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Dec 28, 2011 07:02 PM

Galatoire's POOR service and CANNED Peas!


We went there in NOLA for my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary dinner due to the wonderful reviews we had read. BIG MISTAKE!

We found the service to be lacking - not because they were slow or absent but because they were plain old rude. Is this style of brisk, curt service in style? The almond fish was good the rest was plain or even bad. Overall a number of things happened that made it UN-recommendable:

A few things happened:

On arrival, my husband who was wearing DKNY jeans, an Ed Hardy t-shirt and an Armani jacket was told he was not dressed correctly to enter. He was told gentlemen had to have a COLLAR on their shirts. Really? I knew the place needed a jacket but T-shirts and Suit Jackets are all the rage - since when do you need a collar? Worse - the man behind us wearing a STAINED, FADED, black "mock neck" T-shirt was admitted no problem! But he was old and "stately looking" (and not pushing a stroller...) go figure!

When my cousin ordered a Caesar (a Canadian favourite made with vodka and Clamato juice) the server said "I've been doing this for 20 years and nobody has EVER wanted THAT before" in a condescending tone like we were ordering something from the moon. Yes, we Canucks know that the American version is a Bloody Mary with Tomato juice but we sometimes forget to call it that. We didn't need to be raked over the coals for it!

Next, I had my four year old daughter present. She can sit like an angel through a dinner with her ipad and headphones - you wouldn't even know she was there BUT she does need a kid friendly meal. As such, I inquired about the kids menu. I was told that there was no kids menu that my best bet was to order something she could eat from my dinner (i.e. to share). I was also told that they could accommodate by preparing a plain chicken dish but that I would be charged full price - ie. $17 or so (the average entree price). I agreed to pay the full price and get my daughter her own dinner. I ordered a plain chicken of some kind and asked that they put a simple vegetable on the side (i.e some peas or carrots or something). The server made it clear that this was troublesome as they charge another fee for a side of veggies. I said "Really, she eats maybe one carrot - can you just put one on the side??" She agreed that she could do something for the full entree price. I was thankful but she was not gracious at all. Very snooty.

Next point is the fact that this James Beard Award winning restaurant uses CANNED PEAS in their entrees! Yes folks they are CANNED!!! I couldn't believe it so when my Aunt said she wasn't enjoying her dinner on account of the fact it was covered in mushy, flavourless, GROSS, canned peas, I was shocked (and embarrassed for the restaurant selection). I asked the server if they were canned as I was hoping they were just "mushy peas" like the kind the Brit's eat. She came back and reported that "yes they were canned BUT we aren't charging you for them anyway!" She assumed I was complaining about the "FREE" peas she had put on the side of my daughter's $17 entree plate!!! Wow! Nervy!

I explained that I wasn't concerned about my daughter but rather about my two aunts who had both ordered a dish covered in canned pea monstrosity. She said "that is the way that dish has been made for 50 years - to use fresh peas would RUIN the flavour." There was no offer of a new meal, no apology, nothing. Clearly we were wrong for questioning their use of canned peas!

Really? Would any true chef every advocate for a canned pea??? Seriously! That is rubbish!

I had several LOVELY dinners in NOLA - Galatorie's was NOT one of them. For the kind of money you will spend in this lined up, loud, crowded place - GO TO COMMANDERS PALACE - now THAT was a great meal in a beautiful setting with first class service! Give Galatorie's a miss!

  1. I have eaten at Galatoire's many times over the past 50 years. Never had anything approaching bad food or bad service. Can't imagine what your aunts ordered that was covered with peas, canned or otherwise. Don't know why you expected them to have a kiddies' menu -- not that kind of place. There are many items on the menu that my kids enjoyed when they were young.

    I hasten to add that I am by no means a "regular." The older gentlemen in tattered raiment who obviously got you bent out of shape no doubt was. Probably eats there a couple of times a week, as did his father, as did his grandfather, etc. Tourists cannot expect to be treated the same way. That's just how NOLA (not just Galatoire's) operates.

    13 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Don't get me wrong on the "kiddie menu" we thought we were going out "upscale" as it was a 50th wedding anniversary dinner for 8 people and I didn't want to get a sitter for my daughter so I wasn't expecting crayons. Also, I have absolutely no problem paying the entree price (and she liked the plain chicken breast too) - but for the server to insinuate I was complaining about my "free" side of canned peas with my $17 chicken entree was a bit over the top for me. Especially on the heals of the rest of the snobbery.

      You are right about the old boys - the place was full of loud men who looked like they were holding court and busty women spilling out of their too tight dresses looking like they wanted to "be discovered." This is not a place for a table of Canadians wanting a fine dinner of southern style food with great service and ambiance to celebrate a special occasion. I am deeply sorry we didn't go to Commander's Palace.

      Very simply, I chose wrong.

      1. re: jsfoodchat

        Your final statement is the most important one. Galatoire's is not like other restaurants. My now-wife and I had a disastrous dinner there in 2008 but I realized later that it was our fault because we didn't know enough about the place. We stumbled into a situation that we weren't prepared for and everything that came after was easily predictable to people in the know. We went back again recently (as I'll detail later today in my trip report) with a better understanding of what to expect - and a better plan of WHEN to go - and had a lovely time.

        Another note, New Orleans is a place that you need to do right. Wear the right clothes and the restaurants will see that you respect them, so they'll show you a very high level of respect in return. Walk in to Galatoire's with an Ed Hardy monstrosity on and you'll get the shaft up and down. Similarly, go into a restaurant with a long and intricate history of making regional cocktails and order some obscure Canadian drink, and don't be surprised if they turn their nose up. You can like it or not, but that's the way it is. If you figure out how to dine in NO you will have the best experiences of your life. But if you do it wrong it can be an out-and-out disaster. I kind of love that about it!

        (A little more about our first trip there: We were dressed to the nines and didn't receive any rude service. However, it was Friday dinner and the place was a madhouse. There was a table of overgrown local fratboys celebrating a birthday and they made a complete mess of the place, screaming, going from table to table, and doing other things that I don't want to mention any more. They caused so much confusion that our server spilled a bottle of red wine on my jacket. It was just straight up chaos. We had no idea about the whole Friday thing. Now we know.)

        1. re: kukubura

          You cannot imagine my delight to hear that you have enjoyed the old place. I do so hope for people to revel in it. It is unique to The City.

          1. re: kukubura

            haha, who enjoys a place that spills red wine on their jacket? Only at Galatoire's!! So glad you buckled to tradition and had an unforgettable time.

            1. re: texasredtop

              I'm nothing if not persistent in my seeking of culinary pleasure!

              edit: Also, that disastrous earlier visit was followed by many, many cocktails at the Carousel Bar with a family who had just been through the same ordeal and then asking my gal to marry me out on Royal Street in the middle of the night, so it was certainly a memorable evening, from beginning to end. The Gal's craziness will definitely be seen through the kind prism of memory considering the rest of the night!

            2. re: kukubura

              I am not in agreement with everything the OP said, but, in Canada a Caesar is in no way an "obscure drink" but is actually one of the most commonly ordered drinks. For many Canadians, I would think they wouldn't realise it isn't common everywhere.

              In any event, specifics of this situation notwithstanding, I think that it is unreasonable to expect a first timer anywhere to be aware of any norms specific to a particular restaurant. Should one of these norms be broken, I believe it is up to the establishment to communicate this respectfully, and for the patron to then go with the flow.

              1. re: CanadaGirl

                Right, but to be fair, New Orleans isn't in Canada. ;)

                1. re: kukubura

                  I know! :) That's why I said some of us wouldn't know it isn't common everywhere - I meant outside of Canada.

                  Because there is nowhere in Canada where it isn't common! It is a pity for the rest of you ;)

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Hey, I'm up for trying some uniquely Canadian cocktails (in Canada, of course) but they may have lost me with Clamato.

                      Regardless, the point has been made: The ordering of a Canadian cocktail in one of the seats of the indigenous cuisine of the USA's most unique culinary destination (and the home of the invention of cocktail itself) was one of many mistakes made by the OP's party. Like I said earlier, Galatoire's is a complicated restaurant and frankly it should come with a instruction manual. I've chalked my first experience there up to "user error" (although it was less about what we did than what we expected) and I suggest the OP of this thread do the same.

                    2. re: CanadaGirl

                      When ordering a cocktail, though I am much more a wino, if the server is not familiar with my nomenclature, I never have a problem describing it to them.

                      Not that long ago, we hosted a board dinner in London, and one board member ONLY drinks Margaritas. The bartender was unfamiliar with that drink, though I see them on many continents. He was kind enough to let me behind the bar, and we mixed up some - he learned, and helped me with what he had, and that board member allowed as how they were the best that she'd ever had - totally a win-win.


                      PS - had I been tending bar, I would have had to ask for the ingredients to a "Caesar" too.

              2. There is certain etiquette in the deep south that you might not have been aware of. For places that require a coat for dinner, that does not mean a tee shirt and dress coat as they may allow in the more trendy cities. It means full dress, traditional. NO is not NY or Toronto. I think the subject has been discussed here at length and perhaps you missed that when you were doing your research.

                1. As this doesn't appear to be made up and posted as a joke, which was my initial suspicion, all I can say is yes, you chose wrong.

                  1. You said enough when you showed up wearing an Ed Hardy t-shirt.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: fat harry

                      "You said enough when you showed up wearing an Ed Hardy t-shirt."

                      This. I think Galatoire's is vastly overrated when it comes to the food, but how can anyone who is not a cast member on the Jersey Shore be upset about being told that an ed hardy t shirt is not appropriate for a jacket required fine dining restaurant.

                      1. re: twyst

                        I've eaten all over western Canada and they are not strict on their dress codes in the fine dining establishments that I've been to or anywhere that I've ever been. There is a lot of leeway and loose interpretation of the rules so that is probably where the diner thought it was okay.

                        Who the heck is Ed Hardy? I don't even own a tee shirt.

                        Oh, wrong. I sleep in my LSU Tee shirts. But don't wear them out of the house.

                        1. re: texasredtop

                          Yes, and I will add that this place is a one star (?!?) on Burbon Street not a 3 star! Also the front reception has a dusty display case (1/8 of an inch of dust on that James Beard award they so proudly display), rude staff and serves canned peas in a crowded room that you practically have to yell across the table in while the servers are indignant and rude! What a joke!

                          And as for the T-shirt (which was changed about 1 minutes after arriving as he ran back to the hotel and changed) I guess in the south with your "fine manners" and "yes ma'am's" you think that rudeness and bad food is justified if the patron wore a t-shirt under his jacket?

                          I suppose that in Western Canada, Calgary, in particular where I am from, we do have a looser dress code - I really can't think of anywhere you can't go to dine when wearing your Armani jacket - regardless of what is underneath it! That being said we have dined in fine restaurants all over the world and for food and service alone Galatoires is vastly overstated and nowhere I would ever recommend anybody waste a penny - regardless of what they were wearing to dinner!

                          1. re: jsfoodchat

                            I've never been treated with anything even resembling rudeness there or had anything less than above average food there either so I can only assume that it was either a bad day or something you may have done to aggravate the server. Still, the server has nothing to do with the food preparation so it's a mystery. I had a terrible meal at August and spent more than twice as much as my meals at Galatoire's and I seem to be the only one on earth that doesn't like August. It happens and at over $250 for 2 people, I'm not likely to give it another shot.

                            Normally southerners are very easy going people but we aren't pushovers and will respond to attitude.

                            1. re: texasredtop

                              You aren't the only one that doesn't like August. I had a nice lunch there, but horrific service (and chewy duck) one dinner. I didn't post much about it, because I thought maybe it was just an off night, and they were clearly in the weeds (we waited one hour after our reservation time for a table). Still, after what we paid and the fact I had to beg for a wine list, we won't be back either.

                              1. re: txgrl99

                                It was a year ago it happened to us and for that price it should have been perfect and it was the worst meal we'd had all week. It was twice what we spent at Galatoire's. I am giving in a bit here lately. I will not go back to August but I'm considering Stella on my next visit. Or is it Luke? Someone was giving them a good review here a few days ago so I'm going to consider putting it on the list.

                                1. re: texasredtop

                                  Both stella and luke are great places. For my money, Stella is the best restaurant in new orleans right now.

                            2. re: jsfoodchat

                              Sorry that you had a bad experience, but I have been dining at Galatoire's since the mid-50s, and have never had either a bad meal, or rude service.

                              Now, from about 8 years of age, I was apprised of the dress-code for gentlemen, and have never deviated from that, though it has been relaxed in recent years. I am usually the bearded gentleman in the white linen suit (with over 50 years of dining there, not one drop of red wine has been spilled on any of my jackets, thankfully), often sitting upstairs, as I have schedules to keep, and have done downstairs, and find the tableau a bit loud and not so much to my liking now.

                              I wish that you had dropped by here before the meal, as many could have helped you a bit.


                        2. re: fat harry

                          I agree, bad fit for your family apparently. I've never had a bad meal or bad service at Galatoire's. I'm sorry you did because it's a really an awesome place.

                            1. I see. So in the south with all your fine manners you all think that it is appropriate to be rude to the customer because he wears a trendy t-shirt under his jacket? Last I checked rude service staff and bad food have very little to do with what the patron wears to dinner (especially after he ran back to the hotel and changed!)

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: jsfoodchat

                                Rude is never appropriate. The offending t shirt was likely seen as insultingly rude thus causing someone to reply in kind. Perhaps when traveling you shoud research appropriate dress for the region you will be visiting. That being said, Galatoires is the only restaurant in town strictly adhering to a dress code. BTW, the price of the garment is irrelevent, it's how it looks. Sorry, Ed Hardy t shirts don't look any better than what souvenir shops sell. They just cost more.

                                1. re: JazzyB

                                  I actually had to look up Ed Hardy t-shirts. Even after viewing their Web site, cannot say that I have ever noticed them. Were I at the door, I would not have been impressed, and even if they cost 100x what they do.

                                  As you state, JazzyB, it's not about the cost of each piece of apparel. There are standards, and I, for one, am glad that some places still adhere to those. I have a hand-crafted, exotic leather flip-flops, that cost me US$300. I liked them, because they were very comfortable and stylish on the beach, but would never think of wearing them to Galatoire's, or really any place other than a beach bar. Maybe I get too hung up on clothes and dress-codes, but there are many things from my closet, that I would never even consider wearing to a restaurant, like Galatoire's.


                                  1. re: JazzyB

                                    +1 on your response.

                                    In my experience, Southerners are usually much more polite than US-born Yankees. I should know, as I am a native Yankee who relocated here a decade ago. What I have found is that Northerners, and this includes Canadians, who have their own subtle way of doing things, have not a clue about what Southerners consider impolite. It is often little things, like speaking to someone without giving them a chance to make eye contact first, or sometimes just not saying "Ma'am" and "Sir". It took living among my new neighbors to get this, and I find that I frequently have to coach visitors before business meetings. On the other hand, Southerners often seem to talk and act more slowly, or even indifferently, as they tend to observe first, and speak second. This frustrates Northerners sometimes. It's just different ways and cultures, that's all. These are generalities that do not apply to all, of course, but I can only imagine the whirlwind of your outgoing Canadian family, dressed a bit too casually for the restaurant's taste, and their interactions with the waitstaff. It may have been English that you were all speaking, but it probably wasn't the same language.

                                    I am not making excuses for rude behavior by any means, but I think it needs to be said that the obvious cultural differences between Western Canadians and Southerners are more than a little likely to leave each of you not particularly in love with the other. Nothing that more familiarity wouldn't cure.

                                    Now, the use of canned peas, OTOH, I can't get my head wrapped around. That said, they do have a distinct flavor, and I have seen cookbooks that have insisted that these be used in recipes.

                                  2. re: jsfoodchat

                                    Very curious: with which entree were you or your family member served peas?

                                    1. re: penthouse pup

                                      Chicken Clemenceau. I've never ordered it, but apparently canned petits pois are traditional.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I wasn't gonna step in with the name and ruin the fun....and the peas are LeSeur which are widely admired in town.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          I just googled the recipe- and this was the first link! Be sure to read the description preceding the recipe...


                                          1. re: Clarkafella

                                            "Really? Would any true chef every advocate for a canned pea??? Seriously! That is rubbish! "

                                            Yep, le seur petit pois are used in TONS of kitchens in new orleans.

                                            1. re: twyst

                                              Le Sueur peas are quite lovely.

                                      2. re: jsfoodchat

                                        "I guess in the south with your "fine manners" and "yes ma'ams" "

                                        "So in the south with all your fine manners"

                                        You reveal much about your own manners (and prejudices) in those statements--those and your repeated references to your husband's expensive labels and belief that they trump Galatoire's well-known rules (no matter how old and tired they are).

                                        I'm no big fan of Galatoire's, but wouldn't expect it to be anything other than what it is, ever has been--regardless of how much my clothes cost or how far superior I considered them to those of the next patron.

                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          Good point. And besides, New Orleans is not a southern city, it's the northernmost city in the Caribbean! ;)

                                          1. re: rouxdauphine

                                            Or the westernmost city on the Continent!

                                            1. re: rouxdauphine

                                              New Orleans is certainly a southern city, at least people from here consider it to be. There's a giant statue of Robert E Lee in the middle of town, lest you forget. New Orleans is more metropolitan than most southern cities but that doesn't make it any less southern. the presence of tulane and it's students doesn't make it unsouthern either.

                                              1. re: N.O.Food

                                                Two types of people live in new orleans: southerners and those who wish they were.

                                              2. re: rouxdauphine

                                                Or the Western-most city in France (or maybe Spain, or maybe... )


                                              3. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                I think there are a lot of travelers and diners that are used to restaurants accommodating their whims, whatever they may be and they get huffy when they cannot bend the rules as they do in other places. Most places will bend the rules to get the business and lose loyal customers for doing so. That is why Galatoire's has so many loyal customers and has been there for so many more decades than these other trendy places. I was quite upset when dining at August one evening and was told on the phone when making my reservation that coat and tie was required and they seated a table of people in sweat suits and tennis shoes next to us. While waiting for my table at Galatoire's a few days before Christmas, I saw her turn away about a dozen people for not being properly dressed. This was at almost 2PM.

                                              4. re: jsfoodchat

                                                Now, there ARE places in the South, where service is often rude, just like many other places around the globe, but I have NEVER encountered that at Galatoire's. As a matter of fact, the waitstaff at Galatoire's usually treats all diners as family, and gladly accept the reciprocity from their diners. That reciprocal arrangement has served me well for half a century.

                                                Sorry that this all happened to you.