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Apr 16, 2012 08:24 PM

San Francisco Hound Coming to New Orleans: Please Critique My List for My First Visit!!!

Greetings New Orleans ! I am so excited to be visiting your beautiful city in 3 weeks for a total of 3 days/ 4 nights. We have never been and always wanted to dine in New Orleans...and listen to jazz, sit in Cafe du Monde, the list goes on...
My idea for the trip is sort of a lunch, dinner, and special pastry or ice cream snacks here and there, and pretend as if we'll do one cocktail or bar and some coffee destination. Our sightseeing schedule is very flexible...we are hoping one night to see Preservation Hall since we've enjoyed seeing them each 4th of July when they perform at Stanford.
Thanks to your all of your wonderful recommendations on other threads with helpful suggestions, these are the ideas I've come up with:

Dinners (4): Emeril's, August, Commander's Palace, Cochon

Contenders: Lilette (really hoping somehow to get here), Herbsaint, Stella!, Revolution, Jacques-imo, Three Muses, Sylvain

Lunch (3): Since there are 4 of us, I figure we can share smaller sampling lunches to try more places-- Central Grocery/Acme Oyster or Casamento's, po boy at Domilise's/ gumbo at Dooky Chase, Willie Mae's Scotch House
Contenders: an old timer like Brenna's or Gautreau's or Arnaud's

Snacks/Breakfast if we feel like it: Cafe du Monde, Stanley's

Cocktails/ Bars: French 75, Cure, Windsor Court's bar, Bar Uncommon, plus a good beer pub or two like Avenue Pub

Coffee: Cafe du Monde, P.J.'s, Fair Grinds...looking for some other coffeehouses, but having trouble finding threads on them.

Please let me know your thoughts, I'm sure the list will be a little trimmed once we arrive, but it just shows how exciting it is to visit and dine and drink in New Orleans! Thank you so much!!!

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  1. Looks like a good list. I have not hit a few, but then the "locals" love them, and they know better, than I do.

    Be forewarned - portion sizes in NOLA are on the large side. DO talk to your server, if doing a lunch, and a dinner. We are NOT talking the portions at Campton Place here, and especially for their tasting menu. Watch out, or you WILL be over-filled, and uncomfortable. Once, I could do a very early breakfast, then a lunch, and still do dinner. I can no longer do that.

    Though I am not the "go-to guy" for bars, I would add The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, in your mix.

    Now, for breakfast, I really like Stanley!, but others not so much. I would also think about The Original Coffee Pot (nee Maxie's Coffee Pot), but only early, if you want to try for three meals in one day. They are right next to Pat O'Brien's on St. Peter St, and if you get a table at the window, or the first table in the patio, the "people-watching" on St. Peter St. is well-worth the time. The ladies there are kicks, but can seem abrasive to some. Roll with their "punches," and you will soon make new friends.

    Service in NOLA is unique - friendly, familiar, but with a hint of an "edge." If you are laid-back, everyone will love you.

    To give you my SF "perspective," we are there at least once per month, and I love the Four Seasons for breakfast, then Farallon, Luce, Ame, Campton Place, Jardiniarie and the old Michael Mina's, before Bourbon Steak. We greatly miss the old Aqua, pre-MM, and also have been known to hang out at the Ferry Plaza Wine bistro, with a few cheese platters.

    Most of all, enjoy what was once my "home town."


    5 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Hunt, thanks so much for your help! SF sends its best!
      I actually just went to the "new" Michael Mina...was terrific as it used to be, but the atmosphere has become far less elegant than in the Westin or old Aqua...would you consider Mina similar to John Besh in terms of level of cooking and restaurant at August?
      Ferry Plaza wine bistro is doing well, was just there yesterday. Flour & Water, AQ, and Aziza (and Coi and Benu at a different price point) are the bold, spectacular places right now in SF from my experience the past few months.
      Do we need to reserve in advance 3-4 weeks in New Orleans like many SF places?
      Hope all is well!

      - Trevor

      1. re: pats38sox

        OK, let's see if I can do this, without getting too far OT for the New Orleans Board.

        For years, we loved the old Michael Mina's at the St. Francis. We also felt similar for the old Aqua (a few years back).

        Back at the height of Michael Mina's (St. Francis), I thought that he was at about the same level, as Chef Besh.

        Times changed, and Michael Mina's changed, moving to the old Aqua location. Though the original chef was brought on board, nothing really "sang" for us. Have only dined at the new Michael Mina's (old Aqua) once, but did their full tasting menu, in hopes of capturing the "magic," that we had come to know.

        We tried to do the "new" Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak, in the St. Francis, though neither are really big "steakhouse" fans. Unfortunately, we were delayed getting into SFO, due to weather, and they had filled, so we did Farallon.again, instead. Have not yet been to Bourbon Steak, so cannot comment.

        Based on our experiences, I would typify Chef Besh's August to be more in line with Restaurant Gary Danko.

        Now, and with all of that said, we are about to attend an even at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN, that features Chef Mina, with some great French wine makers. I will report on that event on CH. I have many great memories of Chef Mina, but just not with the more recent iterations.

        I have also not done some of the Chef Besh restaurants, though my wife has done at least one more, than I have, though at a culinary event, so that probably does not count "full credit."

        As for reservations, I do book early, whether in NOLA, or SF. I hate missing out on any chosen restaurant.

        We're back to SF in late May, and all reservations were made a few weeks ago. We are in NOLA in July, and most reservations have been made. It's still a bit too far out for all, but when we get back from London and Blackberry Farm, we will complete those.

        Regarding the two cities, I would say that SF fills up a tad earlier, but that is said with a great big dose of "usually." Throw in one largish convention, or an event (seem to be almost every week in NOLA now), and all bets are off.

        We have been trying to schedule Coi, but, to date, our schedules have not worked out. We normally fly in on Sunday afternoon, and dine together, and then, while wife is doing a dinner meeting I dine alone, and at a new place, in hopes of taking her there, the Sunday of the next trip. So far, it has not worked out, but I am still planning. Will let you know, when the stars align and I (or better yet, we) make it.



        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Hunt, have you tried The Canteen in SFO?

          I had an amazing meal there. Small diner with a different menu every day. The evening I went there was only one choice for a four course meal. And for you the wine list is very very short.

          1. re: collardman

            Just a quick request, folks -- please take SF discussion to the SF board. It's fine to start a thread there and invite people here to participate in it.

      2. re: Bill Hunt

        Hey San Francisco. Berkeley here and Hunt is right about portion sizes. On my first trip to New Orleans, I planned to eat four meals a day. That didn't even last a day. I was stuffed and bringing fried chicken from Chez Helene back to my hotel room for a midnight snack and then tossing the rest. Pace yourself.

        Haven't been south in 15 years, but I would work Brigtsen's onto your dinner list. Sort of a similar sensibility to some of our California restaurants. For lunch, you might try Bon Ton Cafe for a Tadich Grill-like experience New Orleans style..

      3. My personal preferences would be as follows: Go to Herbsaint instead of Cochon, and maybe plan a cocktail/snack break at Cochon Butcher. R'evolution isn't open yet and has been fraught with delayed opening for like a year now. I'd cross that right off. Lilette, eh. Rather go to Coquette or La Petite Grocery. Sylvain is a great choice for the FQ, and the Three Muses is a great place to drink, eat, and listen to music. And of course you can move down Frenchmen throughout the night.

        Definitely go for Casamento's over Acme, take your muff from Central Grocery home with you (but plan ahead- they are closed Sunday and Monday!), and I think the best "old timer" for lunch would be Galatoire's. Johnny's in the Quarter is good for poboys, as is Parkway. Or the RB at Parasol's.

        Cocktails/Bars- go to the Avenue Pub in the evening for awesome beer and sit out on the Balcony (go upstairs) which overlooks St. Charles. French 75 and Cure for sure. Also try Belloq in Lee Circle (can walk or take the streetcar to it after the Avenue Pub, and try some food at Chef Domenique's Tamarind) and Bar Tonique on North Rampart. I am also partial to the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.

        Coffee: there's a new place on Magazine Street called Velvet, which is supposed to be AMAZING. They also pull a decent espresso at Angelo Brocato's in Mid City, where you can go after a poboy at Parkway and also enjoy lemon ice and/or cannoli and/or spumoni. If you go to a regular coffee shop with multiple locations, I recommend Community Coffee's CC Coffeehouses over PJ's.

        OK, that's all the opinionating I've got for now!

        1 Reply
        1. re: noradeirdre

          I favor your variation. Herbsaint over Cuchon and to drop Bar Uncommon (not the same without Mr. Chris)

          While the food is good several of us have had very strange service probelms at Lillette.

          For a lunch think about Cafe Reconcile. Good down home food with a good purpose.

        2. For sure try to get a lunch in at Coquette. It's an amazing deal if you can get there esp. for the $20 for three courses. Sylvain is kind of like anything you could get in SF, however they make a nice cocktail and have a beautiful patio, so some of these places, if you can't fit in a meal, go for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere.
          Also on the cocktail list: Napoleon House. Skip the food but at least go in for a Pimms Cup and the beautiful room/patio.
          Last trip we needed a snack in the afternoon and just stopped in to Herbsaint, sat at the bar and had a bowl of gumbo. Incredible ! don't miss it !

          1 Reply
          1. re: piglet3000

            Commander's for lunch (instead of dinner) in the garden room. M-F.

          2. Wouldn't bother much with coffee shops in NOLA, since you're coming from SF. Velvet on Magazine St is a tiny place, but you can get a proper espresso...doesn't roast its own, though (Stumptown beans). We don't have as big a coffee geek culture here as SF, by a long shot. La Divina's espresso is also good.

            Wouldn't bother with Domilese (sorry, fans). Revolution's not open yet, scratch Jacques-Imos off the list for sure, and Gautreau's is not old school like Brennan's or Arnaud's (though it is certainly worth a visit ahead of the old school places, IMHO).

            3 Replies
            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              as a defender of Jacque-Imo's ill pipe in -- i think its great fun. funky atmosphere, unusual dishses you wont find in SF (such as Alligator Cheesecake, deep-fried roast beef poboy, seafood stuffed pork chop, etc) kickass fried chicken. some good music bars nearby too, so it's a culture win.

              1. re: kibbles

                I agree with Hungry Celeste, skip Jacques-Imos. Yes, it's funky with some unusal dishes but the food is mediocre at best. You can dine far better for about the same price elsewhere.

                1. re: JazzyB

                  again, i disagree...i think the dishes i mentioned are in fact good -- not everything has to be August or Emeril's, and thats okay. true they have too many items on the menu and some arent worth it, but the dishes i mentioned are. and the fried chicken our favorite anywhere. our guests always enjoy it and have great fun to boot.

                  but maybe my tastes are just mediocre at best?

            2. OK, I'll chime in. I'm not local but have made about 20 trips in past 2 years, mainly focusing on eating.

              Dinners- LOVE all 4. Don't need to change a thing.

              Contenders- Stella and Lilette were two of the best dinners I've had in Nola. Might sub out Emeril's (above) and add either of those two as a dinner instead. Herbsaint was good but not great but we ate there last Mardi Gras and the place was nuts, so will go again next week. Jacques-Imo was not great and stupidly crowded and doesn't take reservations and is too far away, so forget it. Sylvain was nice, good little courtyard behind it, but mainly interesting in that they serve late. Wouldn't bother unless I needed dinner at 11 PM. (BTW, odd how Nola has so few places serving late, but that's a different topic.)

              Lunch- Central Grocery- Meh. Famous but not so great. Acme- I found it VERY disappointing. Would take the oysters from Dragos (especially chargrilled) any time over Acme (though we went to the one in Metairie, not FQ. Hope the ones in FQ are as good.) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Casamentos and would go there in a heartbeat. Would add Stanley for lunch. Have had a couple of great lunches there.

              Drinks-agree with Cure, second Carousel Bar.

              Have a great trip!