Trip Report, June 8-12: Day 3
It was really hard trying to top our experiences on Wednesday, June 9.
Thursday, June 10, we skipped breakfast in order to build an appetite for our early lunch at Commander's Palace. When I made reservations, I requested the Garden Room per recommendations on this board. However, because Commander's can't guarantee seating there, we were seated in the Patio Dining Room. The room was fine and we were happy with it. It turned out that the Garden Room was unavailable because the LA Tourism Board was filming a commercial up there (there was also filming in the kitchen as we walked through it to the Patio Dining Room). I ordered the Creole Luncheon (starter: turtle soup; main: crawfish boil salad, dessert: bread pudding souffle) while my husband ordered one of the lunch specials (starter: turtle soup, main: cochon du lait). We also ordered the unbelievably priced 25 cent martinis. Not being a martini fan, I ordered the Drink of the 90s: the Cosmopolitan. Husband ordered two vodka martinis... even though he's not really a martini fan either. I guess he was just getting into the spirit. At any rate, back to the food. The complimentary garlic bread was a nice little treat. We both enjoyed the turtle soup, which was nicely flavorful and had a pleasant texture (contrary to some reports, our soup wasn't gritty). My husband liked his cochon du lait but it wasn't really a standout. My crawfish boil salad, which was crawfish tails, corn on segmented cobs, onions, and potatoes tossed with greens and smothered in remoulade, was a bit much after the first 5 bites. I really struggled to eat more than that because the sauce was overpowering. It was probably the richest salad I've ever eaten. I did enjoy the crawfish, which were perfectly cooked. Our dessert--the bread pudding souffle--was the best part of the meal (aside from the fantastic service, which functioned on an almost telephathic level). The flavors were rich, as a bread pudding should be, but the light texture made the dessert unexpected and really delightful.
After lunch, we strolled through the heat down to Magazine in order to do a little window shopping. After walking for about 20 minutes we were exhausted by the heat and the heavy lunch, so we struggled back up to St. Charles to take the streetcar back to the Quarter for a little rest.
After some rest, we walked over to the Monteleone for some drinks at the Carousel Bar. We managed to get some seats at the bar, the movement of which took some getting used to. I was a little dizzy for a few minutes (I have a weird vision issue that can be aggravated by movement) but it resolved while watching our bartender mix our drinks. My husband and I ordered Ramos Gin Fizzes, and it was fun watching the bartender mix. More fun was watching the reaction of our fellow patrons as they watched the bartender crack raw egg whites into the shaker. Many patrons looked aghast. The drinks were wonderful--light, not too sweet, refreshing, with a subtle orange flavor. Someone on this board likened the flavor to Orange Julius, and I agree. I enjoyed my drink so much that I ordered another, which probably wasn't a good idea...
So after downing two RGF, the husband and I took the streetcar back to the Garden District to eat dinner at Coquette. We were very early and our table wasn't ready, so we waited at the bar. Being Thursday, all the specialty cocktails on the menu were only $5. With nothing else to do but sit at the bar, we ordered some. I ordered the Ponchatoula Punch and my husband ordered the Sazerac. My punch was very sweet--too sweet--which I should have expected. My husband's Sazerac was quite good. We ordered the fried prawn small plate (with grapefruit and nicoise olives, drizzled with a sambal vinaigrette), which was a creative and delicious flavor combo, with also great textural variation. Yum; best app of the trip. After finishing our small plate, our table was ready and we were seated. We each ordered the salad with pecans and goat cheese, which was fine but relatively pedestrian. For our mains, I ordered the scallops (can't recall what they were served with) and my husband ordered the NY strip. At this point, I was done for the day. I started feeling a little sick--most likely a combo of the heat and humidity (I'm from the Pacific NW, where an 80 degree day is hot) and maybe a couple too many cocktails. I ate a few bites of my scallops and felt miserable; I had completely lost my appetite. What a waste! The husband's steak was very good; it was perfectly prepared an had excellent flavor. The accompaniments (more cipollini onions!) were well-paired. He agreed with me that the food at Coquette is very well executed. If only the service was able to match the food, however. While we sat at the bar, the bartender was very, very serious; not much of a people person, and he made us feel as though were intruding upon his territory. The server at our table had an unusual and distracting demeanor. She was also very serious and extremely hurried, even though it wasn't that busy by the time we were seated for dinner. I think she was probably new, and focusing hard on all the steps a server must go through in a nice restaurant, but it took away from our dining experience. I wish the owner(s) or manager(s) would seat his/her/their servers down and tell them it's okay--breathe--relax--act like you enjoy being a server and enjoy working with the diners. It would make for a more pleasant, more well-rounded, and more professional dining experience.
Commander's Palace Restaurant
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
oooh! the summer heat + alcohol combo can be disasterous for dinner...one time my friend and I had PRIME seats at KPauls...I was munching those delicious steen's muffins and sipping a tasty glass of champagne when my dining companion announces "he needs to put his head down on the table for a minute"
I was afraid if he passed out he would be leaving via ambulance...so I told the waiter what was up...he proceded to grab a kitchen towel filled with ice and instructed my friend to hold it to the back of his neck until the dizzines passed...which it did
they comped my drink and sent us home in a cab ~ no dinner for me, but no trip to Charity hospital either ~ I call that one a win-win situation
I find the Coquette service odd..I don;t go there much but I've never had anything remotely like that experience. All the folks I encounter--and not just in New Orleans--seem to know how I want to proceed, maybe with gentle prodding. As for the heat and a/c in each block, as a general point of help, I always drink gallons of water or iced tea even if there is a martini waiting for me when I sit down. In the summer it is suicidal to do anything else. You could also write a small pamphlet on how to navigate from any hotel or office building to any restaurant by using little oases of a/c. The Roosevelt lobby is great for getting through that block and the PanAm Ins building is a life-saver, too.
we go to coquette regularly but are not "regulars" known by the staff; right after they opened it was a bit shaky but since then theyve been nothing but courteous. we often dine at the bar and love the main mixologist there -- the Buddy Holly look-alike. very professional, very talented.
we go regularly as well and the food and service have been consistently wonderful with the exception of our last visit. It was probably 3-4 weeks ago and they were having a private party upstairs. We had no reservations and sat at the bar, per our usual, but the place was packed and the service was way off. There was an extremely long pause between our first and second courses and the bar service was very slow. The food, while good, wasn't quite up to par. It wasn't that big of a deal to us - we chalked it up to the party and will definitely be back. Hopefully they were having another "off" night when the OP was there and this is not the beginning of a decline.