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How touristy or not are Lagasse's NO or NOLA? How good are they or not?

Coming to NO from NY for a conference. I actually have a scholarly interest in celebrity chefs but I also want good food and to not be treated as a gawking tourist. Are either Lagasse's NO or his NOLA good enough? I would like to eat in a Lagasse restaurant if it's worth it, and this upcoming 3 day trip might be my big chance. And if they're good enough, which one is better?

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  1. The easy answer is that they are touristy, AND full of regular locals. Because they are good restaurants.

    The three restaurants have different personalities, some menu differences and some price differences. NOLA, in the FQ is the most casual and bustling, with slightly lower cost. Emerils is the flag ship and more upscale in the decor and a place where tourist and locals often go to see and be seen. Emerils Delmonico on St. Charles Avenue is the most upscale and most expensive. The first two are almost always crowded while Del's is not. The service in all three places is very good.

    Here you will find fans and detractors for all three. Emeril's has the biggest fan club. Like the story of the three bears, emeril's is in the middle and "just right" for many.

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: collardman

      Well stated. I liked your comment on BOTH tourists and locals. That sums it up better than my post.

      Good reply,

      Hunt

    2. +1 for Emeril's Delmonico.

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      Emeril's Delmonico Restaurant & Bar
      1300 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

      1. Emeril's may not be good enough for someone from Manhattan. The standards are very high there. Nothing is better than Eleven Madison Park. I love your post. Your Manhattan style is very noticeable.

        I assure you Emeril's is comparable to any restaurant in Manhattan. And you won't be a GAWKING tourist at NOLA or Emeril's.

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

        8 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          I'm sorry if my post sounded condescending. I've never been to Eleven Madison Park. Too expensive for me. For what it's worth, my post never said I was from Manhattan. Manhattan also has its touristy/celebrity-chef places and I'd want to avoid those too if ever I went out for a business trip dinner there. That's all I meant.

          1. re: adorno

            Emeril's is one of NOLA's finest restaurants and visited often by locals as well as visitors. NOLA is also a great restaurant owned by the Chef. And Delmonico's is also superb. You will enjoy a visit to either of his 3 restaurants. I personally prefer Emeril's. I like the food, service and atmosphere.

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

          2. re: Littleman

            dont mind Littleman, he's a personal friend of the owner (and oft to remind everyone), and as such is very critical to those critical of the holy trinity.

            for ex, Littleman doesnt get "want good food and to not be treated as a gawking tourist" - a valid desire, to be certain. while the food at emeril's is definitely good, they will often lead the table w/ "Where are you from?" rather than assume you are from here. they may close by asking if youd like to "sign your cork" and stick it into the wall, another tourist game. lastly, you can wonder in w/ sandals, neon-green shorts and a tank top but still be seated. very touristy in this sense.

            but as others have said, at least the food is good. banana pie is great.

            1. re: kibbles

              Thanks! That "where are you from" is what indeed what I was implying I was hoping to avoid. (And you can get a lot of that in Manhattan too!). I think I will try E's New Orleans anyway (and not come in neon-green shorts!).

              Thanks. This post helped a lot and understood what I had intended with my original post.

              1. re: kibbles

                If it wasn't for visitors many of the local restaurants we rave about wouldn't be able to be what they are. That probably goes for districts in many major cities that have heavy tourist/business/convention traffic.

                Dependable tourist cash flow allows restaurants to get beyond survival mode with cheapest food costs and tried n true creole/cajun menus.

                But it does singe me to go into a restaurant nicely dressed and have to sometimes view sights I'd rather not be seeing during a special night out.

                1. re: collardman

                  Those are great points, and are well-worth noting. Sometime back, I did a "what constitutes a tourist restaurant," but the CH MOD's moved it to some backwater, and few ever got to comment.

                  Though I once lived in NOLA, and grew up totally influenced by the City, I now live elsewhere, so that makes me a "tourist" everywhere but Phoenix. Though we dine at 2 - 3 star restaurants around the globe, we are but tourists, though try to not behave like such.

                  I have never been asked by any of the staff at Emeril's, where we were from. Maybe by the time that we get there, my wife has spent days with her family, so has dropped her flat, Midwestern accent, and is now speaking as a NOLA native would. I know that I drop my normal accent, and adopt my Deep South "gent" speech pattern, so maybe the staff picks up on that, and just assumes that the couple at table 12 is a New Orleans lady, and some hick from Mississippi?

                  Though most patrons ARE probably tourists, I have never felt that Emeril's was a "touristy restaurant." I guess that the well-trained wait-staff hides that aspect from me.

                  That staff seems to know how to allow the diner, regardless of their point of origin, to enjoy the evening. I have always felt comfortable there, even upon returning, after having become a bit more accustomed to less "familiar" service, than what we have encountered there. Do they extend the same courtesy to a visitor from Dallas, Boise, El Centro, St. Louis, Cape May, etc., the same courtesy? I can only assume that they do. To us, it has always been the right blend of professionalism and familiarity.

                  Now, to someone, who might not have spent a lot of time dining in the Deep South, and NOLA in particular, that familiarity might seem contrived, and a bit of a show. As a "Son of the Old South," I did not find it to be that way at all.

                  However, on the mentioned visit to NYC and Restaurant Daniel, I cannot tell you how accommodating everyone was to us. This extended from the greeters at JFK to the sommelier at Restaurant Daniel. Each seemed genuinely concerned with our enjoyment - not unlike most folk in NOLA.

                  Now, if one is used to harsh cabbies in DC, or Chicago, then the staff at Emeril's might seem a bit like caricatures from Maybeery RFD, but I don't think they are.

                  Remember, I was a tourist at Per Se, Le Bernadine, Restaurant Daniel, and so very many others - though tried mightily to not show it.

                  Still, I can see a major difference between the Emeril Lagasse restaurants, and places like say Dick's Last Resort, Rustler's Roost, or similar. There are tourist "traps," and then there are restaurants, that have a higher tourist trade. To me, there is a big, big difference.

                  Enjoy,

                  Hunt

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

              2. re: Littleman

                I think that Emeril's would do the job, though with differences.

                Just came back from a NYC trip that ended up at Restaurant Daniel, and it was great, as expected. Still, we have enjoyed both, and I would not even try to compare the two - other than giving each four "smiles."

                Delmonico comes a tad closer to Restaurant Daniel, but because those two are probably more in alignment, I think that the differences would be quickly spotted and noted. Emeril's, and NOLA, are more laid-back, and other than comparing enjoyment meters, the differences would not show up so much.

                Enjoy,

                Hunt

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

              3. http://www.chow.com/search?query=emer...
                FWIW, you'll find our fine dining restaurants are much less expensive than in NY. Drink prices as well.

                1. Emeril's, Delmonico then NOLA would be my preference. I took NOLA off my rotation several years ago, as I was always disappointed.

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

                  1. A very chow-savvy colleague of mine had a meal at NOLA last week and was not impressed. I believe his reaction was 'Meh."

                    We've had 3 or 4 excellent meals at Emeril's flagship over the years. The food and service have been great. Dress reasonably well and you will be treated like a king. Everytime we've gone, there are people in there dressed like utter slobs. They are never turned away, but they are always seated as far from the big windows as possible. I never get tired of watching that.

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

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bob W

                      Yes to Emeril's, no to NOLA...

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

                      1. re: Bob W

                        That reaction to NOLA seems to be the common thread on this board. Guess that we hit them on their one, and only best night. My good fortune.

                        Hunt

                      2. I have dined at Emeril's, Delmonico and NOLA over the years.

                        The food has always been great, and the service very good to great. Delmonico got graded down on the wine service, but that was rather minor.

                        Yes, there will be tourists at each, but the food is very good, and is based on Chef Lagasse's interpretation of New Orleans cuisine. Is it 100% authentic? Well, I am not sure that any place could claim that, though some old-time establishments, like Galatoire's and Bon Ton might legitimately make a claim. Still, good, with tons of local flavor.

                        Even with a tiny mis-step at Delmonico's, I have thought each to be worth the effort and the $. Each restaurant has a different "personality," with Emeril's (the eponymous restaurant) being a tad more "touristy," but that is due to the location. Still, great food, friendly and accommodating service, with a very nice wine list, that pairs well with the cuisine. Delmonico might be the farthest for "New Orleans cuisine," especially regarding the original menu of that restaurant, but still quite good. It's a bit more of a "steakhouse," but with strong New Orleans roots. NOLA was impressive to us (two NOLA natives with strong culinary backgrounds, me a MS transplant, and then a real tourist from Transylvania, no less), and the service was great. We had an elderly, wheelchair bound guest, and the staff was on-top of everything. We have only dined there once, but were impressed on all counts, unlike many on this board. Maybe we hit them on their one, and only, "good night?" All I can comment on, would be that dining experience, and they were hitting on all cylinders.

                        If I had to choose only one, I would opt for Emeril's, and just ignore the tourists. The staff will entice you to have fun, enjoy the cuisine and can pair the wines well with that cuisine. The service is a tad less formal, and slightly familiar, but that is the way that things are in NOLA, at many (most?) restaurants. One soon feels like they are "the rich part of the family," at a reunion. Good food, good fun, and well-considered wines. It could be a bit quieter, but that is my choice. Ninety-nine percent of all restaurants in the US could be a bit quieter... [Grin]

                        Most of all, enjoy!

                        Hunt

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

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

                        Bon Ton Cafe
                        401 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130