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Apr 1, 2009 11:34 AM

NOWFE Vinter Dinners

I am looking for some feedback on the vinter dinners during New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. My husband and I attended one two years ago, and we were blown away by the experience. One thing among many that stood out was the continuous pours of wine. I question whether this was specific to the one we attended or whether we should expect that our experience was indicative of the overall philosophy regardless of which restaurant/vinter option we choose.

Any feedback from others who have attended previously would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and Happy Festival Season!!!

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  1. I think in general your experience is replicated around town. I too am looking forward to this year. But a few developments have caused concern. The price points on this year's dinners have crept towards the absurd. Many are easily over $100 a pop, in years past I remember more being clustered in the $60-85 range.

    Also, it appears the strong arm of the Brennan clan have monopolized some of the best wineries and stuck them in their chain-esque spots. My last visits in any non-Commander's Brennans has been absolutely horrendous. Finally, there has been a noticeable shift towards hotel restaurants, which is not a bad thing, but leaves out some of New Orleans best restaurants.

    All that being said, I am leaning towards Wolfe's (on Rampart), Mila, or La Petite Grocery. Commanders and Plumpjack sold out already, shucks.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Lyonola

      When we went two years ago to The Grill Room it was $125 per person. I too am dissapointed by Commanders being sold out. I think Mila will be great, but we were there within the past month so I am strongly considering going in a different direction just for variety sake. Have you been to La Petite Grocery? I am not too much of a Joel Dondis fan outside of Sucre'. Maybe my experience at La Petite was out of the norm.

      1. re: MrsJeffchow

        I have found Mr. Dondis' spots to be only as good as his chef partner. I have not been to La Petite for anything substantial since the Schulte's left. However, they did recently cook at the Beard House, and I know everyone in the kitchen and Mr. Dondis can cook, so perhaps they are more focused now.

        I ate at Wolfes (nee Peristyle, neer Marti's) recently and it was a fabulous meal, so I am leaning there regardless of the menu.

        1. re: Lyonola

          Lyonola, would you care to indulge us and expand on your Wolfe's experience? I went to Peristyle about 2 or 3 years ago and was terribly disappointed. I love the space and was hoping things would improve. I'd really like to give it another shot, but haven't heard much (good or bad) recently.

          1. re: BayouTeche

            We went on a rainy Friday night. Place was not crowded. We opted out of the tasting menu and instead put together a sampler of appetizers, small plates, and one entree. Began with an amuse of strawberry cured salmon with creme fraiche and caviar. First course out was a sweetbread dish that blew us away. Big chunks of perfectly cooked thymus, crispy on the exterior and almost molten interior. Then a foie course with berry compote, again outstanding. Next up was a duck rillette salad course. Really nicely done but the rillette was just a tad salty on its on but taken with the balsamic reduction and green salad was a nicely dissipated. Then the crabmeat and beet salad. Was not my favorite, as the crabmeat was a tad salty and heavy but the beets were cooked very nicely. Lastly steak tartare, perfectly executed.

            Ohh and a cheese course and a wine with each course. Bill came to about 160 with tax and tip. Very good service and excellent wine pairings including a delicious earthy Burgundy with the tartare.

            Full report with photos here:

            1. re: Lyonola

              Thanks! I may have to move them back into rotation.

        2. re: MrsJeffchow

          Went to La Petite Grocery about two weeks ago and had a fantastic experience. My wife had the crispy skin Snapper (? We'd been drinking most of the day at JazzFest) and I had some fantastic lamb. Service could have been a little better, but prices and food were quite good.

        3. re: Lyonola

          Went to Premium Wine Dinner kickoff last night. It was great - especially the crabmeat lasagna (mostly lump crabmeat in a taragon vinaigrette). Wines were fantastic. Will be going to MiLa tonight. Menu looks great and i know those two can cook. It willbe interesting to see how the service staff handles the event and what pace the kitchen sets. Meals at MiLa can take longer than other places.. Regarding prices, while a bit high, they are a relative bargain. Similar events at EPCOT cost over twice as much. If you want to keep prices down, look toward Tom Fitzmorris's Eat Club Dinners. They are usually between $65-$90, inclusive.

          1. re: SteveOh

            Can't wait to hear about MiLa. I don't think the price is outrageous, my only concern with it is that we like to go to these with a large group, and for some reason anything over $100 causes concern in the group, while all price points below are open season. We are going to La Cote tonight, and really excited for it.
            Especially I want to hear about the Sorting tables wines.


            1. re: Lyonola

              Let's do wines first. I like most wines, spouse prefers Reds. Started with a Viognier which I probably (defintiely) drank too much of. Very refreshing start. Went well with the canapes. I liked the Redfish spread on fingerling potato skins the best. The other two (Cheese in Phyllo and Hushpuppy caviar) were underwhelming. I could have skipped both wine and first course of Terrine. To me if you are going to have foie gras, have it - don't make a terrine out of it (and this terrine added no other textures). The Soft Shell crab and risotto was delicious and the chardonnay went very well with it. They substituted grouper for monkfish and prepared it beautifully. Wrapped in a very thin slice of pancetta to keep it moist, accompanied by morels and paired with a scrumptious Pinot Noir. By now we are full (and as is typical at MiLa, 2.5 hours have passed). Took one bite of the Lamb Saddle and vegetable canneloni - they were delicious but had to take them home. The Cabernet was fantastic - really rich. Dessert was not as good as it sounded. Most of the taste was the buttery pastry crust and very little apricot or almond. When I think apricot, I think of the taste of California fruits and they used turkish here which added almost no flavor. All in all, for $95 it was a steal.

              1. re: SteveOh


                Maybe I missed it, but who was the vintner for the MiLa dinner?

                Sounds interesting.



                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Distributor was Sorting Table - Check the NOWFE site (wine dinners) for the actual wines paired

        4. We've attended about four over the years. The unlimited pours have been commonplace in all. However, the pairings have not been that good for some. Even one winemaker, who does almost all Zinfandel wondered, aloud, why he was paired with a 100% seafood restaurant, while another winemaker, who specializes in Chardonnays, was paired with a steak house.

          Have not attended post-K, so do not know if they have addressed these types of issues. We loved the vintner's dinners, but always wished that they did more of these, during the course of the event.

          The various breakout sessions were always good, though it seemed that the ones that we all wanted to attend were at the same time! Also, many overlapped, so one ended up with dead time. Again, maybe the committees have done a better job of this.

          Just my observations,


          7 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            We went to the Windsor Court Grill Room for the NOWFE dinner. The food did not blow me away but was above average. Most menus I saw had 5-6 course with 5-6 wines. The Grill Room had 4 course with 4 wines.
            1) Poached Shrimp Salad with Cilantro, Watermelon and Heirloom tomatoes. Paired with a very mild Riesling. Not normally a Riesling fan but this was an excellent combo and a great start to the meal. It tasted like summer to me.
            2) Fried Soft Shell Crab infused with basil and pecorino romano cheese. The crab was wonderful, but the Semillion wasn't to my liking.
            3) Grilled Colorado Lamb Loin with a madeira reduction over some kind of lentils. The lamb was fantastic. The Grateful Palate paired it with two different Grenaches from the Barossa valley. One was an '05 and one was an '07. The '05 was a bit more fruit forward while the '07 being a drier year was much spicier. I truly enjoyed them both. As a side note, my wife LOVED the '07 and the server was nice enough to plot a bottle between the two of us to take down by ourselves. Great service.
            4) Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pomegranate. Nice light end to a very good meal. This was paired with LillyPilly Noble Blend dessert wine. It was a bit sweet for me, but met with a positive reception from those around me.

            Overall, Windsor Court did not get a big crowd, despite charging $85 a head, which was much less than other restaurants.

            Did anyone try La Cote Brasserie's Vintner dinner? It looked like a great menu. Antoine's and Lat Cote were my choices but I was outvoted.

            1. re: NolaNick

              Sounds like they paired with a distributor, and not with a winemaker. Do you happen to recall the producers of the wines?

              Just curious, as NOWFE normally pairs with a wine maker, and not a distributor, though we've done dinner with several negotiants, so the actual grapes come from many sources. Still, the wines are usually made by someone like Michael Chapoutier.



              1. re: Bill Hunt

                They did pair with a distributor. The wines were as follows:
                R Wines Riesling “Diddley Bow” (Western Australia) ‘07
                Willows Semillion (Barossa Valley) ‘04
                I enjoyed the Grenaches the most. The two we tried were:
                Greenock Creek Grenache “Corner Stone” (Barossa) ‘05
                Greenock Creek Grenache “Corner Stone” (Barossa) ‘07
                The dessert wine was not up my alley, but it was:
                Lillypilly “Noble Blend” (Riverina) ‘07

                1. re: NolaNick

                  I appreciate that info.

                  Personally, I like winemakers, over distributors, but have also had poor winemaker dinners and great distributor dinners. I was just curious, as I missed this year's event.



              2. re: NolaNick

                Did not do La Cote Brasserie as I was very disappointed in the meal last time so I am interested to hear a review from whoever went there. I attended the Hope & Grace/Restaurant August dinner and was really happy with the food AND the wine pairings. The only thing that I was not happy with was Besh's no show. I understand that he was entertaining the Feastival chefs that were presenting at Harrahs the next day and I love the exec. chef - he always does a great job. We are in NOLA 4 times a year from CA and I know Besh is a really nice guy. Many people there came to the August dinner specifically for Besh so as a courtesy, he should have excused himself , ran across the street, said hello and thanks for coming and then went back to his "hosting". The fact that he did not really left a bad taste in some peoples mouth and that is a shame as the food was DELICIOUS.
                1st-Gratin of wild crawfish and white asparagus with a 2007 Yountville Chard. This was a fantastic pairing (imho)
                2nd-Creole cream cheese dumplings with bacon, mushrooms, fava beans and cochon de lait jus with a 2006 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir. In all honesty, don't know if the pairing was spot on but NO ONE at our table cared as the dish was beautiful and the wine was (still is) just lovely!!
                3rd-Whole Roeast Squab, local strawberries, dandelion ginger risotto with a 2005 Napa Valley Malbec. The squab was divine. The wine was one of my tables favoites but I have never been a big Malbec fan.
                4th- Wagyu beef shortribs, two artichokes and Moroccan spices with a 2004 Hendricks Reserve Cabernet Sauv,Johnson Block, Lewelling Vineyard. Whew!!!! What a mouthful! This dish was SO incredibly rich and the wine stood it's ground with it quite well.
                Lastly - A Napoleaon of Chocolate, caramel and sea salt ice cream paired with a 2005 Cabernet, Lewelling Vineyards.. What a lovely way to end the evening.
                Well worth the $150!!!!!!!!!!!!

                1. re: ccmurieta

                  that looks and sounds amazing. thank you for the photos!

                  1. re: kibbles

                    Wanted to correct the price for the Rest. August / Hope & Grace dinner. It was $125 NOT $150. (Although I would have gladly paid the $150!!!!!!)

            2. Review from Vintner Dinner at La Cote. All in all a great evening, one or two dishes could have been better, but the wines were very good.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Lyonola

                Went to the dinner at Commander's: seven courses, eight wines. Amazing experience, although it was $140 per person.