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What do I need to know?

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erk313 Oct 4, 2009 08:07 AM

My wife and I will be heading from Boston to NOLA for a long weekend in January. We've each been once before, separately, but now we have a son who will be 13 months by the time of our trip. So, what do we need to know?
We're staying at Loft 523, and will probably spend most of our time in the French Quarter. My wife has been to NOLA (restaurant), and loved it, but I've read the boards and seem to think most folks prefer Emeril's. Can someone please explain the major difference?
I've also read on these boards that Commander's Palace is a good option for brunch. Can their brunch possibly live up to the exorbitant prices? I'd love to hear some other options, especially for a place that will welcome a well behaved 13 month old.
On that note, what about baby-friendly? I'm reading a lot about lofty expectations when it comes to dress codes. Somewhere that recommends a jacket is probably not likely to warmly receive an infant, right? So which restaurants serve fine NO cuisine, but won't give us dirty looks if we walk in somewhat casually dressed (nice jeans, dress shirt, shoes) with our son? Also, are there high expectations for dress code in NOLA, generally? I get the impression that folks don their Sunday best for dinner out.
We had great luck on the Left Coast (Portland and Seattle) with 6:00 reservations in all the best restaurants, so we would think that strategy would work out in NOLA as well.
I'll leave it there, and see where the thread goes. Thanks for the assistance.

  1. e
    erk313 Oct 7, 2009 08:07 AM

    Thanks for all the advice. On second look, the prix fix offerings at Commander's Palace does seem like a good deal. I was a little shocked, initially, by the $27 pancakes. That's what made me wonder about the value for the cost. I certainly want to be able to experience the best of the venerable NOLA cuisine, so I think this is a good starting point. Thanks again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: erk313
      c
      CharlieH Oct 7, 2009 09:53 AM

      Luke and Palace Cafe do a more casual brunch than Commanders if you prefer. I great many diners at Commanders on Sunday will have been to Church and will be nicely dressed.

    2. N.O.Food Oct 4, 2009 07:17 PM

      Commander's is actually pretty reasonable. Their three course fixed prices are good. A la carte they're on par with all the other high end places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: N.O.Food
        kukubura Oct 4, 2009 07:54 PM

        Lunch at Commander's can consist of soup + entree + 2 martinis for as little as $16.50 and still be absolutely amazing. Seriously, it could be THE best deal in the entire country.

        But you still want to dress (and tip) as if it cost ten times as much.

      2. mimadeli Oct 4, 2009 05:46 PM

        Yes Commander's Palace does live up to their "exhorbitant" prices - their $39.00 3-course brunch is a great value for your dining out dollar

        I've seen people in Commanders Palace very underdressed, and they really don't fit in with the rest of the crowd. A sports coat would be appropriate, you don't need to wear a suit or tie. Plus if you are coming in January, a sports coat might be enough to weather the damp cool temperatures of that time of year in New Orleans.

        Most restaurants in New Orleans serve children of any age; it only becomes a problem when the children are not well behaved, infringing on the meal of the other diners in the room.

        Emeril's is the flagship restaurant with great food, NOLA is the less expensive alternative and the food/service consistency is hit-or-miss. Also consider his other restaurant, Delmonico.

        If you are staying at Loft 523, consider any of John Besh's or Donald Link's restaurants, they are near your location, except Besh's La Provence

        http://www.chefjohnbesh.com/restaurants.html

        http://www.herbsaint.com/

        1. edible complex Oct 4, 2009 10:15 AM

          for dressy casual: Domenica, Luke, Mr. B's, Cochon, Irene's
          for casual: Mandina's, Coop's, Napoleon House, Central Grocery (take-out)
          for better dress: Emeril's, Bayona, August, Stella, Cuvee, Galatoire's

          a good brunch option: Cafe Atchafalaya

          and yes, early dining times should be in your favor. a lot of folks eat late here.

          2 Replies
          1. re: edible complex
            Suzy Wong Oct 4, 2009 03:56 PM

            I'd skip Mr B's)

            That said, another suggestion, Bon Ton
            http://www.thebontoncafe.com/

            A couple mentioned (Stella! comes to mind), you may not be so comfortable even with a well behaved 13 month old. BUT, there are so many choices I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time.

            My son celebrated his first birthday at Antoine's for lunch, that said, haven't heard the best reviews lately, but it certainly is an experience. Galatoire's was mentioned and that's a great choice also.

            1. re: Suzy Wong
              kukubura Oct 4, 2009 07:55 PM

              There may be other places that outrank Mr. B's on a number of fronts but I'd say that their BBQ shrimp is on the short list of dishes absolutely not to be missed. Even if it's sitting at the bar and splitting a plate just to try it out, it should definitely be eaten.

              Dress code-wise Galatoire's is probably the strictest, although you'd want to do it up for Antoine's as well. My suggestion is to always bump it up a notch. You'd normally wear a t-shirt? Then wear a short sleeve shirt with buttons instead. A nice shirt? Throw a jacket on as well. Etc... One notch nicer than you would do elsewhere.

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