Another NY'er coming to New Orleans
We were in New Orleans about 9 years ago for a few days, and didn't end up going to any of the name restaurants, many of which people say aren't worth it anymore anyway. We will be there again in 2 weeks. We are staying in the French Quarter, and would like your thoughts. I am not looking for things that I can find in NY, but someplace where we can get some more traditional New Orleans style food. If you want to know our tastes, I love shrimp and grits, but hate okra.
Forget Muriel's, Felix's, Mother's and Mandina's..... add the Butcher, behind Cochon for the most fantastic sandwiches.....they make their own smoked meats, bacon, salamis, etc. Napoleon House and the Butcher hold the prize for Muffaletta's, (but I like mine served warm).
I would also add Mila for dinner.....I can't understand for the life of me why Mila isn't mentioned more
re: Liz Gober
I am back from my trip, and firgured you would like some feedback. Because my husband was involved in a conference, our main meals out were dinner. The first night, my husband picked Mila, which was highly rated in Zagat's, and was walking distance to our hotel, the Astor Crowne Plaza on Canal. I had sweatbreads over truffled grits for an appetizer, which was great. For my nain course I had duck. The duck was dry, but the overall taste of the dish was very good. Service here was very good, and we were at a table of 8, which is usually more difficult to serve, but everything was great.
One of the other people in our group made a reservation the next night at Gallatoire. I felt like I was back in the 50's eating dinner. Other than the fact that the fish was very fresh, nothing to speak about. I am surprised that it was recommended as highly as it was.
We also had a great dinner at the Pellican Club. Food was excellent, service was great, very friendly, and over-all our most enjoyable meal there. I had the crab and shrimp cakes for an appetizer. They may have not been the best crab cakes in the world, but the accompanying sauces made it a wonderful dish. I had the crispy flounder for a main, which was excellent. For dessert, I just wanted plain vanilla ice cream, and they were glad to give me that.
Our last night in town, we went to Herbsaint. The food was quite good, but it was one of the noisiest restaurants I have ever been to, and the service was of the auction variety. I decided to have a salad and 2 small plates. They brought me the wrong salad, but it was good. I couldn't decide between the 2, and it wasn't worth sending back, but certainly not something that should happen when a restaurant gets such accolades. There were only 2 of us at the table, so how is it that they couldn't get one thing right when putting the first plate down. For one of my small plates I had the short rib, and it was quite fatty, and a bit salty. Can't remember my other dish, which is surprising because it was my favorite one. I will say one thing though, we were there on Saturday night, and some consider that amateur's night at restaurants, so I will let it slide.
One thing I must note, we had breakfast at Bourbon House one morning, which was in our hotel. The pecan pancakes were fantastic.
Thank you for your reviews.
I hate noise. I want to be able to speak to my guests, without raising my voice. Now, I can "play to the back tables," better than most, but should not have to do so. Still, I am an "old foggey," and very old-school, when one could speak in conversational tones and all could hear you at the table, but hardly beyond. Nowadays, too many folk (for my tastes) love to talk about the "vibe" and the "buzz." To me, that overshadows great food and excellent service.
Have not made it to the Pelican Club. It seems to go in cycles, with local folk recommending it for a bit, and then falling back.
Now, Galatoire's goes back to an earlier time. I grew up with that cuisine, so am not the most objective of reviewers there. By contemporary terms, it is NOT innovative cuisine. It is very "old-school." Still, I love it. Just tonight, I was dreaming of "fried flounder," but realize that in my "healthmark Arizona," that would be totally forbidden. It is not for every palate, but if one just sits back, and forgets the butter, and other ingredients, it is decadently great - for us old-timers. [Grin]
Last time there, we'd been doing the "Grand Dames" of NOLA cuisine, and my wife (the NOLA native) asked, "do you not have something without a ton of butter?" OK, it is traditional, and very good, but not for everyone. Guess that even my wife has been dining on California cuisine for too long.
As a fellow New Yorker -- with a sense of what's here in NYC and what isn't -- I'm really high on Herbsaint based on my last visit.
I read somewhere that characterized Herbsaint as applying classical techniques to local ingredients (which probably describes a lot of places). I'd compare it to a Danny Meyer restaurant in that it's just really, really good food and good service (probably a step down from DM there, but what isn't) -- really accessible and warm -- with wonderful local-type dishes that at the same time aren't stereotypically "Creole" or "Cajun."
Cochon is a kind of contemporary Cajun restaurant that's really sharp, Frank Bruni in the Times said it was one of his top 10 new restaurants in the USA a few years ago, and that's definitely the type of cuisine you can't get in NY (at least not nearly as good).
Since both of the above are run by the same guy, I'll add a few more:
Jacques-Imo's isn't like any restaurant anywhere, it's casual and loud and lively and fun and great New Orleans food to boot; that's uptown around the riverbend -- Oak Street?
Domilise's for po-boys -- also pretty far uptown. Get a seafood or hot sausage po'boy.
And Brigtsen's, also uptown, which I visited primarily on the rec of Chowhounders and, boy, was it worth it.
Looking over my comments I realize I am pointing you uptown to some extent -- try Brigtsen's if you want a more intimate and food-focused dinner, and Jacques-Imo's if you want to relax and have more of a unique "experience".
FYI, Restaurant August now serves lunch Monday thru Friday now. Do not miss this restaurant. We went there for lunch twice in January - wonderful and we go there for dinner every time we go to NO which is 4 times a year. Get the crabmeat gnocchi. It is an appetizer; but they will make it as an entree for you. One of the best things I have ever eaten.
I haven't been to New Orleans in a couple of years, but one of the most memorable meals I've ever eaten was at Louisiana Bistro on Rue Dauphine. We chose Chef Mars' Feed Me option, where he comes and talks with you about what foods you like and what you can't eat. Then he creates a meal for the table. You can get 3, 4 or 5 course options. The restaurant is very small. Less than a dozen tables, IIRC. He fixed us the best lamb chops I have ever had in my life. Open for dinner only, they are closed Monday and Tuesday. Service was outstanding. It was my 14yo daughter's (food afficianado in training since a small child) first trip to New Orleans, and Chef Mars went out of his way to make this an outstanding Chowhoundish meal for her. We will be going back in the next couple of months and a visit there is on our agenda.
Will you be flying in and will you have a car? I ask because we like Morning Call out in Metaire much better for beignets and cafe au lait than Cafe du Monde. I used to go to it all the time in the Quarter before they moved out to Metairie in the 1970s. In Metaire, I've only been to the Severn St. location (they have another on Veteran's Blvd, I think) and usually stop by on the way to the airport from the Quarter. From the airport it's about 7 or 8 miles.
What is the deal with shrimp and grits everywhere? Done right, it's tasty ( i had the CP version at lunch recently and quite enjoyed it) . But I don't recall it being a traditional gulf coast dish. Is it just one of those Southern regional dishes that anyone from the north figures is everywhere? Grillades and grits, or as we call it over the state line in east Texas, 'breakfast steak' and grits-- is traditional but I'm not sure if it's a popular restaurant dish. I'd love to see a proper veal version of that on a menu!
You might be right superk. I was actually thinking of that, is it southern, or is it a traditional NO dish? Probably the former, but I just wanted to give everyone an idea of what our tastes are. Mostly it is that okra is one of my "I hate" foods, even though it is an ingredient in most gumbos, which I believe is from LA.
Going back to my youth (very long ago), it was not something that one was likely to see. Over the recent decades, it has come front and center. We now encounter it all through the Tidewater, down to northern FL, and then around the Keys to Texas.
In my opinion, the two restaurants that do the best job are Vidalia (Wash. DC), and Ralph's on the Park. Obviously, much depends on one's tastes, but this is a dish that we've now tried in about 12 states, and only been wowed by two renditions, regardless of what we each grew up with. Wife (the NOLA native) and I had the discussion on "shrimp and grits" not that long ago. We both traced our first encounter to Savannah, GA, maybe 20 years ago. Maybe some local culinary historian can shed some light on the dish. It just did not seem to exist in NOLA, when I was young, but maybe I just missed it.
My favorite restaurants in the French Quarter are:
Galatoire's (jacket required for men at dinner): oysters rockefeller, oysters en brochette, seafood stuffed eggplant, lamb chops béarnaise, crabmeat au gratin, fried soft shell crabs w/crabmeat, godchaux salad, soufflé potatoes, fried eggplant, crabmeat canape Lorenzo..
Mr.. B's: great gumbo Ya-Ya, BBQ shrimp, any fish of the day plank grilled, and profiteroles for dessert.
Irene's: the duck is amazing, and the chicken rosemarino is a classic Creole Italian dish.
Muriel's at Jackson Square: good gumbo, goat cheese and crawfish crepes, puppy drum, and double cut pork chops.
Iris in the Bienville House for veal cheek ravioli, mussels, foie gras, duck confit, sunchoke and cauliflower soup, scallops and skate wing.
Go to Cafe du Monde (riverside of Jackson Square) for beignets and coffee any time of day.
Check out Stanley on Jackson Square for breakfast or lunch. Scott Boswell also has Stella!, but this is his casual restaurant that cranks out some good food too:
For raw oysters: Desire Bar in the Royal Sonesta, Bourbon House, Acme or Felix's in the Qtr., Luke in the CBD on St. Charles Ave., Pascal's Manale and Casamento's Uptown.
For good drinks: Carousel Bar at the Monteleone (a must visit), French 75 Bar at Arnaud's, Lafitte's Blacksmith, Absinthe House, Napoleon House, Hermes Bar at Antoine's, Chart Room on Chartres, Sazerac Bar at (recently reopened) The Roosevelt.
Central Grocery for muffalettas. These are great for the plane ride home. Be sure to check their hours, as they may be closed when you fly home. They pack well, so you can buy a day before flying. If you like your muffalettas warmed (which I do), then eat at Napoleon House or heat up the CG when you get home. I find it opens up the flavors of the meats, cheese and olive salad.
Green Goddess is the newest and most talked about in the Qtr.
Menu looks amazing:
If you have a car or will take the streetcar, head Uptown for J'Anita's, Martinique, Clancy's, Patois, Coquette and Boucherie.
J'Anita's in the Avenue Pub on St. Charles Ave. for great BBQ for lunch. They also have the best fish sammich ever and the St. Chuck Duck po boy!
Martinique Bistro on Magazine has great food and a beautiful courtyard.
Clancy's on Annunciation is terrific; get the oysters w/brie, sweetbreads, the smoked soft shell crab and the veal chops. and their frozen Brandy Alexander's are good for dessert.
Patois on Laurel for rabbit, moules frites, and pork belly. This has become one of the best new restaurants and well worth trying. Open also for Friday lunch and Sunday brunch, if that fits in your schedule.
Coquette is on Magazine St. and is open for for both lunch and dinner. The menu changes, but if they have the cod, get it. They have a great drink list, and I love their French 75's. There is also a great Pinot Noir from Melville which compliments their food.
Boucherie is on Jeanette just off Carrollton. They are open for both lunch and dinner. Get the Mussels w/Collard Greens, Fries w/Parm, Boudin Balls, Pulled Pork Cake, Brisket, Smoked Scallops and the ChocBacon Brownie. The Cote du Rhone works well here.
Or, head to Mid-City for Mandina's on Canal St. for turtle soup, oyster po boys, and trout or Parkway Bakery and Tavern for the best roast beef po boys.
(Mandina's is cash only.
In the CBD, across Canal St from Fr. Qtr., try Rambla in the International House Hotel for great tapas, Luke on St. Charles for oysters at the bar, duck and rabbit pate, choucroûte maison, and moules and frites, Domenica in The Roosevelt for goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, grilled radicchio, and any of the pastas and pizzas. If you are in town for lunch Friday, Restaurant August has a 3 course for $20.09 that is stellar. Other places: Herbsaint and Cochon (both Donald Link restaurants), Rio Mar, La Boca, a Mano (all Adolfo Garcia's restaurants).