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Sep 29, 2008 07:37 AM

Have a few questions regarding my itinerary

Hello NO hounds. Trying to put together a last minute trip to your beautiful city and have a few questions. Just wanted to say we're from NYC and it's not our first time here, but our first time together. DH has visited New Orleans in more recent times for work and has eaten at Cochon, August, Galatoire's, etc (he has not been to Herbsaint or Cuvee). But it's been about six years since I've been there. We enjoy all sorts of food, but are definitely leaning towards eating cajun/creole food (or at least cajun/creole inspired) as NYC really lacks decent options (and the late NYC Jacques-Imo's was just a shadow of the original -- and judging from recent threads, there seems to be a dowhill alert). So while a restaurant like Lola sounds great, it's not exactly what we're looking for. Cost really isn't too much of an issue, but we would like to mix up casual dining and fine dining. We'll be staying at the Westin near the French Quarter. This is what we have so far:

Friday late dinner -- Cochon
Saturday lunch -- Luizza's by the track
Saturday dinner -- Herbsaint
Sunday lunch -- Cassamento's
Sunday dinner -- Galatoire's

For breakfasts, we thought we'd play it by ear and grab something at Cafe du Monde and Croissant d'Or -- that is, if we're hungry after eating all our delicious, rich meals.

1. Is it redundant eating at both Cochon and Herbsaint? Should we choose just one? Or are these experiences different enough?
2. For classic fare, am I better at going to Galatoire's (downstairs) or Arnaud's?
3. I've also been reading great things about Cuvee. What are your opinions regarding eating at Cuvee instead of Herbsaint on Saturday? Or how about August?
4. Any standout dishes I should be ordering from the above restaurants? I've read great things about Cochon's wood-grilled oysters, Herbsaint's pork belly, Luizza's by the track's gumbo and BBQ shrimp po-boy (though it seems that the thing to get is the oyster one, but leaning towards the shrimp as we're going to Cassamento's the next day).
5. Is my beloved Uglesich's (or as DH likes to call it, Ugalicious) really closed? I've been reading these reports that they are still closed. But their website says otherwise. And if it is indeed open, is it as good as before?
6. I would also love some advice regarding whether or not we should rent a car. When we visit cities, we generally try not to rent a car as it can be a pain in the ass. We generally take cabs and public transportation. But due to an injury, I'm having issues walking right now, and am not so keen on renting a motorized scooter. How difficult is it to catch a cab or streetcar from these restaurants?
7. I'd also like to pick up a few things -- Duke's mayo, Zapp's chips, Crystal's hot sauce, creole mustard, etc. Is there a decent market in the French Quarter where I can do this? I don't mind paying a bit extra shopping in the FQ as we're not sure if we'll be renting a car. And would we be able to pick up some decent andouille and tasso ham at these markets? Or do we need to go to LaPlace for this?
8. Any other oustanding breakfast recs?

Thank you so much!

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  1. 1. They're sufficiently different. Not my absolute favorites, but I'm well in the minority on that point.
    2. Not commenting on this, because I haven't been to Arnaud's, and my experience with Galatoire's was less than representative.
    3. From what I've heard, Cuvee is on a downhill trend. I'd say stick with Herbsaint if it's between the two.
    4. All the dishes you've mentioned are very good. I will say that the oyster po-boy at Liuzza's BTT is sufficiently different from the oyster loaf at Casamento's that you won't have a problem eating them consecutively.
    5. Closed, as far as I know.
    6. Streetcar is gonna be a hike from a few of the restaurants, and cabs can be a major pain later in the evening, but as long as you get a cab co.'s number and call ahead, you should be ok.
    7. Not qualified to answer this.
    8. I'd either do brunch somewhere, like Dante's Kitchen, or go to Bluebird for traditional breakfast. Bluebird isn't spectacular though. Basically, do brunch.

    1. 4. I'd pass on the bbq shrimp poboy at Liuzza's by the track, but that's my opinion as others swear by it. I'd say get a roast beef poboy at R&O's in Bucktown, but again, that is just my opinion as I never see R&O's mentioned on any boards here.

      5. It is def. closed. They reopened briefly for a cookbook signing, but it was just for that, no food was served.

      6. Surprisingly, NOLA is not a great cab town, but the restaurants and hotel can call for you, so the wait shouldn't be long at all.

      7. I have never heard of Duke's mayo, my family ate nothing but Blue Plate. I just looked up Duke's online and can tell you that I have never seen that bottle in any store I have ever been in, so either it is not available in NOLA, or it is something new (as in the last 2 years).
      There are lots of little stores in the quarter that you can get the other items, and do try to get the Zapp's Creole Tomato flavored chips.

      1. 1. Herbsaint and Cochon are sufficiently different to merit dining at both.
        7. The old A&P supermarket on Royal St. is now a Rouse's supermarket, a great local chain. You should be able to find Zapps, Crystal, creole mustard, etc. at this store. Can't speak for the availability of andouille, etc at the Royal St. Rouse's, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          Herbsaint is far better than Cochon. If going to Cochon, I would stick to an all appetizer meal. I am a fan of both August and Cuvee. You can get a 1/2 po-boy w/ a cup of gumbo at Liuzzas for about $9. I like the breathtaking RB (with horseradish sauce), not dressed. Parkway is good for a po-boy as well. Cassamentos does a good softshell. Their oyster loaf comes on pan bread (like a loaf of Texas toast)..Galatoire's is quintessential NOLA. They will fix anything for you, just ask. Thanks for coming and enjoy!

        2. Thank you all for your responses! I think I will be keeping both Cochon and Herbsaint reservations. DH loved Cochon, and the menu at Herbsaint also looks very interesting. I would love to try both the garlic oyster po-boy and BBQ shrimp one at Liuzza's by the Track. I wish they had half portions because I think ordering two will be too much for us. As we're not in New Orleans all the time, perhaps we'll order both to try it and give our leftovers away (though DH thinks it's rude to give leftovers to people). But I really hate wasting food.

          Thinking about Galatoire's some more, I'm starting to have second thoughts. I think I may be in the "not getting it" camp. In NYC, I rarely go to steakhouses unless somebody really wants to go. While I love a nice rare porterhouse, it's really not on my crave list. I'll have a good time, but it just wouldn't be my first choice. And I remember my experience at Tadich Grill in San Francisco was fine, but not revelationary. I'm glad that I tried it, but I probably would have rather eaten somewhere else. I can picture Galatoire's in the same vein as Tadich Grill. While I can appreciate the history and ambiance of a restaurant, my #1 reason for going to a certain restaurant is the food -- and I'm just not sure if it's my cup of tea. I'm not saying that I only eat at restaurants that are modern and trendy and serve heritage organic pork belly with the latest "martini." But I'm not sure if I can appreciate the flavor profiles of Galatoire's. And I don't think DH was particularly that fond of the place. His exact words were, "It's all right. But you should go. It's an institution." If Galatoire's wasn't our last meal, I probably would be more for it. Oh boy, I'm probably obsessing about this more than I need to.

          Thanks for the info about the cabs and the markets. Too bad about Uglesich -- their website is very misleading. And too bad about the Duke's. I've first read about this on Chowhound and was dying to try it as many thought it was superior to Hellman's. And with my heavy eating itinerary, while I would love to do brunch, I think I will be too full. I'm thinking more on the lines of sharing a croissant or a couple of beignets for breakfast -- just something small and simple. When we travel, we tend to just have fruit for breakfast because our lunches and dinners are a lot heavier than what we eat on a daily basis. But I definitely have to make room for those delicious pastries. Actually, I love things like croissants, but not a huge fan of beignets. But I have this strange compulsion to have them when I'm in New Orleans -- kind of like my obsession with eating cheesesteaks in Philly even though it's really not my thing.

          HungryCeleste, just caught your great blog and your post about the omnivore's 100. Interesting list! Can you get Natchitoches meat pies in New Orleans? And where do you get American loquats and tarte a la bouille?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle

            Perhaps Sun. dinner at August or Commander's (garden room)? Foodwise both are better than Galatoire's. BTW, Galatoire's is open for lunch. If you do lunch, skip breakfast, do lunch early (11:30) and dinner late. When we lunch there we're not ready to eat until 8:30/9:00..

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Mespelouses (loquats, or japanese plums) are backyard produce in s LA--they seed easily and birds spread them all over the place. The fruit is sold only sporadically (I've seen them at independent small grocery stores), and you pretty much have to have a tree or pick them from a neighbor's tree.

              Tarte a la bouillie (custard sweet-dough tart) is strictly home cooking. Eventually, I'll get around to posting a recipe on the blog.

              Cochon usually has some variety of meat pie on the menu; come to think of it, it was a crawfish pie during my last visit. They're pretty widely available, as decent frozen versions are marketed by many companies. You can probably mail-order a case of Mrs. Wheat's to take home with you, should you desire. They're also easy to make from scratch, too.

            2. Pretty sure that Casamento's is closed on might want to switch that to Saturday since I still think it has the best oysters in the city. You may want to call them for availability though...there has been a DRAMATIC drop in fresh oyster availability in this city due to the hurricanes. I like Liuzza's, but don't think it's as essential as Casamento's, plus you could wander magazine street after. The neighborhood in Casamento's general vicinity has really taken off lately, and if you're coming this weekend, you could get quite a bit of Art for Art's Sake gallery hopping before heading back downtown for (a late) reservation @ Herbsaint. I'm also a big fan of Cuvee lately. As for Sunday brunch, I'd try Elizabeth's in the Bywater...the FQ tends to have relatively predictable and generally touristy brunches. And I think cabs are very easy to get in this just can't flag them down like you would in NYC unless you're in the FQ. Otherwise, look around you, get an address, and call 504-522-9771 (United) and they'll generally come get you pretty quick.

              3 Replies
              1. re: thursby

                "Pretty sure that Casamento's is closed on Sunday."

                Gasp!!! Thank you so much for pointing that out. I could have sworn I read somewhere that they were open on Sunday for lunch. I remember now -- it was in Frommers! The info must be outdated. Oh, I would have been so disappointed. You've saved me a lot of grief!

                Yes, I agree with you that I'd probably pick Casamento over Liuzza. Where else can you find oysters fried in lard? Sounds delectable! And it's been a while since I've been to Magazine Street but loved the vibe -- was more comfortable there than in French Quarter. I do like to pick up some art when I travel (if I can afford it and I see something I like), so I'd definitely be enjoying gallery hopping.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  All the rec'd po'boy places (and the non-rec'd ones too) are closed on Sunday.
                  I found out the hard way . . .

                  1. re: pitu

                    Parkway Bakery on Hagan is most definitely NOT closed on is open 11 am to 8 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.