Northeners staying in the French Quarter
I'm attending a conference mid-January at the Sheraton New Orleans (Canal Street, near the French Quarter, apparently) with my wife and some colleagues from work. My wife and I are big-time foodies, with others in the group being all over the board.
I would greatly appreciate some recommendations relative to: (1) value; and (2) ease of access.
By "value" I don't mean "inexpensive", but rather a combination of price and quality. Sometimes the most expensive restaurant in an area also delivers the best value. That same restaurant may also merit a long taxi fare.
We are coming from parts north (Canadians, not Yankees), so regional southern cuisines would be of particular interest.
Thank you very much!
Welcome to the deep south neighbors! I hope you will let us know your findings when you return home. Can you bring me an iced capp when you come? Craving one right now.
Here are my three favorites -
Mr. B's - bbq shrimp (not as in Texas bbq - it's something different and completely heaven)
Drago's (the Metairie location) - chargrilled oysters - it's a one dish place. I haven't found anything else there that was outstanding. Good but not close to those oysters.
Galatoire's - everything is good but I love their etouffee
You won't find many things overly expensive. It's much higher in Canada for like items so that should work out well for you. I hope you have a fabulous trip.
TexasRT - You've obviously been to Tim Horton's while visiting Canada. I went to the City Market in Luling, Texas for brisket, smoked links, ribs and a couple of Shiners. I win.
Can't wait to visit - the food looks wonderful and the people in the south are so warm and friendly (as exemplified by your post). Those oysters sound pretty good - is that the type of thing one could have a couple of beers with....
We've hit Timmy's as far out as Whitehorse. Did you know there are actually 2 in Whitehorse? Love my iced capp. My friend from up there that we visit just sent me a gift card from there knowing I would be racing to the first available one on my next trip. The next best frozen coffee I've ever had is at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. I usually get one at the CDM in the River Walk Mall but they also have one in the Quarter. I like their beignets but not enough to waste valuable stomach space on them while there are so many other great things to eat in NO. But I do get their frozen coffee at least once.
The oysters would be great with beer I'm sure. I'm not a beer drinker but they work with anything raw oysters work with. They are slathered in butter and garlic, sprinkled with romano cheese and thrown on the grill for a brief time. You eat the oysters and use the bread to sop up the juices left behind. Lots of places serve this dish, I've had it at many restaurants all over Texas and Louisiana but NO ONE does it like Drago's in Metairie - no one that I've tried even comes close. I haven't tried the Drago's at the Hilton near the River Walk Mall but I hear they aren't as good as the one at the original location in Metairie. We have to pass right by Metairie on our way into town so it's become my first stop. I've had a few other dishes at Drago's and so has hubby and the other food is decent but for my personal tastes, I have deemed it not worthy of wasting valuable stomach space. So I'll get a dozen oysters and have a nice dinner somewhere.
Try not to miss the charbroiled oysters at Drago's/Metairie OR the bbq shrimp at Mr. B's. They are both wonderful dishes. When you get back home, you'll be thinking of all kind of excuses to get back to NO to get some more of those dishes.
I hope the weather is good for you. January is usually the worst month of the year but it's looking pretty yucky next week when we are going to be there so maybe the January weather has come early and it will be nice for y'all. It's no problem for me, I'll just stay warm in the casino :-)
Some quick takes on this Northerner's meals in NO... (This was my husband's and my second visit. We stayed at the Pere Marquette one block west of Canal Street in the Central Business District. I know locals don't really use cardinal directions, but I don't know how else to describe this location.) Great location!
Luke: Arrival brunch/lunch; wonderful local oysters, fabulous charcuterie plate; excellent pork and ham sandwich
Emeril's: DH ordered the double pork chop; I don't like sweet with meat and the two sauces drizzled on the chop veered in that direction; that personal quibble aside, the meat was the juciest, most delicious chop my husband has ever eaten. I think the label "double" seriously underestimates the size of the chop. I ordered the fish special of the day: white fish on top of a type of slaw all of which was stacked on two slices of fried green tomatoes with Remoulade sauce. Fabulous. I didn't take notes and I can't remember what we had for apps.
Napoleon House: lunch after the excellent Creole Monde Tour; loved the hot muffaletta; husband also ordered a side of jambalya and enjoyed it; I thought the olive salad was excellent -- lots of crunchy celery created a nice balance of meat and olive salad
MiLa: This was a return visit to this restaurant, but I doubt we'll be going back. It's not that the food was bad; my husband's meal was good although mine was a disappointment. What knocked this restaurant out of consideration for a long long time is management issues.
A convention of 20,000 hospital-based pharmacists were in town and a group of 23 had booked a private meal. This restaurant cannot handle regular patrons and a private event simultaneously. Forty-five minutes between courses was the minimum wait. We were comped our drinks and our dessert, but who cared. The bad taste from the poor management of the place totally dominated the evening. We would have vastly preferred to pay full price and have a seamless experience.
ETA: Now, I remember a serious quarrel with my food. When I looked at the menu, I was drawn to the sweetbreads in a nest of black-truffle risotto and the seared scallops in a nest of pureed celery root. Before I placed my order, I asked the waiter if the two dishes would be too repetitive -- if the soft accompaniment would be too similar. The waiter thought for a moment and declared that the tastes would be completely different. We'll agree to disagree. The mouth feel of the both dishes was identical. Soft sweetbreads = soft scallops. Nest of risotto = nest of celery root. There were no additions to either dish that provided some crunchy balance. I felt as if I were eating two courses of nursery food. Also, the special appeal of eating scallops in a restaurant is that the pros either have access to much fresher scallops than I find in my local groceries or they sear at a much higher heat. The result is a restaurant product so fresh tasting, it is almost sweet. It certainly doesn't smell or taste fishy. My scallops were no better than what I eat at home. A definite fish smell and lacking that super-fresh taste.
Stanley: great early lunch of soft shell crab po-boys
Bayona: More pharmacists! The group of eight didn't have any impact on service, but the group shrieked the entire evening -- even before the wine flowed generously -- and prompted the management to apologie to us without any comment on our part. Excellent food. Lovely composed salad. Both DH and I ordered the peppered lamb loin with goat cheese and zinfandel sauce.
Besch's restaurant in the WWII Museum: cold, rainy day so the lovely tomato soup was particularly appreciated. We split a fried shrimp po-boy. Perfectly competent and met our needs.
Cochon: The star of the visit. We started off sharing two small plates: fried rabbit livers and wood-fired roasted oysters. Sublime. DH had the signature cochon and I ordered the fish preparation of the day. I don't remember the details, but I loved the dish. I'm certain that the preparation included a filet of a white fish nested in a bed of kale, because the waiter questioned us when we ordered a side of greens regardless.
Willie Mae's: I've never tasted such wonderful fried chicken. Loved the slight cayenne kick in the breading. We called a taxi to pick us up at Willie Mae's, headed back into town to pick up our luggage and, then, went to the airport. Lovely meal to cap off four days of good eating.
Pimm's Cup at Napoleon House -- perfect for the last warm day before the weather turned cold, cold, cold
Swinekiller at Cochon
???? at Cochon -- whisky with ginger infused vinegar syrup; who knew vinegar would make magic in a drink. And I don't even like whisky! I tried the drink on the strength of the ginger and vinegar. Amazing!
re: Indy 67
Just remembered the name of the drink I enjoyed at Cochon: Tina Louise.
I researched this drink and discovered that there are many versions, with the central liquor changing from whiskey to gin to ginger vodka. Ginger seems to be the key ingredient either in the form of ginger syrup or ginger liqueur. The ginger honors Tina Louise's character on Gilligan's Island. Considering all the other versions, Cochon's version was unique in its use of vinegar syrup; I thought that was the very ingredient that made the drink amazing.I
If I'm in the mood to experiment with a home version, I might use a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar.
I neglected to mention that 3 of our group of 8 are Acadian (the French Canadian group from which the Cajuns originated). As such, we will definitely want to hit-up some Cajun cuisine at some point.
I get the sense that this may be better in the rural areas, but is there anything nearby in the city?
That is a complicated question...or,rather, the answer is. If you get out a map, envision the Cajun territory as a triangle with the apex slightly below Alexandria, in the center of the state. One leg will run southwest to Lake Charles (actually, it runs into Texas) and the right leg will run to the mouth of the river. Both of these descending angles are complicated. On the west, for example, oakdale is as Anglo as it can be but somewhere on the road east to Bazile (and I can't wuite figure out just where) things switch to Cajun. Similarly, the right leg cuts around Baton Rouge, which tried to purge itself of all things French except the name, and it used to re-establish itself at Gonzales but that has become infected by Baton Rouge bedroom communities. Think of New Orleans as an island with Cajun territory below it and Anglo above it. You could, with eas, do a day trip below New Orleans to Houma and Thibodeaux. Hungry Celeste, if she is reading, can give you good recs down there as it is more "her territory." There is a great meat market in Thidodeaux on La 1. Let me check with a High Official down around Golden Meadow and se what's "good eats" there these days. I have not been since I went to get shrimp at Grand Isle last year. We got some time to work with and I'll double check with my secrent agents down there to make sure places are still good before I throw out a name.
In the other direction, you hit the real Cajun country on the other side of the Atchafalaya spillway bridge. the classic is Pat's Fisherman's Wharf, (so named to distinguish it from "Pat's" which his ex-wife got in a divorce and which stood acroos Bayou Amy from the present estasblishment until its demise in a fire.......). Pat gets a lot of flack as a tourist trap but it is not bad. I had his camp etouffee last spring and it was just as good as ever. A friend of mine from that area (he is a Huval by name and teh Huvals own everything there) said that Crawfish Town, which IS a tourist set-up, is perfectly decent. Just up the road from that is Webster's Meat Market which is owned by another Huval and has good local stuff.
In New Orleans, both Bon Ton and Galatoire's make a good, traditional etouffe. Many city versions now are lumpy, sodden masses with lots of tomato. They are not bad, per se, just inauthentic.
re: Bill Hunt
It has been too many years, for me to try and quote their menu, yet I loved their Turtle Soup, and then the Crabmeat Au Gratin. There were most certainly other dishes, and all were good to excellent, but it has been far too long. Wife used to host a Friday lunch for her hospital folk there, about once per month, and she recalled the Jambalaya as being one of the best in her life.
Luckily, NOLA is a real "value city," with regards to dining.
In the FQ (French Quarter), an well within easy walking distance, I recommend the following, though not in any particular order:
Galatoire's - Old-school, New Orleans cuisine, with great service. Ask the server for recs.
G W Fins - Local seafood, and usually with local recipes. Maybe not the ultimate version of NOLA cuisine, but well worth the walk.
Stella! - Deep South (not really New Orleans, per se) meets NOLA. Great, and you will think that you are dining in a Southern, great-aunt's dining room.
MiLa - just across Canal St, in the CBD (Central Business District), and a combo of Mississippi and Louisiana cuisine.
Emeril Lagasse - OK, three restaurants - Emeril's, NOLA and Delmonico, but the first two are very good, and unique. The latter is good, but less unique, IMHO.
There are others, and I am sure that they will be mentioned. My list does not reflect negatively on any "missed" restaurants, but I do not know how long you will be in town.o
Enjoy! And welcome!
re: Bill Hunt
I wrote this post and then started looking around CH for general recs. It became apparent that Galatoire's is a "must" after about 15 minutes of research (that James Beard seal is always a good sign). Now I know that it is also close by.
Having looked at some of your specific rec's, I can tell you are right on the mark. Thanks again!
You are most welcome!
Now, once one gets much past "fine dining," look at the others' recs., as they are now the locals. They know, and I have not worn that cloak in many, many years. When we are back, we are most often doing "fine-dining," and because of time constraints, no longer have the time for the other restaurants. I rely on those "locals," when we are traveling back.
Most of all - Enjoy! NOLA is a great city, and the food is top-notch. I get to do many international 3-star restaurants, but it has not tainted my feelings on dining in NOLA.
I'm not from New Orleans, but rather near Montreal and we spent an extended weekend in NO last month.
With that said, just 2c from a dumbass visitor.....
excellent value - very good breakfast joint as well (not fancy, but a great place).
on the eastern edge of the french quarter is good value for soul food
(I had read about this place and stumbled into it - liked it a lot
Felix's Oyster Bar
By all means go to the famous Acme Oyster House across the street, but if the line-up ticks you off, head to Felix's. I discovered chargrilled oysters here and fell in love. Cheap, delicious oysters, cheap drinks, menu for all!
The Round Up
Its a bar, they have early morning special (I'm sure theres PLENTY, just that we came across this place...). The wife and I passed by at 8:00am, music was blaring, small sign in window showed happy hour bloody marys 7:00-10:00am $2 each. Got them in "to go" cups on way to breakfast and they were delicious (and potent on an empty stomach!).
Central Grocery for a muffalatta
worth it? yeah!, share, plus they serve beer & wine!