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Mar 5, 2012 03:04 PM

Starving Student Couple Needs Advice on One Fancy Meal

Hello Chowhound! My boyfriend and I are going to New Orleans next week and, as college students, we are planning to eat cheaply and rarely. However, my birthday is on Thursday and my dear parents have given me an amazing gift: they will treat us to dinner for two at any restaurant of our choosing. Which leaves me with a dilemma- in one of the greatest eating towns in the world, what restaurant should I pick for our special meal? I've done some preliminary research and already eliminated Antoine's as it sounds too stuffy. Right now I'm thinking Emeril's or Commander's Palace. Each place comes with caveats, however: Commander's Palace suffers from some of the same stuffiness that Antoine's seemed to suffer from and I'm worried Emeril's won't seem "special" enough for a romantic birthday dinner. I'm also worried that both places are too touristy, and perhaps coast on their laurels.
Thus, I offer this question to Chowhound: if you had to choose one upscale restaurant in New Orleans, what would it be? In terms of what we're looking for, my boyfriend and I are definitely looking to eat Cajun or Creole food (it's the best place in the world to do so, after all). We also are looking for a place that won't look down on college kids who might not be familiar with the world of haute cuisine, without jackets required. We want someplace authentic, maybe with a bit of history and presence, with good drinks and mind-blowing food. What would the Chowhound community recommend? Thank you in advance for the advice!

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  1. Hmm... Coquette, Dante's, Green Goddess, MiLa, Sylvain, Boucherie, Brigtsens.

    1. Commander’s isn’t too touristy and it would be a memorable meal. It’s not stuffy like Antoine’s either. If you can bring a sportcoast for your boyfriend, it would be my choice for 1 over the top meal. Otherwise I’d go toward the other end of the spectrum and go somewhere small and romantic like Brigtsen’s or Stella.

      1. 2nd that emotion for Brigtsen's. Can't imagine a trip to NO without a visit, especially with a special occasion to celebrate.

        1. I would choose Bayona and sit on the patio if the weather is nice. Other places that you may also like that IMO fits your criteria are: Dante's Kitchen, Clancy's, Pelican Club, Lilette, One Rest and Grill, Brigtsen's.

          1. From the two you mention I would definitely pick Commander's. In our last trip (last year) we ate at Emeril's one night and Commander's the next. There really was no comparison in terms of overall experience. Commander's was like theater (good theater) and Emeril's was like dinner.

            For example we had a few mix ups with our drink orders at Commander's which our server rectified with aplomb. She ended up giving us a tour of the kitchen which was a treat. At Emeril's the service was rather laissez faire and many of the other customers seemed to be posing and posturing rather than experiencing a fine meal. The food was fine at both places, but the experience was worlds apart. There also seemed to be more New Orleans type people in Commander's (a big birthday party that was obviously mostly locals for example) and more auslanders at Emeril's. But I have to admit I didn't ask to see everyone's drivers licenses so it could just be my fantasy of CP.

            1 Reply
            1. re: omoshiroi

              Thank you! These suggestions are all so appealing!