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Romantic, Fine & Fairly Intimate Dinner

Looking to make a big first impression on first time visitor to New Orleans, who may be the love of my life. I'm considering Brigtsen's heavily, but am worried about what I recall to be very limited privacy (maybe it's actually ok for a first big date). Stella! has also crossed my mind. I've been away for 30 years and am just returning to the city. Any places I should clearly consider?

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  1. Do you want Uptown, Garden District or the French Quarter? Figuring price is not an object, but if it is, give us your comfort range. Day of the week, month, lunch or dinner?

    1 Reply
    1. re: TaTee

      Sorry for the delayed reply...I'm looking to spend in the $200 range (hopefully a little less) without alcoholic drinks. Wednesday night, April 25th. Another twist, no dairy at all! Also, looking for something out of the French Quarter since we will spend a lot of time there already. Thanks.

    2. Stick with Brigsten's and ask Marna/Sandy/Rhonda to specifically seat you in the small room nearest Dante Street. That'll make it much more intimate, as there are only 2-3 tables in that room.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sanglier

        I chuckle because for me (and obviously not everyone) having only a few tables makes it *less* intimate, since conversations don't get lost in the noise. I find that Bayona hits the sweet spot for romantic but while the food's always excellent, the service can be hit or miss.

        For what it's worth, when I've dined at Stella I've found that the service to be lacking in a specific way: you're supposed to feel honored to be there and eating their food. It's fine, as far as it goes, but the food's not *that* good[*] and it makes for an evening of living up to the restaurant's expectations of you rather than the other way around. In short, they're not particularly hospitable.

        [*] Compared to similar fine dining I find that the food's lacks a sense of narrative, their tasting menu fails to tell a story ... compared with, say Emeril's (say what you will, they're very good at a tasting menu) or Menton (Boston), which are about the same price point, Stella's tasting feels like a collection of dishes rather than a coherent meal. Maybe I'm too picky but when they drop a $700 tab (for two), I feel entitled to nitpick.

        1. re: montuori

          Wow.

          I have only dined at Stella! seven times, and with different needs, and have NEVER felt, as you have. The service has always been 100% for us, whether it was just my wife and me, or her mother, with two nurses. Sorry that you have experienced otherwise.

          Food and service have always been great for us.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Hey there, I didn't meant to dump on the place too much. Stella was a solid B+ experience for both food and service. In terms of New Orleans service (which I find inconsistent) it was above the odds but not the level of hospitality I've come to expect at similar price points in Boston or New York.

            What stuck with me from my last visit was the waiter dropping the check alongside our desserts ... that's just never acceptable. It had been a tough night for the restaurant, they lost their water half way through dinner service (but before we arrived). While I can sympathize at the difficulty, a top-tier restaurant would have either put on a happy face and not passed their woes along to their guests or would have suggested we dine elsewhere that evening and secured us alternate reservations. That, for me, is the difference between the B+ and an A.

            Foodwise every dish individually has been well executed. It lacked a "wow factor" but that's okay, most food does. My recommendation would be to opt for a la carte rather than the tasting.

            All that said, I don't doubt for a second you and others have had fine experiences there. If the prices were about 15% less, I'd probably rave about the place. As it stands, they've set themselves up as a first-tier restaurant but (at a national level) fall short--in my opinion.

            (Or maybe I just need a 15% raise!)

            1. re: montuori

              Do not apologize. Restaurants are a personal experience.

              While they have always come through for us, on about six visits, with different requirements, some have not had such good fortune. Others have complained that the fare is not 100% New Orleans cuisine. That may be true, but I have found many New Orleans, plus Deep South elements, in all of our dishes.

              In any discussion on the prices, I have to quickly admit that we dine in cities, where NOLA prices are almost unheard of - low. That is one reason that I suggest that NOLA dining is one of the best "bargains" on the globe. We now live in a "resort city," and often travel to such, around the world, so maybe I have become a bit numb to prices.

              No, you are anything BUT alone, regarding Stella!. My observations, while always good, might be a tad jaded. Such can happen.

              When one dines, at any "fine-dining" restaurant, ALL should wow. When it does not, then one has reason to be sensitive. That is their right.

              I'd have to look back at my reviews, and my notes, but think that we have mostly done the "tasting menu." Still, we have been there many times, and with different guests, so, I might be wrong. My wife and I, most often do a "tasting menu," and usually a "sommelier's pairing," if available, to get a better taste of the kitchen, in smaller courses.

              Thanks,

              Hunt

              PS - I think that we could ALL stand a raise! [Grin]

        2. re: sanglier

          Do you think they could accommodate my date that is deathly allergic to dairy? I will probably call and inquire.

        3. To me, either would be great.

          Brigtsen's is a tad more "laid back," but great.

          Stella! is more "intimate," but the food and service, have always wow'ed us.

          Enjoy!

          Hunt

          1. Brightsen's is small, but the food is delicious. My choices would include Commander's, Galatoire's, Arnaud's, and possibly August. Make sure you tell whomever you choose that this is a "special" occassion and they will usually rise to the meet your expectations.

            2 Replies
            1. re: TaTee

              Hey, that is a good list. For some personal experience reasons, CP's would be near the bottom, but I cannot fault the list.

              Thank you,

              Hunt

              1. re: TaTee

                Thanks TaTee for the reminder about "special occassion", I might have miss it. Thanks for the other suggestions.

              2. As a follow-up to my original post, my date is deathly allergic to any dairy (eggs are ok). She has also advised me that she enjoys Thai and Mexican. Any restaurant suggestions that would give the greatest food selections given her adversion to dairy? The big date is Wed., April 25th if that helps. Thanks!

                4 Replies
                1. re: KingBacchus

                  If she is deathly allergic, then you need to tell any restaurant when you make the reservation, regardless of type of cuisine.

                  'Cause we put butter in everything.

                  I wouldn't specifically aim for a certain type of food just because it typically has less dairy. Just about every *good* restaurant should be able to accommodate you, you've just got to tell them when you make the reservation. I'd trust a place with a chef with good reputation/background with these instructions/restrictions much more than I would want go to a more mediocre restaurant where you'd just be aiming for the possibility of dairy-free stuff on the menu.

                  Some places outside of the quarter in/under that price range: Le Petite Grocery, Lilette, Coquette, Patois, Clancy's, Brigtsen's, or Gabrielle (at the Uptowner) (weekends only). I don't know what's generally accepted as "romantic" or "intimate," but in the opinion of this mid/late-20s lady, I'd be happy to be taken on a date to any of the above.

                  1. re: culinas

                    Thanks for the additional suggestions. I've got reservations at Brigtsen's but will check into others. I agree about the butter predicament...I'm already considering dropping anything boiled from the eating options while she's here...one meal at a time for sure.

                    1. re: KingBacchus

                      April 25 is in two days! Hope all goes well. Agree with Culinas' suggestions and would also add Commander's Palace to the list. Lots of good dining in this city. Thai and Mexican: look into a restaurant called Mayas, 2027 Magazine Street. Cool little spot.

                  2. re: KingBacchus

                    Now that the big date has passed, I am curious where you ended up dining, and how the experience was.