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Nov 19, 2008 05:15 AM

"New" Restaurants

Visiting New Orleans for the 1st time in 6 years. If you had to pick one of the three which would it be and why - Cochon, August, Stella? Thanks!

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    1. When in New Orleans I prefer to stay with more local fare. Cochon is one of the best spots in town for that. Great place.

      1. re: WineAG

        where else do you like to eat when you are there? I am now thinking cochon for early on friday and then maybe brightsens on sat night? playing sat br/lunch by ear.

        1. re: lk_nyc

          Frank Brighten has been getting high praise for many years now and with good reason. It's a solid choice. His duck is a very popular dish and I highly recommend it... but all is good so go with something else if it strikes your fancy. I go to Emerils often (was there last week)... I like the food, the lively atmosphere (sometimes a bit too loud though) but the main draw for me is the wine list (which is one of the best in town).

          1. re: WineAG

            While Brigtsen's food is good example of local fare, I find many of his plates to be one dimensional in that the entree is the star with no supporting cast. Many are lazily plated with the same mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies rather than complimentary sides. Emeril's on the other hand puts out well composed plates whose components are perfect foils for each other. We were not previous fans of any of his venues until recently when we experienced (much to our surprise and delight) several outstanding meals. If you are interested in Cochon, IMO Link's other venue Herbsaint is far better. More upscale with a menu that doesn't disappoint (we have tried all, excluding salads). Cochon's best are the apps. I find the entrees mediocre. I am a fan of August. The food provides a polished representation of quality local ingredients.

            1. re: JazzyB


              I had not noticed this. Usually, I pick up similar. Maybe we've been having too grand a time, and I have just not done my job. I'll be more vigilant on my next trip.

              Thanks for pointing that out, re: Chef Frank's sides and plating.

              No arguments on August.


    2. I think Mike pretty much hit the nail on the head. August is a new take on Louisiana food. Besh brings his french background to bear on fresh, local ingredients. Stella is simply a new wave, fusion-type restaurant. There's not much Louisiana to it (last time there, the waiter assured me the shark fin broth was made of the genuine article imported from Asia). If you live in NYC, there's tons of places that are like Stella that are much better. In new orleans, it's probably the most forward thinking restaurant in town, but on a broader scale, Stella doesn't hold a candle to places like Tru in chicago, Lumiere in Vancouver, or Per Se in NYC. Can you get a good meal at Stella? Sure, but if you've been to some of the great restaurants that Stella seeks to emulate, you'll probably be disappointed.

      Cochon is a casual joint doing an upscale (in a culinary sense) version of Cajun food. It's altogether very different from August and Stella, but closer in attitude to August than Stella.

      That said, I would choose between Cochon and August. Same theme: new play on Louisiana ingredients but different atmosphere: August is formal, Cochon is casual. Hell, do Cochon for lunch and August for dinner. Cochon's better for lunch anyway.

      1. Depends a lot on what you wish to dine on. In very general terms, my choices would be:

        Restaurant August

        This is not based on the level of the food at any, but on the level of overall experience, and is heavily weighted on my personal experiences. All are good, for what they do. I also have to admit that I'm more of a fine-dining person, and do greatly appreciate a chef's innovation and the overall experience.

        Over the last couple of years, I've done reviews of all three of these. A "Search This Board" should yield my impressions, as well as many by the locals too. Remember, I am but a tourist when in NOLA. Still, I hope that I can provide you with some insight on each restaurant.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          They are all good restaraunts, but i would def suggest Stella! It is very good. And the chef is so freaking creative. The food is eclectic, but still familar. I love it.

        2. My ranking:
          1. August
          2. Stella
          3 (distant). Cochon

          I've talked with others who love Cochon, but I think it's considerably less interesting than it's sibling, Herbsaint. If you do Cochon, I'd make it lunch.

          August is great, and I agree that it's more local influenced than Stella. Stella is a great choice though and you'll be making a good choice either way.

          6 Replies
          1. re: maf

            Im currently looking at these 3 for a combo bday dinner for my father and brother.

            They are driving in from Baton Rouge, so I want the mood to strike as destination, but no too fussy. So I think im down to Stella or August, even though I know my father would really like Cochon's food.

            Which is more in-line with what im describing, Stella or August? Any other new places I should consider? I havent dinned out in New Orleans since graduating in 2005.

            1. re: ingramcol

              Stella and August have the fussiest food in town. For example, this is the first appetizer off the online menu at Stella:

              Roasted  Kabocha Squash Purée with
              Applewood Smoked Bacon and Valrhona Xocopili

              The first thing on August's menu is:

              Organic greens with pumpkin seed brittle, Point Reyes blue cheese and pumpkin
              seed oil vinaigrette

              However, if you think your dad would like the food at cochon best, I think August would be the best choice for him as opposed to Stella. Forgive me if I'm misreading your request, but I would only take people who like adventuresome food to either Stella or August. We had a nightmare experience at August with my and my wife's families. Both our families are fairly meat and potatoes types of people, so they were a little more than surprised at the menu and the prices. Ah win some you lose some. If your guests are up for whatever, Stella or August are both fantastic choices. Both are doing progressive dishes, but August has more of a local flare. Both have menus online, so check those out before you make a decision. Good luck.

              1. re: N.O.Food

                The "adventurous" aspect is definitely one to consider. Too often I see things through my own eyes and my own frame of reference. You bring up very good points, re: either.

                While we greatly enjoyed both, I can see how they could both be considered “fussy.”

                In both, portions are smallish, though the courses are plentiful. Still, they are neither restaurants, where one is likely to have leftovers. For me, this is good. For many others, well not so good.

                Cochon is far less “fussy,” though the overall experience is much more casual - laid-back.

                Your mention of the on-line menus is a good one. Couple those, with the various recs., and one can put together a dining plan. I always search for on-line menus, even with glowing CH reports, as my palate is not like everyone else’s. Still, the recommendations on CH rule. Very seldom have I gotten one that I would later question. Still, I also do additional homework.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Thank you both for your thoughtful and insightful breakdown of the above three restaurants. Yall gave me just the info I needed.

                  Went with the online menu suggestion, and the consensus pick was August. I think having a bit more of an LA-influence was the deciding factor. The folks like to taste the place they are at I guess, which I certainly get.

                  The entire family are pretty adventurous eaters with my mom being the notable exception. But shes such a good sport that its never really a problem unless the cuisine is decidedly seafood and spicy. But I definitely feel yall on the challenges of dinning out with less-adventurous eaters.

                  I certainly will report back, and again thanks for giving me the insight that can be so hard to find and that chowhound is so good at providing.

                  1. re: ingramcol

                    I do feel your pain. We've done a couple of trips "back" to NOLA with MIL. She will eat cerain oyster dishes and fried chicken ONLY. That's why she gets to visit family on some nights, and my wife and I go on a date.

                    RE: Restaurant August. I think you will find an awful lot to love. I do not recall of any stipulations on the chef's tasting. There could also be a timing issue, should only some do it.

                    Only caveat that I can offer is to really question, should you add the "sommelier's wine pairing." The wine list was very good, and there were some interesting half-bottles too. However, on our night, the sommelier was "asleep at the wheel," and it marred an otherwise wonderful meal. I hope that things have changed, in this respect, as it was obviously out of touch with the kitchen and with the level of food/service of this restaurant.

                    Most of all, enjoy! Please share your reviews with the board.


                2. re: N.O.Food

                  That soup at Stella is truly one of the most indulgent, well-thought out and palate pleasing dishes I have ever had. Perfectly balanced-creamy and crunchy, salty and sweet. It may be "fussy" but the fact is it works and is nothing more than creamy soup. Something any fussy eater should enjoy.

                  But yes, your general consensus that less adventurous eaters should stay away, I would second. Better to give them a great meal that they recognize than chance a bad meal solely because the guest is uncomfortable.