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SF Hound Needs Advice/Critique of Food Itin

I am coming to New Orleans the second weekend in Oct for a wedding. We will arrive Thur evening and leave Sunday afternoon. We are staying at he Marriott near the FQ. This is the first time in New Orleans for my traveling companion and my first time in 10 years (so I'm sure lots of have changed). We are both very food obsessed people and are very adventurous palate wise. Price isn't really an issue but we do want to mix it up a bit with upscale places and down-home spots. As we are coming from San Francisco, we want to concentrate on things that are unique to New Orleans and not necessarily have another restaurant that does an interpretation of the Alice Waters-thing. So right now we are thinking Creole and Cajun. My traveling companion in particular has not really experienced these cuisines and I want to show him the best. We are also very fond of cocktail culture and would be grateful if this board can point us to the best cocktail-centric places.

Our itin so far:

Thur Evening - ? (need quick, takeout, portable food option between getting in from the airport and meeting the bride and groom at MiLA in the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel for drinks)

Fri Breakfast - ?

Fri Lunch - Antoine's or Acme (or some other casual seafood place - too bad it's not crawfish season)

Fri Dinner - Herbsaint

Sat Breakfast - ?

Sat Lunch - Galatoire's (is being downstairs much better? we do need to control the time on this day as it's the day of the wedding and we can only make res upstairs)

Sat Dinner - Mothers (fixed as this is where their reception is)

Sun Brunch - Brennan's

Any advice would be much appreciated. Also, is Antoine's and Galatoire's too much repeat of the same thing? What are Central Grocery's hours for muffletas? And where in FC or surrounding area can I get good boudain?

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  1. Thurs evening--why not just have appetizers at MiLa before you have drinks? Or pop over to Cafe Adelaide in the Loew's hotel for an app or two.

    NOLA isn't a super breakfast town, IMHO. Take the streetcar to Camellia Grill for atmosphere, or just skip breakfast and save your calories for lunch at Casamento's (fills your Fri lunch needs for casual seafood). Or head over to Lil Dizzy's on Poydras.

    Brunch at Brennan's is the most sorely overrated thing in the entire city. Skip it, and skip Antoine's, too--go funky and have brunch at Elizabeth's or upscale at Commander's or grab some beignets at Cafe du Monde.

    If you are really interested in cajun food, Cochon is missing from your list, and K-Paul's is worthy, too.

    -----
    Cochon
    930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    Camellia Grill
    626 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

    Casamento's Restaurant
    4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

    Commander's Palace Restaurant
    1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

    K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen
    416 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA

    Elizabeth's Restaurant
    601 Gallier St, New Orleans, LA 70117

    Cafe Adelaide
    300 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130

    2 Replies
    1. re: Hungry Celeste

      Okay, I should clarify...
      We heard good things about Cochon but cannot go there on Fri for dinner as the wedding couple is having there family dinner there and would be awkward.
      The wedding starts at Cafe Du Monde so we will have that also already.
      We don't need to have breakfast. It's jsut open in case there's somewhere we HAVE TO go to.

      1. re: vliang

        I agree with skipping Brennan's. Reserve the garden room at CP. Perhaps August or Cuvee for Fri. lunch. Definitely downstairs at Galatoire's. Shouldn't be a problem getting seated early on Sat.

    2. I definitely think you should eat at MiLa. I think they are doing quite progressive things with southern food. Everything is a twist on a southern classic. I was blown away by their tasting menu.

      Cafe Adelaide is the sister restaurant to Commander's Palace. If you can't make the trip Uptown on Friday for lunch, this would be a good subsititue on Thursday evening.

      I am a fan of Herbsaint, but I believe Cuvee is much better. Herbsaint is a little more casual though if you want to keep things low key.

      You can't miss with Galatoire's. It's a classic and the service is impeccable. Downstairs is usually walk in, and reservations are for upstairs (I think). Maybe that's changed.

      1. I would skip Antoine's and Brennan's, but I would do Galatoire's. I would also try to get Commander's for brunch. MiLA is one of the best new restaurants in town. I would definitely eat there your first night.

        Do Blue Plate Cafe for breakfast.

        Try to do Mandina's for a casual spot. It's cash-only, but they have an atm on site.

        I have yet to find good boudin in New Orleans. If you locate some, let me know.

        1. Not sure if you meant to equate Antoine's with Acme, but they're very different, and only one is a casual seafood place (Acme). Neither is the best you can do if you want great seafood. Casamento's is a good suggestion. I'm a big fan of Bozo's in Metairie, but I doubt you'll make it out there. Parkway Bakery in Mid-City has delicious poboys. The best in the city.

          I agree that you should skip Brennan's and go funky for breakfast one day. You should look at the Marigny and Bywater. Elizabeth's gets high marks.

          And yes, Galatoire's is best when you sit downstairs. The food is solid, I think it's delicious, but it's not really innovative. (Fish here is usually excellent. Ask your waiter what's good that day. Get it sauteed with crabmeat, and split a Goutee platter. It will probably be swimming in butter, fair warning) The real draw is the raucous atmosphere, and that only exists downstairs. You'll be holding it together for the wedding, but Galatoire's cannot be enjoyed without a cocktail, and they make a strong one. Avoid a Sazerac if you don't like licorice, but if you like it, get one -- it's a historic New Orleans drink.

          1. I agree with MiLa but my experience with people visiting from San Francisco is that they try our food and then post reviews trashing their dining experiences. It does seem dis proportionate and I don't know the reason why.
            You will not get anything you are used to and maybe you will not like what you have, but keep in mind this is a cuisine that is indigenous to our unique cross culture and is incomparable any where in the nation. We don't pretend to be trendy or ground breaking, but we do have dozens of chefs in the city that keep it interesting and new, with a strong emphasis on local seafood and local ingredients .

            Skip Brennans,hugely over priced but a cliche New Orleans experience. Venture over to Frenchman st. and try Marigny Brasserie

            I hope your are the exception to the rule and have a truly memorable dining experience.

            Thanks for visiting.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Tonto

              As I was trying to state in my original post.... we are not trying to duplicate the SF/ California/ slow food cuisine a la Chez Panisse and its off-springs in New Orleans. We want old school Creole and down home Cajun. We can do with one meal of re-interpreted New Orleans, but we don't want to see yet another plate of artisnal salumi, heirloom tomato salad, or wood oven grilled Niman Ranch whatever. We can get that in SF. It's a pity that it seems a high number of our SF brethren have come in expecting differently.

              We want the pool of butter, the original Sazerac, the local raw bar...

              Unfortunately, we are a bit confined to the wedding schedule constraints and can't really trek all over town. Lookign forward to the good eating!

              1. re: vliang

                Bon Ton - excellent representation of N.O. food - my faves there are the crabmeat au gratin, house salad with house vinaigrette and bread pudding with rum sauce

                Parasol - poboys & sometimes gumbo

                Parkway - poboys

                Napoleon House - a nice mix of food & have a pimm's cup while sitting in the courtyard

                1. re: vliang

                  Based on these comments alone, you should look into Restaurant August. Chef Besh does some wonderful things with tomatoes and I am NOT a real tomato fan.

                  For "pool of butter" (a great description, by the way), Galetoire's is going to be your best bet, and it's also a NOLA tradition.

                  Thank you for the above clarification, as both cities offer some great food, albeit totally different cuisines. I appreciate knowing what you are looking for. We end up spending as much time in SF, as NOLA, and greatly enjoy the different dining experiences.

                  I still stick with my other recs., even with this clarification - especially the "lost bread" at The Coffee Pot, nee Maxie's Coffee Pot (butter fetish WILL be fulfilled!)

                  Hunt

                  -----
                  Restaurant August
                  301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

              2. Okay, so given your suggestions... how about this revised itin:

                Thur Evening - MiLA (can we order food at the bar?)

                Fri Lunch - Galatoire Downstairs

                Fri Dinner - Herbsaint

                Sat Lunch - Casamento's

                Sat Dinner - Mothers (fixed as this is where their reception is)

                Sun Brunch - Commander's Palace

                Sun for Plane - Central Grocery muffaletas

                Is this better? Upon further thought.... given all the evening wedding festivities planned (cocktail parties, etc.) we probably won't be getting up for breakfast so early lunch will do.

                8 Replies
                1. re: vliang

                  Excellent plan. Oh, I just realized you have Gal's for Friday lunch. You need to get there very early on Fridays. I mean like 9:30 if you want to have a chance at getting in at a decent time. Maybe someone is a regular Friday patron that can tell you an exact time to get there in order to be seated downstairs. I haven't been for fri lunch in a while, but I called a few weeks ago at 10:30 am to check on the wait and was told that we couldn't be seated downstairs until about 2-2:30. Of course we didn't go. Friday lunch at Gal's is a huge deal and is a heck of a lot of fun, but it requires a serious wait. If you don't feel like doing that, just switch Casamento's with Gal's and you'll be fine. Should be a great trip. Have fun.

                  1. re: vliang

                    Just got back. Love Love Love New Orleans.
                    **Sunday for Plane - Central Grocery muffaletas -- I think it's CLOSED on Sunday (and Monday?), so get them in advance. I kept passing by when it was closed (sooo sad, peering in the window at the cans of good Sicilian sardines. It's a daytime place.)

                    Total novice here, but just got back from a wedding too. I live in NYC, and was really looking for all Creole/Cajun/Southern all the time. You need biscuits for breakfast! Or maybe shrimp and grits. : ) I envy your Herbsaint reservation btw. We did not have enough time outside of wedding activities and skipped the fine dining.

                    For informal, Coops Place, late or early. Sausage/rabbit jambalaya, with or without "supreme" treatment of tasso and shrimp. I would go there straight from the airport. It's sooooo easy going and the dudes that run the place are very nice. Not sure what time they start serving, but we ate there at 5 or 6, then another day at midnight. YUM.
                    Did *not* love their red beans or shrimp creole, but that may be my personal tastes against whatever the herb spice was that ruled both. (HUNGRY CELESTE and JazzyB can you tell me what that spice/herb is? And your recs culled from this board were very helpful - THX)

                    I really liked Felix's for raw oysters, across the street from Acme. It was our opening lunch, and could work for your Thursday. No glamor, great horseradish. Avoid Bourbon St if you don't want to feel like poking out your eyes. Or look up. It's beautiful above the street level porn and everclear cocktail 3-4-1 situation.

                    Benignets at 24 hour Cafe du Monde. Of course, late one night after a stroll. Split an order, and have milk if you don't want coffee late. Embrace the pile of powdered sugar...

                    And Abita Amber tastes really good on Frenchman St. I like the Spotted Cat. Grungy. Great music. (d.b.a. was nothing special on the beer variety and music front)

                    Have a great trip!

                    1. re: vliang

                      Central Grocery closed on Sundays and Mondays.

                      1. re: vliang

                        I have read that you cannot order food at the bar at MiLa but I've never tried.

                          1. re: cheesegrater

                            Oops I'm sorry. Thanks cheesegrater I hate to be the bearer of misinformation! Thinking back on it you are absolutely right.

                        1. re: vliang

                          So a couple of other changes...

                          I just checked Casamento's hours and looks like we can't eat there for lunch. Our window for lunch eating is between 1:45 and 3:00PM. Looks like Acme is open then. Is that okay?

                          Really... Cuvee or Herbsaint? I heard one vote for Cuvee.

                          1. re: vliang

                            I usually hit Acme for oysters and a pitcher of Abita Amber on my trips to New Orleans.

                            I'd opt for Herbsaint . . .

                        2. >>> Fri Lunch - Antoine's or Acme (or some other casual seafood place - too bad it's not crawfish season)

                          Sat Lunch - Galatoire's (is being downstairs much better? we do need to control the time on this day as it's the day of the wedding and we can only make res upstairs) <<<

                          Flip these. Do "FRIDAY LUNCH" at Galatoire's . . . have oysters and a pitcher of Abita at Acme for Saturday lunch.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: zin1953

                            Friday lunch is too damn loud, too damn long unless you're determined to drink most of your lunch.

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                              A-men, sister. It has also become too much of a see-and-be -seen event for arrivistes and just an excuse to misbehave. One of the Old Line waiters lamented last year (on one of those interminable Birthday Days--must have had six of them) that The Old Man would never have tolerated it.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                I'm sure the Old Man could tell us some scandalous stories of rowdy Friday lunches at Galatoire's from the old days. My dad sure can. (Most seem to involve attorneys and elected officials with women who may be call girls.) It's not a new phenomenon. Perhaps back in the Good Old Days the misbehavior happened more organically, whereas now it's forced? Whatever the case, it doesn't bother me.

                                It may bother the original poster, though, if she's not in the mood for a noisy sauce-fest. If you want a quiet lunch, I'd stay away.

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  Most of the time, it's no louder than some of the places here in the SF Bay area. (Of course, there was that time when the six members of Tremé came through playing their instruments, but I've only been there once when that happened.) And as for "see-and-be-seen," there is an aspect of that at virtually EVERY great restaurant, whether in the Vieux Carré, Las Vegas, Boston, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Paris, London . . . .

                                  I've never drunk most of my lunch -- the most my wife and I have done is share a bottle of wine with our lunch, and that's not an uncommon occurrence when we're on vacation. Typically, however, it's a cocktail for my wife and a glass of wine for me (and how our waiter remembers what Lynn drinks is beyond me!). We've never seen a menu, and always enjoyed BOTH our lunch AND "the floor show" . . .

                                  Cheers,
                                  Jason

                                  OK, six birthdays are a bit much -- but isn't that true for any single shift at ANY restaurant???

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Jason,

                                    You know that I hardly ever disagree with you (except for Stella!, but your experience was totally unlike mine, and I do not doubt your's for a moment), but I find dining in SF to be very quiet, in comparisson. One of the things that I like about that city. THAT was my biggest complaint about MiLa (review coming up). If they had created a noise barrier in their "wine room," they would have gotten near perfect marks (except for some comments regarding salt). Unfortunately, there is but a "bead curtain" separating that area from the rest of the dining room. NOLA can be a noisy dining venue, and I am not a fan of noise! (I'll have a review on the SW Board of a venue at the Camelback Inn, that was horribly ruined by shouting, screaming folk.)

                                    Recently, had a wonderful meal at the New Orleans Grill (Windsor Court), and I'd had a rather bad experience in years past. The venue was wonderfully quiet - rather like what I have come to expect in SF. I like to dine amidst ladies and gentlemen, behaving as ladies and gentlemen, but I am very old-school.

                                    I do not wish to take this thread too far off-topic, and apologize beforehand, if I have.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      No apologies required at all!

                                      I'll confess I wasn't thinking of, say, Gary Danko or Masa, or even upstairs at Chez Panisse, but places more like Caesar's, Fonda's, Pizzaiolio, etc. But your point, Bill, is certainly well-taken!

                                      So . . . you suggesting that on my trip in November, I by-pass MiLa for the New Orleans Grill? ;^)

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        No. Do not bypass MiLa. It is very interesting, and along the lines of Vidalia's in DC, but with a NOLA twist.

                                        Sorry that I will NOT be in NOLA in Nov, as I'd drag you (and your lovely wife) to Stella! and then to MiLa - my treat.

                                        Only complaint that I had with MiLa was the noise level and the acoustics of the dining area. If I were their designer, I'd add some sound absorbing walls around the area behind the display wine cellar. Those beaded curtains do not do anything to enhance the experience.

                                        We happened to be there on a night with a party of about 12, celebrating a birthday, just outside our area. They were more like soccer moms, when their child was about to score. It was not until our dinner, two nights ago in Tucson, that I have been exposed to such yelling, screaming and outrageous laughter. As a note, we could not hear the conversation of the party of six, immediately behind us, but could not speak, even to the companion to either side at our table, because of this party only 20 feet away. In a similar incident at Viognier in San Mateo, the management asked such a party to please leave. This was so over the top, that I am at a loss for words to fully describe it.

                                        Enjoy your trip. I'm putting together reviews, though not that much higher-end, from our recent trip. Even if you pan some of my favs., I look forward to reading your reviews.

                                        Hunt

                            2. Reviews of recent trip in the works, but probably too late to help you, so follow along with with.

                              I liked MiLa a lot. It was not perfect, though very good. I like the apps. idea, especially 'cause you're there.

                              For breakfast within walking distance, I'd opt for The Coffee Pot on St. Peter St. and a streetcar ride to Camillia Grill.

                              Galetoire's is worth the trip, even if you do the reservations upstairs. Yeah, it's not quite the same "experience," but I'm usually in your boat with regards to time. Upstairs is better than not dining there. Food is the same. It's about the ambiance only. Come back, stand in line, and do downstairs next trip.

                              Was horribly unimpressed with Antoine's, but that was pre-K (immediately pre-K).

                              Had another brunch at Brennans and was impressed a second time. That hurts, as I was never a fan, when we lived there, and know that many still do not like it. Still, they have scored highly on two recent trips. What can I say? It is not cheap, but both trips have been a good value for the $.

                              For brunch, I have also had great meals at Ralph's on the Park. It's a streetcar ride and a walk, or a cab ride, but with three trips in succession, they have delivered.

                              Now, in your wonderful city, I'm a big fan of Michael Mina's, Restaurant Gary Danko and Farallon, if that helps set a common frame of reference. We also enjoy Bacar, Aqua and Fifth Story.

                              Hunt - sorry that my new reviews will not be posted for a few days...

                              -----
                              Coffee Pot Restaurant
                              714 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                              Galatoire's Restaurant
                              209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                              Brennan's Restaurant
                              417 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                              Ralphs On the Park
                              900 City Park Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119

                              Mila
                              817 Common Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                I really must second the vote for Brennan's. I know it is expensive, but the Turtle Soup, Eggs Hussarde, Crepes Fitzgerald, Bananas Foster, and Brandy Milk Punch are fantastic examples of traditional New Orleans cuisine for me. And the last time I went right after the re-opening, it was superb!

                              2. Fri drinks- have them in the Hotel, not the resteraunt. the bartender, chris, is amazing, a bartenders bartender, probably one of the best , if not the best anywhere. Also- try to visit the food and cocktail museum , ( in riverwalk) a highlight of my last visit. Commanders for Sun brunch is awesome, however you may need to be rolled out, it is very rich. You also may want to consider a wheel chair at the airport- you may need that ( and some big sweatpants).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rkaene

                                  I thought Chris gave up bartending. Maybe two different Chris's. I am thinking of Chris who worked at the Ritz.

                                2. links

                                  -----
                                  Acme Oyster House
                                  724 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                  Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand
                                  800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                                  Central Grocery Co
                                  923 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116