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Good Restaurant to Propose At?

Later this year, my girlfriend and I will be spending a few days in New Orleans. Unbeknownst to her, I am planning on proposing while we are there.

My original plan was to make reservations at Commander's Palace in the Garden District (a establishment that seems to continually get rave reviews and also seems to be regarded one of the most romantic restaurants in NOLA), charter a private carriage to take us to the restaurant, and then propose during dinner.

However, that does not look like it will work out as planned.

After contacting the carriage company, I found out that it would be $250 to take us from our hotel in the Central Business District to Commander's Palace. Unfortunately, as a poor student who is struggling just to buy the ring, that is not going to work. Even if I decided to do dinner in the French Quarter, it was still going to be $150+ to rent a carriage. Thus, it does not look like I am going to be able to swing that.

I am left with a few different options:

1) Keep my reservation at Commander's Palace and proceed according to the original plan, except for method of transportation. I Guess I would have to taxi or streetcar it from the Central Business District.

2) Choose a restaurant nearby the Central Business District, within walking distance of our hotel. Two nearby options are Restaurant August (my g/f is a huge Besh fan and has always wanted to go to one of his restaurants) and Le Foret (another place I see continually regarded as extremely romantic) - both would be about a 5 - 10 minute walk.

3) Choose a restaurant in the French Quarter, which would be a 15 - 20 minute walk. Two options there would be Muriel's Jackson Square (I keep hearing about some amazing balcony table) or Bayona (another restaurant that seems to be frequently recommended)

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions?

While I would love to go all out, it is going to be hard to do financially. We are both food lovers and I am really trying to create a special, romantic, and memorable proposal dinner.

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  1. Every place you mentioned has nice atmosphere and decent to very good food (depending on the reviewer). Maybe one step up from a cab (but several steps down from a carriage) are the pedicabs. You might be able to make arrangements in advance for one to be a little more dressy (and its peddler too).

    Another place for atmosphere is Feelings Cafe.

    1. I would definitely do Commander's It is beautiful. The food is good. AND the sevice is wonderful. I'd do the taxi.

      1. I'd opt for the streetcar to Commander's....it's a lovely ride, the cars are historic, and the price is right: $1.25 per person, one way. The short walk from the streetcar route to the restaurant is pleasant.

        1. I would opt for the streetcar and walk to Commander's...unless, what exactly do you mean by later this year? I'm trying to decide if she would feel too mussed for celebratory photos if you walk to Commander's in the August heat. It's not that it's a very far walk, but she'll begin to "glow" just stepping outside.

          Maybe since she's a huge Besh fan, do the pedicab to August? There are some nice places for an after dinner cocktail stroll in the CBD area as well - Loa at the International House hotel and Bar Uncommon at the Pere Marquette especially.

          4 Replies
          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            My first thought was Commanders as well...However this:

            "my g/f is a huge Besh fan and has always wanted to go to one of his restaurants" changed my mind!!

            it's a NO Brainer!!! Take her to August!! ~~ Will be a perfect setting for her...one to always remember and cherish!! ~~ She can't say no!! :)

            Luck and Fun!!

            1. re: Uncle Bob

              Thank you for all the response so far.

              As for what time in the year, we will be going in late March, if that makes any difference.

              Honestly my girlfriend is a huge Food Network/Top Chef/Anything-of-that-Sort fan and Besh has made many appearances to the point that we have always said we would like to go to one of his restaurants. As we're traveling to his part of the world, it definitely seemed like something to look into. However, we both just love great food and if Commander's Palace is head and shoulders above other restaurants in terms of romance/atmosphere/food, maybe Commander's would be better for the proposal and August would be better another time (ie. during lunch to take advantage of the $20.11 prix fixe)?

                1. re: Harrison486

                  Well, I'm the rare bird who doesn't think Commander's is head and shoulders above the rest--it's probably the most popular; it's good; it's fun; it's lovely. But it's also big and generally rather noisy (in a nice way, but not a place I would think of as ideal for proposing; to me, CP= Jazz Brunch). However, if you do decide on CP, take the streetcar, which has its own kind of romance, particularly when the weather is nice. It is sooo New Orleans.

                  I personally love the food at Restaurant August and to me it rates up at the top, and since your GF loves, Besh, I agree w/Uncle Bob that it's a no-brainer. And the restaurant itself is lovely and quieter. (So, yeah, if you decide on CP, do have lunch at RA, one of New Orleans's great bargains.)

                  Another beautiful romantic spot, though not as grand, with fabulous food (that I prefer over CP's any day) is Coquette.

            2. I found the service at August to be very cold and it put me off. Commander's has always been very warm and welcoming and has a more southern traditional feel where August is more big city fine dining. To me August could easily be in NY or LA and didn't really fit NO but that was my personal experience. Others have found the opposite. Our meal for 2 at August was about $240.

              As for the carriage ride, you can hire one of them right in front of Jackson Square and they'll ride you around the Quarter and give you some of the history. I have no idea what it cost but I'm sure it's not near what they quoted you for a planned destination. So you could always do that before or after your dinner.

              Also, the beautiful homes in the Garden District are really something to see so don't miss that. You will see a snipet of it on the street car getting to Commander's. Even if you don't eat there, don't miss taking the street car down St. Charles.

              1. I hope nobody minds me posting without a restaurant recommendation (I was looking through the posts for advice on an upcoming trip) but wanted to mention some food for thought.
                Above all a memorable restaurant proposal relies heavily on the staff- make sure that wherever you go they are happy to assist you in creating an amazing, personal evening.
                I also second the idea of the carraige ride around the French Quarter...maybe after dinner and propose on the ride in front of or at a designated destination? A wonderful way to prolong the evening.
                Again- hope no one minded the somewhat unrelated post- but this hopeless romantic couldn't help herself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jaltstatt

                  That's very sound advice, having the restaurant prepared in advance for what is coming would really help and most places would love to be in on it. I can see Commander's making it a very memorable meal for them. Or even Brigsten's but the tables are sooooo close together there that it might not feel right for everyone else to hear the proposal. But that would depend on the couple.

                  Personally, I would want to be proposed to at Gal's. Downstairs. But only if I were going to say yes - lol. They would mob you if things went bad :-)

                  If he were to propose on the carriage ride, he could let the driver in on it and perhaps the driver would know a nice spot to unexpectedly stop for a few minutes.

                2. Harrison,

                  I have just the restaurant for you, The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel:http://www.grillroomneworleans.com/

                  Talk to the staff about your plans, and they will make it all happen. In my experiences, the concierge there is tops, even above the Ritz-Carlton, and especially above the Roosevelt.

                  Going back a bit, we needed to do a special tea for my niece and her wedding party. Other sources, basically punted, even the Roosevelt, where we were staying in the Louis Armstrong Suite, that was supposed to accommodate a party of 24, but the Windsor Court stepped up, and produced the ultimate party.

                  They will have a carriage waiting, when you are done. They will present the ring, however you might wish.

                  Oh, the food, wine and food/wine service are great too.

                  Enjoy, and congratulations,


                  PS - While Commander's is nice, you will be but a table, amongst many, many more. While good, I do not find it "romantic," since they quit letting me reserve Table 8, now 308, but maybe that is just me.

                  1. a cab to Commander's would be fine, Commanders is a lovely place.

                    If you have your heart on walking, I would try maybe Dominique's . Had some very romantic dinners there. I am not saying it is the best food in New Orleans but it is solid and I have gotten wonderful service there. Granted, I haven't been back in 10 years.

                    EDITED - looks like the Dominque''s we went to at the Hotel Maison DuPuy is no more. The setting was very nice, loved the courtyard and the ambiance. Not sure about the current restaurant there.

                    1. Rib Room at the Omni Royal Orleans has intimate window tables facing Royal St.
                      you could also pick up a bottle of champagne and go flutes at Vieux Carre Wine and Spirits and take a buggy ride before or after dinner. just catch one in front of Jackson Square

                      Rib Room Rotisserie Extrrdnr
                      621 Saint Louis Street, New Orleans, LA 70140

                      1. So as of now, I'm thinking about taking the streetcar down to the Garden District and going to dinner/proposing at Commander's palace. Then I was thinking about going to August the next day or two for the prix fixe lunch to continue the celebration and get our John Besh fix.

                        I am still holding a reservation at August however, and am still trying to figure out of it would be a better place to propose at. My girlfriend would definitely love the "Besh factor" but I don't necessarily want to propose there just for that, and give up the true NOLA romance of Commander's Palace (at least that's how I am picturing things)

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Harrison486

                          The Commander's staff will make this work for you. Call NOW and tell them what you are planning and ask them to suggest a suitable table for the engagement...corner table in the Garden Room would be my suggestion. After she has said "yes!", you can go to all of the Besh restaurants: Luke, Besh Steak House, August, La Provence, American Sector and Domenica. Take a taxi back to the FQ and take a carriage ride.
                          As an aside, do not give the ring to anyone to put in a drink, on the dessert, etc. Keep it on your person until it is on her finger.

                          Commander's Palace Restaurant
                          1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

                          1. re: TaTee

                            I'd be thinking about what places are likely to still be around for signifigant anniversaries. My maternal grandparents were engaged at Antoine's and that held up all their lives.

                            A contemporary of mine did his engagement at an annual function, also at Antoine's, and the ring was presented on a cleaned oyster shell with a steamed glass dome over it. I remember she'd ordered Oysters Foch and wa somewhat taken aback. Went off great with a bottle of Roederer Cristal.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              Eons ago, my husband proposed to me in a private room at Arnaud's. Wonderful waste of money...I could not eat a thing and the wait staff was checking on us continually to see if we needed anything. Great memory.

                              1. re: TaTee

                                Are you saying that proposing at dinner is a bad idea?

                                As far as my reservations at Commander's Palace, I requested a table in the Garden Room underneath the big oak tree. Does that sound good or should I ask for something different? Still have to figure out hat else I want (and can afford) to have set up at CP's for dinner.

                                1. re: Harrison486

                                  Proposing at dinner is a great idea. But with surprises it may not exactly follow your script. That's part of what makes great memories.

                                  I'm afraid I made my proposal a little further down the table, so to speak. It was in the little back dining room at Port of Call. But still a great memory.

                                  1. re: Harrison486

                                    Not at all. I could not have asked for a better proposal site, but we, like you at the time, did not have money to burn...though I did not think about it at the time.
                                    It was only after the babies started to arrive that the $ensible fiduciary thinking crept into my brain. Getting engaged at Commander's will be a fabulous memory for both of you...for many, many years to come.

                                    1. re: TaTee

                                      I agree with you 100%. Certainly Commander's fits along my lines of thought 9above). Maybe Restaurant August will be around in 25 years....I am fairly sure Commander's will be. I think what might work best is for the OP to make an escuse to get away for a few hours and looks at the various venues himself. I'm sure CP would do a bang-up job...not the first time this has happened, after all.

                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                        I agree about Commander's. August is somewhere you could dine at similarly in an city. Commander's is not. It IS New Orleans.

                              2. re: TaTee

                                Just wanted you to know that Besh's Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel has half price drinks and pizza at its 3 PM - 6 PM Happy Hour...easy on the budget and great food.

                                123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                            2. I was looking around the Commander's Palace website and it led me to another question...

                              I currently have reservations for 8:00PM on a Saturday night for dinner.

                              I assumed a fancy, romantic dinner would be the way to go for a proposal. Am I right? Anyone think I'd be better off or have a better experience if I attempted to make reservations during lunch or during one of CP's "Jazz Brunches"?

                              I'm still leaning towards the romantic dinner, just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing out on something that could be more "special".

                              (Thanks for putting up with all of my questions and anxieties)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Harrison486

                                I think the romantic dinner is the way to go. CP is beautiful at night. Lunches are just too casual for such a special occasion.

                                1. re: Harrison486

                                  Commander's is our go-to spot when we want a flawless romantic evening. I've had more exciting food but it's very good and they will take care of you.