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Disappointed by Galatoire's...

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My boyfriend and I went to lunch at Galatoire's this noon, and we were so disappointed! Having been to Commander's Palace before, we expected a similar level of service. Given the posts here and on other sites, I expected the food to be excellent. It was definitely NOT excellent. We made reservations for the upstairs room, and when we were ushered to our seats the wait staff rapidly got up from the seats we then occupied. I understand not wanting to stand at attention when no one is around, but really? It was a little annoying. We were there at 12, which is not shockingly early. Anyway...we were given our menus, our water, our french bread, all fine. I ordered a Sazerac which was delicious. We ordered the souffle potatoes, which were pretty good though a bit greasy. I like any kind of potatoes so I really couldn't complain. For his meal, my boyfriend ordered the fish special, which was a trout almondine. I ordered the chicken clemenceau. My chicken was a little overdone, and the peas looked canned. The mushrooms tasted good. All in all it had very little flavor, and was rather dry. My BF's trout was fried, and came with slivered almonds, and he said the fish was greasy, and lacked flavor. Our water glasses were not frequently filled, and though I saw other waiters asking their tables whether they were enjoying themselves, our waitress vacated the area and did not return for some time. We asked for our check, received it about 10 minutes later, and as we were talking did not pick it up immediately. The waitress came back in about two seconds and picked it up, and we told her we hadn't looked at it yet. She then left for another ten minutes or so, and someone else ended up running the check.

We may have had an off meal, but we were completely disappointed! I want to know why people love this place...did we miss out by sitting upstairs? Did we order the wrong food? My boyfriend ordered the special, which should have been good... I wonder if Galatoire's insistence on keeping the menu traditional is hurting their food. In a day and age when fresh food is expected, Galatoire's needs to up the ante.

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  1. wow, what you experienced has never been my experience there. just talked to a friend who had a great time and meal there at lunch today. can't say why you were disappointed, but it does sound like you were less than impressed from the time you were seated.

    great expectations can lead to disappointment on occasion. sometimes it just happens that way and any place or party can have either a great time or a horrible time. I remember eating at a famous S.F. restaurant and having waiter envy. ours just plain sucked and made for a miserable time from food to service, all the while I watched everyone around me thoroughly enjoying themselves and their meals.

    sorry it was on off day for you. whether you go back is for you to decide. sometimes it's best to cut bait and go with what you know you will enjoy.

    1. Mistake #1...eating upstairs.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ross B

        But does that drastically change the quality of the food?

        1. re: Ross B

          That's no excuse for them serving a bad meal.

        2. While much different types of food and also much different levels of dining, Galatoire's and the Rendezvous in Memphis have something in common. At least to me it seems that both are more about atmosphere than food. Not that the food is bad either place. It's just that the experience is just as important as the actual food. That's just one man's opinion.

          1. I have to wonder about dining upstairs for Friday lunch. With all the commotion downstairs, it seems reasonable that the upstairs gets neglected. As for the food, it is old-school. The trout aumondine should have been good. Sorry it wasn't. FWIW, I love the crabmeat sardou.

            1. What posts have you read suggesting the food is excellent at Galatoire's? The food is consistent there, but I know I and others on this board have tried hard to characterize the food accurately: totally old school, hasn't changed in years, and not the main draw of the place. I've never seen canned peas, but then I've only ever got sauteed fish or steak there, with a goute platter, soufflee potatoes and/or eggplant to start. I may finish it with a sundae. Most importantly, I drink heavily.

              You'll find that people who love Galatoire's generally order the same thing every time.

              3 Replies
              1. re: HalfShell

                "Most importantly, I drink heavily."

                LOL HalfShell maybe I'd like Galtoire's too.

                1. re: mrsfury

                  We have eaten there several times over the last few years- and have had amazing "I have died and gone to heaven" events to "ok". Generally upstairs is not as good/ fun and Sunday evening not so good. Still - We LOVE the place and look forward to going. The old schoolness of the downstairs is so charming and I know NOT being a REGULAR makes the deal different but give 'em another try someday= go before they smoozch with the hostess on a Friday and dress NICE and then you will see>>>>

                2. re: HalfShell

                  My last two reviews (both pre-K) were very favorable. The most recent visit, prior to those was well before CH, so no reviews.

                  We have tended to go with the recs. of our server, and am not sure if we've repeated dishes that often, but probalby have.

                  Last two visits have been upstairs, due to guests and time constraints. Before that, there were no reservations, and everyone stood in line.

                  To date, nothing has ever seemed to be canned, but maybe I missed something along the way, as we always do a significant sampling of their wine list, and have always done so.

                  You are a better person, than I, as we almost never are able to do any dessert, unless it's split amongst all of the table. If anything, I'd complain that the portions are a tad too large, or maybe it is the richness of the dishes, and our not living in NOLA for decades?

                  Hunt

                3. OK, the last three meals have been dinner, but they HAVE been upstairs. These events have been very good to great.

                  Galatoire's trout almondine might not be the best that I have ever had, but it's easily #2, or #3 (Patty Constantine's was #1, and no one has approached her's). I will have to admit that the level of butter now seems a bit heavy, but we've been living in the West for the last three decades. Still, the flavors were all there. I chalk up my notice of the butter to being away from the Deep South for so very long.

                  I'm sorry that you did not have a wonderful experience, especially as I often recommend Galatoire's for lunch, though it has been years, since I had anything except dinner there.

                  Thank you for the review, even though it cuts deeply. Maybe they have been reading their own press too much, and are not keeping the "faith."

                  In June, we'll definitely schedule lunch there, and put them to the test. I hope that we encounter what we have come to expect, and that they have cleaned up their act, since your visit.

                  BTW, I've been dining there for the last 54 years, so maybe I am not the most objective of diners. Still, I would grade them as hard, as I do Antoine's and others. Hope that I do not have mark up their "test."

                  Hunt

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    The drink I had was delicious, and when we come back I will definitely give them another shot...maybe. We have had consistent and excellent food and service at Commander's Palace, though, and are more willing to splurge on a meal we can rely on...

                    I'll look for your review come June!

                    1. re: peachacid

                      I completely understand. Had Commander's not let me down on some other issues, they would still be at the top of my list. I always base my "go-to" list on how well these places have performed for me. While I attempt to add new (to me) places on each visit, I also try to go back to old favs. However, restaurans change and also have poor services. That's one reason that professional reviewers usually make sure to visit 3-5 times, before the first review. Unfortunately, I do not have that leisure, as we're only in NOLA maybe two times in a good year. Heck, at that rate, I'd get to write my first review in about 10 years' time...

                      To date, Galatoire's has done a great job for me over about 50+ years and maybe 50+ visits. Are they the best restaurant, that I have experienced? No. They probably do not make my top-10. Are they MY quintessential NOLA restaurant? Yes, probably with just a very few "reservations," and I do not mean the type that you make on the phone.

                      Were it my $, I'd go with your policy of trusting the people, who have always done a good job for me. When you feel like adventure, please give Galatoire's another chance, and I hope you have the same type of experiences, as I have been fortunate enough to have.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Bill,

                        I think you are quite right about Galatoire's being quintessential....I'd also argue for some other war horses. You have the advantage of "knowing the place" and of loving it. I insist that what they do well they do better than anyone else and I still maintain that they have the best commercial hollandaise in the world (this is emphatically NOT the sauce one labors over at home---it is just goddamn good). I once read a screed against the place that started with a complaint that the table was dirty when the diners sat down and the table was "bussed" in front of them. Big deal..I've loved watching Red and other busboys perform that elegant, efficient ritual in front of me. Waiters sitting at the table I'm bound for? Sure...why not? I suppose that my point is that the place is not Grand Dining of the sort folks often expect. It is, in fact, a neighborhood spot---that may sound odd, given the prices, but it is true. You can argue that the stemware is not up-to-par and I'd agree that it is not comme il faut, but I rather liked the old days with the white wine chilled in a green plastic bucket. We ain't fancy...we're Galatoire's. "Here's a nice piece of fish...eat it." No frou-frou....no junk..just an honest joint at work. And, with a tiny bit of effort, a newcomer is an instant Old Friend. Well, just my thoughts......

                        1. re: hazelhurst

                          Really well put. I couldn't agree more.

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            "You have the advantage of "knowing the place" and of loving it." That brings up a good point, and one that I had not really considered, until now. Yes, I do know Galatorie's, though not as well as I once did. That knowledge might well get in my way, when attempting to be objective. Each dining episode sparks all sorts of memories for me. These do cloud my views, unequivocally. It's sometimes difficult to separate the "then," from the "now." I could probably do a better job of reviewing a restaurant, about which I knew nothing, than one that has "history" for me.

                            However, in my last review, I did take them to task on the wine stemware, as I felt that their wine service would benefit from a better set of glasses. Still, I do find it hard to be very critical, when there are so many memories, most of which transcend just the food that night. Objectivity does suffer, and I will admit it. I'm sure that I averted my gaze on a few minor details, that would have been called out, if I'd never been through the doors. I did the same for Antoine’s, though could not overlook some of what we encountered.

                            That is one of the things that I liked about the OP’s comments. While some hurt a bit, they were a fresh perspective on a place that I love. My wife tells me that she’s not the same person, as the one that I fell in love with and married many years ago. She’s right, of course, but she’s the woman that I love. Same with some of the restaurants in New Orleans (and the old Mississippi Gulf Coast).

                            Still, if I want the ultimate “old school” New Orleans cuisine, prepared and served as it’s been done for decades, Galatoire’s is where I will head. I’ll dine with reverence and try to be as objective, as I can be. Little things will be overlooked and under-reported, for sure. At my age, sometimes memories are all that one has left.

                            Though there was some pain, I applaud the OP for reporting on a venerable NOLA restaurant, as he/she experienced it - the good, the bad and the other. Even had I dined the night before and reviewed them differently, I would not defend my review, and attempt to detract from the other review. They were different, on different nights, and possibly from a different frame of reference. That is what makes Chowhound so good - people report on what they experienced.

                            I hope that someone from Galatoire’s reads the review and addresses the issues. Same for the folk at Antoine’s in another post, and also from my earlier CH review, wherever it is now.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill,

                              You and I have long memories of the joint..the OP did not know what to expect..and who can place blame? There is no blame, Galatoire's is family...it is friends...it is honest food. Maybe it IS 1962 food...we like consistency. I like the waiter to sit down at my table and talk...or maybe a mob of waiters at the next table, eating the stuff the kitchen has set up for the staff that day...The place is alive...it is not phony. It is one of the most wonderful places on earth..and the food is damn good---unless you prefer frizzled carrots on everything and don't care to eat. It's a joint...and I love it. (I've found it in other cities...no shock in this revelation.) Again I emphazise that anyone is welcome at the Party...don't think of it as Alain Ducasse's hash houses....come in, relax, and enjoy...more to the point, allow yourself to enjoy.

                    2. I sat downstairs; maybe 6 years ago? and had EXACTLY this experience. It's a beautiful place, we did have good service but that food is straight out of 1962. I've never thought of going back, it's too disappointing! Now we go to Commander's for the 'fancy' meal which is always amazing in every single way.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: piglet3000

                        I am coming to your fine city once again with an impromptu visit starting this Sunday morning. I haven't been for several years. I am reviving this thread to give a quick opinion regarding Galatoire's. I am in the restaurant business, came with a large group and sat downstairs. This was nearly eight years ago. I don't remember the waiter's name but knew instinctively to put ourselves in his knowledgeable hands. The food was exactly as I expected and desired. In a world of overdone and too fancy, this brought me back to a simpler time before molecular gastronomy but of simply prepared, classic cuisine that was delicious. The best part about this first visit was being treated like a regular the moment I walked in the door. The host, the waiter and everyone I encountered could not have been more gracious.

                        Suffice it to say that I am hoping my very first stop, after checking my bags at the hotel Sunday morning is to put on my Sunday best, wait in line and enjoy a leisurely afternoon, sipping milk punch and letting Galatoire's and their able bodied staff take care of me anyway they please.

                        I have no doubt it will feel as though I'd been coming there my whole life...

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

                        1. re: Noreaster

                          I am so envious! Have a great meal.

                          1. re: Noreaster

                            I was there again last month -- have never been disappointed yet! Enjoy!

                            1. re: Noreaster

                              One will not find "foams," "cryo-tech tricks," or "molecular-gastronomy" at Galetoire's. They do, what they do, as well as it has possibly ever been done. If one does not like "old-school NOLA cuisine," then they will not like Galatoire's.

                              While I do like some of the "other stuff," when I want to "go home again," I know where to head - Galatoire's.

                              Enjoy completely!

                              Hunt

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