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First Trip to New Orleans - Thoughts and Opinions on my list?

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Hello all,

Will be traveling down to NOLA the weekend before though Ash Wednesday of Mardi Gras 2010 - already picked up flight, car, and a nice hotel outside the quarter. To be honest I'm not a big party guy and although traveling single I'm more interested in just experiencing the atmosphere, parades, architecture, and culture that New Orleans has to offer during the season. Of course, being a fan of local/ethnic and even moreso "fine" dining based on local cultures I'm also interested in the food. Previous trips can be found in my blog but include many of the best in the US from Napa/SanFran to Los Angeles/Las Vegas as well as Chicago and NYC.

All told I have 5 full days of eating and I figure I'll reserve 4 lunches and 4 dinners while leaving the rest to casual dining - Po Boys, Muffaletta, Shrimp, Cooked Oysters, and as much good pastry and bread pudding as I can fit. Lunches will be early and dinners late with lots of wandering in between.

Tentative List:

Lunches at: NOLA, Emeril's, Galatoire's
Brunch at: Arnaud's
Dinners at: Stella, Restaurant August, Commander's Palace, Mila

I know many will recommend CP for brunch/lunch but the Foie Gras du Monde is only on the dinner menu and I've heard from 2 respected gormand's that it can't be missed.

All that noted (sorry for being long winded) - thoughts? Suggestions??

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  1. All of those are great (I haven't eaten at Stella, August or Mila). Breakfast at Brennans is an experience -- no one can make an omelette like they do. I had Redfish crusted with crawfish at the Redfish Grill that I still dream about Jacques Imo's is good and has lots of local color, and Cochon is good, as is the Palace on Canal. As I think more, it's really hard to go too wrong in New Orleans.

    For Po boys, I recommend Crabby Jack's in Metarie and Domilisi's in Uptown, and the Central Grocery for Muffaletas

    1. if you plan to do lunch at Galatorie's, reserve now! note: Friday Gras tables are auctioned off in advance, so unless you want to pay big bucks just for a table, plan to go another day. in fact, many places will be booked for private krewe parties for Friday Gras lunch. the last few years, I was able to get tables at Dickie Brennan's and Mr. B's.
      if your flight gets in after lunch, then never mind.
      your list is a great start. cheers!

      1. I've dined at all, except for NOLA, and your list looks very good.

        Unlike many on this board, we've had some great brunches at Brennan's, and I have to admit that when I lived in NOLA, I (and my wife) was not a fan. Still, many years have transpired, and many things have changed. The only other brunch that has really gotten my attention over the last few years has been Ralph's on the Park.

        As EC points out above, DO make your reservations now. Do not hesitate. Go for it, and you cannot go wrong. OK, maybe you could do very slightly better, but put that behind you. Do it now! Mardi Gras begins with King's Day, and ramps up very quickly, with regards to NOLA fine-dining establishments.

        Personally, I'd go with CP's for lunch. I am a great foie gras fan, but do not think that the Foie Gras du Monde is worth the difference. It's about #20 on my Top 100 list - good, but not good enough to force me to reserve just for it. Maybe I'll post my list on a broader board, but that will be just MY choices. Good, but far from the best available.

        Again, book tomorrow, and you will have a great list, and a great trip. Just do not hesitate, or you WILL be lost. Do not risk that. You'll do well.

        Hunt

        PS - right now, two of my favs. are Stella! and Restaurant August. If you miss any on your dinner list, look quickly at Brigtsen's, just a leisurely streetcar ride from the FQ, or the CBD, and you'll get to see some great architecture along the way.

        PPS - you are after my heart. First, I love the food, and next the architecture. Then, it's the history, but NOLA was my "city of light growing up, so I am not impartial.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Bill - much respect your opinions here and elsewhere. Out of curiosity, why do so many people like CP for lunch over dinner when the Dinner menu is simply much more expansive?

          As for booking, the only two that are not booked at this point are Galatoire's and Stella because neither take reserves more than 2 months out.

          1. re: uhockey

            Thank you for the kind words. I doubt that I deserve them.

            Part of the charm of CP comes out with their brunches, with the sun streaming into the Garden Room. Over the decades, we've done both on many occasions. Now, we're gone from the area, so do not get there as often any more. In the recent past, our dinners have been a bit lacking - unfortunately. The lunches/brunches have still been good however. And then, there IS the charm.

            Many here love the $.25 martinis. I have never had one, being an avowed wino. That probably is reason enough for several of the recs. I'd guess that it would be both a deal and a draw, just not for us.

            In very general terms, it has seemed that the kitchen was fully awake for the earlier meals, and then by dinner had fallen asleep. Things just did not resonate, but then maybe we're still lost in revere for things remembered? For us, price differential is not that big a deal. I expect that the same dish will cost more in the evening. The portions might still be the same. It just seems that dinner has been "paint by number," while the earlier meals have have more spirit - maybe it's the sous-chef at the helm then, trying to show his/her "stuff?" Cannot give you a definitive answer, other than that we've enjoyed the earlier meals more, and that's what it should be about.

            Either way, enjoy and report!

            Hunt

          2. re: Bill Hunt

            i love the Foie Gras du Monde at CP, and have gone there w/ it in mind. however on my last visit in Oct the staff said it wasnt on the menu. has it returned?

          3. stanleys and eliazabeth's for breakfast
            august for dinner

            1. I would choose between either NOLA or Emeril's and pop Mr. B's in a lunch instead of the other for BBQ Shrimp. I would also dump Arnaud's and, yes, do Commander's for brunch. Maybe use the extra dinner slot for K-Paul's. Sounds like you're gonna have a great trip.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kukubura

                Take advantage of lunch at Commander's. Room and service are the same as dinner. Prices are less. Food is the same-exquisite. 25 cent martini's arewell- the best deal in town. Take advantage of being able to walk the Garden District after lunch. Totally NOLA.

              2. Galatoire's is closed during my stay - another thought on someone doing more classic New Orleans Cuisine?

                Lukes? Antoine's? Brigsten's?

                What about Clancy's? No website, but seems enticing from the reviews.

                6 Replies
                1. re: uhockey

                  Bogus. I hate when that happens!

                  Now, for classical NOLA cuisine, I'd opt for Antoine's. However, on my last two visits (too long ago to really play into things), it was a shadow of my memories. Chef Frank Brigtsen seems to always be on his game - but, he's a tad nouveau(x) to be called "classic." Still, if it was my dining time, I'd head to the River Bend and do Brigtsen's.

                  We've not dined at Luke, so I cannot comment, but others can fill you in.

                  Enjoy!

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I second Bill's recommendation of Brigtsen's...not clasic New Orleans like Galatoires, but IMO much better food.

                  2. re: uhockey

                    I personally love Clancy's......just ate there Monday night. Fantastic as always.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Clancy's
                      start w/oysters w/brie (though I have had them again for dessert) and sweetbreads
                      love their smoked soft shells and also their veal chop
                      frozen brandy alexanders to end a great meal.

                      1. re: edible complex

                        Do they take reservations - and is the menu published anywhere online?

                        1. re: uhockey

                          I've gone w/ and w/o reservations and also enjoy eating at the bar.
                          I do not believe a menu is published online.

                    2. Herbsaint, Coquette, Patois, Cuvee. Luke's happy hour: daily 3-6 for 25 cent local oysters, 1/2 price cocktails. IMO, Brennan rest. are long on rep. and do not deliver foodwise. I recommend CP only for lunch as it is a good time (garden room). I find the food acceptable for lunch whereas dinner is disappointing. Antoine's Hermes Bar for cocktails and a snack. The sampler plate on the bar menu will help in deciding whether or not to book dinner. Brigtsen's shines with their appetizers. Several would make a delightful meal. Many entrees are plated with the same mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. My preference is for well composed plates w/ complimentary components. Emeril's does this nicely.

                      1. Just know that dining on Mardi Gras day is next to impossible, so if you want something more than snacks, you'll want to plan carefully. You should definitely squeeze Cochon and the Cochon Butcher shop into your itinerary.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          Last year we stopped in at Luke on Mardi Gras day during our walk home from the Quarter. It was probably about 5:00 or 6:00 (my memory of this experience is somewhat fuzzy, but I know for sure that it DID happen). It seems like there weren't very many people there. My burger and fries served their purpose admirably. They didn't seem to mind that we were in full costume.

                          On past Mardi Gras days I have eaten at Cannon's (very close to my house, and ok fried seafood and burgers, but you'd have to be pretty desperate), Crescent City Steakhouse (busy, so be willing to wait), Fat Harry's (sausage/beef burger rocks), and a few times at the old Copeland's that used to be at Napoleon and St. Charles (used to be an annual tradition - I'm not ashamed).

                          There are several bars on St. Charles that probably have their kitchens open, such as Igor's and the Avenue Pub, but I can't speak to this personally. Maybe Superior Grill? I'd have to be very hungry and/or fairly drunk to eat there, but it could potentially hit the spot.

                          Last year's good Luke experience leads me to believe that possibly hotel restaurants would be a good option. I have stopped in at Cafe Adelaide for drinks on the way to the Quarter, but I haven't noticed if they were serving food. I'm sure you could call ahead to other good hotel restaurants and check if they're open. Maybe Domenica?

                          And you can always stock your hotel fridge with leftovers, sandwich fixings, cured meats from Cochon Butcher and cheese from St. James, or whatever. Also, I always stuff a few simple sandwiches (ham & cheese on Bunny bread) in my Mardi Gras day survival kit to have just in case, and they always get eaten by somebody. Nothing like sitting on the curb on Decatur St. enjoying a Molly's iced coffee and your emergency reserves.

                          1. re: uptownlibrarian

                            Ye Old College in was open in the days of teh Ruffin family but I have not been over thre on Carnival Day since the 1970's so I have no idea if they still are..I bet they are, though

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              You should consider Bon Ton (closed weekends) it's a true traditional "New Orleans" experience IMO, the cuisine, location, service etc
                              http://www.thebontoncafe.com/

                              a few great dishes, crabmeat au gratin, bread pudding with whiskey sauce, very well done. Rum Ramsey cocktail....

                        2. Whoo-hoo, uhockey is gonna turn his palate toward NOLA! Sadly, it will be after I visit. But still, I look forward to it!

                          We have reservations for Christmas dinner at August, CP for brunch on the 26th, Herbsaint on the 28th and Cochon on the 29th.