Trip Report: March 26-30
Here's a report of my visit to NOLA this past week. Thanks to all who provided input and suggestions in response to my pre-trip appeals for info.
Monday, March 26: Arrived in the morning, met my parents at the Windsor Court, and immediately headed uptown to try the roast beef poorboy at Parasol's followed by the same at Tracey's. My father and I split a poorboy at each establishment (dressed with swiss and extra gravy on the side) and pronounced Parasol's the far better poorboy (though Tracey's wasn't bad either). Parasol's was right up there with the best RB poor boys I've had.
We headed back to the hotel in time to greet my wife and daughter who flew in separately from me. My wife and I managed to walk to Lee Circle to get a glimpse of the Modern and Baroq, which looked great. We also managed to peak in to Sweet Olive in the Saint Hotel, which looked nice. We then had dinner in the hotel at the Grill Room with our daughter (it was part of the package we purchased) and had a nice, if uneven, meal. The service was very good and we had a very nice sazerac to start. My gumbo, which I ordered off the bar menu, was dark and smoky and my wife enjoyed her Belgian endive salad with a Niman Ranch farm egg. My wife didn't really like her red snapper with pasta and crabmeat, though. I enjoyed my grouper with shrimp, potatoes, andouille, corn, and shrimp boil. We liked our peanut butter semifreddo for dessert and our daughter managed to stay happy throughout the meal and liked her pasta, as well as her PB&J amuse. So a good meal overall.
Though I didn't get specifics, my parents LOVED their dinner at August on Monday. They raved about it.
On Tuesday, we had lunch at Dooky Chase. I was kind of prepared for slow service, but was looking forward to the atmosphere, the gumbo, and the fried chicken. The service was indeed quite slow (though earnest), but the place has a transcendent charm to it. I found the fried chicken to be very good and liked the gumbo as well. Overall, the food was not great and, although I was glad I went, I don't think I will go back. My wife and my parents had a similar reaction to the place.
Tuesday evening my parents babysat and I took my wife to Bullet's Sports Bar to catch Kermit Ruffins. They have BBQ out front as well as a food truck serving a variety of poor boys, burgers, and other stuff. We had reservations for Coquette on Tuesday, but ended up staying at Bullets and having a very good oyster poorboy from the food truck (I can't remember the name. Can someone help?). Both the show and the poorboy were very satisfying.
On Wednesday, we rented a car. We were able to drive all over the city and went out to Don Phuong in New Orleans East for a great lunch. I tried a couple of the Banh Mi sandwiches made on homemade French Bread and they were great. The bread was the star and I came to find out that they supply other restaurants, including the Green Goddess. Others had the pho, which was also very good. Definitely worth the trip. We toured Pontchartrain Park before lunch and afterward drove down through Chalmette and then through the Lower 9th Ward before hitting Freret Street for a snowball for my daughter. I didn't eat but walked by Dat Dog, which looked fun.
Wednesday evening we all went out to the Bywater to try Bacchannal. Though the music was not up and running yet, we had a good time sitting in the garden drinking a couple of bottles of wine and eating the very good food. My pork chop was delicious. Our cheese and bread were excellent, and my wife loved her freshly made salad. We will be back to hear music and enjoy more food that will soon be made in a new kitchen.
On Thursday we had my birthday lunch at Galatoire's. We went at about 1:45 to avoid the crowds and got right in. My wife had also arranged to have a birthday cake served (it was my 40th) that she picked up from Cake Cafe earlier that day. Suffice it to say that our meal was absolutely fantastic. This was my second visit to Galatoire's and the second home run I've had there. Our server, Andi, was very nice and helpful and we ended up the last patrons of the lunch service so had the place to ourselves at the end. We started with the appetizer platter containing the crabmeat maison, shrimp maison, shrimp creole, and oysters en brochette. We enjoyed some perfect dirty martinis and I had a fine glass of pinot gris, turtle soup, pompano with crabmeat Yvonne, birthday cake, and finished with a cafe brulot and some sweet potato cheesecake. Needless to say, none of us could eat dinner that night. But it was the perfect birthday lunch.
Friday was our last day in town and we managed to hit Cafe Du Monde in the morning, after which I picked up a muffuletta from Central Grocery for the plane ride home that evening, and then we still had time for a fantastic lunch at the Green Goddess. I had a great bloody mary and couldn't resist the chance at another banh mi sandwich on the same Don Phuong bread, this time with pork belly and shrimp. My wife loved her fried oyster salad with pickled veggies and my mother loved her shrimp and grits. My daughter had fun learning about black salt from Hawaill and watching our server extract water from fresh coconuts. It was a great meal and we will be back.
My wife watched in awe (really it was disgust) as I wolfed down my 1/2 muffuletta on the plane ride home. I savored the sandwich as the final meal of a very successful trip.
Although I haven't lived in NOLA since I was 5 years old, I continue to be drawn to it and it feels as much like home as anywhere else I've lived. Can't wait to go back and dream of buying a place there one day.
Sounds like a very well planned, well-spread-out trip! And what a good call on renting a car and getting out and about. I'd like to do the same on my next trip down.
What are some of your other "go-to" places for a RB poor boy, aside from those you hit this time?
Envious on your catching Kermit too! He was playing during my last trip too, but I couldn't make it on that particular night (though I have seen him in NYC, which I'm sure isn't nearly the same thing).
Thanks. Other places I would recommend for a roast beef poor boy include Parkway, Crabby Jack's, and Domilise's. The Parkway version with extra gravy is very good. They make a duck poorboy at Crabby Jack's that is awesome. Brett Anderson, the critic for the Times-Picayune, is doing a whole series on the RB poorboy where he has already reviewed like 25 places. Look that up to get more info. There are lots of good places I have not yet tried.
Definitely get to Bullet's on a Tuesday to see Kermit. It is a great venue. I'm going to plan my trips so I'm in town on Tuesday evening from now on.