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Jan 3, 2010 05:51 AM

Restaurant with best design?

I'm headed into town next week with my wife who is an interior designer. I'd like to find a few spots that might impress her with a stunning dining room or anything else distinct: lighting, art work, general concept, etc. Would definitely prefer casual/atmospheric over formal. Great food is certainly a bonus (decent food a must), but I've got a good handle on where I want to hit for my must eats. Based on my research so far, it looks like MiLa might fit the bill for new spots? Funky/folky suggestions welcome too, like Avenue Pub perhaps? Cochon? I know it's a bit broad, but really anything that strikes you personally would be great advice. It's a challenge to figure out from most websites. Thanks for the help.

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  1. to get your funk on, head to Rivershack Tavern or Jacques Imo's.

    Jacques-Imo's Cafe
    8324 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118

    Rivershack Tavern
    3449 River Rd, Jefferson, LA

    3 Replies
    1. re: edible complex

      Is Rivershack Tavern worth it if I don't have a car? Looks very cool.

      1. re: BostonRag

        the weekday chef does fantastic lunch specials. but get there early, as they always sell out. otherwise, the debris roast beef is killer, as are the tex mex burgers. I also like to get the seafood platter as a shared app. you would have to cab it there and back if you don't have a car. if you want to go there for a casual dinner, their shows start early, so you could hang on for some music.

        another option, head to Ye Olde College Inn and catch some music at Rock n Bowl next door.

        Ye Olde College Inn
        3000 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

        1. re: BostonRag

          No, it's not worth a cab ride. I like the place, it's just not worth going out of your way.

      2. I really like the atmosphere at Muriel's and I second Jacques-Imos for funky atmosphere and good food.

        1. Cochon has an interesting interior: clean lines, a contemporary feel, but still folky. The food also happens to be great there.

          I find the room at MiLa to be a) too big for the number of seats usually occupied and b) sort of heavy.

          Jacques-Imo's interior is interesting -- very haphazard folk-arty, but funky and fun. It's a bit of a schlep from the Quarter.

          The interior at the Swizzle Stick Bar in the Loew's Hotel is beautiful, in my opinion. The food at Cafe Adelaide next door is serviceable.

          If you're looking for more old-fashioned interiors, I second Muriel's. Galatoire's interior is classic old New Orleans. I think Lillette's decor has an understated charm. The Upperline is in an old airy Uptown house and has interesting art on the walls.

          Design taste is perhaps more subjective than food taste. I'm just spinning ideas off the top of my head. I suggest going to some of these web sites and looking at pictures to zero in on the place.

          1. do plan to visit The Roosevelt to see its $145million renovation. The Sazerac Bar is a great place to stop for a drink and Domenica is nice for a quick bite. You should also go to the Carousel Ber at the Monteleone Hotel. I also like the bars at August and Luke. International House Hotel (Rambla) and Renaissance Hotel (La Cote Brasserie) are also nice renovations.

            are you looking for modern or historic interiors?

            Monteleone Hotel
            214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

            Restaurant August
            301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

            217 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

            La Coté Brasserie
            700 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

            5 Replies
            1. re: edible complex

              Thanks. All good suggestions. Ideally, I'd like to check out something historic, something modern, and something uniquely New Orleans (although that may qualify for the others as well). I also like the idea of bar hoping some of these spots vs. committing to dinner! More spots with more money in my pocket....maybe

              1. re: BostonRag

                Check out Domenica--it's in the Roosevelt hotel, so it's easy enough to enter on the street side and walk through the restaurant into the hotel's lobby without being too obtrusive. It has a menu with lots of small plates and several pizzas in the under-$15 range, if you like the decor enough to stay for a bite to eat. The space is broken up by steel mesh curtains, with a revolving selection of art from Arthur Roger's gallery (a nice Francis X Pavy caught my eye recently). The walls are a charcoaly-graphite color, but without being dark.

                1. re: BostonRag

                  Coquette also has a nice bar w/small plates. The food is amazing, as are the drinks.

                  you won't lack for architectural significance in NOLA.

                  Luke Restaurant
                  333 St Charles, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  2800 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115

                  1. re: BostonRag

                    historic - many choices, but Galatoire's hasnt changed in a century.

                    modern - MiLa looks very L.A. trendy modern; Delmonica is perfectly tacky-modern.

                    unique to nola - Jacque-Imo's

                    1. re: BostonRag

                      I think Tujaque's bar would be a fun "old" place and you certainly could poke your head in at Antoine's--go by their new little bar. The Annex, which is also known to some as The Barn is the usually preferred seating area and it is surprisingly dull to first-timers. Arnaud's has been prettied-up nicely and, again, they'll let you have a look even if you are not eating. It has a swell little bar.

                      As a point of reference, Galatoire's is the local version of Locke-Ober's and, while the decor could not be more different, they are in many ways the same place. The room is essentially unchanged: some details, such as the floor and the chairs, are different than they were fifty years ago but that is about it. (And it finally went to alternating current 25 years ago)

                  2. From a design standpoint, I am impressed with MiLa, August, The Grill Room and Stella!

                    Each offers something totally different, but each fills the bill for interesting design, from the "Deep South, great-aunt's parlor" fell of Stella!, to the slightly avant garde look and feel of Mila. Each is unique. Only Mila might fit into the MOMA display, but each does a great job, IMHO.

                    Also, each backs up the design with their food, unlike too many restaurants in SF, LV and NYC, that are all show, and no go.

                    Being a commercial designer (not interior, but photograph many) by background, the entire package makes a big difference to me - probably more than to most diners, that they are aware of. Still, it needs to be a total package, like Miramoto's in Philadelphia. The design does play a part, but that is only one aspect of the evening. Others need to play into it. The design need not be something eye-popping, so long as it is a great example of the theme. We dine at too many places that might make Architectural Digest, that just do not convey the theme with the food. Been to many of the "in places with the "bells," the "whistles," the "wine angles," and in the end, it's about the theme and the total package. Gotta' get it all correct.

                    Now, this might not be what you are looking for, but is my list of suggested decorating packages, including the food.