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Prix fixe / COOLinary specials -- trying to eat my way through New Orleans!

Ok, I love food but I also love a good deal. I'm coming in from DC on a Friday morning and leaving on Monday at 5 p.m.

Here is my line-up so far. Help me fill in the rest, kind chowhounders!

Friday Lunch: $20 Restaurant August

Friday Dinner: OPEN

Saturday Lunch: OPEN

Saturday Dinner: $32 Brigtsen's

Sunday Lunch: OPEN

Sunday Dinner: $35 Pelican club

Monday Lunch: $20 Mila

Now here is my question. Should I switch our Mila for Bayona?

And what should I choose for Sat/Sun lunch?

Here is the list:

http://www.nomcvb.com/restaurants//li...

Finally, who came up with the name "COOLinary"??? That is the worst ever.

Thanks!

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Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Bayona
430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

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

Mila
817 Common Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

Pelican Club Restaurant & Bar
312 Exchange Alley, New Orleans, LA 70130

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  1. eh, it's not so bad. it's hot here in the summer so the "Coolinary" play on words is kinda neat and very easy to remember/share.

    business must be picking up for the industry tho, because this year it's only valid in the single month of August -- gets shorter every year.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kibbles

      Not to worry, though. Even if Coolinary is only good for August, at least 1/4 of the restaurants on the list and a bunch who are not offer $20 prix fixe lunches all the time. Among those not on the list is Redfish Grill which offers a two-course lunch for about $16 -- just to cite a quick example.

      1. re: kibbles

        Sorry, I meant to say I'm going the first weekend in August!

        1. re: kibbles

          "gets shorter every year"

          Even as a diner, I see such as a good thing.

          I'd rather pay full-fare, in a healthy economy, with all great restaurants prospering, than to see everything discounted to "fire sale" prices.

          For the OP, I have enjoyed both Bayona, and MiLa, though have never dined at either on a "special," so cannot comment there.

          We skip "Restaurant Week," and most such "specials," as we want the "full-deal," and do not want limited menus, etc. Cannot help you on the "specials," but I'll bet that others can.

          Just my way of thinking,

          Hunt

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          Bayona
          430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

        2. I did the Coolinary at Brigtsen's last summer, and it was disappointing. It was just not up to the usual Brigtsen's quality, and I actually didn't feel like it was worth even the $40-$45 it cost (inc. tax & tip). Sorry to be a Negative Nellie.

          9 Replies
          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            That sort of comment is one that I hear around the nation, regarding things like "Restaurant Week," and is the main reason that we never do such. Personally, I sort of question such participation, but many restaurants around the country, seem to think that it is worthwhile.

            When I read the various reviews on many boards here, and elsewhere, it is usually about how much one got, for so little $, and there is seldom anything about the quality, or innovation. That is not what my dining choices are about. I want the very best that the restaurant can offer, and will settle for nothing less - regardless of prices.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              CcolInary menus are only a good deal (for me) if the menu offerings are selections I would have chosen regardless of price.

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                well, not to be gruff, but not everyone has that same financial freedom, bill. many of us have limited means and must scrap for what we can get -- so if that means hitting up restaurant.com for coupons, or "sampling" a new restaurant via it's more limited menu, then so be it. such things offer value to me as a fine diner because i dont risk blowing $100-150 on a meal i didnt really enjoy.

                and many of them are still terrific menus. Emeril's offerings are solid, Pelican Club's has their all-star items, etc..

                ive not found that the participating restaurants "go cheap" on service or quality for the promo meals. doing so would be counter-productive because it would harm their rep, when the point of these discounts is to attract new business from those that may not go otherwise. the repeat business of these newcomers is key...

                1. re: kibbles

                  For me, it's about dining on the best that a chef has to offer, and not a stripped-down version. I would strongly prefer to not dine out for a month, and then be offered the best on that one special night.

                  Now, I am not saying that this "event" is like that, but many, that I am familiar with, are, and I am just not interested.

                  It's a personal thing. We have a lovely restaurant in PHX, that we love. They do a Restaurant Week offering at about half-price, plus a "Simple Supper" on Sunday nights. Because we love their full menu, we have not been interested. We will save up, and then dine on the full menu.

                  I am sure that some "specials" are better, than others are. I am sure that some chefs take things much more seriously, than others do. Still, I will limit myself, and try to go for the best that they have to offer.

                  Just my feelings, from having seen many other "specials" in the past.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    you make an argument for places you are familiar with because their Regular-Menu is what you want. cool, makes sense.

                    but what about a new place you havent been before? say you reviewed the Special-Menu of a new place (typically 3 courses, w/ 3 items of each to choose from) and found that the items offered appeal to you, why would you not want to try it? if they sound good, then just because it's a Special-Menu doesnt really seem to make logical sense -- the quality of the preparation, the level of service, and the atmosphere will be identical to choosing from the Regular-Menu. what better way to try this new place than doing so at a slight discount over full price?

                    the only way doing so wouldnt make sense is if one believed the chef was not going to prepare Special-Menu items at the same level of quality as Regular-Menu items. im not sure thats plausible. (hasnt been my experience here in new orleans, anyway)

                    1. re: kibbles

                      I have indeed had bad experiences at restaurant weeks past. However, we're going to New Orleans only for a weekend and want to try as much as we can while we're there. We don't really have the money to do the full priced menu for 7 meals straight. Also, here in D.C., we've had really good luck with some wonderful prix fixe, pre-theater, and/or bar menus. If you ever get a chance, the $65, 3 course bar menu at CityZen is amazing, quality-wise. Ditto for Corduroy's $30 bar prix fixe. And those restaurants are by two of our best chefs, Eric Ziebold and Tom Power, both of whom keep it really low key and aren't about opening up a huge conglomerate of schlock-serving restaurants.

                      1. re: kibbles

                        Even with new restaurants, that I have not reviewed, I still want to choose from their entire menu.

                        Now, I have done various "tasting events," but usually around a charity event. I have seldom been blown away, but one has to remember that those are often partially cooked in the restaurant, but then finished in, say a stadium, or event hall. Few have ever convinced me that I must dine at _____.

                        I am sure that I have missed some real gems, but that is life.

                        Now, this particular event could well be the exception, but of the several hundred variations, I never felt that any restaurant wow'ed me, where their full menu often does.

                        Perhaps, I have become jaded?

                        To sample a restaurant, I would much prefer a "chef's tasting menu," and judge them on that.

                        Guess that it is just a personal choice.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          sure, id love to try the chef's tasting menu at any new place! but... chef's tasting menu: $90+ per person. coolinary menu: $30+ per person.

                          ...dunno, just seems like a great way to try something new that you hadnt for whatever reason. whether the special menu will be "wowing" one as well as the full menu may not be the point -- id argue the point is determining whether the place is worth your repeat business (where youd likely be ordering from the full menu at full price). i think thats the point for the business, too -- lesser margin up front, but banking on repeat business.

                          1. re: kibbles

                            If the event's menu works well for you, and the chef and staff prepare great food, you are well ahead of the curve. I have just been underwhelmed with so many events, and with "specials," that I have become jaded.

                            I cannot say that a particular event, or special, will not be great, but my experiences have been that they are not.

                            In your case, I hope that my experiences are very wrong.

                            Enjoy,

                            Hunt

              2. You can't switch Mila for Bayona because Bayona is not open for lunch on Mondays. You could do Bayona on Saturday afternoon -- I think they have a $20 or thereabouts of small plates. At least I know they used to, but I don't see it on their Web site. Worth looking into nevertheless.

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                Bayona
                430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                5 Replies
                1. re: rouxdauphine

                  I was going to switch August to lunch on Monday and try for Bayona on Friday at noon...is Bayona better than Mila?

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                  Bayona
                  430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                  1. re: hulloktty

                    It's hard to compare the two. Bayona is good solid food in a nice atmosphere. MiLa is a more modern setting with "old" ingredients, locally sourced, with a bit more style.

                    But many restaurants are doing local sourcing. I think emerils summer menus are based on local sources. It has gotten to where a local farm (Covey Rise) is delivering heirloom stuff direct to the restaurants. It's the Okra Man gone big time

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                    Bayona
                    430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                    1. re: collardman

                      If you go to bayona for lunch and have anything but the duck sandwich you should be ashamed of yourself :P

                      1. re: twyst

                        if you go to Bayona instead of Coquette, you should be ashamed of yourself (lol) .

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                        Bayona
                        430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                      2. re: collardman

                        Collardman,

                        Well-stated.

                        In the end, it's about great food, prepared and served well. Each of those can do just that, though in a different style, both from the kitchen, and then in the physical restaurant.

                        Were I faced with choosing one, vs the other, I would be hard-pressed to decide. Personally, I'd do both, and did just that last time. It's like asking which I would choose, Galatoire's, Stella! or August. My answer, "all of them."

                        Hunt

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

                  2. You could try Boucherie for Friday dinner. It's delicious and affordable. They don't need to offer special prices because they already pass on a good value through the regular menu.

                    Also, look at Rue 127. It's out of the downtown area, but it has a really interesting yet affordable menu too. I think they even do brunch on weekends.

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                    Boucherie
                    8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jenn2083

                      Don't miss lunch in Commander's garden room (m-f) or Coquette' s 3 course prix fixe lunch around $20 (w-sat) . Go on Thur. When their specialty cocktails are $5.

                    2. Do the Coolinary deals need to be booked ahead of time?

                      1 Reply