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We had planned on going to Stella

but after JFood's review I'm having second thoughts. I can pick any place I want. Been to Commander's, MiLa, LaBoca, Rio Mar, Brigtsens, Bourbon House, Mr. B's, Brennan's, Arnaud's, Red Fish Grill, Tommy's, Cochon and Crescent City Steak House. (I am probably forgetting a few others.) He does not eat Thai but everything else is fine. I've heard good things about Iris and Clancy's. I'm not a big steak fan (love LaBoca's pastas, could not stand Crescent City Steakhouse's non steak items) but if they have other goodies on the menu a steak place is acceptable. Should I stick with Stella?

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  1. Stick with Stella. Restaurants have off nights and that was probably one. Search the board for the number of emphatic recommendations for Stella.

    1. If you do go, the other couple ordered the Fish and Chips and the Beef and they really liked it. The gnocchi did not get rave reviews and should probably be avoided as well.

      But there was no excuse for the service.

      6 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Thanks mikek & jfood. I do want to go. I suppose I'll see if anyone else advises against it and go from there. I have been pestering hubby about going so I'd hate to have a less than spectacular meal and then a 40 minute drive home.

        1. re: mrsfury

          Working on the review. Prior to Jfood's, less than "stellar" experience, we had a wonderful meal. Wife even ventured that they may have wrested the banner from Brigtsen's. I did not go quite that far. "Stella! was Stellar," should appear on this board, before the weekend, if I can keep my interruptions to a minimum.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            My view is that Brigtsen's vs. Stella comparisons are not fruitful; they are wildly different restaurants.

            1. re: Blumie

              I totally agree. My comments, and those of my wife, were based on the "enjoyment factor." Both rated very high on that scale.

              Now, I have to try MiLa on the next trip, as it is getting some great press (even in Phoenix), and seems to be a hit with many on this board.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Yes, do try Mila. It is wonderful. We were there in March and were very pleased on all fronts. Truly exceptional.

        2. re: jfood

          actually, i really enjoyed the gnocchi w/ lobster and truffles. it was amazing. my favorite is still August's, however, followed by Herbsaint.

        3. Go. Stella is right now the best restaurant in the city.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jeffchow

            I'm not dissuaded by these mixed reviews. I still intend to try Stella in a few weeks (along with August and Emeril's).

            1. re: bgut1

              I would not let one bad review from one of the busiest nights of the year deter me from going. Jazz fest would be right up there with Mardi Gras & Sugar Bowl for busiest most tourist in town times. I do not blame them for pushing the tasting menu If I were in their shoes I would probably go with a set menu for Jazz Fest. Musch easier for the staff.

          2. I'd agree that it's one bad review, and without having been there when it happened, it's hard know exactly how it went down. The service issue sounded bad; in some ways, it sounds like part of the issue was saying they didn't like how some of the food tasted, which is a fine line to walk.

            I've only been to Stella a couple of times. It was wonderful on both occasions. My issue with the restaurant is that the food tends not to have so many New Orleans influences, and as such, it's similar to food you can get in places like San Francisco or New York. But if you're a local, that is a wonderful thing.

            In the fall I ate a Galatoires, and one of our party ended up with a steak that seemed partially spoiled. Inexcusable, but I still continue to go, and have had nothing but wonderful meals since.

            It's good to know someone had a bad experience, but I would't let that one incident dissuade anyone.

            3 Replies
            1. re: terpsichore

              I disagree that "it's similar to food you can get in places like San Francisco or New York." No, it's not creole or cajun and doesn't have other uniquely New Orleans influences that can be found elsewhere in town, but that doesn't mean that it's like restaurants in SF or NY. It may be New Orleans' most creative restaurant. That means it may miss sometimes, as places that push the envelope tend to do. But enough of us have had enough positive experiences at Stella to conclude that it's a great restaurant serving great food that really must be considered among the best that New Orleans has to offer. All of that said, if you're looking for more classic (or even contemporary) creole or cajun, you are correct that diners should look elsewhere.

              1. re: Blumie

                It's a great restaurant, and it's worth going for that reason alone. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. To say it's "similar to food you can find in places like San Francisco or New York" is not a criticism, just a general comment about the style and direction of the cooking.

              2. re: terpsichore

                I am still going to try Stella. We are going in July. I will report back.

              3. We were not wowed by Stella. Perhaps our expectations were too high. My choice would be #1 Cuvee, #2 August ( some have been disappointed with the latter however, we've had great experiences there). If you go to Cuvee, the crispy napoleon with remoulade is a must.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JazzyB

                  I had the shrimp napoleon a couple of weeks ago, and described it as the best shrimp po boy I've ever had. It was awesome!

                2. how could you not try it? its gotten excellent reviews for years, and the chef has done well for himself on the competitive TV front. sure jfood's review was a poor one, but luckily most people dont have his experience.

                  the savory dessert grilled cheese sandwich is out of this world.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kibbles

                    Just returned from a 4 day trip to NOLA with the DW and dined at the following for dinner; August, Emeril's and Stella in that order. Although I still intend to post a more detailed trip report, Stella was phenomenal (up there with the best I've ever enjoyed - except I did not really like the much talked about grilled cheese dessert), August was excellent (and maybe a notch below Stella), and Emeril's was just plain bad (both in food and service) with no redeeming qualities whatsoever (including the much famed BBQ shrimp, andouile crusted redfish as well as the banana cream pie). Also to add to the "not to miss" category is a trip to Commanders Palace. We had a truly memorable lunch there enjoying the best gumbo of the trip (the Gumbo Ya Ya at Mr B's was a close second) and maybe the best dishes of the trip, the Shrimp and Tasso Henican and the Bread pudding Souffle. Just a great time. One complaint however. After all that rich food, we were dying for something light on our third day. Sorry to say we couldn't find anything of the sort in the FQ. Haven't you guys heard of salads? Thanks to all especially Bill Hunt for the help in planning the trip.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Yes, we've heard of salads...that's why God made Chilli's. :)

                      1. re: Melpomene

                        crab salad, shrimp salad, salad w/fried oysters on top, crawfish boil chicken salad...next time go to Cafe Rani on Magazine...they're the best!

                        1. re: edible complex

                          Thanks edible. I will keep Rani in mind for my next trip.

                  2. As I recently posted, my party of four had the tasting menu with the wine pairings and it was possibly the very best meal of my life. Run, don't walk to Stella!

                    1. I drive 350 miles ONE WAY from Houston every chance I get to eat at Stella. I've never been disappointed with the food, but have had spotty service.. but didnt care, because I enjoyed the food.

                      So, I would never pass up Stella, but thats just me.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sahel578

                        On my last visit, I was disappointed by August (fri. lunch) and Cuvee (sat. dinner) but totally wowed by Stella (sun. dinner). I had my eye out for attitude at Stella (since it has good reason to be impressed with itself), and was pleasantly surprised to find the food to attitude quotient quite high.

                      2. What about Resturant August ? Clancy's is one of my all time favs. Herbsaint is also out of this world Times Pic. food editor says it is the best in N.O. right now . I have heard mixed things about Stella but i have not been there.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: 3 chicks mom

                          I have had my heart set on Stella for a long time. We are shooting for a dinner there next month. If we can go I will post my experience.

                          1. re: mrsfury

                            Please do. When we dined there, I was expecting the best, and they fulfilled my expectations. Later, I have seen some reviews, with less than "stellar" reports. Though I tried to be totally objective, I wonder how things would have gone, if I had had mixed feelings, before the meal.

                            I suppose that I should just be pleased, that we had the opposite experience from the Jfoods (another Stella! thread). As I respect Jfood's reviews, I do not discount anything that he wrote. I'm just glad that our dining was the other end of the spectrum from his - sorry about his though.

                            Please do tell,

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill, I respect your opinion as well as Jfood's so I was torn about going. We can't do dinners this expensive as often as I'd like, so if there was any doubt about the level of service or the food I was going to change the plan. Looks like the dentist may have changed my plans for me but if there's any possible way I can go in July, I will! Thanks for all your help. You should post on more forums.

                              1. re: mrsfury

                                Oh, I hate when that happens. I only wish that I could guarantee that you'd have had the experience, that we did. We'll be back, and I'll report. Maybe next time.

                                Hunt

                        2. I am reading chowhound reviews in anticipation of our upcoming 10 day trip to NOLA next week and ran across this thread and the comments about jfood’s review of Stella. I searched it out and some of the complaints mentioned mirrored some of ours.

                          We now visit NOLA several times a year and our enthusiasm continues to grow each time. Food is a huge part of our trips and I spend countless enjoyable hours reading recent reviews on chowhound.com, charting maps, checking out website and menus, and dreaming about food prior to arriving. I meticulously plan every meal and note recommendations from menus so that we have the best possible choices. It still happens, but rarely.

                          Stella was our biggest disappointment by far and I am still frustrated about our experience. Honestly, I will almost always give something a second try if it doesn’t live up to its usual reputation, but I am very hesitant to try again at Stella because the experience was so disappointing. This was in July of last year and my husband has since eaten there while on a business trip and said it was wonderful and up to expectations, so I am encouraged to give it another go, given a bit more time. I just talked to him on the phone a few minutes ago (he’s in New Orleans right now, dammit) and he still says that we should go again and that our experience was most certainly an exception, although a severe one.

                          I had forgotten about the excessive pushing of the tasting menu until I read Jfood’s review. That seemed to set the tone for the rest of our service up the very end of our meal. It was as if the waiter felt that if we couldn’t cooperate on what he was recommending, then he just couldn’t be bothered to try with us any longer, in any way at all. His displeasure was very obvious.

                          There were very few diners, so there really was no excuse for the service. There were loooonnng waits in between courses. The attention that we did get was somewhat like it was a second thought or something; sort of like ‘oh yeah, did you guys need anything?’ While at the table next to us there were several business diners who were having a wonderful time and obviously being fussed over. The best way to describe it is that we were made to feel like we were 2nd class citizens and I just cannot figure out why in the world we were treated so differently from the guests at the next table and I have never had such an experience. We eat out a great deal, we are not cheap, picky or trivial about the food or the wine, and are pleasant to deal with in general. We didn’t come in dressed inappropriately or act in a loud or obnoxious manner. They were not overwhelmed and busy and it was plain to see that others were getting excellent service, while in contrast, we were being completely ignored or enduring arrogant service.

                          Our food was very good and the presentation was excellent, but the entire experience left a very bad taste in my mouth. I suppose that if it had been just poor service I might not have been so disappointed, but to be treated so rudely was inexcusable, especially since we didn’t do anything to deserve that type of treatment. I don’t expect anyone to fall all over themselves, but I do expect great service at a restaurant of this caliber. It didn’t even come close.

                          Near the end of our meal, I ordered a coffee drink of some kind. When I asked our server what was available he was suddenly very enthusiastic and accommodating and said they would mix something wonderful up just for me after getting a feel for the type of drink I wanted. I was surprised to say the least in the change of attitude. Perhaps it had something to do with the anticipation of an upcoming tip? Beyond that I couldn’t even begin to guess. He brought out of lovely, rich coffee drink and waited to see how I like it. He seemed absolutely delighted when I said it was perfect. Very strange considering his obvious distaste for us earlier.

                          I will try Stella again, and most likely during out upcoming trip. I would still recommend it to anyone else (with my warning of a possible, but unlikely, experience like mine) because it is obvious that there are far more happy customers than there are disappointed ones and the reviews have, for the most part, been exceptional. Similarly, I have braced myself for a bad experience at Bayona every time we go based on the reviews of ‘hit or miss’ experiences. It still remains my favorite and I am pleased that I have never had anything less than a wonderful meal and service. Every other meal that we had during the aforementioned trip was a home run, so all wasn’t lost. I guess that part of my huge disappointment was that I really felt that it was going to be the ‘meal of the trip’ and feel that I really missed out on something that everyone else has experienced. Not to mention that it was probably the most expensive meal of our trip.

                          Thanks for allowing me to (finally) vent. I actually feel much better! Now after my cathartic rant, I am going to try to open my mind to the possibility of an excellent experience at Stella. And if I should have a repeat of the last performance, I will speak to the manager, which I realize is the right thing to do, instead of just slinking away and wondering what went wrong.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: agood

                            Thank you for sharing an obviously uncomfortable and most unfortunate experience. I think that this should be posted in every restaurant GM's office, to share with the sfaff. It shows how a server's attitude, and inattention to detail AND service, can ruin an otherwise good dining experience. I feel the same for the staff at the "front of the house."

                            Had similar in London a year, or so, back. Higher-end, though mainstream restaurant, within a famous corporate structure. We were seated, and the server stopped by with menus. I asked for the wine list, and he told me that he had a "special" on a lovely Chablis, that would go with most of their seafood dishes. I inquired about it, and got details. Would not have been bad with most of the food, but it was from a lesser producer, with whom I was familiar and was marked up (even with UK vs US exchange rates at the time) over 1000%. I declined and asked to see the wine list, as we both wanted a Chardonnay with a bit more body. I had in mind a couple of wines, that actually cost more than this bottle, but with lower "markup," as I had seen the wine list on-line. The server spun with a "hurrumph!" never to return. Finially, I got a bus-boy to fetch the wine list. I had to flag down another server to place both the wine and food order. Except for the bus-boys, the only way that we could get a server, was to stand up and block one, as they went to a nearby table. In all, the food was mediocre at best, and the service was the worst that we have ever encountered. In time, we've dined at two other, highly-touted restaurants within this coroporation, and have gotten about the same level of non-service, excluding the "hurrumph!" One was even an old favorite, that had been acquired and re-opened by this corporation. Suffice it to say that we will never dine at any of this organization's restaurants again, regardless of all the media buzz about Lord this, or Lady that, dining there and even celeberties having to get reservations months in advance. Too many much better spots for my time.

                            Hope that you do give Stella! another chance, and that it will be great, AND that you will post a review.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              "Uncomfortable" is an excellent adjective to describe how we felt. We did not get a 'hurrumph', but did get an arched eyebrow and look of disdain. I love going out to dinner in the quarter. The whole experience is much more fun to me than jumping in the car at home and heading out. You get all cleaned up and dressed for dinner after a day of walking around in the heat of the quarter. Stroll somewhere for a cocktail along the way. Then arrive at a place where you just know you are going to have a great meal. Then if you feel that they have thrown dishwater on your feet at the door step, it quickly stifles your enthusiasm. Roll your eyes about me in the kitchen if you must, for whatever reason, but do not let that attitude seep out into the dining room. There is never a reason for that kind of behavior.

                              We are going to go back this trip. I'm going to search the board for stellar menu suggestions at Stella and will report back. Hopefully we will have another favorite to add to our list.

                              1. re: agood

                                Look forward to your review. I've got my fingers crossed, that your next visit will be more like mine, rather than poor Jfood's.

                                I do agree with you. Life should be about pleasures, once you leave the office - enjoyment with friends, with family and expecially with your spouse. Some restaurants just do not get it, that it is about the total experience. This is from the front of the house, to the valet, when you retrieve your auto (OK, so you walked, as did I, and did not need the valet, but you get the picture). It is about the chef, the sous-chef, the bus-staff, the host/hostess, the food, the lighting, the tables, the dinnerware & flatware, and even the wine glasses.

                                If I want rude and surly, I'll get food and a glass of wine at MSY.

                                Wish you great dining next time,
                                Hunt

                          2. I, too, had a horrific experience at Stella! . . . .

                            That said, while it's absolutely true that WE won't be going back, the place DOES have enough positive reviews, you should probably at least continue to consider it as an option.

                            ANY place can have an "off night" -- and that's as true for both the front of the house (service) as it is for the kitchen (food). And for that, they deserve a second chance. My problem with Stella, however, goes beyond just an off night, so . . .

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: zin1953

                              Jason,

                              Some day, you need to drop me an e-mail, and tell me about this. I'm particularly interested, as I have touted Stell!, since our great evening.

                              Hunt