Let me preface this post with the fact I did quite a bit of research (maybe too much) prior to our NOLA trip last week. My wife and I finally had enough of the winter in MN and decided to take a few days away from the snow (and 2 year old) and enjoy some warm weather and good food. Like a previous poster, I am not great at describing the subtle food flavors or using creative adjectives to describe things. Suffice to say nearly everything we had to eat was delicious. Hopefully this will help a few others as I found a lot of help on this website.
We arrived at the hotel, got situated and decided to go out for an early supper since our lunch was at 10 am in the Atlanta airport. We had heard it was best to sit downstairs and arrive early when dining at Galatoire’s. I would agree. When we got to the restaurant (about 5 pm) there were only a few occupied tables but by 6 the place was quite full. We started with a Sazerac (me) and sidecar (wife). Both were great. As several others recommended, we let our waiter guide us through the menu. He chose the Galatoire en Groute and the Oysters en Brochette for an appetizer. They were both delicious but my wife enjoyed the oysters more than I did. For our entree I had the pompano with fried crawfish and my wife and the lemon fish with lump crabmeat. We skipped desert since we were so full I don’t think we would have enjoyed it. All of the food here was superb and the service was top notch. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to enjoy the flavor and feel of “old school” New Orleans.
The morning started early with a plantation tour. We used Old River Road Plantation Tours and really enjoyed the historical information our guide was able to provide. Lunch was at Acme. We had a ½ dozen chargrilled and ½ dozen raw oysters, a bowl of shrimp etouffee and a bowl of gumbo. This was a much more casual place (which was expected) but the food was outstanding.
For supper we took the streetcar from the FQ to Lee Circle, then walked to Cochon. I was really excited for this meal since it had such positive reviews all over the internet and was featured on several television shows. The hip dining room was full but even though we were a few minutes early for our reservation the hostess seated us right away. We started with drinks, I a rye flight and my wife had the “red headed stranger.” Both were great. For appetizers we had the fried boudin and wood-fired oysters. They were both fabulous. For entrees, my wife had the Louisiana Cochon and I had the daily special of roasted pork shoulder with fava beans. The cochon was delicious (not dry like a few other comments I’ve seen) but the shoulder was not very good. It was tough and had a lot of connective tissue that I found difficult to cut through. I understand this goes with the cut of meat but it would have been nice for our server to stop once (from the time our entrees arrived until we left) to ask how the food tasted. Another server stopped to ask if we wanted desert. Based on her recommendation of the banana cream pie (over the butterscotch pudding) we tried it. We didn’t think this was the best tasting dish either. Our opinion may be tarnished by the fact our bill arrived at the same time as the pie though. Also, as we were eating the mediocre desert, our server came back THREE times to take our payment before we finally broke down and took the hint that she didn’t want us in her table any more. Overall, I think Cochon is a good restaurant and would recommend it, just avoid the server with shoulder length red hair and freckles, she did not treat us very well.
The morning started off on a city tour with Dixie Tours. Last time we were in NOLA we didn’t really get out of the FQ so I wanted to take in more of the city. This tour accomplished that but didn’t compare to the factual/historical content of the previous day. Since we were gone all morning we had a late lunch at August. Even though we were not dressed as well as we should have been, all the staff here were extremely helpful and personable. Both of us opted for the prix fixe menu. We tried the beet salad and Foie Gras for appetizers, both of us had the gulf fish for entrée, and for desert we had a popcorn ice cream/chocolate bar and a cheese plate. This meal was the best tasting and the service was the best of anywhere we stopped on the entire trip. The only downside was it may not be quintessential New Orleans. I would highly recommend a stop at this gorgeous dining room for anyone visiting.
Although we were very full, we had dinner reservations at Brigsten’s and hoped to get to the Maple Leaf Bar afterwards. Mother nature decided to play a little trick on us and rain. The streets were flooded over the curbs so we took a cab across town. This proved to be an adventure since I hadn’t ever had a cabbie cuss me out due to bad road conditions. We did get there on time and had a wonderful meal. For appetizer we went with a crawfish cake and the shrimp bisque. Entrees were broiled flounder and the seafood platter. We took a piece of the “best thing I ever ate” pecan pie to go and I’m glad we did. Our server was helpful and friendly, timing was great, and the food was outstanding. The only exception was my wife didn’t care for how much of the seafood platter was fried, but this was personal preference. All the food was great and I enjoyed dining in a place that felt like my grandma’s house. As for the Maple Leaf, we did make it but the main show didn’t start until 11pm (way past my bedtime to get home). We were able to take the street car back to the quarter without any issues along with several other tourists.
The rain from the previous night lingered into the morning so we slept in and toured the Katrina museum, Mardi Gras museum, ate at Jonny Po Boy’s for lunch and battled the crowds of tourists (us included) for an outstanding catfish po boy before heading to the WW II museum. After nearly being “museumed out” we decided to stop for a drink on Bourbon Street before starting a quasi-pub crawl (ala Venice) for the evening. After walking past bar after bar with deafening music and “3 for 1” specials we noticed a tucked away spot called the Bombay Club. This place was great! The bartender really knew her drinks and had the menu organized by date of known origin. She even served them in period specific glassware.
Once we finished here, we stopped at Felix for some chargrilled and raw oysters. They were both great. Felix had a slightly different feel from Acme. The room was brighter and it felt a little more like a diner but the food was just a good and a few less dollars. The second stop was GW Fins for gumbo and bar-b-que oysters. We sat at the bar and found the décor very nice and the food delicious (although again, we prefer less breading and the oysters had their fair share). The bartender forgot my wife’s champagne but gave me a little extra Maker’s to make up for it. The final food stop for the evening was bread pudding at Muriel’s. Although I’m not a bread pudding connoisseur, this desert topped of the night perfectly. Even though we only had dessert, the servers treated our table like we were there for a full tasting menu and did not miss a beat.
On our last day we took in a cooking class at Crescent City Cooks. We almost blew them off and went to the other cooking school since they told us to expect a confirmation call and we didn’t receive one. I am VERY glad we did not. This demonstration class was great. The menu included gumbo, jambalaya, pralines, and bananas foster. Since we don’t have access to much in the way of good cajun sausage in the midwest, it was worth it just to find out a good source for that. On the way back to our hotel we picked up a muffaletta from Central Grocery and ate it on the plane. I’m glad we did not miss such a delicious sandwich.
Hopefully this is not our last trip to NOLA. The most difficult thing I found was locating a good hoppy beer. The only ones I found were Restoration Ale and Hopitoulas (both great but not widely available). Happy travels to all that will be going that way and I hope our experiences can help you.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130
Ugh, I remember that rain storm, it was one of the worst I've seen for a while- it took me ages to find a road that wasn't flooded to get back home.
Beer- Abita Jockamo is their IPA (but I like the Restoration Pale as well), and you are correct, Hopitoulous (brewed by NOLA Brewing, the only operating brewery in New Orleans) is delicious but hard to find in the Quarter. If you are interested in checking out some beer in thr future, hop on the St. Charles streetcar and go to the Avenue Pub in the Lower Garden District. They have a phenomenal beer list and in the evenings, the balcony overlooking the Avenue is open to sit at and enjoy.
1732 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
Thanks to all for the clarification on Brigsten's. You are right about it being breading. I was honestly so enamored with my flounder I didn't pay as much attention to my wife's meal as I should have.
Also, we did make it to Fritzel’s as well as Irvin Mayfield’s and Preservation Hall. We had full intentions of getting to Frenchmen St. but time slipped away. That is definitely on the list for our next visit though.
726 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA
Minn, another place we'll recommend for "quiet traditonal" music on Bourbon Street is Fritzel's European Jazz Pub. Think you'd enjoy it. No blaring music or 3 for 1 specials here, just good old-fashioned NOLA jazz (heavy on the licorice stick, aka the clarinet). ;-)
Yes, I really want to see Ellis Marsalis at Snug Harbor next time we go, or Charmaine Neville on Monday nights. We saw Kermit at the Blue Nile in Feb., and although we were very happy to meet him and see him and the BBQ Swingers play, it truly was geared toward, dare i say it, the young white hipster crowd at the Blue Nile that night, two of those things we are not anymore.....heeeeee! The cover of a Black-eyed Peas song was what nearly put us over the edge. We much preferred the duo of Mykia Jovan on vocals and Jason Butler on keyboards who play there every Thursday from 8-10.
532 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Hey, that was very similar to our experience at Cochon as far as the food went: I had the cochon and liked it, very moist, and two of the guys had the pork shoulder (on special that night) and said exactly the same as you, dry and a little tough. And I felt the service was a little rushed because the place was packed. It was obvious they didn't want any table lingering, even if it did pad the bill. Cochon was fine, but not really worth the hype in our collective (4) opinion.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130
great report. thanks. shame on cochon. it is one of my favorite restaurants. i have never had bad service. i hope donald link sees this and acts accordingly. sites like this really help bring people business. glad you found bombay club. love it. the piano player was great last time i was there.
"The only exception was my wife didn’t care for how much of the seafood platter was fried, but this was personal preference."
I come from a part of the country -- New England -- where a seafood platter is always fried. And served with a heaping platter of french fries for good measure.
Although I haven't had it in some time, one of the things I've always enjoyed about Brigtsen's seafood platter is that -- at least when I've had it -- NOTHING was fried. Frank must change up the preparations, though; sorry to hear that a lot of the current offerings were fried.
Thanks for the great report.
Brigtsen calls his seafood platter the "shell beach diet" with nothing fried. That being said, it is very "bread-y" and heavy: shrimp cornbread along with a couple of oysters covered with a generous helping of breaded topping(s)plus a piece of sauteed fish. I agree, not his best.
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118
I agree... the seafood platter has been ordered on just about every visit, and nothing is ever fried. Breading/stuffing is a totally different matter entirely. While some combinations have been a bit better than others, IMNSHO the platter is always one of the best choices on the menu.