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Luke ... or Something Else?

I have been planning a late February trip with my husband and three boys, aged 8, 11, and 13. The kids are good travellers and diners but are not always adventurous eaters (one has said he wants to try gumbo, another has said he is willing to try fried oysters, but really, you just never know).I had made a reservation at Luke the first evening but in a recent thread I saw two disappointing reviews for it and am wondering if I should choose somewhere else to go.

In its favor are that it's a John Besh restaurant, it's casual, there are plenty of plainer things on the menu (burger, croque monsieur), and there is a focus on craft beer, which my husband loves. On the "con" side are the negative reviews, plus the fact that there so many great places to dine in New Orleans.

As a reference point, here are the other spots we are likely hitting on this trip: Drago's, Cafe du Monde, Camellia Grill, Stanley, Jacques Imo, Casamento or Boucherie (choice for the same lunch slot), and we have one other dinner to be determined (Irene's? Ye Olde College Inn?).

So, do I keep it or change it -- and for what??

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  1. I would keep it, love their specials, the roast chicken is excellent. College Inn might be a disappointment if you are expecting too much. Good poboys with fried shrimp/oysters/veal, burgers, great atmosphere, but not chef driven. Strangely, chicken fingers aren't the best. I would do Casamentos instead.

    1. Casamentos only if your boys will eat fried oysters, fried softshells, oysters 1/2 shell.
      I find Jacques-Imos food mediocre at best.
      Luke is best for happy hour 25 cent oysters.
      Dragos for char grilled oysters.
      Irene's is very good. You'll need a resv. I'd check out the menu (although this link is for Tommys, the menu is nearly the same as Irene's. The food is IMO better at Irene's. http://www.tommysneworleans.com/index... to see if it will satisfy your boys.
      I find Emeril's food consistently terrific. Again, check the menu. (http://www.emerils.com/restaurant/1/E...). You will need a resv.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JazzyB

        Jacque-Imos may not be cutting edge phenomenal food, but thats only one part of the equation. for me the other two are Atmosphere and Service. the atmosphere at JI is a funky fun place that cant be duplicated -- where else can you have a deep fried RB poboy, a seafood stuffed pokrchop, alligator cheesecake, AND have a brass band parade thru the dining room? follow it w/ some tunes at the maple leaf and youve got a helluva nite.

        on the food side, i havent found any better than their fried chicken. i heard it was this guy's recipe who used to have his own shop until Katrina. he died recently but they still have the recipe, thank god.

        1. re: kibbles

          Austin Leslie is who you are referring to. He was so famous they had a tv show based on him, Frank's Place, which was based after his Chez Helene restaurant.

          1. re: kibbles

            I used to go to Jacques Imos for their fried chicken. Two of us ordered it last time there and agreed, it "ain't what it used to be." For a few dollars more you can have terrific food and service at Emeril's ...plus a reservation. BTW, Chef Austins's Creole Kitchen is supposed to use the same chicken recipe. http://www.nola.com/dining/index.ssf/...

            1. re: JazzyB

              i had it about 6 mos ago and thought it was awesome but i cant say if its as good as with Leslie manning the fryer. probably not, but its still the best ive had in town.

              but emeril's vs jacque-imo's? apples and oranges... sometimes funky is better than fine.

              sidenote, i like emeril's, but its almost a parody of fine dining. they are so used to tourist diners that i feel the service is below the bar. also its annoying to be asked where im from every time im there, or if id like to "sign a cork" and stick it in the wall. uh, no. great banana pie tho.

        2. we liked luke alot when we went last year. but this year we are going to try the new john besh restaurant in the wwII museum,called the american sector. check out the menu, it looks very family friendly.

          1. I have only been to Luke once but loved it and am looking for an occasion to return.

            What about a real po-boy shop for one of your other meals? Somewhere like Parkway? They sell burger po-boys in addition to the tradional ones, so your kids can always have a safe option.

            1. I loved my dinner at L√ľke. The food was delicious and the cocktails were also great. Very causal and good for kids and they have the best fries in the world.

              1. I love Casamento's but Boucherie is far better.

                1 Reply
                1. re: texasredtop

                  Apples and oranges, man. Casamento's is an old-school, straight-ahead fried seafood joint and oyster bar, where the coating is cornmeal and the frying medium is lard. Boucherie is gussied-up southern fare, with a few interesting twists. It's definitely not an equivalent comparison.

                2. I love Luke. I would keep it. Not sure what the negative reviews were, but it's never failed me and I don't even know of anyone who has been less than pleased.

                  I would go to Boucherie for that lunch slot btw.

                  1 Reply
                  1. My experience with Luke was mediocre at best. It's reasonably priced, but my Shrimp Farci sat under the hot lamp too long (goopy hollandaise) and the gratin dauphinoise was a MAJOR disappointment. Appetizer was excellent, though. Service, so so. From what I understand, Luke is a COMPLETE hit or miss and John Besh seems to have over-extended himself a bit. Luke was promising enough, we'd give it another chance. But, we left pretty disappointed. The raw bar, from just about every account, is excellent. But, you can get good, fresh seafood anywhere in New Orleans.

                    1. I, too, am a fan of Luke--esp. if you have kids with you and are looking for a good variety. I've been several times for dinner and lunch and generally been very happy w/my food. Your boys, btw, might like the Alsatian-style pizza--I forget what it's called--but it's been a kid-pleaser, ime. Mussels, if they'll eat them, are also great--as are the pommes frites, which are better than great.
                      Love Boucherie, too.
                      Casamento's: the draw is oysters. Was there last week, and they were terrific, but if you want anything else, best to go elsewhere. (Also note: cash only.)
                      And with kids, you might consider Besh's Domenica, which has great pizza and pastas (available in half portions); delicious and reasonable.
                      Irene's is really good, but waits can be quite long, sometimes even w/reservations.
                      College Inn--yes, good po-boys, but pretty ho-hum, imo.

                      1. We had great experiences at Luke. We visted NOLA twice in 2009, and Luke and Cochon were the only two places we ate at both times, for what it's worth. The happy hour at Lukes is from 3 to 6, I think, and they have 25 cent raw oysters and half price drinks and beer; it's a deal!

                        1. I was very pleased with visits to Luke for dinner and breakfast both. I think the Alsatian-brasserie menu offers some nice variations on the same local ingredients you get elsewhere, but it also has some more traditional N.O. dishes. While it may not rise to the level of must-visit, if it were in my town I could easily envision going with some frequency. It's also very convenient if you are staying in the CBD, and it strikes me that they seat patrons a bit later than the average restaurant. I would say if it appeals to you, it's definitely worth checking out.

                          1. I agree that Luke is hit or miss....especially when it comes to service. But I keep going back for the 1/2 price drinks and 25 cent oysters during happy hour EVERY DAY!

                            1. If your heart is set on a Besh restaurant, you might try Domenica (in the Roosevelt hotel). It's Italian fare, with dishes offered in smaller and larger sizes, so you could get a little for the young 'uns, or opt for one of the excellent pizzas.