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LA Hound returning for annual visit, advice sought.

a213b Jan 2, 2012 05:46 PM

My wife and I (Louisianians born & bred both) are heading back into town for our annual post-holiday trip. We'll be staying for three nights next week (post Epiphany -- time for King Cake!) and are looking to sort out a list of places to dine. We will have our car with us, and aren't at all restricted by anything (whether dietary, distance, etc). We will most likely be there from Tues to Fri.

Here's a quick rundown of our past experiences:

We've absolutely loved Herbsaint, Gal's, CP and Brigtsens. Mr. B's & Cochon (both for lunch) too. I've half a mind simply to return to them, but I do so love trying places I've not tried before (or not been to since I was growing up).

August was solid, if soulless, and I don't really have a burning desire to return (though MIGHT for the lunch special as a more cost-effective way of giving them a second shot). Emerils I wanted to love but just could not get into it. We ate at the chef's counter and had fun, though on our visit that night the food seemed thoroughly unspectacular.

Stella left me absolutely scratching my head -- I completely fail to see what all the hubbub is about; it seemed to me to have Per Se aspirations with none of the savoir faire, skill, and more. I dunno ... maybe we just hit them on the perfect storm of mediocrity?

Parkway Poboy was good; Central Grocery Muffaletta was mediocre at best. Love Sucre, and have tried both Randazzo's and Haydels King Cakes. We always hit up Cafe Du Monde the morning we leave for fresh beignets and cafe au lait.

Ok ... all that being said, here's some of the places I'm considering (and my quick thoughts).

Green Goddess - everyone seems to rave, and the menu looks fine, but not what I think when I come into town. Is it really outstanding?

Antoines, K-Pauls - seems like classic New Orleanians, but am I just better served going to Gal's or CP?

Upperline - Looks really good, though recent turnover makes me wonder if this is the best time to hit them.

Willie Mae's - I should do this once, I figure.

Coquette - Looks pretty damn good.

Any other thoughts/suggestions, by all means send them my way. We are also looking for some great coffee, and I have an insatiable sweet-tooth, so recs for those are appreciated.

Ask away with any other questions, and thanks!

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    Davebr RE: a213b Jan 2, 2012 09:41 PM

    After moving away for 15 or so years. I recently moved back (after spending a ton of time in LA the past 5 years). There are a ton of great restaurants but most of them would be great in any city. Regarding the new ones, few--if any of them, have anything to do with the city. As great as Amano may be, you would be disappointed if you've been to Mozza. For the original experience you seem to be looking for or for restaurants that could exist no where else other than here, KPauls, Upperline (no turnover in ownership and 28 years of greatness), Brightsens, Moscas (a drive for sure and cash only but well worth it!), Boucherie, Greg Piccalo might be worth a trip to Redemption, Mandinas, Pascales Manale, Clancys, Patois, Cafe Adelaide in particular the Swizzle Stick bar, Jaques Imos, I could go on a bit further but there is such a thing as too much information.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Davebr
      edible complex RE: Davebr Jan 5, 2012 03:00 PM

      I'd add Katie's on Iberville, Crescent Pie, Irene's, Rue 127, Luke.

      I'd also consider grazing for lunch at Mr. B's, Carousel Bar, Galatoire's, Hermes Bar. I did it one day when I was limited on my time back home.

    2. kukubura RE: a213b Jan 3, 2012 04:33 AM

      To answer your question regarding the Green Goddess, yes it's worth a visit. Creative, interesting, playful, and, I believe, couldn't exist in another city. Takes the local cuisine and tweaks it in fun ways.

      3 Replies
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        brucec RE: kukubura Jan 3, 2012 06:48 AM

        Couldn't agree more. Additionally, Chris's selection of and recommendations for some super wines is a big plus. Good selection of Adriatic wines, a chef who really responds to those who're interested in his work/tastes/likes and very capable mixers of some imaginative cocktails......do you begin to sense my enthusiasm ?

        1. re: kukubura
          a213b RE: kukubura Jan 3, 2012 08:04 AM

          Thanks; I'd read your trip report which was part of the inspiration (along with having it on the list anyway) for going this time. It's just when I see menu items like the Jamaican Curry Soup, Muhammara, and Char Siu, I shy away. Not because they don't sound tasty, or that I don't like them, but they are things I can easily get elsewhere, whether in my travels abroad (e.g. was in both Syria and Jamaica last year) or in LA (home to phenomenal Korean BBQ).

          But, that being said I absolutely love, Love, LOVE hearing Chris has such passion. The drink list looks drool-worthy, especially for a lush like myself, and the consistent accolades raise the desire to try it. For now it's on "the list" (dum Dum DAAAhhhhhhhhh!!!!)

          Any thoughts on the other spots?

          1. re: a213b
            kukubura RE: a213b Jan 3, 2012 09:55 AM

            On the "classics" here are my thoughts:
            - I don't want to say too much about Antoine's since I haven't been there since 2007 and I feel like I've read on here that they've improved a lot since then. Back then it was very expensive, pretty fun and old-fashioned, and ultimately left us feeling like we'd spent too much money for the food.

            Interesting to read your take on Stella and August. We haven't been to either but those impressions are what I'm afraid we'd take away from them as well. One of my beefs with Cochon was that we could have been in any mid-to-large city and had that same experience.

            - K Paul's has been around but it doesn't have the classic vibe. It's surprisingly casual inside (or at least that's how the sandals-wearing clientele treats it) but the food we had there a couple years ago was damn fine! (see my older trip report)

            - Commander's will be visited by me every single time I'm in town. Without exception. My favorite, for sure.

            - My relationship with Galatoire's is a whole saga but I really enjoyed our late lunch there last month. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

        2. pizzajunkie RE: a213b Jan 3, 2012 10:10 AM

          I totally agree with your assessements - what about Dick and Jenny's (cab ride there)? I would pick that, or even Crepe Nanou, over Upperline. You could always take the streetcar to Nanou too.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pizzajunkie
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            califkatie RE: pizzajunkie Jan 3, 2012 05:09 PM

            Have you been to Upperline lately? i wanted to try it on my trip this month, would love to hear from someone who has been recently.

            1. re: califkatie
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              expatorleanian RE: califkatie Jan 4, 2012 04:44 AM

              We were going to go this saturday, but had to cancel because of the Saints game. We are trying to make the following Saturday. I'll try to remember to let you know.

              1. re: expatorleanian
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                califkatie RE: expatorleanian Jan 4, 2012 09:11 AM

                Thanks, i appreciate it. We are coming to town on the !6th.

                1. re: califkatie
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                  expatorleanian RE: califkatie Jan 16, 2012 11:58 AM

                  Sorry, got sick so we didn't go last Saturday either.

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            piglet3000 RE: a213b Jan 3, 2012 12:14 PM

            I feel the same way about August; we have had 2 lunches there and 1 very expensive dinner but that is going to be it, I just don't find it to be what I go to New Orleans for. Stella I've never been to but seems like the same type of thing to me; great for locals who are tired of local food but not for those of us pining for local cuisine.
            But you should for sure make time to go to Coquette for lunch, at least. On Weds. they have $5 wine by the glass, Thursdays is 1/2 price cocktails and the most amazing $20 three course lunch you will ever have. We always have an amazing lunch and pre-Xmas was no exception. It's a beautiful place, the staff is so nice and it is SO delicious !

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              nolawinelover RE: a213b Jan 5, 2012 08:31 AM

              Yes to Coquette...one of down low favorites...

              Yes to Willie Mae's thought get there for opening, otherwise you'll be waiting for ever...and that neighborhood is still in the process of post Katrina rebuilding....but the chicken is outstanding...

              K-Paul's is also one of my favorites...

              Green Goddess IS good but tiny....

              Brigtsen's and Boucherie and Dante's Kitchen and Cowbell (you likje burgers? then go to cowbell, their other items while not necessarily Creole/Cajun are excellent, nonetheless) are my Riverbend area favorites....

              Dick and Jenny's, Upperline and Lilette for Uptown dining....

              Try Salu or Baru for tapas on Magazine (both delish!)....

              Problem is, there are too many damned good places to eat in this town!

              1. a213b RE: a213b Jan 7, 2012 10:34 AM

                So we've pushed our trip a week, and are contemplating staying a 4th night.

                Here is what I am thinking so far, though as you'll see sometimes I have more options than available time slots:

                Lunches: CP, Willie Mae's, Coquette, Boucherie
                Dinners: Antoines, Green Goddess, Upperline, Herbsaint, Brigtsens, maybe Dante's Kitchen or K-Pauls. How's Arnaud's these days?

                I think we will realistically have 2 - perhaps 3 - lunches, and 3 - perhaps 4 - dinners.

                For the lunches, I think CP is the only thing close to a definite, and for the dinners, I am thinking Green Goddess and Antoines (given the uptick in favorable reviews over the past year or so) are the "for sure" bets.

                1. a213b RE: a213b Jan 14, 2012 07:06 PM

                  Just wanted to update and decide we've pretty much locked in our plans and are looking forward to coming in next week.

                  The first day I'm planning on Antoine's for dinner.
                  The next day I've booked Boucherie for lunch and Upperline for dinner.
                  The last day I've booked Commander's for lunch and am planning on hitting Green Goddess for dinner.

                  As Bart Scott would say, "Can't wait!"

                  6 Replies
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                    califkatie RE: a213b Jan 15, 2012 10:46 AM

                    sounds like a good itinerary. we'll be there, too.

                    1. re: califkatie
                      a213b RE: califkatie Jan 15, 2012 12:31 PM

                      When are you hitting Upperline? Just wondering which of us will be there first.

                      1. re: a213b
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                        califkatie RE: a213b Jan 15, 2012 01:23 PM

                        we are looking at Thursday. we have no other reservations., we like to eat the bar of places, and usually during slow periods, we don't have any problems. but for upperline, i'm going to call.have a great trip!

                        1. re: califkatie
                          a213b RE: califkatie Jan 15, 2012 10:39 PM

                          LOL, we will be there Thursday as well!

                          1. re: a213b
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                            califkatie RE: a213b Jan 16, 2012 07:38 AM

                            we'll be there around 8.leaving now for airport!

                            1. re: califkatie
                              a213b RE: califkatie Jan 19, 2012 03:15 PM

                              Stop on by the table tonight (we're there at 7 or 7:30) if you'd like; I'll be the younger guy with '70s style, Leif Garrett/Chris Atkins hair. Kinda hard to miss.

                              Hope you've enjoyed the rest of your trip thus far!

                  2. j
                    JazzyB RE: a213b Jan 16, 2012 06:02 AM

                    Totally agree re: Stella! IMO, Gautreau's accolades are equally perplexing. Definitely go to Coquette. My preference is the dinner tasting menu however, W-Sat 3 course lunch is $20. Thurs.all day specialty cocktails $5.

                    Stop in Hermes (Antoine's steetside bar)for cocktails and snack on a sampler plate rather than going for dinner. You can also order from the restaurant menu.

                    Sweet tooth: stop in the bar at August for the napoleon of nougatine with chocolate bavois and salted toffee ice cream and Pere Roux's banana rum "cake" with creole cream cheese and white chocolate. You can get Emeril's banana cream pie at the bar as well.

                    K Paul's is not the restaurant it was when he ran the show. I'd skip it.

                    Commander's for lunch in the garden room M-F.

                    I love Willie Mae's juicy chicken with it's shattering crust. It would be perfect were it spicy. Get the white beans on the side.

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