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Old School

ZestyZ Mar 3, 2009 06:18 AM

I've been to NOLA a few times and have been consistently overwhelmed by the quality of the food. We are getting married there to share it with our loved ones and have three dinners after the wedding madness that I'm hoping can be especially spectacular. We've loved August and Stella as well as divey type places (Acme, Central Grocery, Coop's) but I was thinking it would be fun to hit some of the classics in the Quarter/CBD. What THREE would you choose Arnaud, Broussard's, Commander's Palace, Antoine's, KPaul's, Emeril's, Galatoire's for the best shot at great food and a special evening? It will be on a Wednsday, Sunday, and Monday nights if that makes a difference. We aren't big drinkers so quality grub is the most important and since it's our honeymoon we are willing to splurge.

  1. BayouTeche Mar 3, 2009 06:40 AM

    Galatoire's, Commander's and Arnaud's.

    Personally, not thrilled with Broussard's. I haven't been to Antoine's, but word on the street hasn't been positive. KPauls, eh. Emeril's isn't exactly "old school". I would consider replacing Arnaud's with Emeril's Delmonico, however.

    1. nikinik Mar 3, 2009 08:16 AM

      Commander's, Galatoire's, Antoine's

      I've heard nothing but great reviews on Antoine's...especially post K.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nikinik
        Bill Hunt Mar 4, 2009 04:55 PM

        That is good to hear. We did them twice pre-K, and were horribly disappointed on both evenings - one JUST before Katrina. They are held in a special place in my heart, but those last two visits turned me off big-time. Glad to hear that they may be on the mend. I only hope so.


      2. j
        JazzyB Mar 3, 2009 08:44 AM

        Emeril's has been outstanding our past 4 dinners. I prefer Commander's for lunch M-F, garden room. Galatoire's is as always, quintessential New Orleans. Although in the riverbend, Brigtsen's is old school and delicious.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JazzyB
          nikinik Mar 3, 2009 10:09 AM

          I too was going to suggest Brightsens but the poster said they wanted Quarter/CBD area. But definitely +1 for Brightsens.

          1. re: JazzyB
            Bill Hunt Mar 4, 2009 04:58 PM

            I guess that we just view "old school" a bit differently. Semantics on my part. Now, I love Brigtsen's and appreciate Chef Frank's take on NOLA cuisine. We dine there on almost every trip. I was trying to keep my references to my perception of what the OP was looking for.

            If travel permits, and the food IS the big draw, then do, by all means, add Brigtsen's to the mix. You will not likely be disappointed.


            1. re: Bill Hunt
              hazelhurst Mar 5, 2009 07:20 AM

              This raises the interesting question as to when someting becomes "old school"--when does someone cease being an acquaitnance and move to being a friend? I suppose for some people K-Paul might be "old school", if you were ten years old in the mid 1970's. I think I'd say the old warhorses we all know--including Antoines, regardless of reputation--are the Old School, what used to be called "A First Platoon." Established as it is, I'd not call Manale's Old School but thisis no knock on it. In just the last generation, the Old School places in many cities have vanished--I can think of several in New York--and we are lucky indeed to have as many of the Guardians still among us. And it has been interesting to see the changes in those guardians. Time was when Antoine's did things that were very rare in America (skate comes to mind and I knew a man who got tripe even when it was off the menu). The food "revolution" has been good for many of these restaurants that wandered from the old days of digging out bone marrow in favor of a packaged product. The shame is that many of the little "old guard" palces (I think of Maylie's) are gone. That was the sort of place that made New Orleans the best eating town in the US because the average man had a better standard of what is good than anyone elsewhere. (You can argue for Baltimore and San Francisco, as Mencken did). Well, just some idle thoughts.....

              1. re: hazelhurst
                Bill Hunt Mar 5, 2009 08:09 PM

                II saw a bit of that, in this thread. Gosh, I only wish that I was 10 in 1970!

                I tried to qualify my position, but also realize that most did not recall, nor experience Chef Paul, back in the CP days.

                Definitely, "old school," is relative to the poster, and to those, who reply. That is why I did so many parenthetic comments. What is "old school" to me, might well be ancient history to most. While I would not trade my life for anything, I also realize that I am an anachronism to many.

                It is predicated on one’s frame of reference, and on their personal perception. For me, it’s over many decades and that might not play to the majority on this board. That is a wonderful thing about the NOLA board - it has a bunch of locals, plus some “old timers,” who harken back to a much earlier time. Much has changed, even pre-K. Factor in Katrina, and even more has changed, so one’s reference should change too. Mine certainly have. Much of what I thought that I knew intimately, just does not exist any longer. Being from the Gulf Coast, I have had to totally reevaluate my knowledge, and my experiences.

                For me, I typify most of these as the "Grand Dames," of New Orleans cuisine.

                I also feel the same for Pascual’s Manale. While it has been around, since I can recall, it was never part of that fraternity (or sorority?), though quite good at what they do.


                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  hazelhurst Mar 6, 2009 06:09 AM

                  The "Katrina Effect" is worthy of inquiry and it is only now that things have settled enough to begin a proper assessment, I think. To put this in Gulf Coast terms, it is akin to the closing ( and dynamiting--and dynamiting-and dynamiting) of the Edgewater Gulf and the destruction of Angelo's, all in a few years of each other. That dramtically changed the Coast

          2. b
            Bocuse NOLA Mar 3, 2009 09:28 AM

            Galatoire's, Antoine's, and Commander's.

            I like Emeril's, but ditto with Teche on it not being "old school."

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bocuse NOLA
              ZestyZ Mar 4, 2009 05:44 AM

              That's for the correction on what is and isn't "old school." I guess I was just trying to make the distinction based on my perception, not experience or extensive research.

            2. N.O.Food Mar 3, 2009 03:15 PM

              Galatoire's, Commander's (not in the quarter or cbd), and Emeril's would be my three. You might switch K-Paul's for Emeril's, but it's been forever since I've been there. I would take Brigtsen's over Emeril's and K-Paul's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: N.O.Food
                joedontexan Mar 4, 2009 02:47 PM

                Antoines for sure same family owned it since it opened in 1840 by gawd. OLd school in a class by itself but only go at dinner and dress to the nines. Oyster Foch, and Chicken Rochambeau are a couple of recommendations and you have to order a baked alaska but order it at the first of the meal it takes a while to prepare one.

              2. Bill Hunt Mar 4, 2009 04:53 PM

                From your list, I would choose in this order:
                1.) Galatoire's (without hesitation)
                2.) Arnaud's (based on several previous visits)
                3.) Broussard's (same as above)
                4.) Commander's Palace (though they did fall off my top 10 list)
                5.) K-Paul's (though they have been around for decades and are great, I do not consider them in the "Old School," because I knew NOLA cuisine before K-Paul's, back when he was the exec. chef at Commander's)
                6.) Emeril's (see above)
                7.) Antoine's (definitely "old school," but disappointing on the last two visits. I wish them luck and hope for the best, but would have to read a lot of great reviews on CH to get me back - sorry.)

                For just the food, regardless of the definition of the restaurant, I'd alter the order to:
                1.) Galatoire's
                2.) K-Paul's
                3.) Emeril's
                4.) The rest...

                Just my opinion,


                [Edit] See my comments, re: Brigtsen's above. I would place them as #2 for the food. It is probably just a matter of what "old school" means to the people who are replying to your request.

                1. z
                  ZestyZ Mar 10, 2009 02:27 PM

                  Galatoire's seems like the only place there is any kind of consensus on. Are any of the others more casual for dinner or are they all "coats/ties" type places? We may be too tired to dress up so may need to rethink this plan.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ZestyZ
                    hazelhurst Mar 10, 2009 02:49 PM

                    Well, Commander's, Antoine's, Arnaud's and of course Galatoire's are all restaurants I'd not be caught dead in without a coat and tie but there are often men on open shirt and jacket. I think the unknown eater probably gets a little extra credit from the house if dressed up. One day when the A/C blew up in Galatoire's we were told it was OK to take off our jackets...sorry, not me. I argue strongly that you make the modest effort and got to Galatoire's which is something you'll not find anywhere else on the planet.

                    1. re: hazelhurst
                      Bill Hunt Mar 10, 2009 06:13 PM

                      Well stated.

                      When we last dined at Antoine's, I told our male guest that it was coat and tie. To test me, he called, as he's not a "tie sorta' guy." He was told, to paraphrase, "gentlemen are requested to wear jackets, but a tie is not mandatory." Well, that night half of the men in the dining room did not even have jackets. I think that enforcement of dress-codes is loosening. To me, this is not really a good thing, but seems more commonplace. A gentleman in a jacket will be appreciated by most of the other diners, and, as mentioned, possibly by the FOH.

                      Out of habit, I will grab my blazer, even for less formal restaurants, like Cochon, even if I'm the only one wearing a jacket.

                      To Hazelhurst,

                      A couple of years ago, our London trip was moved to June. It was killer hot (about 300 people died in London and Paris during that heatwave). We were in a similar situation, as yours, but the restaurant did not have AC. It was also a lot less formal, than Galatoire's. For the first time in my life, I took off my jacket, at my wife's urging. Also, I had to wear that same jacket for three more evenings, and the cleaners just up from our flat was closed for the weekend. It just takes a lot to make that happen.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        hazelhurst Mar 11, 2009 07:52 AM

                        The rot is pervasive...a friend recently told me that Wilton's was no longer requiring a necktie. If Wilton's yields then Civilisation's days are marked. Next thing you know they'll be making "martinis" out of vodka.......

                  2. m
                    MsAnnaNOLA Mar 10, 2009 08:00 PM

                    I went to Antoine's in September for my sister's birthday. The food was not that great and it was very very expensive. The whole menu is a' la carte. Having said that if you have a big group they can accomodate you, so that may be a consideration.

                    I have to say I tend to not like the "traditional creole" places as the food is very heavy. Of those on your list K-Pauls is closer to cajun than creole but the food is still very very heavy. There are few lighter options available on these menus. Galatoire's is "traditional creole" as well so it will also be very heavy.

                    I would consider who is in your party and if there will be enough variety if you choose three restuarants that are traditional creole. I think mixing in a Stella or similar "contemporary creole" would give a little more variety and a more rounded out view of New Orleans cuisine.

                    Personally I can only eat traditional creole once in a while even when it is very good. Eating three of these meals in a short period would be increasing your waistline at the very least.

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