respect of the locals is more important.

                1. re: Adrienne

                  Let me reply to both Foiegras and Adrienne on two things.

                  Firstly, because it was SO bad, I contacted B's by email stating my experience and giving them the link to this review. I have not heard one thing back. Again, very telling on who's in charge, if anyone.

                  Also, as to the quantity of people in my room. There were (as I remember) 8 tables in the room. We were a group of four, the table next to us had 2 and there was a couple behind us. The last table had 5. So, in a room that could have easily held 30, we were less than half full. I didn't see/hear any large parties in any of the other rooms. They absolutely should not have felt stretched. Even so, I would have been embarrassed (well, actually I would have only been embarrassed to go out and say I could not in good conscience serve these "meals") to have them place in front of ANY customer, even an "invaluable tourist".

                  Really, guys. If I had my camera, I would have taken a picture as proof.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    A couple of weeks ago we had the occasion to eat at Coop's- a place that is highly regarded on this board. I ordered the drum fish in a menuire sauce- what I actually got was a huge piece of “blackened” fish that had actually been on fire at some point, as most of it had completely turned to charcoal. I could actually press down on it with the side of my fork, and hard fragments would snap off and shoot across the table like tiddly-winks!

                    Because I was really hungry, and because the piece of fish was so large, I didn't send it back, but instead found enough fish on the burned carcass to at least keep my hunger at bay ( I ate a lot of the leftover appetizers too)...

                    I remember thinking as I ate that I would *never* put a piece of fish like that in front of a guest- but I'm sure that whoever was cooking that night had a pretty good idea that we were "just tourists", so wasn't about to waste that big fillet just because it had been burned it to a crisp.

                    I'm willing to give Coop's another try, partly because of what I've read on here, and partly because I was so impressed with the service- it was amazing to watch them handle the busy Saturday night crowd. From what I could tell three people did it all- hosting, bartending, waiting, bussing- and actually did a very good job of it! But there is no way that anyone there- the chef, waiter, or server- should ever have allowed that piece of fish to leave the kitchen, and I’m pretty sure that had I been local, it never would have happened…

                    1. re: Clarkafella

                      Most interesting. I had a pretty good experience at Coop's--the food was great, I personally would've dialed the bartender's sarcasm way back ;)

                      This seems like seriously bad karma to me ... and inklings and rumors of this kind of experience are what kept me out of any "old school" restaurants when I visited. The attitude really needs to be shipped back to France ...

                      Apparently some of these restaurants are unfamiliar with the idea of repeat business (not to mention word of mouth) from tourists ...

                      1. re: foiegras

                        Recently read another bad review about Coop's on trip advisor. I was really looking forward to trying Coop's on my upcoming trip, but I'm rethinking that now.

                        1. re: Taleheh

                          In their defense, there were four other people at our table, and I didn't hear any complaints from anyone else. But I don't think that anyone was overly enthusiastic either.

                          The kicker to the story is- I was the one who wanted to go to Coop's in the first place!

                          1. re: Taleheh

                            I went to Coops once and had pleasant, but unattentive service. My husband received his meal and was pretty much finished before my jambalaya came out. Normally, I would have made a huge stink, but in NOLA things seem a little more laid back in the service aspect, so I'm a little more relaxed about that type of thing.
                            That being said, the jambalaya was the best I've EVER had and my poor husband had to sit there and jealously watch me eat.
                            Slow service, and it's the first place I'll go when I get back to town. I'd recommend going, but not when you're in a rush.

                    2. re: Adrienne

                      I am going to be in town in December, and have been culling a list of restaurants to eat at since June. I've been to New Orleans before, and I've been to a few of the "classic" restaurants. Most of the time, I left disappointed- I was tagged as a tourist, I guess, and didn't get the best food I think I deserved.I don't want to be fawned over, and I don't want some tour group drivel. I want the best food the kitchen can spit out without all the bullshit. What these venerable restaurants fail to realize is there are boards like Chowhound out there that a little bumpkin like me from the Midwest can use to do her research.

                      1. re: christina_hunnicutt

                        Apparently they figure that "smart" tourists like you are statistically insignificant ;)

                    3. We could have told u so!

                      For future reference....if want want this style....go to Palace Cafe, Ralphs, or Commanders

                      1. OK, we just got back from N.O. and it may have been a one off thing but we had a great time at Brennan's. We had the most delightful server, O'Kiefe, who went out of his way to make sure we were happy. Service was a little slow but they were short handed. We had the typical brunch fare (poached eggs on/with something), mimosas and, of course, bananas foster. I might pick someplace else next time around. Simply for variety. I didnt find the experience horrible at all.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MellieMac

                          I too just returned from NO and had a nice, though overpriced, breakfast at Brennan's. My husband and I were going to go to Elizabeth's, but since nobody answered the phone when we called we bailed on the idea. We ordered spicy bloody mary's and they were tasty. I order the eggs hussard and they were pretty good. The eggs were perfectly poached and the sauces were well prepared. my husband had the oysters benedict one with hollandaise and one with the special sauce used on the eggs hussard. I disagree about the hollandaise being from a mix. I could taste the butter and thought the texture was dead on. The waiter was a bit slow, but it may have been because he had 2 large parties as well as us. I didn't mind that so much as I was on a mini vacay and the food arrived hot, the drinks arrived often and my water and coffee were always full. The food is rich so not the place to go if you are hung over.