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The Classy side of New Orleans

I'm trying to convince my wife to take a trip to NO for new years eve but she's got it in her head that it is all a bunch of drunk college students flashing each other. Neither of us has ever been but I feel confident that there is a little more to it than that. I would appreciate recommendations on nice restaurants and upscale bars. I'm assuming that we'd stay in the french quarter but if there is a part of the city to stay in that is a little more laid back we might be up for that as well.
Thanks in advance for suggestions.

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  1. There are a ton of very classy restaurants in the FQ and very near by. This board will yield a variety of great dining within walking distance - unlike most culinary destinations in the US and much of Europe.

    Last time I was in the FQ for New Years, it was so cold that I nearly froze, as I flashed the tourists, but the Quarter was deserted (due to the weather) and I had to really scamper between the few groups, who were obviously lost. [Grin]

    I did a recent review of some of the higher-end spots near the FQ (only Fins, IIRC) was in the Quarter, so that might be a starting point. Pre-K, I did a report of our "grand tour," featuring the old line spots, and Galatoire's was the standout from that visit.

    Now, I have to admit that there is a bit of a Mardi Gras spirit, most nights of the year, that did not exist, when we lived there. Still, there is ample "class" in NOLA, for all but the most prudish. New Orleans is the city that taught me "class," and I love her for that. Go to New Orleans and just skip the bar-crawls. There is plenty of great food, and wonderful culture, not to mention the history. Just having beignets at the Café-du-Monde can be an enlightening experience – you might be sitting at the very table, that Tennessee Williams penned one of his works. Especially nice if the fog is rolling in off of the River. In the old days, the smell of hops from the Jax Brewery added an extra element of romance, but that is long gone.

    Now, while NOLA is a dining city, and this is a food board, soak up the feeling of the City, its history and architecture, it’s people, while you’re there.

    Hunt

    1. I might be way out of line here, but I don't think NO is where you really want to be. (Mind you, I'm from Detroit). I'm finding it very hard to express myself on this subject. I don't think NO is a party town. It's full of wonderful history, architecture, and culture. The first time Donna and I visited the city, we came away feeling that we had visited another country with a culture unique to the rest of the United States. New Year's Eve is a big party whereever you are. I think it would be unfair to the city because it would probably reinforce her impression. Why not go to New York or San Francisco. Take her to New Orleans for a romantic event such as an anniversity. Stay at the Audebon cottages, eat at Bayona and stroll the quarter. Take a tour. If you do decide to go for New Years, heed the advice of Hungry Celeste. You'll be in good hands.

      1. SonyBob, that was a brave thing to say! And as native New Orleanian, I'm inclined to agree with you. New Year's Eve in the Quarter will be a roiling stew of holiday revelers and football fans.

        GrillMaster, I like your question a lot. Actually, New Orleans has a very classy side. Most tourists aren't looking for classy NOLA, because the city is marketed --let's face it-- as a party destination. (Cutting loose is something we do really well, and funk contributes mightily to our charm.) But on a first visit, your wife might prefer spring or mid-fall, when the city isn't in the throes of a mega celebration.

        The French Quarter is just one small corner of the city. There are classy restaurants all over town, beautiful neighborhoods, wonderful walks, nice parks, and quiet places to stay.

        For future reference, here are a handful of nice places:

        BARS (French Quarter)
        Napoleon House
        Arnaud's French75 Bar
        The Library Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel (phone ahead to confirm that Chris McMillian is bartending)
        Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel

        BARS (Uptown)
        The Victorian Lounge at the Columns Hotel
        Pascale's Manale's for drinks in the 1930s bar area (the restaurant is just so-so)

        RESTAURANTS (French Quarter)
        Arnaud's
        Galatoire's
        Bayona
        Bistro at Maison de Ville
        Stella
        Irene's

        RESTAURANTS (CBD and UPTOWN)
        Brigtsen's
        Commander's
        Clancy's
        Dick & Jenny's
        Upperline
        August
        Cuvée

        I'm leaving out tons of places, including all the cheap, raffish neighborhood joints which are an essential part of the city's character. If and when you decide to come, we'll help you fill in the blanks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SBrooksB

          (P.S. Typo.....should be "Pascale's Manale")

          1. re: SBrooksB

            Thanks for the list SbrooksB...I'll be in NO over thanksgiving and will be looking for a great NO restaurant for dinner. It can be in the french quarter, or uptown, should be nice, and i'm not worried about price. Could you pick a few of the restaurants you listed that really stand out, and maybe just elaborate on them a little (we'll go to commander's for brunch, so that one's covered). Sorry to be so demanding, it's very hard to choose when there's so many good things to choose from!

          2. New Orleans is a wonderful place to spend New Years. Book a room at either the Windsor Court, the Soniat House, or the Ritz-Carlton (preferably on the club level). DO NOT GO TO BOURBON STREET. There's nothing to see there except for faux debauchery (I prefer my debauchery to be real) and drunken college kids (or older folks like me pretending to be drunken college kids). But definitely walk around the rest of the Quarter during the day time. Take a self guided tour (many tour books have good itineraries) or take the tour offered by the National Park Service (the least touristy of the tours that are offered). Go to the great musesums, including the art museum and the WWII museum. And make reservations to have dinner at one of New Orleans great classy restaurants: Bayona, Stella or August, for example, if you want to stay close to the Quarter; Brigtsen's if you don't mind a cab ride.

            1. As Blumie said, the drunk frat boy contingent is almost entirely contained on Bourbon St. Local young 'uns go to Frenchman St, so that will most likely be a lively street party on New year's Eve, sans flashing. Even during Mardi Gras, the quarter off of bourbon St is pretty family friendly.

              Anyway. Keep in mind that NYE is not the best night to eat out, restaurants are slammed. Maybe keep your fine dining off that night, and concentrate on the nice bars. I like the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone, and Columns Hotel uptown, as of today, accessible by streetcar. That said, here's a list of restaurants offering special reveillon menus, and the key tells you which are open on NYE.

              http://www.neworleansonline.com/newor...

              1. Having lived there on and off for 35 years (and not there any more) this is exactly the image problem the place has. When I first got there all it was is classy and people flocked there for the wonderful food, jazz and antiques and not the ghastly daquiri bars! You can't go wrong with Commander's Palace, Arnaud's, Antoine's, Galatoire's, Brennan's, August, Cuvee, Begue's, Bayona which, among tons of others, are all world class fantastic restaurants.

                1. NYE in New Orleans is bound to be a crazy time. NYE in any big city is bound to be a pretty crazy time, and I might be in the minority around here, but I think you can have a pretty classy evening for New Year's here.

                  I think that if you stay away from Bourbon Street (maybe away from most of the Quarter), your experience will be fine, though. Go in the quarter during the day and get Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and lunch/Pimms Cups at Napoleon House.

                  If I were you, I would stay at the Windsor Court. It is very close to the Quarter, but not IN the Quarter, and it is probably New Orleans' best hotel. Another good choice would be the Loew's Hotel.

                  Some classy places to go where you will NOT be seeing drunk college students flashing each other (some of these might be repeats of other posts):

                  Restaurants:
                  Restaurant August
                  Brigtsen's
                  Cafe Adelaide (owned by the same people as Commander's Palace)
                  Commander's Palace
                  Ralph's on the Park
                  Vizard's
                  Emeril's Delmonico/Emeril's
                  Clancy's
                  Le Petite Grocery

                  Bars:
                  Swizzle Stick Bar (at the Loew's, adjoining Cafe Adelaide)
                  Delachaise
                  Bar at the Ritz Carlton
                  Tommy's Wine Bar & Restaurant

                  1. Keep in mind that there will be tens of thousands of folks in town for the Sugar Bowl (which, I believe, is college football's championship game this year).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Burgoober

                      Yes, it will be crowded. The vast majority of those people will be crowding Bourbon Street. Avoid Bourbon Street and you'll be fine.

                      1. re: Burgoober

                        No - the BCS championship is also at the Super Dome, but it is January 7.

                      2. NYE is amateur's night evrywhere. jfood tries to plan low key, non-events with close friends. Now onto NOLA.

                        Little jfood did a great favor to M&M jfood by deciding to attend college in NOLA. And the jfoods take every opportunity to visit and have fallen in love with the city. But on the first visit jfood made the mistake of walking down Bourbon St with Mrs Jfood and little Jfood and can only reiterate what someone else mentioned, STAY OFF BOURBON ST. unless you take a cab to a resto on the street and have one pick you up.

                        There are many resto suggested on numerous threads and you wiull see the same names over and over again. So if you go, enjoy be safe. Jfood also recommends the WIndsor Court. It;s like being in a great hotel in Europe.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          I agree with jfood. Jfood makes some good comments that mvnyc agrees with. MVNYC also says stay off bourbon st at that time. Jfood and little jfood and mrs jfood all agree.

                          1. re: MVNYC

                            Blumie says stay off of Bourbon Street at all times. It's just not that interesting.

                            1. re: Blumie

                              I feel compelled to remind everyone that Galatoire's is on Bourbon St.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                Yes. I avoid Bourbon St on major party days, but the rest of the year, I really enjoy the juxtaposition of locals and tourists, dressy and casual, refined and vulgar.

                                1. re: JGrey

                                  Edited to say, I do not mean for the first in each pair and the second in each pair to be equated. Nobody beats the locals for vulgarity, and many visitors dress up. :)

                        2. A great morning brunch is at Court of Two Sisters- it's a must for me and my wife anytime we stay the night in NO.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: RobandLot

                            I am sorry to do this, but I have to disagree. Beautiful surroundings, absolutely. But very, very food served in a buffet setting. For sunday brunch, give Ralph's on the Park a whirl. The museum in the park right across the street is wonderful, and the park itself is beautiful on a nice day. The restaurant overlooks the park and is in an old charming building. A really great meal.

                            1. re: mikek

                              I second the "blah" for the food at Court of Two Sisters. Despite new mangement, new chefs, etc. the food is still ordinary as all get-out. The setting is lovely, though.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                Actually, they do have the best duck in the city though! And they have a jazz band so you' can hear some traditional jazz while you eat.

                                1. re: bronwen

                                  Emphatic NO to the best duck in the city. How 'bout Brigtsen's duck? Or Stella's duck five ways? Even the (relatively bland) duck poboy at Crabby Jack's is better.

                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                    Brigtsen's duck and Stella's duck are outstanding. The suprise third contender in the "best duck" category is not COTS, but rather Dante's.

                                    1. re: Blumie

                                      Upperline used to have an amazing duck with the 2 sauces, but have not been in quite a while.

                                    2. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      that's exactly it, the duck po boy at crabby's is really bland, and almost flavorless,

                                      the difference between that duck dish and the roasted duck at Brigsten's is like night and day.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        You do realize you are comparing a $7 duck po boy in a gravy-like sauce with a $30 entree at a fine dining establishment? While I love the duck po boy at Jack's, comparing the two should be like night and day.

                                    3. re: bronwen

                                      And there are also a ton of spots that will have a jazz band during brunch - Palace Cafe and Marigny Brasserie spring to mind, though there are many others.

                                    4. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      The only neat thing about Court of Two Sisters is that (I think) during the filming of the movie, Runaway Jury, John Cusac and some guy climbed over the wall separating Maison du Ville and the courtyard. We stayed at Maison once and it was great fun recognizing everything. Tell me if I'm wrong!
                                      Bob

                                2. First I'm sorry to say that I think it is immature to judge somewhere you have never been before. 90 % of people that they show on tv, showing themselves, are not from here. There are times of the year that New Orleans is festive.( Mardi Gras, Sporting Events, New Years,Etc). There is so much more to New Orleans than the Nightlife. The Food in the city is one of the best in the nation. The history goes beyond so many other cities.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cereed007

                                    I agree, though I think it's a lot closer to 100%

                                  2. Just curious. Did you convince your wife to come to New Orleans for New Year's Eve? If so, I can add to the many responses.