HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >

Long trip report - Emeril's, August, Mila, Stella, CP, Bayona, etc. 7/10-15

c
chris Jul 22, 2010 01:33 PM

Got back from New Orleans five days ago and I'm still full.

Overview:
Between my wife and I, we did not have a single bad dish. Some things may not have worked to my personal preferences but the quality of the food and preparation were consistently strong across the board. I apologize for the lack of in depth descriptions of things (I know everything is "good") I just don't do the poetic description thing well. I'm looking forward to another visit sooner rather than later, though I certainly won't go at it quite so gluttonously....

Photos of everything consumed and the like can be found here: http://thewineauxs.blogspot.com

Day One:
Stella!
Excellent though, as I've read in various places, definitely not "New Orleans" if that makes sense. My wife's meal was fantastic: truffle risotto and fish and chips - tempura battered anago, very much an Asian flare, great stuff. The preparations of my food (foie gras BLT and veal medallions) were without question high quality and nicely done, but were definitely a bit more 'traditional' than I expected...more a problem with my expectations than anything else. Service was spotty...nothing big, but a collection of minor irritations. The one thing I got a kick out of is if you order iced tea, you get a pot of hot tea poured into a glass that seems to have dry ice inside - it's quite the spectacle.

Felix
Raw and grilled oysters - we were warned they would be a bit on the small side but there were 16 on the order of a dozen (unnecessary - they weren't 'that' small, but appreciated). Blackened alligator was amazing as well.

Day Two:
Mila
$20 three course prix fixe and a full page of bottles of wine for under $30. Squash soup, hangar steak, and rice pudding - top notch all around (the rice pudding was amazing - a phrase I never thought I'd ever say). The highlight to me anyway were the sweet potato rolls with pureed fava beans. Great food, great service. Definitely a business lunch crowd.

Acme
Slightly larger oysters (raw and grilled) than Felix, very different vibe (darker, more of a "bar" feel than Felix's diner thing), and seemed to be constantly packed. The only real difference in the oyster preparations was Acme had a cocktail sauce and Felix was DIY with horseradish and Tabasco. (The people at Felix were way nicer, the guy here was extremely grumpy but in a lovable kinda way.)

Emeril's
Giant portions. Best service of the trip. Some of the best food of the trip - rabbit remoulade was outstanding and sweetbreads with veal were quite good. Gumbo was just so so (it was basically all broth - maybe a few pieces of meat, but all I remember is liquid). She had the BBQ shrimp (the sauce was very heavy, but undeniably delicious) and redfish were both excellent. Extremely loud room if that sort of thing matters to you. Dessert of root beer cheesecake on bacon shortbread had a bit too much bacon for my liking. Banana cream pie deserves its reputation - tons of fresh bananas, awesome.

Day Three:
New Orleans School of Cooking
Not a bad way to spend two hours and $24.. For the regular class at 10 am, you don't cook or participate (though the chef does go around and ask people a few questions), it's just a show with an angled mirror on the ceiling so you can see everything going on easily. We were there for gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding, and pralines. Plenty of iced tea during the class and Abita Root Beer and Amber is served with the meal. They serve you a plate but if you want more, you can get seconds. We both thought the gumbo was better here than at Emeril's.

Bayona
My wife's pick for best meal of the trip. Arguably the most "southern" style cuisine we encountered. She had a crab tart and rabbit roulade and I had shrimp with black bean cake and sweetbreads. The sweetbreads were some of the best I've ever had and she feels the same about her rabbit. I did see Susan Spicer running around which was fun to see.

Day Four:
Antoine's
Most people are just given the $20 prix fixe menu when seated. I had to ask for a regular menu and when I did our waiter got a whole lot friendlier. My wife did the prix fixe with a trio of oysters (very good, rich and flavorful) and shrimp in a vin blanc sauce, which was also good but a rather small portion (not a big deal considered it was part of the deal, but this was the only $20 prix fixe that seemed to not have a lot of food). I had oysters a la foch, which had some of the best fried oysters I've ever had, and soft shell crab which I'm sure was done well, but just not my thing - two crabs, deep fried, no sauce except butter on the side... Apparently only the front dining room was open, it got very crowded and very loud by the time we left. I must mention the 25 cent martinis - your choice of gin, vodka, cosmo, or lemondrop. We each had three.

Commander's Palace
For a special meal that's a New Orleans classic, this is probably the way to go - excellent all around. We both had soup trio (gumbo, turtle soup, and a shrimp and okra soup of the day). The shrimp and okra was by far the best perhaps because the only flavor either of us got from the turtle soup was sherry. I had frog legs (fried - excellent), she had escargot for appetizers. Entrees were steak for her and veal for me. All the food was excellent, service was fine as well. I really liked that wine was offered by the glass and half glass (half was still a generous pour) so you could get three half glasses and keep the wine tab under $20 with ease.

Day Five:
Restaurant August
Best meal of the trip as far as I'm concerned. $20 prix-fixe. I had pate, veal, and a unique gourmet grilled cheese of sorts with peaches and goat cheese. My wife had fennel soup, a dish that was essentially a fancy gumbo, and an almond cake with peaches (and corn ice cream). An amuse bouche of seafood custard and a gift of some candy after the meal make this actually a five course deal IMHO. Tied with Emeril's for best service of the trip, absolute nicest people - my sole regret is just doing lunch, next time we're doing the dinner tasting menu.

Central Grocery
Muffuletta to go - ate it on the train on the way home. The entire thing was too salty for my tastes, but I did enjoy the olive salad topping.

-----
Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Commander's Palace Restaurant
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

Bayona
430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Emeril's Restaurant
800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. l
    Littleman RE: chris Jul 22, 2010 02:07 PM

    Chris you had a great trip. I envy you. I hope you had fun and come back soon. I agree on Stella. I would have gone to Galatoire's. I love Mila and Bayona. Emeril's is my favorite restaurant in NOLA. I like Antoine's but I have been so often I would have gone to Patois or Coquette probably. Fun to dine in the FQ and walk to and from though. Commander's and August top your trip. Good luck.

    -----
    Bayona
    430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

    Emeril's Restaurant
    800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

    Galatoire's Restaurant
    209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    1. c
      ck1234 RE: chris Jul 22, 2010 06:05 PM

      I loved your report and the pictures! Drool. That crab tart picture at Bayona almost makes me want to go there, just for that!

      -----
      Bayona
      430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

      1. Bill Hunt RE: chris Jul 22, 2010 08:28 PM

        Chris,

        Thanks for taking the time to report. Too often, folk return home and no one ever hears the good, the bad, or the ugly. Your report is greatly appreciated.

        While I am a fan of Stella!, I do agree with your comments. Maybe it's because I have been able to dine in NOLA over many decades, that I am most interested in great food, and do not require a "pure NOLA experience." Still, your notation will be very useful to many, who DO want that particular dining experience, and many do.

        It sounds as though you had a great culinary trip, and that is most important. I greatly appreciate the comments on the pix-fixe menus. Some of those have been added, since I last dined at some of those restaurants. Sign of the times? We are big fans of "tasting menus," but seldom do just plain prix-fixe menus, when a full a-la-carte is available, or better yet, a full tasting menu, showcasing the chef's work. That said, we did five nights of dining at a location in TN, and did 3 "tasting menus," and then two "prix-fixe" offerings, where we added a cheese course for our finish. So, it depends. [Grin]

        Again, thank you,

        Hunt

        1. N.O.Food RE: chris Jul 23, 2010 07:05 AM

          Yall did good! Thanks for the report.

          1. n
            nola1421 RE: chris Jul 23, 2010 10:23 AM

            You went to all my favorite restaurants. Thank you for showing us all the great food pictures, I am glad you enjoy all your meals in NOLA.

            1. penthouse pup RE: chris Jul 23, 2010 12:48 PM

              Wonderful photos--a question about those 25 cent martinis -- was this some kind of Antoine's anniversary? (Nice to know the huitres Foches are still great.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: penthouse pup
                c
                chris RE: penthouse pup Jul 23, 2010 01:50 PM

                Not to my knowledge, it may be a summertime deal - they are only available at lunch though. Commander's Palace also has 25 cent martinis (lunch only).

                -----
                Commander's Palace Restaurant
                1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

              2. c
                chris RE: chris Jul 23, 2010 01:53 PM

                OH - for those bargain hunters, Commander's Palace has a deal as well. If you eat between 5:30 and 7:30 you can get two appetizers and a glass of wine for $20. There was a side list of appetizers, so I don't think it's 'any' on the menu, but there were at least ten options.

                -----
                Commander's Palace Restaurant
                1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

                1. junescook RE: chris Jul 23, 2010 02:09 PM

                  Chris, I'm not sure if you made my Friday night or ruined it, but your pictures and accompanying report nearly brought me to tears. We don't get to travel much now that we're retired (ironically) and we've got critters in the barn, but I truly enjoy other people's travel and dining experiences vicariously, and this was one of the best yet. Merci beaucoup.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: junescook
                    b
                    blessed02 RE: junescook Jul 23, 2010 11:06 PM

                    I loved this trip report as well. Thank you for taking the time to write it, Chris!

                  2. k
                    kibbles RE: chris Jul 26, 2010 10:42 AM

                    the sweetbreads at Bayona really are among the best.

                    -----
                    Bayona
                    430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kibbles
                      Tothfairy RE: kibbles Jul 27, 2010 02:37 PM

                      I am glad I found your post. I will send this to my husband just to asure him that there is still great food after the spill!

                      1. re: Tothfairy
                        noradeirdre RE: Tothfairy Jul 28, 2010 08:43 PM

                        Oh, man, it makes me sad that people think that.

                    Show Hidden Posts