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Looking for new places to eat

Hi all, I am planning a trip to NOLA end of March. Used to live there, so I am familiar with the old standbys (Arnaud's, Commander's, emerils's etc), but we want to try some newer spots for at least one blow out meal, maybe 2 and also mid price. we also want to try some spots that might be oldies but we've never tried. So far, we're thinking about Cochon, Wilie Mae's and that's all we know about. we'd like to focus on New Oleans food (that is, not mexican or chinese, that sort of thing). What do you suggest? Thanks!

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  1. OK, first some questions, please:

    "New," as of when?

    Assuming that you will have an auto, and are willing to drive. Is that correct?

    Is there a price range? Looking at the "possibilities," I'd guess "no," but wanted to be sure, especially with the "blowout dinner" comment.

    There WILL be lots of suggestions, and almost all will be good to great ones.

    Most of all, enjoy,

    Hunt

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Haven't been back in about 6 years. We might have a car, still deciding. We have friends in Lafayette so we'd need a car to get there, I guess. But probably more local is better. we can get around NOLA by cab, or streetcar/walking. Hotel is the Marriott.

      There's no price limit. Can't do it up every meal, but a splurge or two is fine. We also like the cheapies, too. I'm familiar with a lot of them (had to be-it was college, after all), but i know there's a lot we never tried that would be fun to experience.

      I have heard about John Besh (is that the right name)-his places any good?

      Am hoping for lots of ideas!!

      1. re: jhanaw

        I have only dined at Chef Besh's Restaurant August, and Dominica. While we had a great meal, and "over-the-top" service at Dominica, August is our choice. It is high-end, with an interesting "local, but innovative" menu. Dined there three times, and they ranged from very good, to excellent. They are on my short-list of recs. I really like most aspects of Chef Besh. Have not done Luke, but there are many, who sing its praises. I just cannot comment.

        Now, have you dined at Stella!? If not, for a bit of a splurge, I'd add that FQ restaurant to the list. Some complain that it does not have a pure NOLA menu, but I have had six wonderful meals there, and enjoy the "Southern" influence, plus many NOLA elements.

        Have you done G W Fin's in the FQ? If not, it offers local seafood, done with some interesting local recipes. It is a bit down-scale from Restaurant August, and Stella!, but very nice. They have also had some of the most attentive service, that we have encountered.

        For something off the "culinary beaten path," if you have not done MiLa, it would be worth a look. It is a "fusion" restaurant, but likely not what one might think of, when the word "fusion" is mentioned - It's Mississippi & Louisiana "fusion." See what I mean?

        Now, over six years, many of the locals will likely have dozens, upon dozens of great recs for you, and hopefully those will be new to you.

        Like you, we do not get back, as often, as we'd like. When we do, we try to hit some of our great favs., and then add a new restaurant, or two. However, with the new restaurants, we have unfortunately just missed some - came and went, between some of our trips.

        Trust the locals on this board - they are very, very good.

        Enjoy, and travel safely,

        Hunt

    2. Bouligny Tavern is fun. It's next door to Lilette. Enjoy your visit.

      Bouligny Tavern @ 3641 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 891 - 1810.

      http://www.boulignytavern.com/

      1. Dijon is opening tonight! Chef Chris Cody, formerly of Pellicano, at the former FIRE location. A friend went last night and loved it.

          1. My take on Besh Restaurants

            Restaurant August (Fine Dining with white linen)-- my favorite fine dining in NOLA Chef de Cuisine Mike Gulotta puts out innovative local farm to table food with French techniques that makes Chef Besh proud. In addition, Pastry Chef Kelly Fields is a phenom--her take on banana pudding keeps my wife coming back (and threatening to eat dessert first). She has something to satisfy anyone's palate for dessert and Chef Fields always surprises. FYI the 3 course Prix Fixe lunch is a great deal ($20.12 in 2012...)

            Domenica (Casual/Business Chic)--we continue to be addicted to the pizza's that Chef de Cuisine Alon Shaya turns out from the wood burning oven (spicy lamb meatball is to die for)--they even deliver in the Common Business District. If you want authentic Italian, this is the place to go--amazing charcuterie, pastas, roasted meats, and a die for roasted cauliflower. Pastry Chef Lisa has an amazing butterscotch cake in a jar that is my wife's 2nd favorite dessert in NOLA. Also the salted caramel banana king cake was to die for. A great place for a lunch or dinner any day of the week.

            Borgne Restaurant (Casual)--Newest entry in the Besh empire, Chef de Cuisine Brian Landry has captivated my wife (a native of the Outer Banks of North Carolina + an adopted native of Charleston, SC) with his take on seafood. Great shareable apps that themselves make a great meal (including one of the great beers on tap or in a can). Restaurant August's Pastry Chef Kelly Fields has her grandmother's hummingbird cake on the menu! The entire menu is slowly being fine tuned (45 days since it opened). Great plea to catch lunch or dinner anytime of the week.

            Luke (Casual)--A French-German Brasserie at its best, this was my first love of the Besh restaurants. Amazing raw bar, crab omelet, burgers and sandwiches, and comfort food (schnitzel, court bouillon, cassoulet, etc). A great light but filling lunch or hearty dinner in the heart of St Charles....love it so much my wife + I named our first son Luke!

            American Sector (Diner/Casual)--Everything that you want out of a great diner--fried shrimp, great homemade pickles, large portions of meatloaf, great oyster stew, and milkshakes. This was my wife's favorite until Borgne and she keeps going back when I am out of town. Worth a trip for New Orleans classics and dinner specials with Chef Besh's twists.

            Besh Steak (Casual/Business Chic)--Great steaks, I prefer to Emeril's Delmonico as a steakhouse. However this is a loud restaurant from the casino. But when I want a steak, we take people here. Have not tried Manning's which has had great early reviews

            La Provence (Casual/Business Chic) I have yet to make it up ti La Provence because of the drive + my wife's schedule. Have made Easter Brunch reservations and will try to make it across the lake...

            Remember--if you want fine dining/foodie level John Besh, you must go to Restaurant August. Domenica has earned raves as an Italian eatery. Borgne + Luke are under rated because the average New Orleans restaurant is above average in fresh seafood and fried seafood.

            However, if you want consistently great food, all of his restaurants are great, and one of them will fit your needs and be memorable (though, besides Domenica, they currently are not foodie destinations)

            -----
            Restaurant August
            301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

            Luke Restaurant
            333 St Charles, New Orleans, LA 70130

            La Provence
            25020 Highway 190, Lacombe, LA 70445

            Emeril's Delmonico Restaurant & Bar
            1300 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

            Domenica
            123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

            american sector
            945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

              1. re: jhanaw

                I have to politely disagree with some of the postings above.

                Luke started out good but then service went down. We have been there several times and enjoyed our food and appetizers when they opened, especially duck/ rabbit pate. Last time we went there, the portions were much smaller, the greasy bread toasts fried in canola oil are not a great accompaniment to any of the dishes unless you are waiting for a heart attack to happen. Breakfast/brunch was especially disappointing. On top of the drunk waiter, we had an overpriced eggs with farm sausage and that was not worthy of trying. My husband had steak and eggs which was ok but nothing special. Unless you want to have a burger there, which is great, there are very few things on the menu that deserve attention. If someone had recent great meal at Luke I say that the place is inconsistent.

                Same can be said about Mila (not Besh’s). Similar story. Started out great but now the place is mostly empty. Compared to Domenica, which creates a lot of buzz, the place looks ghostly.

                La Provence has theme dinners every month. If you are willing to drive that date, it would be worth your time. Otherwise, had to return a couple of items during our two trips there. Also, with all the dining options in NOLA why drive to Lacombe?

                Domenica is good and always busy. If you are not a big portion eater, get small plate of pasta. Small is big enough for one person. Large needs to be shared.

                If the price is not an option, my personal favorite is Herbsaint. Lunch is great and the duck sandwich is the best. Pasta dishes are good and their cocktails are refreshing. Reservations required, especially dinner. Formal.

                Was pleasantly surprised with 127 Rue. Both pulled pork sandwich and puppy drum were excellent, especially my fish. The complexity of the sauce and perfect seasoning of the fish definitely makes it the top fish dish I ever had in NOLA . Lunch has a bit limited menu compare to dinner one and dinners are mostly booked. Make reservations.

                For a great appetizers head to Three Muses. Happy hour till 7pm. Great music. No reservations. Very busy place.

                Garden district is on the rising restaurant scene. Coquette serves great lunch special. 3 course for $20. Great value.

                Sucre for macaroons/financier cookies and La Boulangerie for authentic breads and pastries are my favorites.

                Hope that helps.

                1. re: Longroadahead

                  What am I missing here...op Jan 31 for a trip at the end of March???

                  1. re: JazzyB

                    The last one was posted by jhanaw on June 2, 2012. Hey, that's the wonderful thing about these posts, that you can blog any time you feel like it. The other day I posted something on a blog that was written in 2010 and just got a response from another person that is going to the same city. It is never late to post a review.

                    1. re: Longroadahead

                      Chefs and menus change frequently. I tend to disregard reviews older than 6 months, the exception being old establishments that never change. Nola has an abundance of these.

              2. Our trip got postponed-still going, but in October. Love all the recs-saved them for the trip!

                1. Well, we are finally going in a few weeks! We decided on R'evolution, Jacque Imo's (food reviews are so-so but we have a large group and the atmospheres is right and it's near Tulane, and we are a large group of TU alums), Luke, Irene's, and are still planning a few more. Galatoire's *maybe* just for the experience but the food reviews were fairly poor so we may try for something else classic New Orleans, just not sure what. R'evolution is a huge blow out meal ($$$$ and rich food, etc) so we may just decide to keep it light for a night. Am hoping Felix's gets their liquor license back by then.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: jhanaw

                    R'evolution WAS a rather expensive meal, but mostly justified. Going back 3 mos., they were working hard, and there was much to praise them for. I think that we need another trip, say in another 4 mos., to "check in" and see how things are working out.

                    Maybe it was just us, but we saw great potential, that had not yet been realized. Still, that "potential" did seem to be there.

                    We had to miss the chefs, with their Blackberry Farm culinary event (we'd already been twice in 2012), and I would have loved to make that event too.

                    Great luck with R'evolution, and I feel that things will have improved, since our July visit. Next year, we will be back, as they showed us enough to warrant that.

                    Though fitting in restaurants in our NOLA trips can be tough, when there IS potential, we try to make that happen. When everything is bad, the restaurant falls to the very bottom of the list, and we all know how many great restaurants there are in the City! If trip # 1 is bad, they may never make it from the last page of 20.

                    Enjoy,

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      It seems similar in cost to some of the high end stuff around here, esp. since we don;t order wine bottles. It will be fun regardless. The atmosphere seems fun, and the food can't be terrible! Any thought on Galatiores? I read a lot of mixed reviews on the NOLA boards.

                      1. re: jhanaw

                        Hi Jhanaw,
                        glad you are finally going to NOLA.
                        On Galatoires. Not the best place. Unless you know someone who works there (i.e. waiter) personally, you will get a somewhat lousy service and a very rich, almost indigestible food. That is what our friend told us who lived in NOLA for a few years after he'd heard our sad reviews of the place. We didn't know anyone. Food was mediocre and the service was inattentive. Also, the place gets very noisy, so noisy that we couldn't hear one another. Good luck with this one.
                        I am a little sad Domenica didn't make it on your list. The place has great reviews and the food is excellent. They also have perfect arrangements for large groups. Maybe you will add this one to your list. You wrote 'we don't order wine bottles'. If you drink alcoholic cocktails, before you head to Domenica :), stop for my favorite gin fizz at Sazerac's. They make the best one. Must try.
                        I have not been to the R'evolution. In June we tried to make it there for lunch but they told us they were thinking of opening for lunch later this summer (which didn't happen, btw). So, we have to do this one later. On our last trip we went to Gautreau's to try Sue Zemanick's creations since she's been the most talked about chef (recently). When in school, she specialized in fish so the fish dishes at that restaurant are superb. The rest, perogies and dessert, were not impressive.
                        Our favorite restaurant remains Herbsaint. Every time we are in NOLA we try to make it there for lunch or dinner. Always close to perfection and has a great reputation.
                        We were also impressed with the Saint, new hotel that opened next door to Ritz. They have done an amazing job renovating it. It has one of the posh bars/lounges and a restaurant Temp. It does not get high reviews but we liked the ambience. It is opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Best place to watch the real NOLA life from the restaurant's window sipping a cocktail or having a snack. We will give the chef another try next time we are in NOLA.
                        Our favorite breakfast spot is Stanley. Always prompt and friendly service and the food is very good.
                        Hope this helps. I will post some pics for you later on. Have to sort through them. :)

                        1. re: Longroadahead

                          I agree with Long that Domenica is well worth considering. The happy hour (3 to 6 daily) is an amazing value with all of their spectacular pizza at half price, as well as half price wine by the glass and well drinks. I also agree that the Ramos Gin Fizz at the Sazerac Bar is as good as it gets. Sometimes when there are business conferences at the Roosevelt Hotel, the Sazerac Bar can get fairly loud, I think its vintage beauty is best appreciated in mid-afternoon, when it is likely to be more quiet.

                          My wife and I enjoyed a spectacular dinner at Restaurant R'evolution on the second weekend in August. It is a unique experience.

                          1. re: Longroadahead

                            Thanks! We will skip Galatoire's then. I sort of figured it was over-hyped. I saw Domenica's, but coming from Boston, we can get awesome pizza a lot, so we're trying to stick with local food done well, which is harder to find here. My friends might like it, though, for Thursday night (too late for HR, but oh well, we should be ok!), if it's less $$$. I would like ot include Herbsaint, but only have so many meals!

                            Thanks for the bar tips-I imagine our group will use those....

                          2. re: jhanaw

                            The wine can cloud my observations, as we both feel that they are part of any meal. Still, our choices DO run up the final tab.

                            Galatorie's has always been great. Let's just say that they are a wonderful, old-school NOLA restaurant, and have not made many menu/recipe changes since...

                            They will seldom, if ever, be called "innovative," or "cutting edge," but that is part of their beauty, and their charm. They do, what they do, better than any restaurant on Earth. I would never pass on an opportunity to dine there.

                            Enjoy,

                            Hunt

                        2. re: jhanaw

                          We just got back and our least favorite meal was at R'evolution. Nothing stood out...and service wasn't the best, especially for the cost....We had great meals at GW Finns...lobster dumplings, soft shell crab and parmesean crusted drum was excellent. Cochon Butcher for bacon, collards melt and the duck pastrami sliders...so good! Cassamentos for delicious soft shell crab loaf. Sobou was good for a few lite bites...Parkway for the best roast beef and fried shrimp po'boys...Emerils was good....pastas were excellent and the banana cream pie. Go by Blue Dot Bakery for great donuts.

                          1. re: ncara

                            Curious what you ordered at R'evolution...?

                            1. re: Gizmo56

                              We had the crab beignets, which were not cooked properly...uncooked batter taste in the middle, sizzling oysters which didn't sizzle and were just ok....death by gumbo which was good and the redfish and pork belly which was ok....just not impressed. As we left, 2 other couples had just left ahead of us and asked us what we thought...we said it was "ok" and they said they agreed...much better places to spend less money.

                              1. re: ncara

                                Interesting.

                                Our meal also included the crab beignets, which in our case were perfectly done, and rather remarkable for the combination of textures, with the light tempura style batter and the excellent quality crab inside. I had the Death by Gumbo, which in my case was among the most memorable and delicious dishes I've had in New Orleans. But that is the only overlap in what we ordered.

                                Our only quibble was that our main server seemed somewhat tense, which we attributed partly to the fact that restaurant had only been in operation for six weeks, and partly to the fact that Chef Folse was seated at a table near ours. The service was timely without being being overbearing, the decor was beautiful, and we thought all the dishes were excellent and fairly priced. The "jewel box" with confections at the end of the meal was an elegant finishing touch.

                                I am sorry that you seem to have caught them in lesser form. For us, R'evolution was outstanding.

                                1. re: Gizmo56

                                  Seems like more positive reviews than not, so we're still in. But, in the past, we have had a LOT of disappointing high end meals in Boston. It never seems to meet the hype. We pretty much stopped going to the big name restaurants. Hope this is as great as it seems.

                                  1. re: Gizmo56

                                    We did not do Death by Gumbo, but did do their Turtle Soup, and their Seafood Gumbo. Both were sort of a "deconstructed" version of each dish. Each was OK +, but not more than that. We did Ralph's on the Park, before we flew out, and their Turtle Soup was stellar, and much more to our liking. Still, the R'evolution versions, while good, were not up to anywhere near the best, and we had hoped that they would be.

                                    Thanks for the details,

                                    hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      The Sand's turtle soup at Tavern on the Park was always one of our top favorites. i wonder if Ralph Brennan got that with the building?

                                      1. re: collardman

                                        I cannot answer that question.

                                        As the Brennan "family" has done some different things, regarding restaurants, I am not sure where the individual recipes come from.

                                        For us, it is about the individual dishes, and there are some, that do more for us, than others. However, it is still about individual tastes. What might be great, by some standards, might not fill all plates, for some others.

                                        Once, we both thought that the Turtle Soup at CP's was the ultimate, but over the years, I have voted their version down, and below some others. It has not been bad, by any stretch, just not what we once knew, and anticipated.

                                        It's like BBQ Shrimp. There have been some "other" restaurants, that impressed us more, than some of the "regulars." At the end of the day, it is about what "floats our boat," regardless of whether that location is the "favorite" of all others. It is all about personal tastes.

                                        Hunt

                                    2. re: Gizmo56

                                      The "server issue," was a quibble for us, too. Our second-level server was just starting, and while attentive, was not quite with the program yet. The sommelier instructed her on where to place the napkin, when pouring the water - behind the glass, and not somewhere off to the side. One reason that I mention a "work in progress." We were more than happy to work with all of the staff, and help them get it right.

                                      They are new, and some of the staff is new. We were cool with that. However, there seemed to be some "tightening" of several menu items, to get to where they can be. Yes, a "work in progress," but with some very good attributes.

                                      Hunt

                                2. re: ncara

                                  Must agree on the "service" comment. Getting to be almost impossible to find decent or shall I put professional service in NOLA. Even upscale and expensive restaurants seem to give up on that side of the business. Our bill at Gautreau was some over $100 for the two of us and we had the worst service there.
                                  Well, thank you Ncara for your review. I love soft shell crab. Will try Cassamentos next time we are in town.

                                  1. re: Longroadahead

                                    Seems to be common now. We'll still give it a try,though. Most reviews were good, so we'll see. I do drink alcohol (maybe too much) but my husband isn't much of a drinker so we never get a whole bottle, or I would be under the tale. Am interested din the gin fizz at Sazerac-will def. try that! Need to graduate from Hand Grenades at Tropical Isle.

                                    1. re: Longroadahead

                                      IN our case, the "service crew" WAS in training, but all were trying very hard. The sommelier was overseeing their endeavors, and we would pull them aside to add some tips. Hey, we knew that they were new, so we tried to help everyone.

                                      Give them a full year, and we might not be so lenient, but time will tell.

                                      Hunt

                                  1. I love all the replies! It makes me laugh. If we took all the recs and went with them, all we would for 6 days is eat, eat and eat some more. There would be no time for anything else. But, there are worse problems, no?

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: jhanaw

                                      Domenica is not just pizza. It's good Italian food and it is as authentic as it gets outside of Italy. I would recommend other places for just pizza in NOLA. Chef Alon spent 6 months in Parma learning the art of making cured meats. Having spent some time in Italy myself (cooking), I think that the place is one of the best in the south. So, the menu is quite extensive. I just love the fact they make everything from scratch.
                                      I think you will be disappointed in Luke's and I would substitute it with Herbsaint (same price) but hey, give it a try and let us know. Waiting for my husband to upload some of the pics from his phone but here are some: my fav fish dish from Rue 127, black drum and Coquette's special/ lunch. Last... one of the pigs from Le Provence. Their 'team dinners' look so good that we will make an effort and drive there one day to attend. :)

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: Longroadahead

                                        Maybe we'll give it a try, then. I agree with Luke, but I am not the social planner for that night so I am just going along for the company and if what I eat isn't gross, I should be ok. We have a huge group that night, so we need a lot of accommodations. Saving up the great meals for when it's just me and my husband, so might be a chance for herbsaint or domenica then,

                                        1. re: jhanaw

                                          Agree with Longroadahead re: authentic pasta. Although I think a large group would have a blast at Domenica or Herbsaint, my sense is that Domenica would be better prepared without tucking you away somewhere.

                                          I had one of the best pastas in my life accompanied by the best bourbon drink of my life @ Domenica's on a wintry February day. That little salad they do with the fried prosciutto is wonderful too. I would do Herbsaint for romantic and intimate, and Domenica for fun with a group.

                                          1. re: karendor

                                            Is this pasta on the current menu?

                                            1. re: Ziggy41

                                              I don't see it. I think it was a sweet potato (or squash) ravioli with toasted hazelnut sauce. Winter menu perhaps, it was in February? But on the current menu the Squid Ink Tagliolini blue crab & herbs looks pretty amazing and I bet the garganelli with summer squash could be good, too Hounds? The bourbon drink was called L'Antiquato. Delish.

                                              1. re: karendor

                                                It was on the menu Sunday however, they had an incredibly light gnocchi with duck in a light cream sauce. Lots of flavor.

                                            2. re: karendor

                                              Sounds great. We might go there Friday for happy hour instead of Luke. I live on the North Shore of Boston so I am definitely not hurting for really good Italian. We tend to look for other cuisines when we travel that aren't done well here but the atmosphere and prices seem like a better bet than Luke for us.

                                              1. re: jhanaw

                                                Love the sound of those pastas. Although I get my share of good pastas dishes here in NYC I always get tempted to try em elsewhere. Do they make them in house. The few time I had Garganelli here it wasnt the authentic kind, looked more like Pappardelle

                                          2. re: jhanaw

                                            Hey, that IS New Orleans!

                                            Most of all, enjoy,

                                            Hunt

                                          3. Just a fun thing, not related to food but I think it's at a restaurant. We are going to a paint your own type of thing where we will be painting our own Blue Dog! Now THAT is a souvenir! We decided to skip Jaqcue Imo's and do that.