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Looking for feedback on our NOLA dining plans - 5 days late September

s
STL James Aug 31, 2009 08:53 PM

Greetings - I've stalked this board for a couple of weeks now, and have my "spreadsheet" started to make the most of our 5 days in New Orleans at the end of next month. It will be our first trip, just my husband and me, both late 40's. We enjoy a mix of activities and dining levels; not ashamed to enjoy some of the classic tourist experiences but very appreciative of your advice to avoid the bad ones!

Here's how our trip looks at this point:
Saturday: Flight arrives 9:25 a.m. Staying at Omni Royal Orleans - no car
Lunch - Mr. B's Bistro
Walking Cocktail Tour of Quarter - 4:00 p.m.
Dinner - Open to suggestions - please help - We will have a few cocktails in us, so we'll probably save our nicer dinners for other nights!

Sunday:
Jazz Brunch - Commander's Palace 11:00 reservation made - requested Garden Room
Dinner - K-Paul

Monday:
Breakfast - Café du Monde early
Swamp Tour - early pickup at hotel
Lunch - Coop's place or Clover Grill
Dinner - Redfish Grill

Tuesday:
Lunch: 10:00 New Orleans Cooking School (is this a bad idea?)
Dinner - Bayona

Wednesday: (flight leaves at 2:20)
Late Breakfast - Stanley!

Thanks so much for the advice.

  1. a
    AngelinaBallerina Sep 1, 2009 12:42 AM

    If you're looking for a casual dinner spot on Saturday I suggest Napoleon House (get a muffuletta and Pimms cup...so good), Liuzza's or Casamento's. I'd try and fit Napoleon House in at some point even if you just go for a drink.
    K-Paul's is closed Sunday and Monday so maybe you could move that to Tuesday night and do lunch at Bayona instead of dinner.
    Between Clover Grill or Coop's Place for lunch I'd do Coop's and save Clover Grill for a late night snack just because the people watching seems to be better at night. :)
    Before heading home you could get a muffuletta to go at Central Grocery to take on the flight.
    Croissant D'or has good croissants and baked goods if you need a light snack at some point. Hope you have a wonderful time!

    1. kukubura Sep 1, 2009 04:34 AM

      Seconding Napoleon House for a casual dinner. Good choice.

      (deleting the rest because I can't read)

      1 Reply
      1. re: kukubura
        uptownlibrarian Sep 1, 2009 06:19 AM

        Look a little closer at her Sunday plans...

      2. s
        STL James Sep 1, 2009 07:06 AM

        Thanks for the suggestions. I went on the websites for my top picks to confirm when they are open for dinner. We'll likely plan for Napoleon House for dinner on Saturday, Redfish Grill on Sunday, Bayona on Monday, and K-Paul's on Tuesday.
        I love the idea of taking our muffuletta to go as we head out of town...

        3 Replies
        1. re: STL James
          j
          JazzyB Sep 1, 2009 09:04 AM

          Go to Emeril's for Sunday dinner. Redfish Grill is mediocre at best. If you haven't already, join Omni"s "Preferred Guest" program. This will get you a complimentary carafe of coffee (or tea )and juice as well as a free room upgrade (if available) plus, a coupon good for either 50% off a weekend stay or 1 weekend night free (can't remember which, it's been awhile). Thanks for coming. Enjoy!

          1. re: JazzyB
            n
            nola1421 Sep 1, 2009 04:26 PM

            Good choice of Hotel, Omni Royal Orleans, right in the heart of the FQ. My favorit Hotel to stay in when I am in NOLA. Emerl's other restaurant NOLA is right across the street from Napoleon House as well as Johnny's Poor boy, these three place to eat are right outside your hotel door on St Louis Street. Enjoy your vacation in NOLA

          2. re: STL James
            BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 5, 2009 06:37 PM

            We were just there last weekend and had a great trip! Check Napoleon House's hours, they are a little inconsistent. Every time we went by to get a cocktail they were closed. We didn't check the hours carefully enough! We did like Tujague's for cocktails too, the bartender was a little gruff at first, but warmed up to us. He made a great Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz! Also, the new Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt is beautiful!

            We didn't go to K-Paul's this time, but when we went a year and a half ago I loved their crab corn bisque. This time we went to Mr. B's and had the BBQ Shrimp which was delicious! My husband had the Lobster Risotto and was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful and well made it was. I liked the seafood gumbo better than the yaya, it seemed to have a richer flavor. We love Galatoire's for the atmosphere! Also, had my b-day dinner at Stella! and really enjoyed it. If you want one high end place to go I would recommend it. The presentation and flavors of the Kobe beef app was spectacular and the service was wonderful. Chef Boswell is very innovative with his creations. I wanted to try the shark fin, but it is off the menu because of all the controversy. Had a really good soft shell crab po-boy at Johnny's. I wish that Casamento's was open which it will be for you and I wish we had gone to Parkway Tavern for a Roast Beef Po'Boby

            Which swamp tour company are you going with? I would suggest going on an Airboat which has less people on it and is more intimate and they can take you into tighter spots in the bayou. We went on AirBoat Adventures and loved it! It is more expensive than the bigger boats, we paid $62 per person, but it was well worth it. It's pretty amazing how fast the boats can go! We even got to hold a 6 day old baby alligator in the wild! It was a 2 hour tour and was less than an hour away from the French Quarter.

            Enjoy your trip...I'm jealous...I want to go back soon! It sounds like you have a pretty good start with where you want to go. The only bad thing is that there is never enough time to go to all the places you want!

            We picked up a Muffeletta from Central Grocery for our plane ride home. We bought 1 whole one, but I wished we had gotten 2 for leftovers the next day!

          3. b
            betheroo Sep 5, 2009 07:05 PM

            I would go to Coop's for an oyster po boy or Fiorella's; get the fried chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes.... (across the street from Coop's) for lunch over Clover Grill....I think of Clover for late night. Excellent hangover prevention. Must have a Pimm's at Nap House, and a Sazerac at the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. And a French 75 at Arnaud's!!!!

            Why not go to Acme for oysters for a casual dinner....sit at the bar and have some raw half shell as well as the yummy grilled ones. Or try EAT, they are BYOB, so an excellent deal if budget conscious. Try the butterbeans and shrimp. Stanley has an outstanding reuben, grab a window table for great people watching.

            Enjoy...and check the hours of the places you are considering, lots are closed on Mondays.

            I have not been hearing good things about Bayona, and with so much wonderful food in NO I would hate to waste a second on anything not top notch. Ditto Redfish. Why not Stella! or August instead?

            1. BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 5, 2009 08:06 PM

              When you say "Cocktail Tour of Quarter" are you talking about an actual tour that you have a guide or just going out on your own? I would suggest venturing out on your own...

              11 Replies
              1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist
                b
                betheroo Sep 5, 2009 08:32 PM

                +1 to what Bombay says!

                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist
                  s
                  STL James Sep 6, 2009 09:18 AM

                  Thanks for all the input! Bombay - we do have a reservation with Airboat Adventures for our swamp tour. It IS a bit more expensive than the other tours, but we like the idea of the smaller, faster boat! Our Cocktail Tour on Saturday afternoon is a walking tour with Grayline. We have gone back and forth on this one. Having never been to the FQ, we wanted some sort of orientation on our first day to get our bearings. We considered a carriage ride, but after reading a lot of negative reviews (can't often hear the "guide", highly dependent on who you get, etc.) and positive reviews of the Grayline tour, we thought we'd give this a try. Hope to meet a few people, learn a little bit, and try a few signature drinks.

                  Anyone have any feedback on the "Coolinary" menus at Redfish Grill and Bayona?

                  We are considering NOLA or Stella! in place of one of these two. So nice to have so many good choices...

                  1. re: STL James
                    BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 7, 2009 11:48 AM

                    You are going to love the Airboat Adventure tour! It's not something I'd want to do every time I was in the area, but I had the best time! They feed marshmallows to the alligators...LOL

                    Re: the cocktail tour, it sounds like it could be fun. Does the cost include the cocktails? But as a side note, it is very easy to get around the French Quarter and get your bearings. Just have a map and plan out your route. ALL the bartenders are pretty friendly once you get them talking and they would give you suggestions on what to get. I personally think it's more of an intimate way to get to know the city instead of having 10 people or more with you and getting the "conveyor belt" treatment. However, getting the back of the scene tour of some of the places sounds neat! Also, if you decide to venture out on your own, you need to sit at the bar, not at a table getting waitress service. We've had good conversations with the bartenders at...Nap House; Tujague's; Carousel Bar (when it's not crowded); we sat at a table at Sazerac, but the bartenders looked like they would be nice to talk to; Mr. B's bartender during a late lunch was clueless...he didn't even know what a Negroni was(I know, it's not really a local drink, but still...) To put it in a nutshell, almost all the local people are very friendly and talkative and will answer any questions you have! It also could be that I can be quite the talker and am very inquisitive;o)

                    Have you been to the www.nomenu.com site? It's all about the restaurant scene in NOLA. I think it would be helpful to you. He lists a lot of the Coolinary menus there. He has both a free site and a "pay however much you want to pay" site.

                    Again, I really enjoyed Stella!, I would highly recommend it!

                    Good luck making your decisions...it makes your head spin with all the suggestions.

                    BTW, my in-laws are in the St. Louis area!

                    1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist
                      s
                      STL James Sep 7, 2009 01:38 PM

                      I am excited about Airboat Adventures too! I found a coupon for $10 off per person that is like icing on the cake.
                      I just spent about an hour on the www.nomenu.com website - thanks so much for including it!
                      Also, I really appreciate your guidance about sitting at the bar when we visit your fine drinking establishments. We LOVE to chat up the locals but probably would have sat at a table instead of at the bar without thinking twice. Great advice.
                      BTW the cocktail tour includes only one drink in the tour price - the rest are up to you. We are thinking hard about whether we want to keep this on the itinerary. I've done so much reading on these forums I think I could probably come up with a good self-guided "tour". We have until that day to decide.
                      With your in-laws in the St. Louis area - hope you have had a chance to sample some of the wonderful restaurants here. Really great Italian on "the Hill" in addition to some awesome newer places in the city...

                      1. re: STL James
                        FoodChic Sep 7, 2009 02:49 PM

                        Trattoria Marcella and Adriana's are not to be missed in STL!

                        1. re: STL James
                          BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 13, 2009 09:54 PM

                          That is so great that you found the $10 off coupon..that's a pretty good discount...wish I'd found that!

                          It sounds like you have done a lot of research and I think you'd be fine doing the cocktail tour on your own! One thing I don't like about the guided tour is that you have to go by their time. There may be places you don't like and have to stay longer OR you do like and have to leave for the next place...

                          Please be sure to report back after your grand trip!

                          I have gone to "the Hill" and love it there. I love the Volpi store for their salami!

                          By the way, I'm in the Los Angeles area:)

                          1. re: STL James
                            bobjunior Oct 6, 2009 07:31 AM

                            STL, Can you tell me where you got the coupon. I just landed in NO last night and this list has been quite helpful. I'm leaving Thursday so if you can get back to me before then, much obliged.

                            1. re: bobjunior
                              s
                              STL James Oct 6, 2009 06:10 PM

                              Bobjunior - go to www.neworleansonline.com/tools/coupons and you can download printable coupons. If this link doesn't work exactly, once you get to "neworleansonline.com" you can type "coupons" in the search field and it should come up. The Airboat Adventure $10 small boat coupon is on the first page. Good luck and have a great trip!

                              1. re: STL James
                                bobjunior Oct 18, 2009 11:36 PM

                                thanks! i did it. paid the discount rate for the medium airboat and got upgraded to the small one. it was fantastic. also ate like skinny was going out of style in new orleans.

                        2. re: STL James
                          j
                          JazzyB Sep 9, 2009 06:38 AM

                          When playing tourist at home and when hosting guests, we take a private carriage ride. $60 + tip. Bring along your favorite libation. Drivers will stop along the way for you to pick up refills. We dined at August last weekend and will again this weekend. Their 4 course tasting COOLinary w/ wine pairing was outstanding. Menu changes every few days. $60pp w/wine, $40 without. You will need to resv. now. Skip NOLA, Emeril's flagship is much better. nomenu site is down. Try: http://www.nomcvb.com/restaurants/ind...

                          August, Emerils, all Brennan and most hotel restos. are open Monday.

                          1. re: JazzyB
                            edible complex Sep 9, 2009 07:55 AM

                            you can get bottles of whatever at Vieux Carre' Wine & Spirits.
                            422 Chartres St
                            New Orleans, LA 70130-2102
                            (504) 568-9463

                            if bubbles are your thing, they have go flutes that you can take for your carriage ride. born n breaded in nola and only just took my first carriage tour about 3 yrs...was great fun!

                      2. FoodChic Sep 6, 2009 09:28 AM

                        If you really want to do a cooking class, I highly, highly recommend going to the New Orleans Cooking Experience: http://www.neworleanscookingexperienc...

                        It's a much more private event, and you get great local chefs to talk to and gain from their experience.

                        Hope you have a fabulous time!

                        1. s
                          savory south Sep 8, 2009 11:27 AM

                          That's a pretty full plan. Not alot of room for serendipty...Here's my suggestions:
                          1. On arrival @ Royal O: ask if the rooftop bar is open and when. You really must go up there, view is incredible, if you find you need some downtime you can go up there to sunbathe, give your tummy a rest and have adult beverages....locals do.
                          2. Have your self-guided pub crawl start in the FQ (Tujague's, Carousel Lounge, Nap House, balcony @ Muriel's, Coop's Germaine Wells side bar @ Arnaud's- some of these are for pure visual interest) and then work yourselves down Decatur St. to Frenchman street in the Marigny Triangle area. Dinner could be @ Marigny Brasserie or even @ Snug Harbor if you want to do dinner and music & then another drink @ DBA.
                          Or take a cab from Frenchman to Feeling's in the Marigny Rectangle for another dinner option & from there walk 1 block to Mimi's for another drink. Feelings is a true gem - located in 1840's home with intimate patio & great narrow bar. Would NOT walk from Mimi's back ....call a cab. United 522-9771. Local mantra: don't get excited, call United.
                          Whatever you do make reservations for Sat. night
                          3. Sunday - ditto on others ideas.
                          4. Monday find out just how late you are getting back from the tour. You may just be able
                          to fit in just one real meal after the tour. Lots of places are dark on Monday, so your Mon
                          & Tues options may depend on that.
                          If you want to get out of the Fr Qtr; options could be Emeril's; Restaurant August, Luke, Dominica, Herbsaint, Cochon, MILA all in the Central Business District (CBD). In the Qtr, Bayona, Galatoire's (OK at night it isn't the happiness crush of Friday lunch but still a great experience), Stanley!
                          5. Breakfast option could be NOCakeCafe in the Marigny and The Coffee Pot in the QTR
                          if you did Stanley! as a dinner option. Stanley is just amazing.
                          6. Get 2 1/2 muff's to go from Central Grocery. It will make it much easier to handle and then you have a still wrapped one for later on in the week. Also a good spot to pick up
                          food gifts to take back.
                          7. Speaking of gifts, the restored Fr. Market is open. Unfortunately it seems to be filled
                          with the same 10 designs of made in China masks, T shirts and trinkets. However,
                          Loretta's Pralines has reopened. Great pralines and the best sweet potato cookies. All small batch made on-premises or at her bigger location in the Marigny. Real deal here.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: savory south
                            s
                            savory south Sep 8, 2009 12:06 PM

                            My bad -
                            I should have said Stella for dinner option, not Stanley. Stella is just amazing.
                            Stanley is great option for breakfast, earlier is better.

                          2. a
                            Ambiance Sep 13, 2009 12:11 PM

                            Please don't go to Mr B's or Stella. Had lunch at Mr. B's couple weeks ago - it was just horrid. The thing about Stella's is not the food. It's the atmosphere - just so damn formal - you feel like you have to whisper. NOLA about fun! Not feeling like you are in a library.

                            Coops is creepy dirty to me. For lunch or casual -Try French Market Restaurant on Decatur - thought it would be touristy - but by far - the absolute best fried shrimp and oysters of ANYWHERE in town - and I have tried many. Creole potatoes to die for. $19.95

                            I love Louisiana Grill on Dauphine - quaint tiny, elegant place. Love Emeril's Nola - but go during the week.

                            Just stay far away from Mr B's You will thank me.

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: Ambiance
                              Bayareafoodiei Sep 13, 2009 01:59 PM

                              I have to disagree w/Ambiance completely. Run don't walk to both Mr. B's and Stella's! They are both phenomenal! I definitely go to both when ever I go to NOLA for a visit.

                              1. re: Bayareafoodiei
                                BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 13, 2009 09:48 PM

                                I agree with Bayarea....I enjoyed both Mr. B's & Stella!

                                Stella! is a higher end restaurant, but I didn't think it was "formal". I loved the food there. Like any restaurant there are hit & misses. I didn't feel like it was a place that you had to whisper and be up-tight while you have your meal. It's as relaxed as you want to make it feel!

                                Ambiance, what did you eat at Mr. B's that you disliked so much? Did you try to Bbq Shrimp? I think we need more detail from you then just "it was just horrid."

                                1. re: Bayareafoodiei
                                  Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2009 08:45 PM

                                  For a review of Sella!, one might get some sense of the place from this review:
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/523095

                                  We've been back twice more, and everything was excellent, though this review captures (IMO), the essence of the venue.

                                  Enjoy,

                                  Hunt

                                2. re: Ambiance
                                  kukubura Sep 13, 2009 05:46 PM

                                  If you go to your grave without eating Mr. B's BBQ shrimp you'll have no one to thank but SATAN!

                                  (Go to Mr. B's)

                                  1. re: kukubura
                                    s
                                    STL James Sep 13, 2009 06:20 PM

                                    With all due respect to Ambiance's bad experience, we are planning to hit Mr B's for BBQ shrimp for lunch on Saturday when we arrive. Based on so many positive reviews, and the type of food/places we typically enjoy, I'm pretty confident it will be a great start to our trip...

                                    ...and I can't POSSIBLY face the prospect of dealing with Satan if we don't :)

                                    I love the passion on this board!

                                    1. re: STL James
                                      Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2009 08:48 PM

                                      I've had several good meals (including service) at Mr. B's. It is on my radar screen, though there are others, that I frequent more often. There are still others, whereI feel that I must dine. Were I staying at the Monteleone, I'd definitely be there for one meal - still, there are those others that call to me more loudly. I have no complaints at all, it's just those "others."

                                      Enjoy,

                                      Hunt

                                    2. re: kukubura
                                      FoodChic Sep 15, 2009 06:53 AM

                                      Love Mr. B's. I would feel cheated if I didn't stop there when in New Orleans. I love their Gumbo Ya Ya so much I made it myself this past weekend. See attached photo.

                                       
                                      1. re: FoodChic
                                        kukubura Sep 15, 2009 07:57 AM

                                        yummmmm...

                                        How'd you like your roux? We should start a thread somewhere on CH where we make our favorite New Orleans restaurant dishes at home and see how they come out.

                                        For those who didn't see the other thread (obviously not including you, FC), here's my take on Mr. B's BBQ shrimp.

                                         
                                        1. re: kukubura
                                          FoodChic Sep 15, 2009 08:06 AM

                                          I halved the recipe in the Mr. B's cookbook. It's a butter and flour roux. It took 1hr and 10 mins to achieve the beautiful dark mahogany color. It wasn't exact in flavor to Mr. B's, but it was pretty darn close. My DH said it was the best homemade gumbo he's ever had.

                                          1. re: FoodChic
                                            s
                                            shanefink Sep 26, 2009 04:34 PM

                                            I know it's probably obvious, but what's a DH? I assume you don't mean designated hitter.

                                            1. re: shanefink
                                              uptownlibrarian Sep 26, 2009 08:05 PM

                                              It usually means something along the lines of "darling husband," but who knows around here? Maybe "deviant hobo" or "doctor of humanities?"

                                              1. re: shanefink
                                                FoodChic Sep 27, 2009 08:34 PM

                                                Ah, uptownlibrarian is correct! DH is for darling husband. And that he is!

                                                1. re: FoodChic
                                                  Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2009 08:49 PM

                                                  Or "dear husband," which is the exact same thing, but with a different adjective.

                                                  I only hope that my "dear wife" (DW?) thinks that way, of me...

                                                  Hunt

                                          2. re: FoodChic
                                            BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 15, 2009 10:50 AM

                                            Great job FoodChic! It looks delicious!!

                                        2. re: Ambiance
                                          Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2009 08:41 PM

                                          "The thing about Stella's is not the food. It's the atmosphere - just so damn formal - you feel like you have to whisper."

                                          Now, we've found Stella! to be a wonderful blend of Southern and NOLA elegance. That one does not shout during dinner is not a bad thing.

                                          Yes, there is an air of formality, but that is not bad. One should be able to discern that this is a restaurant, where one should comport themselves as ladies and gentlemen. Wish that several diners in Scottsdale on Friday night, had picked up similar vibes.

                                          Now, I am older. Frat parties are a thing of many decades ago. I have long since moved on from those - thankfully. If a diner wishes a great dining experience in a venue where they are not likely to climb upon the tables and sing off-key, Stella! is a good place.

                                          If one wants the frat-party scene, then maybe a late-night visit to the Piano Bar at Pat O's would be a better choice. I know that the diners at Stella! would greatly appreciate them chosing to do so.

                                          Enjoy,

                                          Hunt

                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                            BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 29, 2009 05:05 PM

                                            Well said, Hunt! It took you a while to join this thread...welcome:)

                                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist
                                              Bill Hunt Sep 29, 2009 06:04 PM

                                              Thanks for noticing my absence. It's been a really different Summer. Now that I'm back, I'll be in the air for the entirity of October. While I will not be dining in NOLA during that time, I will be haunting restaurants in London, Chicago and on Maui.

                                              NOLA is on the calender for late Spring, and I only hope that the events will allow for us to dine on our own.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                s
                                                ScarlettNola Sep 29, 2009 06:10 PM

                                                Bill-Wondered where you had gone! Checked the boards sporadically as we have traveled extensively for the past few months as well. Welcome back! Safe travels.

                                                1. re: ScarlettNola
                                                  Bill Hunt Sep 29, 2009 06:38 PM

                                                  It was a tough Summer. I hope to never have another like it.

                                                  I'm back, but only for a bit, as we travel until early Nov. Fortunately, we'll be back on the ground until early Spring, unless I missed a couple of trips. We're shooting for an event in NOLA in the Spring, and I only hope that we'll have enough time to dine on our own.

                                                  If so, I'll be reporting. Unfortunately, our Spring trip to NOLA, and the reports fell between a couple of big "cracks," so they are no longer worth posting, as too much time has now gone by. Heck, on the Elsewhere in America board, I get nailed by many, because my reviews are a couple of months old, and hence, are of no use to someone asking for recs. I guess that one must dine at every restaurant around the world nightly, or their reviews are moot.

                                                  See ya' for a few weeks, but no new NOLA material to contribute - sorry.

                                                  Hunt

                                                  PS - I see a new checkbox "This is a review of a specific restaurant," and I also find that CH is tough to post to tonight. "You miss a day - you miss a lot... "

                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    b
                                                    betheroo Oct 1, 2009 07:16 AM

                                                    I hope the fall is an improvement on your summer, Hunt. I have also missed your commentary...I mainly lurk, and rarely post, but I do enjoy 'hearing' what you have to say, and especially the way you say it.
                                                    Glad to see you back.

                                                    I hope the OP will write a review of where / what he ate!

                                        3. BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 26, 2009 12:25 PM

                                          So, STL...have you gone on your trip yet? Looking forward to hearing a report back:)

                                          This post got a little heated at the end...lol

                                          Hope you have or have had a wonderful trip...happy eating!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist
                                            s
                                            STL James Oct 3, 2009 03:57 PM

                                            Ok, we are back from New Orleans - we had a WONDERFUL trip! We didn't get to all of the restaurants we planned (let "serendipity" take over a few times...thank goodness), but had some great dining experiences. Here are the highlights:

                                            Saturday: Mr. B's for lunch - we arrived in NOLA a bit earlier than Mr. B's lunch hour, so we headed to Acme to try the char-grilled oysters. Now, we are not oyster lovers, but there were so many recommendations we had to go for it. Glad we did - we sat at the bar, had a Bloody Mary, and shared a half-dozen. Two LARGE, two medium and two fairly small, but all with a delicious garlic-cheese-smoky flavor. The atmosphere was laid back and friendly. A great start to the trip. Mr. B's lived up to the positive reviews. We started with gumbo (husband had the Ya-Ya, I had the seafood). The Ya-Ya was tasty but benefited from the addition of some hot sauce. The seafood gumbo was delicious as served. BBQ shrimp for our entree (shared) - very rich, very succulent, and worth the work de-heading and peeling! Desserts were the white chocolate brownie (pretty standard) and a peach/plum/blueberry crisp. This was served warm over vanilla bean ice cream, very nice sweet ending to our first meal.
                                            We did the Cocktail Tour at 4:00. I'm glad we decided to do it - we probably never would have gone to Tujagues, where the history shared by our guide Joe (he wrote the book on the Cocktail Tour) was better than the drink they offered. We also stopped at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (shared a hurricane and a voodoo) , Muriel's (Pimm's cup and Fleur de Lis), an Absinthe bar (just watched the drink ritual) and Antoines (home of the first Sazerac? We abstained). I know we could have created our own tour, but we really enjoyed the social experience - you make fast friends when you raise so many toasts together! Joe was funny, knowledgable, obviously loves the city, and offered suggestions for other things to do while we were in town.
                                            Dropped into the Clover Grill for dinner. Our burgers and fries were just the ticket - we may have been very easy to please at that point...
                                            Sunday: Commander's Palace for Jazz Brunch. Thank you to those who suggested we request the Garden Room! There was such a different atmosphere as compared to the more formal dining areas. Started with the best Bloody Mary's in town - they seemed blended from fresh tomatoes, just the right amount of spice, salty olives, and pickled green beans. I started with the Egg Sardou - Poached and served on an artichoke heart with creamed spinach and hollandaise. Very nice blend of flavors. Husband had the turtle soup, which he really loved. Entrees were pecan-crusted sheeps-head (a gulf fish) with lump crabmeat. This was a huge portion - I really enjoyed the thinner filet; the thicker piece served on top was a tiny bit tough. My husband had the black angus tournedos of beef - outstanding flavor, he ordered "medium" and it was definitely on the rare side of medium, but delicious. My favorite part of the meal was their cheesecake. Of course we tried the bread pudding souffle, but the cheescake was a pleasant surprise with the most wonderful creamy texture, hint of lemon tartness, and overall flavor. This was a great meal - the only way to make it an even better experience would have been a little more jazz. We had wonderful trios making the rounds, but a lot of time between without music. I couldn't get enough of it.
                                            After a walk around the Garden District (Ms. Brennan at Commanders helped us with our walking tour route) and a chance encounter with a charming 85-year-old local who graciously invited us into her home for a personal tour (she was so proud of her home and family history), we headed back to the FQ.
                                            Couldn't believe we were hungry before our 8:00 dinner reservation at Nola, but we were. We stopped into the Crescent City Brew House to listen to some jazz and shared a Seafood Cheesecake appetizer (I think I was on a cheescake high from earlier). This was surprisingly tasty, combined with a couple of Weiss wheat ales.
                                            Dinner at Nola - yes, it is noisy. With the open 2-story construction design (looks cool) it probably can't be avoided. The gumbo was duck and andouille (my husband pronounced it the best of the trip). The garlic bisque had good flavor but was way too rich for me. The entree more than made up for it - hickory roasted duck with whiskey caramel glaze. The combination of flavors was just outstanding, with a crispy skin and incredibly moist, tender meat...all I can say is wow. I didn't want to stop eating it, which meant no dessert. Husband had the garlic-crusted redfish. I didn't taste it because I didn't want to mess with the flavors of my duck (really out of character for me). He enjoyed it...
                                            Ok, I feel like this is going on forever - just a few quick more items:
                                            Coop's Place - some of the best fried chicken we've ever tasted on the Taste Plate (rest of the taste plate was fine but not outstanding). I remembered a blog suggestion to try the Pasta Rosa - not something I would normally do in this kind of a dive bar, but was it a great choice! Penne pasta, shrimp, spinach, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, some heat in the spices, really a wonderful dish.
                                            Napoleon House: Warm muffaletta was a real winner - the combination of the melted cheeses and the delicious crispy edges of the ham from being grilled...perfect compliment to Pimm's cups on a hot day.
                                            K-Paul's: Blackened Tuna and Blackened stuffed pork chops were good. The very best thing we had here was the fried green tomato appetizer, topped with shrimp remoulade. The texture of the tomatoes stood up under the sauce, and the delicious flavor of the remoulade made me wish I could have had this as an entree.
                                            Beignets: Preferred Cafe du Monde to Cafe Beignet, like most posters!
                                            Drago's (Hilton): Had to try the char-grilled oysters to compare to Acme. The oysters were much larger, and had great flavor, but to tell you the truth, the overall atmosphere was "generic modern hotel bar" and we enjoyed Acme more.

                                            Thanks to everyone for your advice, and thanks for hanging in if you are still reading this ridicuously long post. We loved New Orleans, the food, the music, the people, and once we save up a few bucks we hope to be back!

                                            1. re: STL James
                                              kukubura Oct 4, 2009 07:19 AM

                                              Great write up! You hit some of my favorites and it sounded like you had an awesome time. I'm certainly jealous!

                                              1. re: STL James
                                                Bill Hunt Oct 5, 2009 07:34 PM

                                                I greatly appreciate your report. Well done, and glad that you enjoyed!

                                                I've heard a lot about the "Cocktail Tour," and we need to do that. Though we're both avowed winos, we can make exceptions for the right reasons.

                                                Thank you for sharing.

                                                Hunt

                                                PS - I see that the Hilton Drago's treated you better than they did my party. Guess we hit them on their all-time worst night...

                                                1. re: STL James
                                                  BombayUpWithaTwist Oct 9, 2009 05:22 PM

                                                  Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! Thanks for reporting back! Looks like you made a good choice by going on the Cocktail Tour. It's always neat to get the history of everything! I really enjoyed Tujaques too.

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