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4 nights, 4 great dinners in NOLA

torchon Dec 12, 2007 09:31 PM


I have 4 nights in NOLA and am looking for the 4 best restaurants -- any cuisine at any price. I've visited NOLA five or six times in the past 10 years but only once since Katrina, when many restaurants were still closed. Here's my list so far:

1. Herbsaint
2. Bayona
3. Stella

I've been to Herbsaint and Bayona, and liked both. I thought Herbsaint was better, with more refined presentations and flavor combinations. Haven't been to Stella. Is it worth it? The final choice is wide open.

Many thanks!

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  1. m
    mikemill RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 07:01 AM

    Stella! is without a doubt worth it. You will love it.

    As for the wildcard, I would suggest MiLa, which is recently opened and superb. www.milaneworleans.com for a menu.

    Another idea is Iris, which is also fantastic. www.irisneworleans.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikemill
      JazzyB RE: mikemill Dec 20, 2007 02:39 AM


    2. m
      mikek RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 10:33 AM

      I would also highly recommend Brigtsens. Cannot comment on Mila, btu it has gotten rave reviews. Perhpas lunch at Herbsaint (which I think they do better) and dinner at Mila/Brigtsens?

      And Stella is subliminally delicious. The type of meal you will talk about for a long, long time.

      1. TigerAtty RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 10:50 AM

        Eat serves great comfort food and I've been pleased with Vincent's for Italian. But, considering the way you phrased it, I would go with August. Or, if you're feeling froggy and really want a local experience, go get a fried hamburger at Tucker's!!!

        1. p
          princsoreo RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 12:01 PM

          I was in NOLA in October for about the same number of nights as you. I ate at Cuvee one night and had a great experience. They had a 6 course meal with wine pairings. It was very innovative and delicious. I also went to Commander's Palace. I know it's Old Nola, but the food was really good and fun for a taste of tradition. (If you go, get the three-soup appetizer that gives you a taste of the signature turtle stew and two others)

          1. Monch RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 04:52 PM

            Change "Wild Card" to "Brigtsen's" and you're set.

            Fantastic food, atmosphere, everything. Chef Frank worked with Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul's.

            Surf around CH and you'll read the raves.

            Happy chowing

            1. Vikzen RE: torchon Dec 13, 2007 07:36 PM

              I am in NOLA now and have heard good things about both Herbsaint and Bayona. Alas, I haven't tried them (and won't be on this visit - we have found we can only eat so much). We have reservations at Brigtsen's for Friday (12/15) night. Looking greatly forward to it and will report.

              1. t
                torchon RE: torchon Dec 14, 2007 03:18 PM

                Thanks everyone for the recommendations. Iris seems interesting. I'd be curious to hear of other experiences there. Might also try to make time for Mila.

                For all my times in New Orleans, I've only eaten at Commander's Palace once, about 9 years ago. It wasn't very memorable, except for a ridiculous risotto that included something like 13 varieties of sausage! That may sound like heaven, but it was actually a mess.

                As for Brigtsen's, let me know you think, Vikzen.

                3 Replies
                1. re: torchon
                  wadelit RE: torchon Dec 15, 2007 05:26 AM

                  We had dinner at Iris last week and it was one of the best meals I've had in the last six months, but you can't go wrong with any of the places here.

                  1. re: wadelit
                    mikemill RE: wadelit Dec 15, 2007 06:25 AM

                    I've eaten at Iris 3-4 times, and each time I've been blown away by the food. It's simple and rustic, but the flavors are perfect, and the atmosphere is small and cozy, with friendly service. It's like a neighborhood restaurant that happens to have a Food and Wine Best New Chef cooking at it. (Really- he won it this year.)

                  2. re: torchon
                    Vikzen RE: torchon Dec 19, 2007 10:40 PM

                    We had our last dinner in New Orleans at Brigtsen's last Friday, 12/14. Location is in a far corner uptown in a charming shotgun-style house, and certain dishes, but not all, wowed us. As appetizers we shared first the classic barbecue shrimp, done very nicely but not necessarily more outstandingly than in other reputable kitchens; that said I loved the rice cake, which reminded me of a flattened pan-fried version of arancini (though not stuffed, and made with Louisiana popcorn rice). I note, however, that a couple seated near us was returning in large part to order two appetizer plates of the barbecue shrimp with rice cake. Highly recommended. The 2nd app was the rabbit tenderloin with a creamy Creole mustard sauce, which my husband loved, but I couldn't eat simply because I'm not accustomed to eating rabbit (bit of a wimpy streak - I know it was delicious, aside from it being rabbit).

                    Attached are photos of our mains and dessert: Of the seafood platter, the highlights were the tasty redfish topped with shrimp and the crabmeat thermidor, as well as the poached shrimp halved and delicately stuffed with more deviled crab. I hesitate to admit some disappointment with the oysters - oysters Ruth and the other I can't recall today ... in both, the stuffing was not so flavorful, with too much breadcrumb, and one was not quite broiled to my liking. My husband had the blackened ahi tuna, which was perfectly seared and truly blackened (not an overdosing of spices, but a delicate smoky dark flavor), and covered with roasted corn and red pepper purees.

                    For me, the piece de resistance was the finale - the best pecan pie in memory, made with a rich dark corn syrup and served in caramel sauce with a scoop of house made vanilla ice cream atop a light crunchy peanut butter cookie - see attached photo!

                    I would have liked to go to Cuvee, which was not far from our hotel but, alas, our stomachs are only so large.

                    As I have space allotment, for comparative purposes I also attach a photo of the Oysters Bienville app eaten at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon Street Seafood House, which were magnificient (Bienville are stuffed with mushrooms, bacon, shrimp...), and served on a bed of rock salt. We merely popped in for a snack and cocktail (they do a Salzerac and both mint and lemon juleps); well good for a moderately priced midday snack in a heavy tourist zone when you are trying to save space for dinner.

                  3. k
                    ktcz RE: torchon Dec 17, 2007 05:51 AM

                    You must try Cuvee. Personally, I think that Cuvee's offering is one the city's most innovative dining experiences- the menu is creative- unique to the standard New Orleans' dishes. We live in NYC and truly enjoy our Cuvee dinners while visiting NO.

                    1. w
                      wadelit RE: torchon Dec 28, 2007 03:36 PM

                      Try Iris, Lilette, Cuvee or the Pelican Club. All are excellent.

                      1. t
                        torchon RE: torchon Jan 4, 2008 07:58 PM

                        I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cochon, given the good press and James Beard recognition. Any opinions?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: torchon
                          diningismyhobby RE: torchon Jan 6, 2008 03:47 PM

                          I love Cochon. They take modern approach to traditional Louisiana food. The flavors are very fresh; they make the most out of seasonal ingredients. Try it for lunch or dinner- the small plates are great. I have some favorites on the menu, but I have found that their specials can be fantastic.

                        2. m
                          mcegielski RE: torchon Jan 6, 2008 07:46 PM

                          Those are great choices and it's hard to go wrong in New Orleans. From high-end places to dives, we take food seriously.

                          I have been living here for seven years. Have ate my way through those years...

                          If I had four nights left here I would say:

                          1. Galatoire's
                          2. Adolfo's
                          3. Dick and Jenny's
                          4. Mr. B's Bistro

                          if i had a few more nights...

                          1. Irene's Cuisine
                          2. Jacque-Imo's
                          3. Vincent's
                          4. Drago's

                          If you've already been to Herbsaint and Bayona I would say to try something new. B's Bistro BBq Shrimp all the way. Adolfo's on Frenchmen above Apple Barrel Bar for crab and corn canneloni.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mcegielski
                            mcegielski RE: mcegielski Jan 6, 2008 07:53 PM

                            i also forgot Martinique Bistro on Magazine. Great for brunch!

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