What would you choose between...
Galatoires, Brigtsen's, Cochon, Stella or August....and why? I'm visitng, and am a little confused since from the threads I dont' get the differences between these places i'll have a couple of cheap meals and one nice one, so i wanted to have something distinctive.
Brigtsens is a place you will only find in New Orleans. Not necessarily "fine dining" but outstanding, upscale and delicious comfort food. Set in a charming house, great service and great food.
August is beautiful, no doubt, but it is not my cup of tea. I have always had good experiences, but never anything unforgettable or sublime
I went to Stella in November and my girlfriend and I are still talking about it. The appetizers were unreal and all of the entrees were just perfect. The chilean sea bass marinated in sake and miso, with a lobster, crab and shark fin broth and green tea soba noodles was a work of art. The duck 5 ways and the lamb 2 ways were both excellent also, the lamb cooked perfectly medium rare. The bananas foster french toast was one of the best desserts I have ever had.
Cochon was good, but not on par with the three above. You could also get out of there for about 40-50 per person (Brigtsens you could do for 50-70 per), whereas Stella and August are considerably more expensive.
We just returned from New Orleans after the NBA weekend and ate at Galatoire's and Cochon (in addition to a few others). Galatoire's is amazing--the whole experience was one-of-a-kind. We were there for lunch on Valentine's Day and there was a serious party atmosphere, but also romantic. It was like we were having lunch with everyone in the restaurant, but at the same time we were the only people there. For your one nice meal, I would highly recommend it.
Cochon is more casual but the food is awesome--we had so much trouble deciding what to order, and everything was very, very good (although vegetarians might not like it).
We also had dinner at Commander's Palace and K-Paul. However, one of the best things I ate during the trip came from Drago's restaurant in the Hilton hotel on the river: chargrilled oysters. They were highly addictive and I wanted to lick the plate they came on. If you are having a lunch or something I would also recommend trying that place. It is much better than your typical hotel restaurant.
August - John Besh is the most forward thinking, creative chef in new orleans. That said, sometimes I think his food doesn't work. Flavor infused foams aren't for everyone. The dining room is one of the most beautiful in town. August is routinely ranked highest in out of town dining guides. It was one of Gourmet magazine's 50 best restaurants in the country. All this said, I love August, and I'm always blown away with what besh comes up with.
Cochon - A new take on cajun fare. Most casual place on your list. Just about everything I've had there has been really good. Lot's of house-smoked meats, sausages, etc.
Stella - Also a beautiful place to eat. I only went once a little over a year ago. We didn't have the best experience. I remember all the apps we had were excellent. We didn't get our entrees until 45 minutes after the apps were finished. After a bunch of apologies we got our entrees, but unfortunately they were forgettable. I've never been back, and I'm not losing sleep over it.
Galatoire's - Very traditional new orleans fare. Been doing it the same for a long time. It's nice that they require jackets at all times - no excuses. If you don't have one on, you have to wear the in-house blue blazers that make you look like an idiot. I love that about the place. They have standards, and they keep em no matter what. The food at Gal's is not the finest or forward thinking in town, but that's not their gig. That said, they have some fantastic dishes. Crabmeat Sardou for one. Lamb for another. It and commander's are the quintessential new orleans dining experiences. Places like antoine's, arnaud's, and tujagues are old line restaurants that have gone so far downhill, I hate to hear that people waste their time in them. Gal's and Commander's keep the tradition alive while still cooking great food. I know they're not on your list, but I've been several times since the storm and I have to say they've been spot on every time. I think Commander's is on top of their game. They get the most improved award since katrina.
Brigtsen's - Probably the best food in town right now. Don't know what else I can say about it. It's a nice restaurant. As formal as stella, august, but not as formal as Gal's - but then Gal's is the most formal place in town.
I can't pick one. I wouldn't pick stella, and I wouldn't pick Cochon as your one nice meal in new orleans.