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Mar 24, 2008 06:47 PM

K-Paul's -- 3/20/08

After all the times we have been to New Orleans to eat, we had never been to K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. I don't know why. It is obviously one of the classics and helped bring much national notoriety to the city, but we had not eaten there. Last Thursday night four of us went there and and had a good meal. The food was generally good, but presentation was as if it were banquet food. The room was okay. The service was rushed.

In the appetizer category, my daughter, a fried green tomato aficionado, pronounced the Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Chipotle Remoulade the best she has had. Roasted Three Cheese Sausage with Creole Sauce was excellent, but very heavy for an appetizer. Fried Rabbit Tenderloin with Creole Mustard Sauce was okay, but two nights later I had the same dish at Brigtsen's and it blew away K-Paul's version. Caesar Salad was good.

Entrees were Blackened Louisiana Drum, Pan-Fried Puppy Drum with Crawfish Hot Fanny Sauce, Blackened Beef Tenders with Debris Sauce and Blackened Stuffed Pork Chop Marchand de Vin. All of these were good, but the only exceptional dish was the Pork Chop. It's a thick pork chop stuffed with Asiago, Mozzarella and Caciocavello cheeses and fresh basil and is really outstanding. Maybe our lack of excitement had more to do with presentation and pacing of the meal than the food itself, because when I think about the food, I do have good memories of it. But at the time, it just didn't work.

We ordered and the appetizers came out within five minutes at the most. Two of the apps were still being eaten when all four entrees appeared. The waitress apologized, but we had the rushed entrees just the same. We passed on dessert and were back on the street in less than an hour. Total bill, with one cocktail, a $68 bottle of wine and tip, was just over $330 for the four of us.

I'm not saying K-Paul's is bad; it just isn't as good as several other places we love in New Orleans. We will spend our time and money elsewhere.

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  1. It's like many french quarter restaurants, it lives off of its reputation rather than providing a great meal every night. Like you said it's not bad but it certainly isn't putting out the food that other restaurants through out the city are providing.

    5 Replies
    1. re: blake wilbanks

      Couldn't disagree more. In fact, I think it's almost become trendy to poop on K-Paul's. I've eaten there a number of times in the past 6 months. Sometimes I just sit at the bar and have soup and cocktail.

      The food isn't for everyone, and it counter to the trends of the newer restaurants which are serving more delicate dishes. But they have some absolutely dynamite dishes.

      And they aren't immune from a trait which is true for virtually every restaurant in New Orleans, going back for at least 35 years: inconsistency. Not chronic inconsistency, but ocaasionally, some meals/dishes will be off the mark. Maybe it's the absurd density of good venues for a relatively small city, maybe it's the staffing turnover, maybe it's the vast swings in business due to tourism...but I've experienced misses at the finest places in the city--Galatoires, Commanders, Delmonico's, Brigstens, etc.

      K Paul's still serves meals that will knock your socks off.

      1. re: terpsichore

        It's been years and years since I've eaten at K-Paul's, but then I don't live in NO. One of the last times we ate there, you could not make reservations. They had two seatings for dinner and you would line up at the door. When the restaurant was full, the door would shut in your face and you would have to wait for the second seating or go elsewhere. I remember during that dinner, when they first brought the bread out, another person from the waitstaff came and picked it up almost immediately, stating that Chef Paul was not pleased with one of the types of rolls and had ordered them all brought back to the kitchen to be replaced. I don't remember what entrees we had but I do remember they were fabulous. And actually during that visit we got to meet Chef Paul and have him sign our menus. This was back in his WAY heavy days when he got around on a scooter. I'm so glad that he is watching his health and is a much thinner chef nowadays. Whenever I can talk my husband into going back to NO, K Paul's will be in our list.

        1. re: Missi

          We had eaten at K-Paul's originally at about the same time as Missi. We went for lunch and sat at the 'community' table, hating every minute of it. Worse, when we were done, a server stuck a gold star on our faces; YIKES! The food was good, but I couldn't deal with the fiasco and we didn't go back, despite visiting New Orleans at least once a year for 15+years.
          Flash forward to post-K; we had seen Chef Paul feeding the first responders and were impressed. We decided that we owed him another visit in appreciation. What a difference! The place looked beautiful, the service was very good and the food was excellent. Now, we make it a 'must-do' every year.

          1. re: CEfromLA

            I can't give the timeline, but all of your bad experiences at K-Paul's from back in the day, sound exactly spot on. My mother was very active in the New Orleans hospitality industry in those days, and she told me that K-Paul's was essentially black-listed by the locals at that both local residents and by the other businesses in the Quarter. Reason being, that their business practices were considered unacceptable. Among other things, they would seat you for only a specified amount of time, and at the end of that time (1 hour?) you were asked to leave. Also, no reservations, family style seating, insanely high prices (their 1984 prices were about the same as they are now), rude service, and so on.

            As the story goes, K-Paul's was being run/managed by Paul's wife, Kay...hence the name K-Paul's. Apparently she was the source of most of these problems. When she passed away, Paul got involved and made big changes to the place, changes that were welcomed and overdue. They now take reservations, though they always leave some tables un-reserved for walk-ins. The dining area is more spacious, and the general attitude is less hostile.

            Again, the food isn't for everyone. I had a paneed rabbit that I thought was too heavy and just so-so...but I had a special soup there that is easily one of the single best things I've ever eaten in my life.

            FWIW, there have been persistent rumors in the past 3 or 4 months that Paul plans to close the restaurant, and these rumors come from people who deal with him personally. Who knows if the rumors are true, but I wouldn't discount them. For all of the great new places to eat in New Orleans, K-Paul's fills a unique niche among New Orleans restaurants, and if it were to close, it would be missed.

            I recommend it.

            1. re: terpsichore

              We dined at K-Pauls many times back in the day of Kay. Although she read the riot act to those of us standing in line, service was never rude. In fact, it was bawdy/friendly. While community seating was expected, we experienced it only once. FWIW, the food was infinitely better back in the day.

    2. Couldn't agree more. While I enjoyed my dishes at K-Paul, my ex did not. Combined with the service attitude and prices about 20% higher than Brigtsen's we were not impressed in the least. Frank Brigtsen will always get first shot at my high-end dining dollars when I am in town.

      1. Having just went to New Orleans for the first time (July 2009), K-Paul's was one of the restaurants my girlfriend and I tried. Brigtsen's, Emeril's, Bayona, and Commander's were the other big ones we hit, and while we had great meals at each one, K-Paul's took the cake and we both thought it was overall the best meal of the trip. Though each restaurant definitely had some different strengths- the turtle soup and bread pudding souffle at Commander's, the duck PBJ at Bayona, and the Shell Beach Diet at Brigtsen's, the Spanish tasting menu at Emeril's....the all around crown went to K-paul's. In a time when diners seem to prefer lighter dishes and more delicate flavors, K-Paul's fit our palettes perfectly-delivering full-flavored, yet still balanced, dishes cooked to perfection- and enough of them to fill up a hungry ex-linebacker. We returned two days after our initial visit and were just as impressed the second time around. To get the full experience, we ordered apps/soup each night along with our entrees and never had a disappointing dish.

        The Blackened Stuffed Pork Chop with Marchand de Vin sauce, in particular, is the stuff of legend.

        1. The meal we had at K-Pauls in June was among the best I've ever had. The room is a bit casual but we were dressed to the nines and were treated extremely well. (I wrote a lot more in the '7 Nights in NOLA' thread)

          1 Reply
          1. re: kukubura

            Ate at K Paul's 9/3/09 for lunch. Seriously? It was $20! Cajun shrimp po boy sandwich with spicy mayo, to die for. The bread was shatteringly crisp and light, just elegant. A stunning cup of gumbo, the razor thin onion rings were beyond gourmet (stole these from my friend's plate), and a bread pudding that was light and airy, not dense and boozy. I was stunned. I wept at how brilliantly executed these dishes were. New Orleans is a food capital. There is no doubt.

            1. re: JazzyB

              aahh,, aahhh...take me to your leader!!!

              1. re: FoodChic

                K Pauls is great if they were to leave it would be a real tragedy.