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French Quarter - A culinary journey

Hey all - this is my first ever chowhound post so do forgive me if this isn't how it's done. Over the last 2 weeks, I have become totally addicted to all the tremendous threads on the New Orleans board, reading them while I'm supposed to be a productive member of the workforce. As Kansas City natives, my wife and I have never made it to NOLA...well, that isn't entirely true. I do have a vague memory taking a riverboat cruise through the locks and having my mother cover my eyes as we strolled down Bourbon St. (at age 8) as my uncle from Baton Rouge tried to expose me to the finer things in life. Ok - here's the situation...My wife and I are total foodies with a definite sense of adventure. We will be coming to the Crescent City Thursday January 28th - Sunday January 31st, 2010. Not knowing whether or not we will be able to visit again anytime in the near future, we want to squeeze as much quintessential GREAT/NEW ORLEANS food as we can into this trip, even if that means a price tag of 15 pounds a piece or a food bill of $1000 for the trip. We are staying at the Marriott - French Quarter and will be without a car - so if possible, we would like to stay in the FQ as much as possible (with the exception being maybe 1 taxi trip). From logging several hours reading we are already considering the following options (in no particular order): Po' Boys at Johnny's, Barbecue Shrimp and Gumbo Ya-Ya at Mr. B's, Jambalaya Supreme at Coops, dinner at August, Crawfish Etouffee and Turtle Soup Au' Sherry at Bon Ton, Beignets and Chickory at Cafe Du' Monde, breakfast at The Coffee Shop and perhaps a meal at an Emeril establishment (?). What are we missing?? Whether it be something that screams New Orleans "Creole/Cajun", a meal or snack of a lifetime, or both, we want it ALL! If that means eating 4-5 meals a day from dusk to dawn so be it! I figured no better place to find out than asking the people of NOLA. Thanks in advance for all your help!

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  1. Most of all - ENJOY. BTW, I hope that you mean The Coffee Pot (nee Maxie's).

    Sounds good. Oh, there might be some, who would suggest a change here, or one there.

    Off the top of my pointed little head, I'd add that you are missing Galatoire's. I'd talk to your lender and see what your line of credit is doing. This is not to indicate that Galatoire's is expensive, in reality it is not. By some NOLA standards, it is high-end. I would not suggest that you swap Restaurant August, as it is worth the $, but even if you have to bump the total budget up a bit, Galatoire's is worth the price. I'd find a way to add it to the list for an evening meal. Now, there is always a bit of a show going on, but just walk through that and go there for the food and the wonderful, familiar (though no relative might never have dined there), and enjoy the experience.

    Downstairs (where the "show" is) is wait in line only. Upstairs (remember, you can walk slowly throught the "show") allows reservations. I've done the "show" on most days/nights and on holidays, and it's kicks, plus part of history, but it's not the main draw for me. The food, steeped in the history and friendly service is that draw. That's why I go for upstairs and bypass that "show." Also, it allows me to schedule my limited time, and that of my guests, to fit in more in an evening, without worry.

    I've dined at most of your spots, and cannot cast a stone. The rest get great reviews from current locals, and I believe them. They are my "troops on the ground."

    Of the Emeril's choices, I like the eponymous restaurant, Emeril's, but have to admit two things: it's been awhile, and I have never dined at NOLA. Take it for what it's worth.

    Remember, most of all ENJOY!

    Hunt

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Emeril's flagship is indeed his best. We dine there often for lunch, dinner and pre-game brunch. (offered only prior to 3pm game). Never a bad meal. Check K-Paul's Thur-Fri-Sat lunch menu for jambalaya. The gumbo is excellent as well. Menu changes weekly. I do not like the food at Coop's. Their jambalaya is too wet and tomatoey for my taste. Don't miss lunch in Commander's garden room m-f . IMO, THE best turtle soup. The price points in our fine dining restos are quite reasonable compared with other major cities. Thanks for coming. Bon Appetit!

      1. re: JazzyB

        We used to rate CP's turtle soup as #1, but the last two times they fell down the list. We are divided, as I give the nod to Ralph's on the Park, and my wife rated Brennan's as her choice. That does not necessarily put CP's as #3, but no longer at the top of our short list.

        While we did enjoy Delmonico, I have to go with Emeril's eponymous restaurant, though that last visit is now too old to really count. We hope to try NOLA on the next visit, if for no other reason, than we've never dined there. Too many restaurants, and too little time...

        I do agree about the bang for the buck. Just got back from San Francisco, London and San Diego. NOLA is the "deal" of the bunch. Don't even mention NYC, or Chicago.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I'm interested to hear about Commander's turtle soup--on my last visit ist was great but the trip before that it was merely mediocre. The best ones in town now seem to be at private clubs. But you really should try the one at Ma Mamma's Kitchen in New Roads.

          I feel your pain regarding London restaurant prices...I am stil recovering from oysters at Wilton's.(But God they were great)

          1. re: hazelhurst

            For me, I found the turtle soup (what was that, March?) to be lacking in flavor, unlike the wonderful, concoction that I used to know. The thickness and the color were about right, but the flavors were all muted. There was no tang, there was no depth. It was as though there was too much flour, or that it was heavily watered down - still, looked like I had expected, but tasted "weak." We both love turtle soup, and were disappointed. I shared the CP dish with my wife, without a word. She immediately came back with, "what's with this?" I was not the only one.

            Will definitely add Ma Mamma's to the list.

            RE: London - I cannot wait to see my American Express bill next month. That will require a good bottle of wine close by, but such is life.

            We did L'Orangier, Green House and L'Atalier - all repeats and all good. There were some others, but they were more for business meetings. One of the new "hot" places was horribly disappointing, but we were guests, so I could not get upset in front of our host. I cannot imagine why anyone would be begging and paying off the FOH to get reservations 9 mos. out. Oh well, I guess that it's the power of the press.

            Don't know Wilton's, but will go Google now.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Brennan's has the best turtle soup I've ever had. But with limited time for your NOLA expereince, I'd skip Brennan's.

    2. I'd try to get Couchon in there somewhere!

      1. And maybe squeeze in some raw oysters at Casamento's...and an oyster loaf. Just went last night...sooo good!

        1. You must go to Antoine's, Arnaud's, Brennan's, Commanders Palace and Galatoire's if you want a taste of grand New Orleans. K-Paul, Brigtsen's, Emeril's, August, Cochon, Bayona have N.O.'s most famous chefs (sorry to ones I missed out). I adore Mr. B's, the Rib Room.
          For your first trip you hardly need to venture out of the Quarter - if you do take the streetcar uptown, not a cab.

          7 Replies
          1. re: bronwen

            any thoughts on Stella? we're coming to NOLA from NYC in about a month and have narrowed down our options for one high end meal at either August or Stella.
            thanks

            1. re: jimmyjazz

              they are both fine restaurants and you cannot go wrong with either.

              1. re: jimmyjazz

                Jimmyjazz,

                We have had great meals at both. Wife ranks Stella! at the top right now, but I still give the nod to Brigtsen's and Galatoire's. However, she IS the "native," and I am only "from the Coast," so what do I know.

                The only rub that I had at Restaurant August was the wine pairings (chronicled elsewhere on this board), but there is a new sommelier, and she's getting great reviews, so my points are most likely moot.

                Enjoy,

                Hunt

              2. re: bronwen

                I agree on Brigtsens. Call them and ask if they still have a prix-fixe menu early in the evening. It was great when I had it a few years ago, and under $20. I also recommend Herbsaint, which is one of Susan Spicer's restaurants, and less expensive than Bayona (and Bayona is amazing). I had frog legs at Herbsaint and just loved them.

                -----
                Bayona
                430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                Brigtsen's Restaurant
                723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                Herbsaint
                701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                1. re: Dave Westerberg

                  Brigtsen's doesn't do the early bird special any longer, as far as I know. Katrina casualty.

                  -----
                  Brigtsen's Restaurant
                  723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                  1. re: Dave Westerberg

                    I thought Herbsaint was a Donald Link resto (of Cochon fame), not Susan Spicer?

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                    Cochon
                    930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                    Herbsaint
                    701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                    1. re: Niki in Dayton

                      It's was both. Donald trained under Susan at Bayona. Susan, Donald and a third party opened Herbsaint together in 2000. Donald bought Susan out a few years back.

                      -----
                      Bayona
                      430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                      Herbsaint
                      701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                2. I would take a street car ride from the FQ, explore the Maple street area, then do an early dinner at Brigten's. It, as well as Galatoire's, has some of the finest dishes of classic New Orleans creole food. Both emphasize local seafoods well prepared. Take a cab ride back to the FQ, or sample some local music at Carrollton Station, Rocknbowl or the Maple Leaf, depending upon who is playing.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodophyle

                    A few food suggestions the muffuletta at Napoleon House, barbecue oysters at the redfish grill and roasted chicken with rosemary and garlic at Irenes all these places are in the quarter.