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Aug 18, 2010 02:16 PM

Proposal Restaurant Suggestions - Help Please!

Hey All,

I am taking my girlfriend down to New Orleans in September and intend to propose to her at dinner (or after) on a Friday night. I am looking for the best food, most romantic spot, etc.

We are from chicago, so something in line with Trotters, Alinea, etc...if it exists. a 12 cours prix fixe or an 8 course at least...something like that.

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  1. Stella and August. These are probably the most romantic, arguably best food, in the city for this type of occasion. Commanders Palace would be another option, but the food isn't as good.

    6 Replies
    1. re: latasche

      do they do prix fixe and wine pairings?

      1. re: Mkopald

        August does for sure. Stella and Commanders I can't recall at the moment, but you could easily call. The librarian's suggestions below are also good. Le Foret had bad service problems when I was there which makes me say no to them, but that was about 6 months ago, so they may have worked out some of the kinks by now. The food was good, but not amazing.

        1. re: latasche

          do you know the cost of the John Besh “Degustation” menu at August?

        2. re: Mkopald

          I'm Daniel, I'm the Director of Ops for Chef Boswell at Stella! (the obligatory CH disclaimer)

          A little late, but I just saw this topic and I wanted to answer your question directly.

          We do offer a Chef's Tasting menu with wine pairings. Right now it's a seven course tasting at $125 and the wine pairing is $85.

          It changes frequently and is updated immediately at:

          To clarify another question/comment:

          We frequently get guests celebrating special occasions and are equipped to handle those requests in most any reasonable manner that the guest desires, as long as we're notified of your plans. We do hold a staff meeting prior to each service where all special occasions are announced to our team.

          That said, the reality is that you can't go wrong with any of the ideas these folks have listed; it's going to be special no matter where you end up or how you end up doing it.

        3. re: latasche

          I do not believe either Stella or August have the romantic facilities that the OP is requesting. The food yes but not the romantic atmosphere that a night of this importance requires. I have never dedicated myself to 100% food quality when I'm more interested in ambiance also. The OP has been to Charlie Trotters and Alinea. He's had outstanding food quality. He's going to propose which is a very important night. What is romantic about August or Stella other than the food. What happens if he gets stuck in an out of the way table in the back.

          I certainly am not interested in an argument with people that know way more than myself but I would not propose to a beautiful lady at Stella or August. If I did it would be at some romantic place like Commander's Palace. No the food is no where near the quality as Stella or August but what about the ambiance. Who cares about the food on a night of this importance as long as it's of high quality. If he secures a table in the Garden Room at least he knows he will have the most outstanding atmosphere of all of NOLA. At Stella or August he knows nothing.

          You could have a wonderful meal in the Garden Room at Commander's then retreat to an outdoor table on the back yard patio and make your proposal. Who would want to propose inside August or Stella. Maybe across the street at Windsor Court after dinner at August in their beautiful bar over after dinner drinks or in Jackson Square after dinner at Stella but please not in either Stella or August.

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

          1. re: Littleman

            Going to Commanders Palace for Sunday brunch with her Sister and Brother in law.

        4. Stella and August are the classic options for special occasion tasting menus, but there are a few newer upscale places that I believe are doing tastings now also. One is Le Foret, but I haven't been and can't comment.

          Between Stella and August, I'd go with Stella because I like the wine better there, and because it's in a much more romantic area. If you decide to wait until after the meal you'll be in a lovely part of the French Quarter.

          Another option might be a place with a romantic, secluded courtyard where you could propose privately during an after dinner cocktail or whatever. Iris and Bayona would fit this description, although neither is quite on the culinary level of Stella.

          9 Replies
          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            I must say, she is a bit of a foodie. Not sure if you know anything about Trotters or Alinea but I am looking for food on that level. The reason I want multiple courses is because I want this to be a longer dinner. Her friends will be flying in to join us for drinks afterwards but do not arrive until later. (the entire trip is a surprise, she will not know about anything until she boards the plane)

            1. re: Mkopald

              Stella and August are probably the most comparable on the level of Alinea or Trotters. August with a little more local influence.

              1. re: latasche

                perfect. Thanks. August it will be I think. Do you know the cost/courses for the John Besh “Degustation” menu?

                1. re: Mkopald

                  sorry, can't help there, but i'm sure someone else on this board has been there recently enough to know. Also, i would mention what you're up to when you make your reservation to ensure they give you one of the better tables. Last time I was there they sat us in an odd corner. No big deal, but if I were potentially proposing, I wouldn't want to have been sitting there.

                  1. re: latasche

                    First, I would not hold out for Alinea in New Orleans. It won't happen. And New Orleans is the greatest city for restaurants on the planet, because there is a soul and authenticity that exists here and few other English-speaking places. It is widely held that the inexpensive and midrange options in New Orleans are spectacular. I also feel that the top restaurants here are as good or better than the top restaurants in every city in the United States. There are a few outliers, however, and Alinea is one of them. Alinea is an evolved entity -- a monumental accomplishment in advancing the industry. That said, you will not be disappointed with wither August or Stella!.

                    Stella! is fancier: white gloves, caviar service. There's a 7-course tasting menu for $115 with wine pairings for $85. Several staffers to attend to you. Caviar begins at $200. I am not sure if you can even have a similar service anywhere else in New Orleans. It is quiet.

                    Besh no longer offers the 3-4 hour, 10+ course degustation menu at August. I believe it ran about $175 including wine. They now offer a 4-course or a 5-course "degustation" -- either for $60. Wine pairings are $25-$35 and in my experience not very good. They have a great wine list despite the interest in offering good pairings and you'd do better to pick out a couple of bottles.

                    All of this makes it sound like I am pushing Stella!. August is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. The atmosphere is perfect. It is at once elegant old-world grande dame and modern, relaxed community. Given the prices, you can take the tasting menu, add courses, and you'll have a remarkable bespoke meal. For additions, the foie gras three ways and the gnocchi with crab and truffles are reaching legendary status. They also do great things with vegetables here, so consider a few vegetarian insertions as well.

                    Good luck!

                    1. re: johnstubbs

             sure August doesn't offer the degustation menu any more? Last I was there it was still offered.....granted, it's been a year.

                        1. re: johnstubbs

                          They had it when I was there in May. I also call myself a bit of a foodie, but sadly the degustation menu just didn't appeal to me or my date, so we skipped it and just ordered several courses. I must say, the food is AMAZING. I still dream about the fois gras three ways appetizer I had there and the dessert. Also, as a girl, while August may not be the most intimate ever, I liked the decor and dim lighting and would not oppose being proposed to there!

              2. re: Mkopald

                I have dined at both, plus Tru. In my humble estimation, Windsor Court's Grill room will be just perfect. Actually, of those three, I was less than impressed by Charlie Trotter's and on three visits. I just had to see if I was hitting them on an off night.

                Going up-thread a bit, Restaurant August is very nice, and would otherwise fit the bill, but I cannot see it as the correct venue, for your proposal. Their chef's menu and sommelier's pairing can be had. On my last visit, the food was excellent, but the sommelier should have been fired. Apparently, he was, as there was a replacement within six mos. I have not been able to fit them back into the mix, so cannot say how the wine pairings might mesh.

                If you could score what used to be Table #8 at Commanders, then I would recommend them. As I understand, it is now Table #308. We got this table for many of my wife's birthdays, but then got hosed, even with confirmations. Were told that an important patron had just come in and requested it, and we had to be seated elsewhere. After 15 years of flying across the globe to dine at that table for my wife's birthday, only to be stiffed upon arrival, was a bitter pill to swallow. Now, if you can book it, and an more important patron does not walk in and request it, it'll be good. Let's just say that I no longer bother to book a table at Commander's Palace. We have moved on, after all those years.

                Good luck, and hope that the answer is a resounding "YES!"


                Restaurant August
                301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

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

            2. I have zero experience with this, but it would seem to me that if when you make your reservations you tell the restaurant you're planning a proposal, they could make special arrangements--like make sure you have a great table, have champagne waiting specifically for your table, etc. Just don't put it in her dessert like in that Woody Allen movie--she might swallow it [like in the Woody Allen movie]! :)

              11 Replies
              1. re: midcity

                Get some champagne/flutes and take a private "shut up and drive" carrige ride after dinner. If you're staying in the qtr, perhaps your concierge can make arrangements plus a hotel pick up.

                  1. re: latasche

                    Stellar advice. Take advantage of the open container laws. Proposal in carriage to dinner, celebration ensues.

                    1. re: johnstubbs

                      You have all thrown a wrench in my plan! Yes, I question the "proposing during dinner"...i think its a bit awkward...and I think I probably wont be able to keep my mouth shut long enough. I like the idea of proposing before hand. thanks.

                      As for the restaurants...The reason I was set on August was the 3 hour tasting menu...We often go to 5-8 course tastings in Chicago so it wont be "entirely" all that special of a meal. The other reason is that I have arranged for her friends and her sister to fly down to surprise her, however they will not arrive until about 9:30 PM so I would like dinner to be ending around the time they are in the area.

                      That being GF (hopefully soon to be fiance) LOVES FOOD. It is honestly what makes her happiest. I want the best food i can get but also the best FOOD experience if that makes sense. A few years ago, I took her to SCHWA in chicago. Small restaurant, not wait staff, young chefs just having fun making amazing food. They served you, told you how to eat it (for example "throw this one back like a shot") was even byob. 12 courses later we remembered every single dish. four years later, she still remembers ever course she ate there. THAT IS WHAT I WANT.

                      1. re: Mkopald

                        I still slightly prefer Stella to August, but go with August if that's your instinct. It's romantic. It's some of the best food in the city. I would be thrilled to have a celebratory proposal dinner there. Mention what's up when you make your reservation and they'll take great care of you. Good luck!

                        1. re: uptownlibrarian

                          Does anyone know if they have the 3 hour degustation menu anymore and what the price of it is?

                          1. re: Mkopald

                            Facts: This summer, they are not doing the degustation menu. They are doing the 5 course tasting menu, which is totally vegetarian, but you can add protein courses as you wish. They will begin serving the normal "3 hour" degustation menu again in the fall, but there is no set date. I don't know how much it will cost.

                            1. re: uptownlibrarian

                              Thank you! Maybe I will call them to see if they will have it back by Sep. 17th...thats the fall (almost winter) here in chicago!

                            2. re: Mkopald

                              I want to say the price was around $200 pp for the food and wine pairing when I was there in May, but I don't remember exactly since I opted not to get it. Cuvee also does a very good tasting menu that I remember. I also think the atmosphere there is very romantic.

                              Cuvee Restaurant
                              322 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                              1. re: princsoreo

                                I have not done the tasting menu at Cuvee but have friends I trust who have enjoyed it, though I don't believe I know anyone who has been since Isaac Toups took over in April, replacing Kristen Olsen, who replaced Bob Iacovone last November.

                                Even if they aren't up and running August can create the 3-hour tasting menu for you. They can probably even do it ahead of time. I would suggest calling late afternoon during the week before dinner service and let them know what you want to do. I am certain they will let you add courses to the shorter tasting menus as I've done it myself.

                                If you want to spend an evening with the chefs gushing over food and strange wine, then you may want to consider the Green Goddess:

                                The experience here is nothing like August or Stella! or Cuvee. It's crazier, more spontaneous, less refined and less professional than Schwa – what Schwa would be if Michael Carlson had not trained at Spiaggia, Trio and Fat Duck. It's a tiny place: maybe 20 covers, and that's including the tables literally adjoining the small, dark unisex bathroom in the "atrium." It is not an atmosphere conducive to sophistication. Like Schwa, the chefs are the only people working here that you will see. It is without frills, save for the abundance of quirk, and exactly as this place should be: the New Orleans version of a premium Hong Kong speakeasy, if that's not an oxymoron.

                                Consider this carefully, as this is not a traditionally romantic option and it is not fine dining. Your experience may be altered substantially by others who happen to be dining near you, for better or for worse. They offer a tasting menu, but you'd likely do better to construct your own on the spot with advice from the kitchen, each course on one plate with two utensils.

                                Green Goddess
                                307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130

                              2. re: Mkopald

                                My review of that menu was too long ago to help out now - sorry.


                  2. Stella would be good. I would clue the staff, so that some over-zealous waitperson does not intrude.

                    Another would be the Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel. Again, clue the FOH to what you wish to do.

                    Those two spring immediately to my mind. With a bit of warning, the staff just might break into the Hallelujah Chorus, or maybe the first chorus from Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Just let them know. Nothing worse that "more decaf," just as you have popped the question.



                    Windsor Court Hotel
                    300 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I couldn't agree more. If it was me, I would choose Stella. My wife and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary there and it was perfect. Check out the menu online. The chef is very creative and the place is romantic.

                    2. I would just like to add that in my opinion, if you're choosing between Stella and August, August has far superior service.

                      I would trust that John Besh's staff will make a proposal special. I would not trust that Stella would even be aware. However, I've only dined at Stella once and was very disappointed.

                      My experience at Besh restaurants has generally been that they go above and beyond, if there's an issue you forget about it by the end of the evening because they smooth everything over. They are very responsive to emails, my fiance emailed them before a trip to La Provence and got a lengthy response from the chef (who wrote it at 1AM) regarding the history and ingrediants of the dish he was interested in and inviting us into the kitchen. It's hard to beat that!

                      Either way I hope you have a romantic evening to remember!!

                      La Provence
                      25020 Highway 190, Lacombe, LA 70445

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Paisley16

                        Funny you mention that...I emailed them about a week ago and have not heard back yet.