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May 3, 2009 11:05 AM

4 nights - what do you think of my choices?

Hi all. I'm going to be visiting your fine city Memorial Day weekend and I'm trying to get my meals in order, mostly dinner. Here's what I'm thinking, but it's by no means set in stone:

Dante's Kitchen

The only one of the four I've been to is Upperline, which I thought was excellent.

Now I also considered Bayona, Brigsten's, Patois, Stella, August and MiLa, along with a few others before settling on the four above. So are my choices good or would others be better? To help you answer, let me tell you a few other things:

I'm not planning on bringing a jacket or tie, so nothing very fancy . . . although I plan to do Commander's for Sunday brunch. I love Cajun/Creole/Southern food and I'd like at least two of my meals to offer that cuisine (thinking primarily Dante's and Upperline here). I love pork (hence Cochon) although my dining companion is more of a seafood eater, so I'm hoping Cochon will work. Cochon is the meal I could see skipping -- will I be sorry? And I've read great things on the board about Lilette, so I thought that would offer a small escape from Southern/Cajun food. Finally, my transportation will be by foot and streetcar (or cab) . . . I will be staying near the French Quarter.

I really liked the menus at Bayona & Brigsten's, but I often lean towards the lesser knowns and less formal and chose Upperline & Dante's over Bayona/Brigsten's. Will I be sorry?

Finally, I will be eating plenty during the day (muffalettas, po' boys, oysters, etc.) so I would not be shocked if we decide to seek out a more casual, lighter fare and inexpensive dinner one night (close to the Quarter). Can you suggest something near the quarter for a light, inexpensive but good dinner? Could be Cajun/Creole/Southern . . . I've heard Port of Call is good for burgers . . . or something you just think is a gem.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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  1. The only one I wouldn't skip is Cochon. If you're with a serious seafood person and are looking for an alternative to traditional I would try Riomar.

    I'm not a big fan of the other choices in your post, with the exception of Patois & Brigtsen's.

    Napoleon House is my favorite "gem" in the quarter. I usually have a couple drinks and take a 1/2 muff over to the Omni rooftop pool for a great lunch.

    Have fun and let us know how you made out!

    1. Cochon would be better for an all appetizer lunch. Brigtsen's is not formal. The only rest. in NOLA requiring a jacket is Galatoire's for dinner and Sunday brunch. POC has excellent burgers. Expect a line unless you go when they open at 11am. If you love pork, go to Emeril's. Get the Abita rootbeer bacon(porkbelly) salad. Have the double cut (2" ) Neiman ranch tamarind glazed porkchop with green chili mole (made with roasted poblanos, not chococlate). Perfect compliment of flavors.

      1. I personally like all of your choices except Cochon. The menu is not diverse I agree with the other poster you may want to consider it for lunch or snack. It is very casual so no problem there. I had a very mediocre meal at Patois but I am willing to try it again. Stella is on the high side but worth it for an occasion. I also agree Brightsen's is on the casual side and it is known for consistency though the day I ate there I thought it was somewhat average but not bad.

        Your choices are great because there is not really any repetition on that list. Each one you chose is unique. They are all solid and relatively affordable. If you want some of the kinds of stuff that cochon has but with seafood you could try the other John Best restaurant Luke. They have some of the pork and exotic meats but also oysters on the half shell. The restaurant is styled on a french brasserie so it is casual. The menu is online so you and your friend can check it out and see if it looks good to you.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MsAnnaNOLA

          Thank you very much for the input. Luke looks very intriguing and I had not considered it, but I love the menu. I think I'll leave it up to my dining companion between Luke and Cochon. I assume the food at Luke is well executed?

          1. re: BRB

            Luke is incredible from my experiences there.

        2. Thank you all for the input . . . I like the menu at Riomar but will probably have to save it for the next trip. As for Cochon, it seems everywhere I read there are mixed reviews and I'm not sure why (although the limited menu complaint comes up a lot). I'll be sure to post my reviews here after (and maybe even during) my trip.

          11 Replies
          1. re: BRB

            What people don't realize is that many restaurants try too hard. They overextend themselves by putting ___ number of dishes on the menu and in doing so, the chefs aren't able to produce a good quality dish. Whether or not you think Cochon is a good restaurant is up to you, but I happen to think its great.

            What you don't want is chefs that are flustered in the kitchen and produce mediocre results because there's too much to do and keep track of.

            My point is don't fault a restaurant simply because they don't have as many choices as you would like. Their menu is obviously available online, so you have plenty of opportunity and time to see what's there, it's not like you should be surprised when you get there.

            Some of the best restaurants in the world give you only one or two options for dinner (see: The French Laundry). It's called prie fixe.

            1. re: SQHD

              Excellent points, and although the menu at Cochon might appear to be limited, what I did see I liked quite a bit. Now whether the food is consistently excellent is my main concern and I appreciate your feedback. Of course, I'm hoping that my dining companion will also be interested in the menu.

              1. re: SQHD

                I completely agree. I think the number of menu items is directly inverse to the overall quality of the restaurant - a dinner place anyway. I am also very indecisive so I don't like having a lot of choices!

                1. re: SQHD

                  I'm simply not a big fan of the food. It's just country food that they serve better versions of in many places around the state. The number of menu items doesn't bother me.

                  "Consistently excellent" hmm... It is consistent, and it is good. But like any place, some love it while others just think it's okay. I haven't heard anyone say it was bad, however, which is a good thing. My theory is that anyone who is unaccustomed to eating the type of food they serve loves the place. Loves it. Check the reviews that come out of cities like New York. Crazy good reviews. On the other hand, you have the people who have grown up eating that type of food their entire lives. Everyone I know from Louisiana or the deep south that eats there doesn't think much of it. We just don't see what the big deal is about. I'm sure there's exceptions to my "rule" but that's just my observation.

                  Don't let my post discourage you from going. It is good, I just personally don't agree with all the fuss.

                  @ lawstudent: Good luck on exams or congrats if you're already finished.

                  1. re: N.O.Food

                    There are different or potentially better versions of some of Cochon's dishes in other parts of the state, but I think you've kind of forgotten one critical point... those places are "around the state" not necessarily in the city of New Orleans. People visit the city and expect to find great Cajun cuisine but in reality, there isn't much of it. Cochon is a great standout in my opinion.

                    I don't know Chef Link aside from the stuff I've read online, but he is a born and bred S. Louisiana boy. He understands the flavors and takes his knowledge and applies to a mid-scale restaurant.

                    1. re: SQHD

                      Yeah, I agree with you, but I didn't think it necessary to mention all that. I've said the same in quite a few posts about Cochon. It is unique in new orleans, and it is bringing "cajun" food to the tourist masses just as Prudhomme did so long ago. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I was just trying to point out why I think some peeople love it while others don't. To me, Cochon falls flat because I have had better versions of what they serve. That's true for any restaurant. Sure, it's unique to n.o., but it ain't that great comparatively speaking. Again, we're talking about me here.

                      Your post also reiterates my point. People come here expecting to find Cajun food, and you're right, there isn't much of it. What they get is Cochon, and they love it because they've never had that type of thing before. They rave about it, and I can certainly understand that. The first time I had Indian food I raved about it. Now that I've eaten tons of Indian food at a lot of indian places, I see that my first encounter was probably overblown because the food really wasn't that great. It was great to me at the time, but relatively speaking it wasn't nearly as good as Indian food I had in London and other places. A little perspective changes everything. At Cochon, I'm coming in after a lifetime of that type of food. That's why I don't rave about it; I just say it's "good" or "decent."

                      1. re: N.O.Food

                        I appreciate the discussion N.O. Food and SQHD . . . I understand exactly what you both are saying. What it comes down to is I'm a pork lover . . . and if Cochon does pork well (or better than anyone else in the general area keeping in mind that I'll be near the French Quarter and without a car), it will work. But if you've got other ideas, including with respect to other ideas for dinners (or even lunches), I'm always willing to listen.

                        And if you have any particular recommendations at Cochon (pork and non-pork), I'd love to hear them.

                        1. re: BRB

                          I'm certain you'll enjoy Cochon. Heck, I enjoy it. I didn't mean to come across like I thought Cochon was a bad restaurant. I just don't understand the hype the place gets. It's on lots of "best" restaurant lists these days.

                          That said, I like the fried alligator, jalapeno spoon bread, oyster and bacon sandwich, the cochon, gumbo, grits, livers, eggplant dressing, rabbit dumplings, pineapple upside down cake, and pork cheeks.

                          Not a big fan of the court bouillon, greens, brisket, the gulf fish, or the root beer float.

                          While we're on the topic. I've been to Boucherie several times and I find their food to be really good. It's similar to Cochon and it's cheaper. If you go to Boucherie, I've found the small plates to be better than the entrees so I'd recommend getting a bunch and sharing.

                          1. re: N.O.Food

                            No hard feelings here, N.O.Food or BRB. This is just a friendly discussion! N.O.Food has some very valid points and they should certainly be considered. If there's something we can agree 11% on, perhaps its the great drinks they have there at Cochon! If you enjoy bourbon, I think you will be quite pleased with the selection there at the restaurant. Have fun in the city!

                            1. re: SQHD

                              oops - that was supposed to be "110%" not 11...

              2. Well, I have reservations at the four places I mentioned above . . . although I'm always willing to be convinced that there are other places I should be considering. Unfortunately, I could use several more nights and a car . . . but oh well. I'm looking forward to my trip and I'll let you know how things work out.