Solo Bar Dining and Cocktails
I'll be going to New Orleans for a few days after Christmas and staying through the New Year. I was a student there not too long ago and so I'll be doing my rounds of the lower and middle-end places (say, Mandina's, Dunbar's, etc. . .) and spending most of my nights soaking in Abita and Shiner Bock, but I'll need a few grown-up evenings (or at least start to the evenings) so I can tell my colleagues I did something that involved my pants staying up and my drinks staying down.
For food: the only higher end places I've eaten in NO were Commander's (didn't love the food but it was shockingly affordable and the room and service were lovely) and Cafe Marigny/Marigny Brasserie or whatever it's called now, which had excellent food (so I good I sent a round of cold-ones back to the kitchen) and capable but not stellar service, but it was friendly so all is well (this is just about a year ago).
I'm looking for something a little more high-touch than Cafe Marigny and with really good food (food trumps service, of course). I tend to go for heavy, French style dishes but am pretty open-minded. Price isn't an option but would like to keep food and wine/beer/liquor under $150.00 per meal before tax/tip. BONUS if the place has a bar where I can eat. I'll be by myself and am pretty good about whatever but prefer to sit at the bar if alone, if possible. Based on the board, August is my front-runner. If that's a mistake let me know. I'll probably want one or two more meals on that level, if possible. Anywhere in the City is fine, Metairie and Algiers etc. . . probably not.
Also hoping to find some great cocktails/bartenders. Rye and gin based are best, bonus points if the bar doesn't even have vodka. Super bonus if they've got fresh eggs.
Hey folks. Thanks for your help. I ended up having some good meals, here's a quick and dirty rundown:
August: I had the four course tasting menu, the amuse was great, a seafood sabayon in an egg shell. Most of the other dishes were a tad on the ordinary side but were quite good. They had heavy wine pours and they all were decent. The only downsides were the foie course, which was a red cabbage sauerkraut in some kind of soup (good) and a foie boudin, which tasted okay but the foie didn't come through at all and seemed like kind of a waste. Also, the Manhattan I had was made with a nice Sazerac rye but was shaken to death and was too watery. Service was pretty good, the room was gorgeous.
For my other big meal I went to Mila, this was during the Sugar Bowl so perhaps they were off a tad, but they were out of about half the wine list and the bar service was friendly but weak (please don't tell me how much you want to get a real job, hon). The amuse was a crepe thingy that was quite good, I know it's an amuse but I would have liked two of them, mostly because it was so yummy. I tried the barbecued lobster next, which was nice if not particularly exciting. This was followed by the pig cheeks and langoustines (just that in a cast iron pot with some greens and a pepper vinegar drizzle). The pig cheeks seemed overcooked to me and not to have much flavor, the langoustines were a nice touch. The end of the dish was better than the beginning as the vinegar brought out the pig cheek's flavor and made the greens a little tastier. As I had about fifteen minutes to half time I ordered a liquid dessert of a rye flip (not on the menu, I told her how to make it and she did a great job).
Some other meals were a nice brunch and a dinner at the Marigny Brasserie, service was really weak at both meals though but it seems to me they've brought their prices down a tad. The big surprise of the trip was the Country Club, which for those who don't know is a gay bar/swimming pool complex in the Bywater that's been there for a while and I had to laugh when I heard they were serving food. I had an excellent dirty rice and crawfish cake dish which is like a cross between a crabcake and an aracnini, fried well and there were five of them for eight bucks. They also had a very, very impressive cheese list (for any place, let alone your local gay bar swimming hole), I had a bleu de basque and an unpasteurized cow's milk cheese from California, all served with proper garnishes like fix and quince etc. . . I think that was ten bucks.
Thanks especially for the Mila recommendation.
re: State St.
Interestingly, he didn't even mention Clancy's, and this is the same post you put on another thread.
I think Clancy's would be a great place to eat at the bar. Not to the level of August, but I've always had great meals and a great time there.
But for the 3 best, I'd go August, Stella! and K-Paul's, if you've never been. I've had some good meals lately at La Petite Grocerie and Cuvee, too, if you're after specifically more french-style. Not sure about the eating at the bar status of any of them, though.
For a bar with great food, hit Delachaise. Not bar food.
I mentioned Clancy's because my wife and I went there to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary and were greeted by "lost" reservations, an indifferent staff and a very loud group of gentlemen at an adjoining table who used the F word as a verb, adjective, noun and adverb. This was brought to the attention of management to no avail. As I said, if dining in a vulgarity filled room is to your liking this is your place..
I do second the recomendations of Herbsaint and the newly opened MiLa.