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Mar 18, 2008 06:28 AM

Brigtsen's Blah

Sorry to go against the grain, but we had one dinner in NOLA and decided on Brigtsen's due to great reviews here. Unfortunately, for our one dinner, I wish we had gone elsewhere. We had 8 pm ressies and stood in the hallway trying to have a cocktail w/the other couple we were out with while looking at an empty table and being told the other table that was "ours" had a party still eating dessert. Finally, after 30 minutes we were seated at the empty table. Probably another party didn't show up, but why hold that one for them while we were there???? The food was very good, don't get me wrong - I had duck, DH had tuna, other couple had the duck and a fish special. We also started w/butternut soup and a shrimp app. and ended w/creme brulee and pecan pie. Service was good, but for me the big thing was the atmosphere - or lack thereof. I felt like I was eating in my grandma's living room. The whole place looked shabby and run-down. For $25-30 an entree, I want the whole shebang - service, food and surroundings! I wanted to post this b/c ppl should be aware of the setting; it was not what I expected anyway.

On the other hand, we had lunch at CP and loved it - I had the gulf fish w/caiprihana glaze and DH had shrimp. Started w/turtle soup (can't believe I tried it, but so glad I did) and salad and ended w/bread pudding. Of course, we had to have a few $.25 martinis, too. Looked like lots of locals were there - "ladies who lunch" all dolled up, businessmen in small groups, etc. Loved the team service and the atmosphere in the garden room was perfect.

Maybe this dichotomy suggests my pedestrian tastes, b/c it seems so opposite most people's opinions!

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  1. I think that is part of the appeal. It is comfortable, quaint, and relaxed. It is pretty much the type of meal and restaurant you will only find in New Orleans. If looking for a grand dining room it is certainly not the place. It is perfectly prepared comfort food with easy going and friendly service in a relaxed atmosphere.

    9 Replies
    1. re: mikek

      That is exactly the description that led me there. But that is not what it is - it may be relaxed, but it is in a dingy, dull location that I do not agree it is uniquely New Orleans. There was nothing NOLA special about it; it could have been a house in Boston for that matter. We had Pimm's Cup and salad at Napolean House - definitely New Orleans "flavor," IMO. We had fried chix at Coop's and enjoyed that, too, so I don't want you to think we only wanted high-end, pricey experiences. Again, the meals were very good and if you want just that, then that's the place.

      1. re: sillysully

        I wasn't going to comment until I saw "there was nothing NOLA special about it"

        I think that may be the understatement of the century. Frank B is maybe one of the top 5 most authentically New Orleans chefs and the charm of his restaurant is that you are really in a neighborood house- not some glorified tourist trap.

        Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but I think you're missing the point on this one.

        1. re: chef4hire

          You're right. I apologize and truly did not mean to offend! Who am I to say whether something is NOLA special or not having visited your city just once. I think I just had my expectation level set for something different; I did not want "tourist trap" either. Again, my apologies and enjoy the fine food in your great city!

        2. re: sillysully

          In defense of Brigtsen's, it is in a true NOLA neighborhood, surrounded by locally owned shops in an historic, converted house. It isn't about the decor....and it IS "NOLA special"'s just not cliche'd or overdone. To each his own, but it's a completely local place, run by the chef & his family. I'm glad to know that you enjoyed the food, though....that's the important part, to me.

          1. re: sillysully

            jfood, also a New Englander, totally disagrees with this description, but both you and he are entitled to disagree. Oh, the beauty of watching John Adams on HBO this past Sunday night. :-))

            Brigtsen's is a perfectly relaxing venue in the Uptown section of NOLA. No, it is not newly redone, a la CP with all it's glitz, but it is a heck of a lot better decorated than K-Pauls or NOLA? Neither of these establishments can be described as posh. But both are NOLA-types as well. Brigtsen's is sorta the L'Espalier of NOLA. Jfood would not characterize that great restaurant in your neck of the woods as Bostonesque, but it is relaxing, lovely and has great food.

            Jfood believes it is not "nothing NOLA special" but extraordinary NOLA special. The people are warm and inviting, the food is outstanding, the rooms are decorated in traditional southern motifs, etc. Yes there are some water stains on the front room ceiling, but jfood sorta remembers a little hurricane that went through the neighborhood a few years ago. Gotta give them a little slack there.

            You described the food as "very good" so in that regards jfood only differs slighty as he describes it as superb. There are times when Jfood visits that two nights are dedicated to Brigtsens and he already has his next trip booked, and that's the first call he makes.

            So, no it is not newly glitzed like August or CP, but jfood just can;t see it being described as dingy, shabby or run-down. But at least you liked the food.

            Isn;t NOLA a great place for a long weekend? The jfoods love it.

            1. re: jfood

              Hi - you're right. I think I just didn't "get it." But, in hindsight, and now with everyone waxing poetic about it (and I don't mean that negatively), I now do. I guess I should save the complaining for a horrible meal - which fortunately we didn't have while in NO. Thanks!

              1. re: sillysully

                glad you did not have a bad meal in NOLA. jfood already has the dinner line-up for JazzFest next month and is already drooling about it.

                1. re: sillysully

                  Your comments made me smile, and I always applaud someone who has the guts to speak out against one of the "darlings" of a message board.

                  I think we, here in NO, have a skewed view of dingy. I think we look at the world through rose colored glasses. Whenever I leave New Orleans, I am sticken by how CLEAN other places are. In fact, when the new Whole Foods opened, it was like an oasis from another planet had landed in the midst of Uptown. It's so clean and shiny and new, (and bright) in there- it was a little unsettling.

                  Since the storm, more places have had a chance to become clean and shiny and new.

                  I have yet to go to Brightsen's- but am a regular at Dante's across the street- Brightsen's is on my list but we rarely go to the trouble to get reservations and plan. Dante's is good b/c it's always open and we've never had to wait for a table.

                  Anyway, just wanted to chime in that your assesment of "dingy" is probably just because you come from a cleaner place, and therefore have different standards! LOL!

                  1. re: Carrolltonsnob

                    this is 100% true. when you leave nola and go somewhere else, it's like a total epiphany: things are really crisp and clean and there's no trash and there's no wonky signs and people acknowledge you when you come to a restaurant. but in nola - where going to whole foods is like a vacation - everything (even nice places) are just dingy and shady. not dirty. but there's just an umbrella over the entire event. low lighting, antiquated decor, etc. it's lovely for what it is - but difficult for an outsider to understand.

          2. I think you will find either August or Cuvee more suited to your ambience expectations. Elegant ,exposed brick, chandeliered dining rooms. Oustanding food as well as service. Price points will definitely exceed the moderate ones at Brigtsen's but are well within reason for what you are getting.

            6 Replies
            1. re: JazzyB

              Thanks for the suggestions. Wish we could go back, but doubt it. It was quite the trip from Boston area. Unfortunately, no non-stop flights, so it's a lot of travel for a long weekend. But we did thoroughly enjoy our time there!

              1. re: sillysully

                fyi, jet blue offers non-stop service between boston and new orleans now. so does delta.

                1. re: Shiloh

                  Cool - didn't know that. We had to book thru DH company travel service and were not given any non-stop options. Will keep that in mind for the future. I do wish we had found time for a tour or two and never did get to try a po' boy at Johnny's!

                  FYI - just got a Williams-Sonoma catalog and Central Grocery and a bakery are featured in it.

                  1. re: Shiloh

                    jfood does not think delta flies non-stop bos-msy and jetblue will begin on May 1.

                    1. re: jfood

                      that makes sense. i just booked a nonstop flight on jet blue, but it's for july. as for delta, it has nonstop flights to/from boston/new orleans but only, i think, on saturday.

                      1. re: Shiloh

                        You are correct S. Delta sends a plane down in the morning and back in the afternoon on saturdays. Fly down cab to the quarter, a muff and beignets, back to the airport and home for some chowdah. Perfect day

              2. I love Brigtsen's, and part of why I love it IS the atmosphere. It is intimate and warm; it definitely feels like being in someone's house here in NOLA (speaking as someone who formerly lived in a shotgun!) while having a spectacular dining experience.

                I would agree with Jazzy B that somewhere like August would be more to your ambience expectations.

                1. I agree 100%. Friends of ours who are 20 years older than we are (60 to our 40) raved about Brigsten's, but we hated the atmosphere/decor and found the food substandard. We had exponentially better dining experiences at Matt & Naddy's, Dick & Jenny's, and Petite Grocery. Petite Grocery in particular has a beautiful dining room, a great waitstaff, and wonderful food!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wendymai

                    FWIW, I am 24 and find no faults with their atmosphere or decor. I appreciate a beautiful room as much as anybody, but I love the feeling of being served from someone's home kitchen. In fact, other than Petite Grocery, I would say the level of decor is comperable at Mat & Naddies, D&J's and Brigtsen's. To each their own however!