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First trip to New Orleans from NYC. Help!

I've worked in fine dining NYC restaurants for 15 years, so I'm a foodie, but like most industry folk am more "wow'ed" by rusticity, simplicity and honesty in a restaurant rather than a high end dining experience. I've done a fair bit of research and have reservations at Patois, Cochon and lunch at Commander's Palace.
Here's my question: Are the "fancier" places (Antoines, Galatoires, Commander's) worth the price and effort, or are they institutions resting on their reputations of days gone by?
Also, Friday lunch: I have a rez on the 2nd floor of Galatoires---is this as good as the no-rez first floor? If we go, I want the real deal. I've also read August is good for Friday lunch.

I also made note of Brigtsens, Lillete, Luke for breakfast, Parkway, Central Grocery and Jaques Imos.

To give you a hint of my faves in New York, I like il Buco, Balthazar, Raouls etc.

Any help you can offer is appreciated!
Thanks

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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  1. Last trip we hit Coquette and August for lunch; both were AMAZING. Commander's Palace is a great experience and great food for lunch, along with 25 cent Martinis during the week. We've had Sunday brunch and loved that too.
    I am probably way in the minority, but Galatoires was a plus on the atmosphere side but we were really, really disappointed in the food, except for the appetizers. Old school food that looked like it sat under a heat lamp for 20 minutes and a big let down.
    Jacques Imo's can be hit or miss on the food; I'd recommend the Blackened Redfish, but it is ALWAYS a good time, great casual service and an all around fun experience. But go early EARLY if you don't want to wait 2 hours for a table.
    Get your 'Muff at Central Grocery, grab a drink in a go cup from Molly's at the Market and sit on a bench at the river. That is an experience you will never forget !

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

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

    1. I like Balthazar, Gramercy Park Tavern, Del Posto, Cafe Boulud and Eleven Madison Park in NYC.

      Get in line and sit downstairs at Galatoire's. You will enjoy it twice as much. Go to Antoines for lunch and get the special. It's a grand restaurant. I don't see any of Emeri's restaurants in your post. I would go to NOLA or Emeril's. Tommy's Cuisine is fun too. I would swap the Patois reservation for Clancy's. Better yet go to both. They are a block apart. Ask for a table in the Garden Room at CP.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Littleman

        Find a way to work in Brigsten's. Went again last night, had the, what, 143rd consecutive meal there that did not disappoint! Man, Frank's kitchen is so consistent, such warm and friendly service. Had the crawfish gratin app, paneed rabbit with spinach and creole mustard sauce as an entree. Friend had the always-stellar "non-fried" seafood platter. Fair wine prices. Can't go wrong!

        1. re: sanglier

          Great! Thanks all for the recommendations. Is Brennans worth going to for breakfast?

          1. re: EvilJ

            No, Brennans breakfast is not worth the price or the time. The old institutions are definitely not worth going to for the food. Galatoire's is tons of fun on a Friday if you sit downstairs, but the food is just so-so. You already have a good variety in your choices. You might want to add Stella, Brigsten's, Clancy's or August if you have one more dinner to choose from. Jacques Imos if you want to be loud and drunk.

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

            1. re: shanefink

              While I have had different experiences at Brennan's, than you obviously have, I will offer a big second for both Stella! and Restaurant August. I've already done so for Brigtsen's. August is a bit more "cutting edge," but Stella! does things right and well, in a cozy, though refined atmosphere. August is a bit more formal, but that is in no way a bad thing.

              Hunt

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              Restaurant August
              301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

              Brigtsen's Restaurant
              723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

            2. re: EvilJ

              I am the lone voice here, regarding Brennan's. When we lived in NOLA, we were not really fans, but that was over 30 years ago. Went back about 8 years ago, for a Saturday brunch, and were impressed. This was a surprise to both of us. Next trip, we took M-I-L and a friend from Europe. They loved it so much, that on the next trip, they insisted that we return. We did, and they once again did not disappoint at any level. We have been back twice more, with the same results - excellent, fun and good food. These experiences have been Saturday and Sunday brunch.

              Others here feel, as I once did (and so did my wife), but I have changed my mind, due to the food and the service.

              Enjoy,

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I agree with Bill. I grew up in New Orleans and did the Brennan's breakfast many times. It fell out of favor for whatever reason but we went with a large group on Superbowl Sunday when the Saints were playing and had the best time. Have been twice since on visits and it was great each time.

              2. re: EvilJ

                forget breakfast....I'd go to Brennan's just for the Bananas Foster!!

            3. re: Littleman

              This is good advice all the way through. If the OP wants the "innovative" food then the old shops are not right since they are, in the main, stewards of tradional.(COmmader's does play with the so-called Haute Creole, though. It is certainly a different place than it was forty years ago). The Antoine's Rock is The Standard (but we often forget that it was much derided by purists 100 years ago...still, I love it.) Not for "rusticity" but for honesty and straight-forwardness Galatoire's is the place. Downstairs. Remember that Friday is hectic, it will be packed with a brigade of attorneys and businessmen, all with their own waiter(s) The OP might get a little lost in the shuffle..all depends on a variety of things.

              Never had a heat-lamp problem. On the other hand, I am no fan of what Waverly Root referred to as "whispering little things of ethereal perfection" preferring, as he did, good, solid Burgundian cooking. Such kickshaws can be good but I just don't run after them.

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

            4. For Galatoire's, and a bit less for CP (IMHO), they are worth the $, especially if one references NYC fine-dining prices. It has been too long, since I last dined at Antoine's, and then, we were less than impressed. It held great memories for me, so maybe I expected too much after I had been away for many years. That said, many trusted CH posters here have stated that they are "back on track," so I need to revisit. I probably hit them during a bad spell, and it WAS some years back, so much could well have changed. I just cannot address them specifically. I should also point out that though I have had some more recent disappointments with CP, others have had wonderful meals, so maybe I am looking for something from all of my many past memories, and it no longer exists - yet Galatoire's has always fulfilled my expectations.

              Now, comparing NOLA restaurants to some from NYC, like Le Bernadine, Restaurant Daniel or Per Se, to name a few, might not be quite fair. Still, if one factors the prices, and the differences in cuisine, they will come much closer together. It is difficult to really define things, but lets take an example. At Galatoire's, one is dining on well-prepared dishes, with a lot of great history, by very friendly waitstaff, who have dealt with some of the same patrons over several generations. At Restaurant Daniel, the service will be more formal, though still friendly - just not as familiar, as at Galatoire's. The dishes are newer in concept, though rooted in history - just less history, than Galatoire's. The costs will also differ, so that must be factored into the mix. Now, the wine list at Restaurant Daniel will shine over the one at Galatoire's, but NOLA is much, much less a "wine town," than is NYC. There are some other differences, but I think that they might be too subtle to matter much.

              Sorry that I have not dined at any of the mentioned NYC restaurants, so have no useful frame of reference there.

              Most of all, ENJOY!

              Hunt

              PS - I am a fan of Brigtsen's and also Parkway Bakery

              PPS - Due to time constraints, and guests, we almost always do the reservations track and dine upstairs at Galatoire's. Gotta' go with no guests, plenty of time, and do downstairs again. It has just been too long for both me, and my NOLA native wife.

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

              Brigtsen's Restaurant
              723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Bill, I was just thinking about Restaurant Daniel in doing some mental comparisons. We went there about 2 years ago and I don't remember a single dish we had. All I remember is that it was a memorable evening and that I would not hesitate to return there.

                I guess to me that is the definition of a great restaurant rather than walking out of one with mainly the memory of one or two fantastic dishes.