Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >
May 5, 2009 08:16 PM

Galatoire's - First time...Hazlehurst, you listening?

Howdy all,

My dear wife and I have not been to our dear NOLA since 2007.

She has surprised me by setting up a trip, from Wisconsin, for the third weekend of June. She is calling this my birthday present and has given me free rein to make ALL decisions about dining.

When last we went, we put together a breakdown of our NOLA experiences, for our friends, that was subsequently vetted by the sages on CH. Hazelhurst, you stressed our need to visit Galatoire's and we are heeding your advice.

We are listening and have taken the suggestion of a dinner at Galatoire's. We'll be there at 6:00 on 6/21 (Sunday).

I have read some interesting posts about the eccentricities of the service and am NOT daunted.

My question, and my point, is: What must not be missed at Galatoire's?

Please give this initiate as much guidance on enjoying this bastion of dining as is needed to enjoy and understand.

Your advice and patience is appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Galatoire's is quintessential NOLA. It is unchanginging. You would be going for the experience rather than the classic, old school cuisine. They are accomodating to the extreme. Your waiter will be happy to guide you along. Fair warning, some folks just don't "get it" and come away disappointed due to the less than stellar food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JazzyB

      I vehemently disagree with your assertion that their food is "lees than stellar." Galatoire's serves up the best classic NOLA cuisine in town, with the best service possible. I've been eating there for more than 50 years, and have never been disappointed.

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

      1. re: pikawicca

        service is great, but i wouldnt agree that the dishes are truly "stellar". nothing wrong w/ that tho, it does something different than the restaurants w stellar food.

    2. many dishes are best shared. my faves are Oysters Rock, Oysters en Brochette, Fried Eggplant and Souffle Potatoes, Sweetbreads, Crabmeat au Gratin, Lamb Chops Bernaise, Stuffed Eggplant, and Fried Softshells w/Crabmeat to start. enjoy!

        1. re: bklynbonnie

          so you like your liquid lunches there???hmmmm

        2. we usually start with a grand goute platter and an order of the oysters en brochette and let the waiter guide the rest of the way, generally based on what fish is freshest. the grand goute includes shrimp remoulade, a crabmeat maison and a shrimp maison.

          1. I sometimes think I could write a book about this but I will try to distill it. What must not be missed is the "essence" of the place. Some restaurants are open for decades without ever acquiring a sense of place, others develop a patina that is envied elsewhere. For all its brightly lit room, Galatoire's is not flashy. It is comfortable, a well-worn, much loved cordovan loafer. It is possible to go by and eat and enjoy the food and leave and say that you ate there but that is not the true measure of the house. Some people dismiss the food as not innovative--whateverthehell rthat is---or stuck in the past. to this, we devotees answer that food in the past is still good food and there is nothing really new anyway without resorting to sous vide and other trickery. A couple of years ago I was horrified when a waiter walked by me with a plate that had squiggles on it. Squiggles? in galatoire's? (It was a sauteed foie gras that had been put on the menu a few weeks earllier---worse, it had some sort of chutney--apricot maybe?) You can be eating a perfect trout meuniere--which they do the best commerical version of---while the regular customer next to you is having a pork chop and a wedge of iceberg lettuce drowned in blue cheese dressing. This is one of the many things we love about the place--it is honest. For years the menu boasted a Blue Plate Special. For all the talk about being a "destination restaurant" Galatoire's remains a neighborhood joint and teh observant guest will see that. I would not go on the first visit at 6:00PM--I'd go at 4:00 or so and watch the rhythym of the place..even earlier, because then you'll see the Sunday lunch bustle, then the slow-down, then it might be almost completely empty and the waiters will sit down at the tables in the back and they will eat their dinner around 4:30 or so, and then things will heat up again. And all about the place, hovering genially, are the ghosts..Mr Justin, Marion Atkinson, Mr Legendre, my parents and many, many more. You don;t need to have known them to feel them. A friend from Connecticut, now a lawyer settled in new Orleans, said that Galatoire's is not a restaurant, it's a religion. Antoehr one said that he never recommened Galatoire's when asked for a restaurnant recommendation becuase-"it does not fall into that category..Galatoire's is not a's a Public Service." Some folks miss this aspect of it and there is little anyone can do to open the eyes to it. It is akin to Locke-Ober in Boston--they are really the same restaurant---which had that marvelous amalgam menu with French 'haute cuisine" and German schnitzel and Indian Pudding and finnan haddie. Galatoire's is emphatically not snobby--it is highly democratic and will embrace you if you do more that grab a snack on your way through. As to food, I shall post later but must dash off for the nonce.

            33 Replies
            1. re: hazelhurst


              Your eloquence leaves me speechless.

              Perhaps I should change to Sunday lunch, instead of dinner.

              Thank you, so much, for your reply. It's everything I could have hoped for.

              1. re: Monch

                My regrets for needing to rush off...

                As to the food, it is my contention that what Galatoire's does best, it does better than anyone else. Bill Hunt has a nominee for better trout meuniere but I cannot speak to that, for I do not know. (I DO know that the trout I had as a boy always had a bone or two---we never see that anymore and it makes me suspicious). The meuniere is one of their great offerings but I am not certain I'd suggest it for your maiden sortie...but if you ask me tomorrow I might insist on it...its a whimsical thing. Crabmeat Yvonne is a delight and a heart-stopper: crab and artichoke and butter and a touch more butter and then a bit more (one pound?) of butter. Garlic helps it out a lot.

                One item I think you should order is an appetizer: Crabmeat Canape Lorenzo. It's a ball of crabmeat bound together by bechamel sauce and topped with crossed anchovies---baked. Take a bit, put a drop or two of Tabasco on it (that "wakes it up") and have a good time--goes great with a martini. (Gin only, please!)

                Many people eschew the menu but I think you should have a look at it just to see the range. I'm not sure if "Fried Chicken" is still on it but it was there for years and I know they'd make it if you asked..not that you'd want to on a Maiden Voyage.

                The Oysters en Brochette are wonderful---get them with meuniere butter...we used to get them with black butter but that is hard to get 'em to do these days..dunno why.

                The coffee is the best in the City....

                I think you will enjoy their hollandaise---it is a bulk-made (in house, I should is not shipped in) hollandaise but it is thick and has some "zip" to it. I like to have a whole artichoke as a delivery system. (Galatoire's is the only place I know that still serves a basic cooked artichoke..there must be some in CA and maybe NY but I've no knowledge of those imagined places)

                Now, to the most important point of all...get to know your waiter. He is your Best Friend (might be a distaff member these matter). You simply cannot go wrong if you "connect" with your waiter. This is why I enjoin you to spend the afternoon there. The place is open all day. Again, the pace and flow and rhythm of the joint are the delights (apart from the food which is, as I have suggested, Honest. ) Your waiter might need to close the tab at, say 4:30 because he needs be elsewhere...fine..just ask that you be handed over to someone else..but give the departing waiter his tip right then.

                Sit back and enjoy the ballet of the house....the busboys setting the tables, moving the water carafes and Lea & Perrins bottles and sugar bowls off of the used tablecloth, replacing it with fresh linen in a deft, graceful series of moves that are a sheer delight.(They don't "bus" tables in front of folks much these days...I expect that some people think it is "wrong" but it is part of My Galatoire's. The great Mr. Lindsay has taken care of those tables damn near all my life,,,if you meet him, you'll be honored.

                There is so much that I cannot impart by language...there is a "feel" to the place (as there is to ANY good place). On one trip you cannot get to know it fully--hell, I dunno if I do---but you can start on the sylvan trail to Love...and Love ignores things that Restaurant Critics can never (professionaly) understand.

                A final note. A few years ago, a Galatoire waiter, named Louis Lafleur, died. His death was sudden..he'd taken care of me about four days before. I was having lunch at the restaurant when I heard the news. A waiter came to me and said :We are 'waking' him tonight" at so-and so's funeral palace. It was kind of the informant to tell me the details, but it was gratifying --to me--to know that he wanted me to know about the wake. It was the most recent Galatoire waiter's funeral/wake I've attended...there were ALL the staff, ALL the family, and a pretty good showing of regular customers.

                One waiter, who damn near raised about 80...embraced me at Louis' funeral...he seemed to thank me for being there and, perhaps, knew that when his time comes, I will be there.

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Unfortunately, my nominee no longer exists, so they are but a memory. While great, things have changed. Galatoire's is now the ruler, without equivocation. Chef Pattie is on to other things - mostly great ones, but is no longer in the pure restaurant business.

                  It's like Magnusen's House of Seafood's fried shrimp - only a memory of great things in the past. We must learn, myself inculded, in the present. Still, over time, one builds up a list of paradigms. They can still be used as rulers for what we have now, should not be forgotten, but are of the past - we are of the present, and I should never forget that.

                  Thank you for sharing the aspect of "family." That is another aspect of Galatoire's specifically, and of NOLA, in general.


                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    hazelhurst, I took your editorial here and forwarded it on to some friends that will be joining us next month for their first NOLA visit. I think so much of what you've said here doesn't apply just to Galatoire's, but to the mystique of our beloved New Orleans.

                    Thanks so much.

                  2. re: Monch


                    I have to ask - are you worthy?

                    Personally, I think that you are. Take your time, and take it all in. Enjoy, savor and please post a report on your dining.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                      I have to question that, myself, but I'm hoping that "yes" is the answer. I was raised to appreciate the style and grace of an experience like this. So my hat's off to my dear parents and their attempts to civilize this heathen.

                      I am going to "shift" the reservation to an earlier time and enjoy the ebb and flow that Hazelhurst so eloquently describes.

                      My very best regards to all how are helping in this. Our visit is awhile off, but there will be reports!

                      (My wife has relinquished all dining decisions to me and I'm mad, MAD I tell you, with power!)

                      1. re: Monch

                        Don't get a reservation. Eat in the first floor dining room that doesn't take reservations.

                        1. re: Crabby Clara

                          What time, on a Sunday, would you recommend arriving?

                          1. re: Crabby Clara

                            Mind you, the Sunday we have in mind is also Father's Day, if that makes a difference.

                            1. re: Monch

                              Obviously, you know that I was joking - my tongue was firmly in my jowl.

                              Glad that I saw your date of dining, as I too would have said do the lower level with no reservation. Now, it's a tough call. Still, it's June and many tourists will be elsewhere. Some locals will be over on the Coast. For the "event" aspect, I'd stand in line for it. As for the time, I've not done the line on our last three visits, due to schedules and guests. I hope that the locals can give you a feel for this. Tough call.

                              Stop by Perlis on Magazine St and get either a Haspel white linen, or pin-feather searsucker suit. Allow enough time for the tailoring. If Meyer The Hatter is still on Decateur, pick up a Panama. Arrive early (based on what the locals say) and just enjoy the line and then the dining. Unfortunately, we'll have come and gone, or I'd be the other guy in line with you, wearing a white linen suit and a Panama (however the much older one)..



                              1. re: Bill Hunt


                                Hunt I truly laughed out loud at the suggestion of the suit.

                                Please confirm that you're serious, because this is the type of thing I WILL do, just to amuse myself.

                                Thanks for the advice!

                                1. re: Monch

                                  Hey, I was joking, regarding your "worthiness," but the suit was mostly serious. You will fit "right in," regarding the suit. I still get rave reviews, away from NOLA. Luckily, AZ is a warm-weather location, so I can wear all of my NOLA-suits, and my Panama hats. If I lived in Milwaukee, I'd probably not own so many.

                                  Most of all - enjoy and please report,


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    Meyer The Hatter is on Magazine.

                                    1. re: nikinik

                                      no, it's st. charles. between canal and common. next to rubenstein's.

                                      1. re: nikinik

                                        Thank you. I believe that I confused Goldberg's with Meyer. I had the wrong street all together. A memory is a terrible thing to waste, but mine has been wasted for so long...


                                    2. re: Monch

                                      I trtied to post something last night but the Daemons of The Internet were in full romp. Trying again.

                                      Agreed that downstairs is where to be--that is where you will see the different paces of the place (usptairs too but not as evident, really). They open at noon on Sunday and the line will be formed at 11:00. bar opens at 11:30. I cannot recall being there for Father's Day--I am sure I have been--but Mother's Day is "big". Even on Easter Sunday last year, though, people were getting in at 2:30 as the early-birders started leaving. So, I'd suggest that you can go over a little past 2:00 and that allows a two hour lunch-er to get out--ther won;t be many but there will be some. SUnday is a big day anyway..lots of church-goers, might be a christening party. The 2:30-3:00 start ouoght to be fine but you can just as easily go for 11:00---you'd just need to linger awhile, which we all do anyway.

                                      I like Bill's suggestion of white linen...I need a new one myself but all I can find are $&%@!##! 2-button suits.

                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                        Thanks Hazelhurst,

                                        I'm already pounding the internet and have found Perlis and Meyer...Hunt, Meyer is open and one of my first stops.

                                        However, I'm now even further confused. I'm going to go with the white linen suit, but the ones at Perlis appear to be 2-button. Should they not be 2-button?

                                        1. re: Monch

                                          Well if someone is examining your attire that closely, I hope it is your wife. Jos A. Bank also has White Linen suits, should you wish to order one and have ti tailored pre voyage.

                                          Sit downstairs...if you want to go early I would suggest getting in line at 1030. A two top should still be available then. And you want to be prepared when they ask for a waiter. I like Bryant Sylvester, Richard, or any of the Fontenots.

                                          1. re: Lyonola

                                            Wow, now I even have waiter's names! This will be something to remember.

                                            Edible, our first stop, off the plane will be Meyer's! Then to the Sazerac Bar.

                                            Regalia is correct!

                                            I've called Perlis and have been handed over to "my" salesman and the suit will start coming together first thing Monday.

                                            (Gotta get a Perlis "Crawfish Headcover" for my driver, too!)

                                            Great advice from a great bunch of people!


                                            1. re: Monch

                                              I thought grand opening of the Roosevelt was 6/29, so call first to see if the Saz has reopened. if not, take a spin on the Carousel.

                                              1. re: edible complex

                                                Oh, no....missing by a WEEK! Blast the luck.

                                                I will have to call to confirm, though.

                                                We were crushed, in 2007, when we walked right past the Fairmont, due to its condition, when seeking our traditional off-the-plane libations.

                                                Seems we'll miss again, but we'll see.

                                                Thanks for the heads-up, EC. Knowing ahead of time will ease the pain.

                                              2. re: Monch

                                                Do not forget to get their "NOLA Street Names" tie and cummerbund, while you're there. Only wish that they had a pocket square too. Have asked, but none, so far.


                                            2. re: Monch

                                              Two-button is the present vogue and has been for some time...I just like older cuts, no darts etc but no one cares anymore except me so there is no need to worry.

                                              Bryant and Richard are both great suggestions and both have huge customer bases. Richard is more likely to leave later in the day and work only lunch so you'd be handed over to someone else after settling with him. "any of teh Fontenots" is also good although Harold will also probably leave early if he is even there--his son Billy is a great waiter, too.

                                              I think Mr Linsday is off on Sunday so you'll miss him--he has been working there forever, handing the busboys.

                                              1. re: Monch

                                                Yes! Do not listen to Hazelhurst on this one topic. Two-button is the way to go. I agree, 100%, with everything else, except for the suit.

                                                Make sure to get a "crawfish," or similar tie, AND pocket square. You may have to go with the pocket square choice first, and then the tie to match.

                                                Wish I could join you in line, or even better, share a table with you and your guests.



                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Well, I am missing the train of thought here. so long as the man has a coat and tie and the lady is in "proper attire" (it need not be perfect Duchess of Windsor Chanel garb) I ain't complaining. If fear that Brother Hunt mistakes my preferred cut...if I read him aright, he believes that 2-button is better fitted to the More Expansive Man (which Galatoire's will help you achieve). I like the sack suit, box-cut, 3-button...built for man of comfort and not of speed. I just think 2-button suits are sport coats with matching trousers. But chacun a son gaut (gout) but please elinimate those G.Damn consricting darts on the jacket.

                                                  Bill, if ever we meet on the tiles at the temple, you will undoubtedly be turned out in far more splendor that I..I'm the rumpled one. If you had me steam-cleaned, starched & pressed, the gang at the shop would dunk water over me and say "Now! THERE's the man we know!"

                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                    In NOLA, most will be somewhat "rumpled." I would relish the opportunity to stand in line and then dine with you. I feel that I would be privy to an "insider's look," that I would not know.

                                                    The cut of the suit is but for me. In my youth, 3-buttons were less the problem. In later year, they were. Still, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I like the 2-button, but that is MY "style." Some folk can wear Armani wonderfully. I am not one of those, and have never been.

                                                    Take care, and thank you, once more, for the reflections. Loved them.


                                              2. re: hazelhurst

                                                Hey! Please do not throw too many stones. I am a "two-button" sort of guy and no longer have the physique (if I ever did) for a 3-4 button suit. Trying to find 2 buttons on a classic is a struggle, but that's fodder for another site and another discussion. I've had to resort to "bespoke" suits and tuxes, for the last 20 years. At least I'm holding my own, so most still fit. See the "What Do Chowhounds Weight?" thread.

                                                Bet you look better in your 3-button, than I do in my 2-button!


                                    3. re: hazelhurst

                                      Hazelhurst, that was beautiful.

                                      Like so much that's old in New Orleans, Galatoire's exists in three visible dimensions, plus one or two other dimensions that deepen the feel of the place. There's more to the restaurant -- much more -- than just the old-fashioned food or the charming room. The full-on Galatoire's experience to put it? Layered.

                                      My grandmother dined at Galatoire's the week it opened in 1905, and regularly for the rest of her life. I hope hers is one of the genial spirits hovering about the place.

                                      1. re: BrooksNYC

                                        I grew up in NO and beleive Galatoire's was one of the 1st restaurants I ever ate in. In fact, I remember my grandfather taking me to get my 1st bowtie for the occasion. It became one of my favorite restaurants and was a choice pick for birthday dinner on many occasions. Years later in 1995 to be exact, my daughter was brought there on her first dining experience and we have a picture of the infant sleeping on my mother's lap with the embroidered name on the tablecloth right by her tiny head. Oh how the circle continues.
                                        You mentioned waiting in line to dine and it reminded me of my favorite story of old New Orleans establishments. When Bill Clinton was in NO once, he was referred to Galatoire's for dinner. When he arrived at the doors, full entourage in tow, there was a line. His presence was announced and a table was requested. He was informed that this was Galatoire's and EVERYONE waits in line and they would be glad to seat him as soon as a table was available but it would be impolite to make anyone wait any longer than they already had just so he could dine earlier. Then the elderly couple at the front of the line was seated for their eveining meal
                                        God Bless southern charm and never ending chivalry.
                                        My family and I are returning to New Orleans for a week in July and look forward to enjoying our time back home.

                                        1. re: vees

                                          That is one of the things that makes Galatoire's what it is. I hope that nothing changes. I've seen Gov. John Mc Keithen waiting. I have seen Mayor Landrieu waiting. I have seen Mayor Morial waiting. That is, as it should be.

                                          Thank you for sharing. Between you, and Hazelhurst, I think we could swing a book-deal !


                                      2. re: hazelhurst

                                        Excellent post. Is that you, Marcel?

                                        1. re: hazelhurst

                                          Well done. You have captured a time, a place and a unique (well, almost) cuisine. The experience happens, or should, on many, if not all, levels.

                                          Sit, savor and enjoy. It is an expreience like no other.

                                          Again, well put, and enjoyable reading. I think that Monch will "get it," and will indulge, like many others. For the rest - well, there is no hope.