Best way to have the best experience at Galatoire's and Antoine's?
I will be in town in June (third visit, first post-Katrina) for 10 days and I fully intend to dine at these two legends. I have eaten at Galatoire's before (upstairs, it was terrific all around) but never at Antoine's.
I don't need (but would always welcome) ordering advice. I will be dressed in dress shoes, a seersucker suit, a tie and a Panama hat (I always wear coat and tie to dine out at any place above a sandwich stand). I have eaten in top-shelf restaurants in six countries, so I know how to conduct myself (generally) in fine establishments, I tip generously and am there to enjoy myself, not nitpick and critique every tiny point.
Extensive reading on these two places, though, seems to indicate that maximum enjoyment (which I surely wish to receive) comes with unlocking certain secrets of each place. Now since I am not a local -- wouldn't mind being one though!!! -- and don't wish to pretend I am one -- couldn't anyway -- just how is this done? Or I am over-thinking and should just go and eat away and have fun? Any little secrets that could make for a special night?
Any advice would be warmly welcomed and I can offer info on Philadelphia/NYC/Paris dining in return for your time and effort. Thanks.
Your second paragraph suggest that you need no advice. Both are welcoming places. I think some people get scared of a reputation. But I wager you have mastered the art of dining out which is as much on the customer as it is on the restaurant. Personally I find that many dinners and restaurants are what you make of them. At lot depends on what the diner brings to the table..literally. So, while I don;t think there are any "secrets" per se, there is alway a back story that people often miss. There is always a "joint" behind the grandeur.
You are aided at Antoine's immensly by the new set up with the Hermes Bar, in the old President's Room. You can go in there and have a drink and ask for a tyour of the place. This will get you an introdution to a waiter whom you can size up. I'd mention that I am thinking of eathing there, say, tomorrow and can he help? Now you've got an ally. At dinner (both places) I'd let the waiter know your preferences. "A martini for now, maybe an appetizer in twenty minutes?" Let him know your pace as subtly as you can. In Galatoire's this is easier becuase you have much more time. I like to go at 2:30 or 3:00 and I might not get to a main course until 5:30 or later.
Every restaurant worth a damn has its quirks and part of the fun is finding them for yourself.(Where, for example, is the risque photograph of the month hidden? I don't know that either does that anymore--haven't looked--but I doubt it.) There are a few waiters I like that others don't care for but I am fairly easy to wait on and don't care for fawning so the old, ambling guy is fine with me. Besides, I like it when, if he's not busy, the waiter sits and chats. This drives self-proclaimed critics crazy...and I love it.
Judging by my evening at Antoine's about ten days ago, you will be the best dressed man in the place. Staffers like that: it shows respect for the house and for them. After all, THEY must wear a waiter's tux.
Don't rush but...and I need not tell you this...just remember that the waiter and busboy and kitchen guys want to go home sometime. Nothing upsets me more that a table that is deliberately waiting someone else out to brag about "closing X last night." It is just plain rude.