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Oct 14, 2007 01:47 PM

Bayona or Herbsaint

Hi everyone, so I have a return visit to New Orleans in November. I lived there for five years but it will be my girlfriends first visit. I have picked everyone's minds about dining in the city lately before, and am trying to finalize my reservations. Our first night we will be going to Brigtsens, my favorite restaurant in the city. The Saturday night dinner will be for the seven course meal at Stella with my friend and his girlfriend. Sunday night we will go to either Emeril's or Lola's, depending on how we feel at the end of the weekend. Friday night we originally had reservations at Jacques, but decided that as much fun as it is, we would rather not go to such a heavy meal before going out and rather just go to Crabby Jacks to get the fried chicken/fish tacos for lunch on Friday. It will be a group of roughly 8 aged 24-27. We will be drinking and enjoying ourselves, so the volume level compared to the rest of Bayona certainly has me somewhat concerned. I do not remember the ambiance/noise level at Herbsaint too well. I did a group dinner there while at Tulane and it went very well. I have also heard that Herbsaint has really stepped it up a couple of notches since reopening after Katrina. What do you all think? We could also always do the Saturday lunch at Bayona. Is Herbsaint definitely the play considering all factors? Thank you for your help.

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  1. They're both great restaurants. I would be much more concerned about how much noise I was making at Herbsaint than I would at Bayona, when I had dinner at Herbsaint it was very quiet and intimate in feel.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Adrienne

      Either way -- i agree; they're both great!

    2. Any other advice on the ambiance at the two places? I know Bayona is darker and quiet, whereas Herbsaint is a little louder. Any input above and beyond this? How does the wine list at Herbsaint stack up against Bayona's novel. Which tends to put out the better food? I have had some amazing meals at Bayona (the lamb and salmon entrees were unreal) but have not been since about 2004. Had one good but not sensational meal at Herbsaint, but by all accounts it is on fire lately.

      10 Replies
      1. re: mikek

        I'm off to New Orleans day after tomorrow . . . so my comments are based on one post-K visit.

        Dinner at an outside table in the courtyard of Bayona is always charming, romantic and wonderful . . . . better wine list, too (though there are certainly some good choices at Herbsaint, as well).

        Food is great at BOTH . . . I think it's kind up to which your girlfriend would appreciate more.

        1. re: zin1953

          I think if it were just the girlfriend and I Bayona would be the easy choice. However, the great reviews Herbsaint has been getting lately mixed with the fact that it is going to be a group of 6-8 of us is what is complicating my decision. I love having to make a choice like this. Now that I am in South Florida the problem is the opposite end of the spectrum, where to go to get food that meets the levels I had come accustomed to.

          1. re: mikek

            I'm sorry, you keep referring to Herbsaint being better for a crowd and I don't think you're remembering right at all. Herbsaint was extremely quiet when I've been there, I think Bayona is much more appropriate for a loud group.

            1. re: Adrienne

              No, I am asking because I do not remember well at all. This dinner was a couple of years ago at this point and I have no recollection of the ambiance whatsoever. If Bayona is better for groups, fantastic, that is where I will go. Thank you for your help.

              1. re: Adrienne

                I went to Herbsaint this past chirstmas for a work dinner. We had a very lively time there. I don't think one is more quiet over the other or one is intented to be more quiet than the other. I know my group can get pretty loud and we were well recieved. I've only dined at Bayona for lunch and I remember it being more reserved but that was lunch without a lot of drinking. I definetly prefer Herbsaint. The pork belly dish that I had was truely amazing.

                1. re: Adrienne

                  I just had lunch at Bayona and dinner at Herbsaint yesterday, and I found Bayona to be quiet and formal while Herbsaint was jumping. Maybe it's just the lunch/dinner difference, though.

                  1. re: samDC

                    Yeah, I don't think either one is necessarily quieter or more formal than the other...I've had very quiet evenings at both, and at other times both have been so festive as to verge on noisy. Kinda depends on the crowd on any given night. That said, I'd give the edge to Herbsaint, as it feels a little more modern than Bayona these days.

            2. re: mikek

              The thing about Herbsaint is that it's consistently very good; it never disappoints but it also never reaches that pinnacle of "wow, this is amazing." Bayona, on the other hand, is excellent, though I've read reports that it sometimes wavered. I personally have enjoyed everything. The goat cheese crouton and the duck breast are both amazing.

              The Herbsaint wine list is not as massive as Bayona's and shifts its focus away from French, which is Bayona's bulk, but is mainly typical

              When I lived in New Orleans Herbsaint and Bayona were my two mainstays. I would say that I've heard loud crowds at both restaurants. If you are so loud either restaurant has different rooms they can put you in if you inform them beforehand about the age range/size of group, but ultimately I would say that if you'd like your girlfriend to really experience an excellent and classic New Orleans meal I'd go for Bayona. Herbsaint is however younger and I've been gone from the city for a year, perhaps it is on fire.

              I will say that if you go to Herbsaint, skip dessert. I've never had a good dessert there.

              1. re: pipharper

                I think that Herbsaint's banana brown butter tart is one of the best restaurant desserts in the whole city. Malted chocolate creme brulee is pretty damn good, too....

              1. Don't miss the cute and delish little stacks of fried frog legs with garlic, if you go to Herbsaint. It's been several years for both, but the back room at Herbsaint lacked energy, kinda like we were in the "annex," so I would suggest sitting in the front (maybe it's changed.) Bayona has interesting world-flavor takes on local stuff in a cozy Creole cottage setting. Susan Spicer has a really nice new cookbook, BTW.