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Tell me your Emeril's Story: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Going to be in NOLA in a few weeks with one of our all time favorite couples. They've never been and are trusting us to show them around and take them to good restaurants and have a few great drinks. No problem!

The one request they did have was dinner at Emeril's. I'm dreading it. Truly. I had a horrible experience at Emeril's NOLA (which I've recounted on this board) and it has turned me off to all things Emeril. But since I love my friends, I will not neglect them of this one request.

So, what I need is for my New Orleans loving hounders to talk me down...or not. I'd like to read about your expereinces at Emeril's....all of them....the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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  1. Not a fan of Emeril's Nola. We are however, regulars at Emeril's flagship, dining there on average 4-5 times a month since last Nov. We've sampled most of the menu. Food and service are always excellent. Favorites, app: smoked exotic musrooms on angel hair with tasso cream sauce, fried oyster prep of the day. Small/not so small plate menu changes seasonally . We usually start by ordering several app. and small/ not so small plates for the table. Back to favs, Salad: abita rootbeer bacon (pork belly) salad, entrees: andouille crusted redfish, double cut Niman ranch pork chop witlh tamarind glaze and green chile (no chocolate) mole. Dessert: banana cream pie, lemon curd tart. Blueberry bread pudding is lighter than most..

    To sum it up, the plates are well composed with complimentary flavor components. The food just tastes good . They made regulars of prevoius non Emeril fans.

    1. Also not a fan of NOLA, but Emeril's is a great restaurant with terrific service and mind-blowing (most of the time) food.

      The best gumbo I ever had was the smoked rabbit gumbo special which had a dark, almost black roux. Some poor soul was stirring that roux pot for hours.

      We were fortunate enough to dine there the first night they reopened after "It," and were delighted when Emeril himself greeted us and served us the amuse bouche. The entire meal was magical.

      Long before he was a TV star, Emeril was a top-notch chef, and we believe that his namesake restaurant represents his cooking and hospitality philosophy from that pre-celebrity era.

      Which is a long way of saying, "GO!"

      1. There are great dishes at all of Emeril's restos. Would one bad experience at Brennans stop you from going to every Brennans restaurant?

        It's a fact of life here in New Orleans that visitors will want to do something touristy. Personally, I thank god someone's PR firm is hitting the right buttons. Before I lived here I must have made my friends crazy. Every trip I dragged them to Brennans, Arnauds and Pat Os. Just be thankful they're not insisting you join them on one of those hideous carriage rides thru the quarter. (I draw the line on that one).

        Anyone being honest will tell you that Emeril is a talented chef and truly cares about New Orleans. No way would I write off his restos because of one bad experience.

        8 Replies
        1. re: chef4hire

          I'm with you on the carriage ride...no way.

          Here is the thing...I've never had a really bad meal at any Brennan's restaurant. I had a not so great experience at Dickie's Steak House, and I won't be back there.

          But what we had at NOLA defied the odds...it took bad to a whole new level...it gave bad a whole new meaning. We were served really bad food and had even worse service. In fact, the manager treated us as if we were trying to rob the place. According to the waiter and manager there was no way the problem could be anything but us! We left the restaurant hungry, furious, and even worse...left two bottles of wine that we couldn't get anyone to pour for us. It was a doozy of an evening. So, when you have an expereince that is really that bad, it turns you off to the entire concept of anything Emeril.

          1. re: FoodChic

            I disagree re: carriage ride. We enjoy grabbing a Pimm's Cup and taking a private "shut up and drive" ride through the quarter. The drivers will detour and drop you at a desired location stopping along the way for refills. Particularly nice on non sweltering evenings.

            1. re: JazzyB

              LOL! a private "shut up and drive" ride ...classic!

              1. re: JazzyB

                we do it, but go to Vieux Carre Wine & Spirits and get bubbly and go flutes for the ride!

                1. re: JazzyB

                  can't get on board with the carriages...literally or figuratively

                  1. re: chef4hire

                    what in particular about carriage rides disagrees with you?

                    1. re: kibbles


                      just about everything, I guess. I cannot tolerate the obnoxious drivers and the 1/2 assed history lessons, the traffic jam ups, the stinky mess that is constantly in the middle of the street or the 6 seater carriages that have only 1 mule pulling them in August - it's just not for me

              2. re: chef4hire

                Remember, not all Brennan restaurants in New Orleans are operated by the same people. And each is substantially different from the others.
                Brennan's on Royal Street is operated by brothers Jimmy and Ted Brennan.
                Commander's Palace is operated by Ella Brennan's daughter Ti Martin and niece Lally Brennan.
                Palace Cafe, Dickie Brennan's Steak House and Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House are operated by Dick Brennan, his son Dickie and his daughter Lauren Brower.
                Ralph's on the Park, Bacco and Red Fish Grill are operated by Ralph Brennan.
                And Mr. B's Bistro is operated by Ralph's sister, Cindy Brennan.

              3. went to nola when it first opened.

                i sat at the bar nearest to the kitchen and was treated to all the little pieces parts the kitchen was cranking out for guests.

                i loved it! went three nights in a row and sat at the same place. on the fourth night, my boss asked me out to dinner. said he was going to take me someplace special that i never heard of. i whispered into the hostesses' ear when we got there. the boss was happy to show off his new-found restaurant.

                emeril is ok in my book.

                1 Reply
                1. re: steve h.

                  I completely agree about Emeril's focus on flavors; no one on the NO food front takes bold flavors and mixes them so well.

                  NOLA was our very 1st NO restaurant about 10 years ago and I still have a soft spot for it -- not always a perfect meal, but always good and an enjoyable visit. My best lunch ever was pre-K at Delmonico's (off the menu now -- so sad!) but the worst meal I've had in NO was at Emerils (lentils not done; salad greens old and turning bad!)

                  Just goes to show, eh?

                  When a wealthy, world traveling but chatty client wanted a recommendation of where to go for dinner on his overnight trip to NO (pre-K), I told him to go to NOLA and sit at the chef's bar. He did, and called me the next day to report what a great time he'd had -- as with my experience, not only did the chef feed him tastes and small complimentary appetiser bites, but other solo diners started trading bites of their dishes. Client went home and recommended NOLA to colleagues and his clients... everyone was happy!

                  We just went to dinner again at NOLA 2 weeks ago (1st since K) and everyone had a great time & great meal. It remains one of my first recommendations for newcomers.

                2. On the list of my all time favorite meals...one was at Emerils and one at Nolas - Both offer extraordinary service - if you go during the week.

                  At Nola - to die for - fresh Texas Redfish, encrusted in garlic, with a bacon butter sauce. Pair it with Rocket Science cab, if they have it.

                  At Emerils - the filet mignon with demi-glace sauce and fingerling potatoes. Trust me - you will pay them to lick your plate.

                  We have had wonderful, extraordinary service there - but not on weekends when it's crowded.

                  Say what you want about Emeril - but the man invents food that tastes great - he's all about flavors - and isn't that what great food is all about? Plus, you can have fun there - not like Stella! - where you have to whisper it's so boring and stiff.

                  1. Unfortunately, my experiences were pre-K, so things might have changed.

                    Still, with about five visits, all were great. The food was very good to excellent, and both the food service and the wine service were very good, and great fun. On each, we had a wonderful time and felt that it was well worth the effort and the $.

                    Now, please read the more recent reviews, as they may point out a change.



                    1. NOLA is my favorite restaurant. I go to New Orleans at least once a year and during our trips we go to NOLA at least 3 times. Which is not easy, with all my other food choices. I've eaten at all the well known restaurants, but there is something we get at NOLA that can't be duplicated. We always sit at the food bar and have never had an issue with food. The chefs treat us as returning family and do everything to make the experience unforgettable. I've had a couple experiences with slower than normal service, particularly with the wine service, but never the food. For one, I'm never in a hurry there and with the amuse bouche, appetizers, etc - it's always a 2 to 3 hour experience. I'm hooked on the food bar experience in general, loving to be a part of everything going on in the kitchen. Chefs Michael and Josh are a pleasure to watch as they keep everything running smoothly. The first time we went was in December 2006 and our waiter recognized us when we were on our way to a concert at the cathedral. He was on his way to work, called out to us and asked if we were coming by for dinner that night (we'd been twice already that week), we said sure and he set it up for us for after the concert. It was like we were neighbors or family, just stopping by for dinner. So, for me, that feeling can't be replaced. Each year, when we go back for the first time, I wonder if it will be different, not quite so good, but it always lives up to the memory. Foodwise, my favorite entrees are the redfish, fried chicken, shrimp and grits and porterhouse pork chop; appetizers are the pocket bread, Miss Hays chicken wings, crab salad and for dessert, the drunken monkey ice cream (without the choc bread pudding - not a fan of this one). I've never gone to Emerils or Delmonico - maybe this year, I've got 2 weeks to fit it in!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: NOLALVR

                        At NOLA: Staff treated my companion and me with charm and courtesy . Food was outstanding, and the service was, too. Professional, top shelf. Go and then go again.

                        1. re: EarnBeau

                          Never again will I go to NOLA.,,,never. But I'm going to give Emeril's a shot.

                      2. Damn! Same here. NOLA has been pretty bad to me...but I haven't been in a while.
                        Emeril's is another story. Man, I felt same as you. Totally dreading it. I've been 4 times since then (last year), and each time was top notch. The food really is pitch perfect. I never got anything I didn't REALLY enjoy. The atmosphere is not for me, but it can be tolerated. The service is STELLAR. Not overbearing, but very attentive and yet laid back. Enjoy. Oh yeah...they'll push the banana cream pie, but I don't care for it. It's like eating 4 sticks of butter.

                        1. I haven't been to NOLA in years but we go to Emeril's on Tchoupitoulas regularly since it's in our neighborhood...I'm talking a couple of times a week. I have never seen a more smoothly run operation. The staff is always welcoming and we are always treated with kindness and respect. The food is definitely solid. We enjoy the small and not so small plates. One of my favorite dishes is the Sweet and Sour Lobster, but lately I've been hooked on the Pressed small chicken with delicious mashed potatoes and smothered greens. PS Ask for extra greens. Amazingly delicious.

                          Emeril's Restaurant
                          800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                          1. What's your opinions about Emeril's NOLA restaurants today. I always like Emeril's the most because I thought the atmosphere was the best along with great food and good service. I like the big room and fine food. Next I thought Delmonico's stood out because of the fine food but I thought the atmosphere less than that at Emeril's. I went to NOLA once and had a great time but I would go back to Emeril's over and over again.

                            Emeril's Restaurant
                            800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Littleman

                              Short answer, yes. I loved Emeril's had a fantastic meal there last September and have been back since.

                              I posted something about this somewhere, but I'll summerize briefly for you. We had an amazing waiter and we couldn't have had a better time. The waiter overheard my conversations about my horrible experience at NOLA. He told me that around the time frame of my visit to NOLA 2001-2003ish that NOLA was under different management and they had mutiple complaints with the food and the service. In 2004 a new manager took over and they've made vast improvements.

                              So to test this out, I went to NOLA in October of last year and it was great. Had an incredible food and service. I have since been, once again in April, and it was still fabulous.

                              Emeril's Restaurant
                              800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                            2. In a handful of visits to NOLA and Emeril's I've had no reason to stop returning and every reason to keep returning. Great food and hospitality each time out -- both are well worth a visit, it's up to you to decide how they compare to New Orleans' many great choices. I mean no disrespect to other restaurants but (in my experience) the overall presentation and polish most reminds me of NYC-type standards (I mean that in the best way) while still evincing a strong N.O. personality.

                              1. Just discovered this board. We went to Emeril's for Mother's Day brunch (how about that date as a test?) and were very impressed with the level of service and most of the food. One of the dishes, the seafood gumbo, was one of the top five gumbos I have ever tasted. Since gumbo is my favorite soup-type dish, this is high praise. Normally, a restaurant, particularly touristy, won't season properly. But Emeril's certainly knows how to use a pepper grinder. We haven't lived in New Orleans for many years but visit as often as we can. This will certainly require a repeat visit!

                                Emeril's Restaurant
                                800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                1. Just ate at Emeril's for the first time last night. The food was solid, but the entire experience was outstanding. Apps: bbq shrimp with a cunning and delicious tiny rosemary biscuit and duck and andouille sausage, salad w/strawberries, calamari, no complaints. Entrees: double cut pork chop (a Flintstonian piece of meat), ribeyes with meltingly good onion rings, drum in a coating of crispy onions, all solid. Had a service bobble on the cheese course, but we were having such a good time we didn't care. The rest of the table loved the desserts: banana cream pie, chocolate peanut butter pie and strawberry shortcake, I was too sated to do them justice. Oh, and this is important: when they were out of the wine we'd chosen, the waiter made a recommendation which, though delicious, was almost twice as much as the original ($240 over $130), without mentioning it or pointing it out on the menu. In our scenario, it wasn't the end of the world, but the extra $200 on the bill (we had 2 bottles) was a little startling.

                                  Emeril's Restaurant
                                  800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: rileypeek

                                    Man, that peanut butter pie was awesome. My husband and I went to Emeril's for lunch a week or so ago, and did the 3 course prix fixe: I started with the smoked mushrooms with angelhair pasta and tasso cream sauce, then had the shrimp louis salad, and finished with the peanut butter pie. My husband had oysters julia, duck confit melt, and creme brulee with a delicious and awesome shortbread cookie. We sat at the kitchen bar which was fun.

                                    Emeril's Restaurant
                                    800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                    1. re: noradeirdre

                                      Husband ate at Emerils last night and said the Abita Bacon Salad was to die for. I am joining him today and want to go and just have that.

                                      Emeril's Restaurant
                                      800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                      1. re: ncara

                                        Not only is the food terrific, the customer service is as well.

                                        We had resv. before a Saints playoff game. The place was packed, including the valet lot. In fact, the valet said he had no more room and that we should try parking on the street. We explained that we were not walk-ins and had resv. He said there was nothing he could do. My husband asked if Kevin was in. He smugly replied "yea, want me to get him", as if to challenge . My huband replied yes, in fact I'll come with you.

                                        Kevin was busy w/ another customer but upon seeing my husband, stopped to give him his big welcome. My husband explained the problem. The valet chirped in" I have no spots except for the 2 you told me to hold out front". Kevin replied," park his car in one of them". Now that's customer service! As my husband handed him the keys, the valet remarked "Nice to have friends".

                                        Here's the thing, Kevin is not a personal friend. We have gotten to know him from being frequent customers. Emeril's truly appreciates it's local regulars and does their best to accomodate them.

                                        A side note: We've seen Emeril in the restaurant several times...taking care of business, in the kitchen etc. On this day, he was a diner. Always good to see the chef eating at his own place.

                                        Emeril's Restaurant
                                        800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130