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Apr 18, 2010 05:13 PM

NOLA review: food and cocktails!

First, chowhound continues to be an invaluable resource for honest opinions about places that one would never know about if they weren't from that city. Thanks to everyone who posts comments and reviews!

I'm going to split this in 2 sections: Food, Alcohol.

Limited time for eating, plus i'm just not a huge eater these days!

Jacques Imo - had dinner here the first night. cornbread, sausage/alligator cheesecake, redfish and fried chicken...did not disappoint! however, there is extensive traffic in the garden distric (one lane closed) and it took $25 each way in a cab to get there. With an additional $50 add on in cab fare (We were staying in French Quarter), i'm not sure it was worth a specific mecca to travel there. It was a very enjoyable first night meal though!

Yo Mamma's - I had seen a few references to this place in older posts. We wanted to try crawfish but not everyone was a shellfish/seafood eater. We went here for lunch. I had been to Port of Call in a past trip for the their burgers and I thought Yo Mamma's was just as good. They had crawfish boils, 2 lb for $8 as a special. We split 2 orders of crawfish amongst 6 people and we each ordered a burger. I had the peanut butter bacon burger and it was delicious. savory and sweet with every bite! crawfish were very flavorful and had a real kick to it. We also had excellent bloody mary's

Eat - Went here for brunch. Unlike some of the darker/divey establishments, this place is sunny and cheerful with tulips on each table! we were greeted by Madonna's "Celebration" which was followed up by a brunch full of Madonna's greatest hits. How can you not have fun when Madonna is on!! EAT is BYOB which would be problematic without a vehicle in every other city but New Orleans. With convenience store/delis on every street corner that sell the range from mad dog 20/20 to liquor to champagne, we were able to pick up a few bottles of champagne with the ease of looking to buy a bottle of water. My husband ordered the "Big Breakfast" which was a chicken fried chicken with gravy, eggs, grits and biscuit. the fried chicken was breast meat and the batter was very light and not greasy. Delicious! i had the Eggs Dauphine (poached eggs, country ham over fried green tomatoes) which was also very good. The biscuits were perfectly light and fluffy!

Drinks - We had done some research on going on of those drink tours, but decided that we could conduct our own unofficial tour with our friends (6 people) some $20-odd bucks per person. While we didn't make it everywhere (window of 3 hrs) we did try quite a few drinks and had a lot of fun. To give background, we are a group in our early 30's whose version of ordering drinks tends to the simplicity of vodka/club, scotch on the rocks or jack and coke. Trying New Orleans "classic" cocktails was a considerable stretch for our gang, but it ended up being a very enjoyable experience.

Old Absinthe House - First stop. What to try? obviously absinthe. Read a little to the group about the history of the bar and absinthe's underserved reputation. Some wariness in the group about each ordering a $17 drink that we had never had, so we ordered 2 absinthe wass using the highest quality that they had on hand. As expected, very licorice-y. We were surprised that the after taste was so smooth. No one had hallucinations or went crazy as a result.

French 75 - What to try but the French 75? served by Chris Hannah, we enjoyed this stop. Arnaud's is a classy little bar with nice air conditioning and little seating areas. Very refreshing drink. (We also voted this as the best place to use the bathroom)

Lafitte Blacksmith - We had been to Pat O'briens the day before so decided to check out Lafitte. Fun atmosphere and neat bar. Everyone chose to order their own hurricane at this establishment. Unlike the scary red color at Pat O's, this was a more natural looking peach color. Hurricane's are much too sweet for my preference, but they were popular with the group!

Tujagues - Ended up being the last stop. Had intended to close with Napoleon house but we ended up spending a lot more time here. Served by Paul Gustings, he is a rather grumpy fella, but then warmed up through our time there and was very entertaining and knowledgeable. We tried a few drinks by paul: Ramos Gin Fizz, Pimm's cup, Sazerac.

Ramos Gin Fizz - sounds really strange (an egg??) but it is delicious! was the unanimous favorite in the group. Best way to sum it up is it tastes like an orange julius. A person probably shouldn't have 5 of these, but nice little drink.

Pimm's cup - overwhelming second favorite. Very refreshing, especially with the cucumber. Perfect for an outdoor summer party.

Sazerac - Popular with the men, not so much with the ladies.

We had so much fun at Tujagues we went back the next day to try his bloody mary's and de la louisane. The bloody mary's were nice and spicy. He brines his own olives and they were delicious. The louisane was very interesting tasting.

Once again, thanks all to have posted the past. Hope some folks find this interesting. This was my third time to New Orleans and i'm glad I was able to break out of the frozen daiquiris and pat o hurricane to try some cocktails and I would encourage you to take some time and go on your own little tour.

Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Port of Call
838 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

Pat O'brien's Bar
718 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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  1. So glad to hear you enjoyed the Ramos Gin Fizz! Along with the Sazerac, it's one of the great classic New Orleans cocktails.

    From the 1928 New Orleans Item-Tribune, some history:

    If you're ever tempted to whip up a Ramos at home, French Orange Flower Water is preferable to Middle Eastern brands. I like Montreux, available from Amazon.

    Tujaque's restaurant is no great shakes, but the old bar is wonderful, and Mr. Gustings helped me conduct a highly scientific(!) experiment one afternoon. I wanted to compare a Sazerac made with cognac (as per the original nineteenth century recipe), to one made with rye. It was Mr. Gustings' opinion — and I had to agree with him — that rye makes for a smoother and better balanced drink.

    Kudos to you for putting together your own cocktail tour. It's easy, educational, loads of fun, and a welcome change from Hand Grenades and packaged Hurricane mix.

    Enjoyed your trip report. Thanks!

    1 Reply
    1. re: BrooksNYC

      EDITED for typo: The name of that French orange flower water is A. Monteux (not "Montreux'). Sorry!

    2. Where were you finding the traffic problems? Will be staying in the lower garden district.

      7 Replies
      1. re: karykat

        Kary, i'm not sure the name of the street, but i'm pretty sure it was the main one that the shops are on. looked like they are down to one lane for a lot of the street. Perhaps you could call your hotel to check? it was pretty extensive construction

        1. re: yammers

          St. Charles and Carrollton are both under construction and one lane in the Riverbend (not Garden District) area. It definitely can be a pain, but it shouldn't have influenced your cab fare as the meters run based on distance traveled rather than time. You might want to factor the construction in when determining travel times to Riverbend restaurants such at Brigtsen's, Boucherie, Dante's Kitchen, etc. The St. Charles streetcar is not effected.

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

          Dante's Kitchen
          736 Dante Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

          8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            Cab fares run according to both distance and time.

            1. re: nikinik

              You're right, I'm sorry. The "standing" rate is much lower than the rolling rate, but if the traffic is really bad and the cab was actually stopped for awhile, it could make a difference in the fare I guess.

              1. re: uptownlibrarian

                oo thanks for the clarification sorry.

          2. re: yammers

            Thanks everyone. I will check with our hotel too. And I do appreciate your info.

          3. re: karykat

            Magazine is undergoing some significant construction several blocks east and west of Washington ...