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Just back from New Orleans -- great recs from hounds

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fluffernutter Mar 22, 2008 08:44 PM

Just returned from an eating trip to the city. All the NO hounds steered us to some good plces. We had a stupendous lunch at Palace Cafe (the Crystal Hot Suce Beurre Blanc with redfish was unforgettable), a great dinner at Mr B's (freeform crawfish ravioli! corned beef made from prime-grade brisket for St Patrick's!), a sensational meal of pate, choucroute and fresh oysters at Luke, and the best crunchy hot spicy fried chicken and best jambalaya I've ever had at Coop's. Feelings Cafe was pretty good -- the price was right, the dishes were well-prepared, and we loved the neighborhood. Not sure it's a destination for tourists in the FQ but it was a good find.

Only sour note was a restaurant I didn't select and which we'd been warned away from -- our (much older) friends insisted on Antoine's, which they remembered from their youth several decades ago. There was some kind of service meltdown -- dinner was 2 hours arriving (and we had 3 hungrykids with us) and tasted formulaic and seemed to have been prepared far in advance.

  1. pikawicca Mar 23, 2008 05:51 PM

    Please cut Antoine's some slack -- they are suffering from post-Katrina lack of staff, but are trying to regain their place in the pantheon of great NOLA restaurants. I believe they will recover, if fans just give them a little breathing room.

    5 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca
      N.O.Food Mar 23, 2008 07:44 PM

      Antoine's was bad way before Katrina.

      1. re: N.O.Food
        h
        Hungry Celeste Mar 24, 2008 07:25 AM

        I have to agree on this one. Granted, I've never been any sort of regular there, so I don't know if "regulars" get better quality food. We sometimes forget how the California food revolution convinced all of America to demand better quality foodstuffs all around....Antoine's is untouched by the "fresh" revolution, and thus it's slipped in comparison to fine-dining competitors that pay more attention to quality off ingredients. Just my opinion, that's all....Antoine's reminds me of country-club food, or high-end nursing home food. Institutional, overly complicated, bordering on fussy, but ultimately on the bland and boring side.

        1. re: Hungry Celeste
          Bill Hunt Mar 24, 2008 07:57 PM

          HC,

          Well stated, and in line with my "tourist's" observations.

          My recollections of "greatness" come from the mid through late '50s. It still holds many memories for me. In the '60s through '70s, we dined there about every 6 mos., and it seemed to be fading. That, or our tastes were maturing. I do not know which.

          When we did the old-line spots in June, pre-K, everything seemed very tired there. It was the low spot of the week.

          I, too, cannot be considered a "regular," for obvious reasons. Still, I would love to relive some of those earlier memories. Maybe Thomas Wolff was correct, "you can never go home, again... "

          I wish them well and hope that my last experience was atypical. I love the history, the location, the potential, but really wonder.

          As you state, the newer restaurants are "takin' it to 'em," and I do not know if they will survive. Wish that I had plenty of $, as I'd buy the place, find a top-notch chef and try to revitalize it. Love it, but for different reasons, than the food and service.

          Hunt

          1. re: Hungry Celeste
            f
            fluffernutter Mar 25, 2008 07:00 AM

            This was precisely the thought I was having as I ate! From the oysters topped with parsley-stem puree to the spinach in a cream sauce made days earlier to the marchand de vin sauce, nothing we ate was fresh or lightly handled. Everything was fussy. And you can't do fussy at the last minute -- it's all done days ahead and it tastes it.

        2. re: pikawicca
          c
          cereed007 Mar 24, 2008 11:37 AM

          I dont know how it was before. But a couple months ago i wanted to take my parents on a special dinner. None of us had ever been there. It was beyond awful. Bad service...horrible food. We did not like one thing we got.

        3. Bill Hunt Mar 23, 2008 07:35 PM

          Glad that you had a wonderful dining trip.

          We did the "grand dames" tour, in May, prior to Katrina, and Antoine's was at the bottom of our list. The others requited themselves quite well, but we had disappointments galore with Antoine's.

          Pikawicca makes a good point, and I hope that what we encountered pre-K, and what you discovered post-K, will be rectified over time.

          I, too, have fond memories, probably from before those of your "older friends'", but we were let down on many levels. I wish them well, as I still have those memories. But, with the "new kids on the block," some soul searching might be needed.

          Hunt

          1. b
            Blumie Mar 24, 2008 01:01 PM

            Was the Coop's fried chicken spicy when served or did you spice it up? I always spice mine up with habanero Tabasco (in the jambalaya, too), but I don't recall it being spicy to begin with. That said, a lot of things that are described as spicy are not spicy to me! Too many years of burning out my taste buds.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Blumie
              f
              fluffernutter Mar 25, 2008 06:59 AM

              Not searing hot, but richly spiced. Too hot for Miss Sweetcheeks, our 10-year-old, but we didn't find it hot. Just crisp, crunchy, juicy and spiced. A low, slow burn in the background, let's say.

              1. re: fluffernutter
                b
                Blumie Mar 25, 2008 07:05 AM

                Funny, I've eaten my fair share of Coop's fried chicken and I never knew it was spicy! Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff, but to me it's not spicy till I bathe it in hot sauce!

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