Our trip (6/12-6/15) - Super long post
My husband and I were in NO this past weekend from Friday morning to Monday morning. It seems like we gorged ourselves based on how many places we went to but we ended up getting very little at each place so we could try a bunch of different restaurants. We stayed at the Royal Senesta which was at a good central location to the places we wanted to try and a very pretty hotel. It was a little bit of an adventure every night going home though since it’s right on Bourbon Street. To be honest, when we arrived and started walking around the FQ, I didn’t think NO would become a place I’d want to visit again. I’m really not sure why that was but I was proven oh so wrong. I fell in love with your fine city and all of the great food/nice people. I am itching to come back so bad! I probably wouldn’t come back in the summer months though because it was ridiculously hot every day. I also have to plan it around peak oyster/crawfish season!
Lunch – GALATOIRE'S: What an experience! We stood in line for about 10 minutes outside before they opened and as soon as they did, we filed in after giving our name to the host outside of the door. He asked us if we had a regular waiter and that’s when we knew we weren’t in New York anymore We were directed to go to the bar upstairs and come back down at 11:30 to be seated. We got up there and felt like we were at a cocktail party! Everybody looked gorgeous. We were fairly dressed up for lunch but still felt out of place amongst the seersucker suits and dresses. Hubby got a sazerac and I got a French 75. When we were seated back downstairs, we got the fried eggplant and souffled potatoes appetizer to start which came with powdered sugar and béarnaise sauce. I was wary of putting powdered sugar on fried eggplant but it was SO good. And not sure how fried potatoes could ever be bad I got the oysters Rockefeller which had a delicious and filling topping. Hubby got a shrimp dish because he’s unfortunately allergic to all other shellfish. His dish was good but not particularly memorable. This is definitely a great place to go to see what I would think is “old New Orleans” dining. Service was great and the food was good but I’d stick to what they say are their “specialties.”
Afternoon snack – NAPOLEON HOUSE: Got half a muff, a side of jambalaya, and 2 Pimms cups. I really enjoyed the muffuletta here. I know some people on this board don’t like it b/c it’s warmed but I thought it was perfect. Compared to Central Grocery (which we had the next day), I liked the olive salad here better because the flavor of the other veggies (like celery) came through too so it wasn’t all olive flavored. We sat in the courtyard despite the sweltering heat and really enjoyed it. Getting ahead of myself, when I come back to NO, I will be going to Napoleon House for my muff fix over Central Grocery.
Dinner – FRANKY AND JOHNNY'S: Got crawfish boil, fried shrimp, boudin balls, and fried pepper rings. This was my first time eating crawfish and I think I’m addicted. I have been kicking myself that I discovered these so late in the season and have to wait for next year to enjoy these again. There is a crawfish boil in NY every May and I have already signed up to be alerted to when tix go on sale! Anyway, we really enjoyed the casual atmosphere of this place and the food was awesome. My husband said the fried shrimp was some of the best he ever had. The boudin balls and fried pepper rings were good too but so filling! We had to take a cab there and back but it was worth it.
Drinks – FRENCH 75: We went to Arnaud’s French 75 after dinner and our bartender, Chris Hannah, was great. It’s a great “adult” place to go, especially after the loud/craziness of Bourbon Street. We walked in here and felt like we were in a completely different city! The drinks made up by Chris were good here, particularly one he calls “The Moviegoer” after the book, and the person at the bar next to us was eating what looked like some very delicious raw oysters!
Breakfast – CAFE BEIGNET: This was on our list of to dos but we had planned on going to CDM first. The line was crazy long at CDM though so we decided to try out Café Beignet first. The beignets were AWESOME here. I think they are all made to order because we had to wait about 10 minutes for them and when they came out, they were piping hot and crispy. So so so good. The café au lait was just okay though. It was a little too milky for our taste.
Snack – LA DIVINA GELATERIA: Earl grey with biscuits and mint julep gelato. Unfortunately this was the only flop of the weekend. The gelato here was just not good. Maybe the one on Magazine is better than the one in the FQ. I don’t know but both flavors just didn’t float my boat. Did I pick the wrong flavors? The earl grey was better than the mint julep, which seriously had ZERO flavor. I threw it out after a spoonful or two and I’m not one to throw out ice cream.
Lunch – CENTRAL GROCERY: We had a 12 o’clock tour planned at the Oak Alley Plantation so we picked up half a muff from CG to eat on the bus. Hubby liked this one a lot even though he doesn’t like olives. Go figure. The olive salad was REALLY oily and though that is probably the point, it made the sandwich very filling. I also thought the olive taste overpowered the whole sandwich. Maybe I got one that was not proportioned right. I normally like cold sandwiches more than warm so I thought that I would like this more than Napoleon House but honestly I liked Napoleon House’s more. Husband normally likes warm sandwiches over hot and he couldn’t decide which he liked more. Go figure!
Snack – GUMBO SHOP: Cup of gumbo and order of boudin sausage with creole mustardI didn’t read much about this place on the boards; is it deemed a tourist trap? Our friend said we had to go. . I really liked the gumbo here but I didn’t try it anywhere else so I’m probably not the best judge. The boudin was awesome too. Very creamy! Hopefully it’s supposed to be that way! We got Cajun bloody mary’s that came with pickled green beans and thought they were delicious.
Snack – LEAH'S PRALINES: Pralines aren’t really my thing because I find them too sweet but I thought they were a requisite treat to bring back for my coworkers. We stopped in to pick up a box and I got a piece of chocolate that had pecans and caramel in it that was REALLY good. It was sort of like a mashed up turtle
Snack – PAT O'BRIEN'S: Hurricane. We figured we had to get a hurricane from the place that invented it. We knew it wasn’t our type of drink but we thought it was a “must do.” It was as we expected it would be: cloyingly sweet. We could only drink ¼ before we just couldn’t drink anymore of it.
Dinner – COCHON: Not sure there’s anything more positive that I can say about this place that hasn’t already been said. We got the paneed pork cheek salad, which had some of the softest pork I’ve ever eaten. I only wished that there was more pork! We also got the corn cala with heirloom tomatoes, which was basically a corn cake with chopped up heirloom cherry tomatoes on top. It was simple, sweet, and fresh. Our entrees were their Louisiana cochon as well as their grilled redfish. For both dishes, the meat on its own was good but standard. Where the dishes really shined was when everything was eaten together (i.e.; eating the cochon with the braised cabbage/turnips). I know most dishes are meant to be eaten this way anyway but it was more pronounced with these dishes. We also got the smothered greens as a side, which were super sweet in the vegetal/good way. In terms of our nice dinners, this was our favorite.
This isn’t food related but I wanted to put in a plug for Snug Harbor Jazz Club. We went after dinner and saw Davell Crawford play. The venue was awesome and the music was even better. It was our first time at a jazz club and the music/talent of Davell and the other band members literally brought tears to my eyes.
Snack – CAFE DU MONDE: We went to CDM after the jazz club for a midnight snack. We ordered a café au lait, which was stronger here and better than the one at Café Beignet. However, I have to say that I liked the beignets at Café Beignet better. I don’t think the CDM beignets are made to order since we got ours in 2 minutes. I thought they were denser and less crispy than the ones we got at Café Beignet. It could’ve been that it was midnight and we went at a bad time though.
Brunch – EAT: The atmosphere of EAT was unlike the other places we had been to. It was sun-drenched and almost uplifting. However, the service we got wasn’t as friendly. It wasn’t bad service mind you, the waitress/hostess just wasn’t as welcoming as the other places we had been. I got the shrimp and grits which was really delicious. My husband got the grillades over biscuits and poached egg. He didn’t like it because it wasn’t what he expected but I thought it was awesome. It tasted like a very flavorful beef stew. I put some over my grits Overall this place was a nice change of pace but a little pricey. I guess compared to $2 beignets, most things would be!
Snack – FELIX: Since hubby is allergic to shellfish, it was only me eating but we walked up to the bar and I asked if I could get one oyster to try instead of a half dozen order. The shucker was very nice and obliged. I tipped him for his troubles since he didn’t charge me for it I thought the oyster here was okay. Very plump but taste wise, it was a little bit fishy and left an odd taste in my mouth. I don’t feel like it’s fair to judge though since I only had one and maybe it was a fluke.
Snack – ACME: Right after trying the oyster at Felix’s, we marched right across the street so I could try one at ACME. The shucker here wasn’t as friendly so I felt awkward asking to try just one. I ordered half a dozen and really enjoyed them. The oysters weren’t as plump as the one I had at Felix but they had a better flavor here. Perhaps because I could eat them with the spicy cocktail sauce I will say that the guy at the bar next to me and a girl eating at a table by herself were both eating a trayful of crawfish and they looked delicious. I semi-wish I hadn’t had brunch at EAT so I could’ve justified eating all that crawfish too Anybody know if the crawfish boil is good at ACME?
Snack – SUCRE: We took the St. Charle’s streetcar to 8th street and walked over to Magazine. We had two pieces of chocolate, iced coffee and some pistachio gelato to help us cool off from our walk. All were super delicious and I picked up a box of chocolates for my sister. The space was very open/fresh/modern and a bit out of place relative to its neighbors.
Lunch – PARASOLS: We walked over to Parasols and picked up a roast beef po boy and a fried oyster po boy to take back to our hotel since we weren’t hungry yet. This was the first and only po boy we could fit into our trip so I had high expectations but they ended up just being alright. I know we probably shouldn’t have gotten them to go but we were not hungry at all when we got there. The roast beef was better than the fried oyster po boy which I thought was a little too heavily breaded. The roast beef was soft but there wasn’t that much meat. Not sure if this is “allowed,” but we thought they were much better after a few shakes of hot sauce I wanted to go to Parkway but it was a little out of the way to get to without a car. I had planned to take the Canal St streetcar up and then walk over but we didn’t have enough time. I will definitely be going to Parkway on my next trip to try their po boy.
Dinner – NOLA: The ambience at NOLA is great. I loved the décor with the exposed brick walls. Our waiter, John, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. We started with the stuffed chicken wings, which judging by the tables around us is something most people start with.They tasted like a Vietnamese spring roll which had a wrapper of chicken wing instead of spring roll skin We liked it. I got the smoked duck and my husband got the rib eye. The portions were LARGE and we couldn’t finish our meals. Had we known how large they were, we probably would’ve just gotten two appetizers and one entrée. We got their popular banana cake dessert and thought it was just refreshing and light but nothing special.
Drinks – CAROUSEL BAR: We originally wanted to go to CURE but since it was our last night and we to leave the hotel at 8 am the next morning for our flight, we didn’t want to wander off too far. We decided to just pop into the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone to take a look at the carousel and get a drink. There were no seats at the bar available so we just sat at a side table. It’s a nice space but very “old school.” Not really our style but we could appreciate the appeal/charm.
I wanted to get beignets the next morning before our flight but unfortunately Café Beignet across the street from our hotel didn’t open until after we had to leave. I was so disappointed. I will be back though~!! Thank you so much for all of the input on these boards. I don't think I would've been able to go to such great places without all of your help!
re: edible complex
Hello! I have never blogged so...just found out that my husband and I have a last minute trip without our children to NOLA next weekend ! We will be arriving in NOLA next Friday afternoon for 1 night, leaving at noon Saturday. Please give suggestions for 1 night accommodations, dinner on Friday night (I'm already scared based on other Friday night dinner posts!), and somewhere to go dancing after dinner? We are mid-40's and don't want to go to any teeny-bopper places...in younger years, been to Pat O's and looking for something a little more elegant but I can guarantee you my husband won't want to do coat and tie! That said, nothing over the top fancy either...just nice, good live music would be great but we do want to dance. Years ago, we went to the Red Room over in the Garden District. I heard it is closed now. Just looking for a somewhat similar atmosphere after dinner next Friday night., romantic!
Thanks again. Pelican Club is definitely in the top 3 now. UPDATE: very good chance our best friends can meet us down there for dinner! Still undecided on hotel but probably going with Pelican Club, Commanders Palace, or Bayona for dinner, then Carousel Bar or the Ritz later. Only problem with Commanders or Bayona is concern that they may be a little too formal for us. AND again this will be a Friday night and our only night in NOLA so crowds are wait times and NOT on my list!
Are you referring to formal dining or formality in dress code? If you are not into formal dining of either facet you may want to skip Commander's. Bayona is more of a business casual dress code and the food and service a touch more casual, and yet you will still be appropriately attired for the bars on your to-do list. Provided I have a reservation, I have never waited to be seated at Bayona. If you are strictly into casual dining without a reservation, I would try Mandina's. The bar's on your list are excellent choices and you should have a lot of fun.
Thank you! I was referring to formality of dress code. Bayona does sound great although the online menu at Pelican Club looks inviting. My husband is not exactly into menus that offer entrees he cannot and will not pronounce! So glad you agree on bar choices...I am thinking we may simply stay at Hotel Monteleone simply for convenience sake to be at the Carousel Bar.
Also I don't mind making reservations ahead of time...just again, not wanting to walk into a very formal attire restaurant. Now that we have friends meeting us, good conversation over a nice dinner then walking to one of the nice bars is what we are going for.
I will check out Mandina's too!
We do plan to go to Rendezvous Friday afternoon (hopefully before they close) on Jackson Square for a few minutes shopping. It used to be on my must do list whenever our girls were infants...I surely hope they are still open...they had the most beautiful infants clothing/accessories!
I do agree that there is a major "tourist" aspect to the Gumbo Shop. It has also been some years since we last dined there.
That said, I've always enjoyed their gumbo. In this case JacquieLH enjoyed it. While there may be recipes that she'd like better, or that might be more "authentic," it's really about what one likes.
Years ago, a NYC native, transplanted to Denver, had lunch with me. We ordered in a praised "NY pizza," from a local shop. I loved it. It was one of the best pizzas that I had ever had. He went on and on about how this, or that was not "authentic," and he refused to even try it. He may have been 100% correct, but I still loved the danged pizza. It is about what one enjoys.
While the Gumbo House's gumbo was down my list, it was pretty good, by my palate. Did not like the venue that much, but I've been in much worse and still enjoyed my meal.
Just an observation,
re: Bill Hunt
My feeling on Gumbo Shop is that it is a solid, reasonably priced restaurant that fits nicely in as a meal in between the "destination" meals. On a long enough trip not every meal can be K-Pauls or Commander's and it's nice to have a short list of reliable joints that you can wander in to after a long day of doing things. Napoleon House and Gumbo Shop are like that and I'm glad to have them.
Kukubura, I agree. No one would argue that Gumbo Shop is haute cuisine, and yes, there are plenty of tourists in there. But it's reasonably priced and generally quite tasty. Definitely some comfort food to be had there. Solid and reliable are not insignificant qualities! If you want to talk about tourist traps, don't even get me started on Pere Antoine's. *shudder*
I am glad hear y'all had fun! You had a very ambitious pre-itinerary on your prior post so i am glad to know you were able to hit a lot of the spots!
My sweetie and I just got back as well. Thought I'd add my 2 cents:
Bloody Mary's at Carousel, wish we'd had a chance to go back. Nice atmosphere.
Lafitte Blacksmith Shop had loads of character, grape Voodoo Daiquiri was better than the awful Hurricane at Pat O'B.
Cafe du Monde was filthy on Sunday afternoon and I've had better beignets in Houston...but I guess one must go.
Galatoire's was enjoyable and we were seated downstairs at 1pm on Sunday. Loved the clubby atmosphere even though our server treated us like the tourists we were. The mixed seafood appetizer was good and fresh. My stuffed eggplant was not worth eating.
Commander's was a favorite. It was not on our original plan but I was so glad we went. Great tomato salad as well as oysters in cream and absinthe broth. Great entrees: black pepper shrimp and veal chop w/ blue cheese grits.
Enjoyed Brigtsen's and Pacal's Manale.
!Cochon was the favorite!
Good- fire roasted oysters, boudin balls,fried alligator.
GREAT- crawfish pie, green tomato and crawfish casserole, and you must have the fried oyster and bacon sandwich.
Okay- pineapple upside down cake. (wished I'd tried another small plate instead)
Innovative Bar menu
Breakfast at Mother's- complete waste of time. My debris and grits had absolutely zero seasoning, not even salt and pepper.
Camellia Grill- okay, but would not go back for the mediocre burger.
Next time- fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House. We tried but they were closed our last day due to the air conditioner being out.
Fantastic set of reviews. You really did do a tour on New Orleans, even if you didn't get too far from "home base." Thank you for taking the time to share.
I understand your trepidation regarding Bourbon Street. Other than a few architectural elements, I usually avoid in on our trips down - oh, and except for a few restaurants. Though I grew up in and around NOLA and spent too many hours on Bourbon Street, the “charm” that I found then has worn away. It’s probably my advanced age, but I find little reason to even traverse much of its length. A local writer, (Lafcadio Hern perhaps?) who wrote in essence, “New Orleans is like a great aunt, who wears too much makeup, has a checkered past, but is oh, so lovable.” Well, Bourbon Street used to typify that for me, but now, after a dozen failed face-lifts, and far too much perfume the lovability is now missing. The “curtains” have faded badly and are now in tatters.
I loved that you were able to do some A-B comparisons, and wrote of those. This will undoubtably help others in the future. With many folk on this board, we focus on one place for certain dishes, and might not give another version a fair try. I know that this is true for me. You covered some of these bases, and did so very well.
Thank you for visiting and dining in one of my favorite cities in the world. Glad that most was so good, and that you enjoyed your stay.
Your comments are greatly appreciated,