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Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

When I can afford it, both time and money-wise, I love to settle in New Orleans for three weeks at a time, relaxing and grazing. It's my favorite solo vacation and it's where I am right now, my first such trip in about four-and-a-half years. I got in last Tuesday afternoon, staying in an apartment in the quiet end of the Quarter. This first week I've hit mostly new places, at least to me. I won't go into depth on every meal but a few highlights need to be mentioned, starting with my first dinner at Tommy's. Really liked this place and it was a classic way to begin the trip. Baked oysters (half Tommys, half Bienvilles) were fantastic, I couldn't decide which I liked better. Black drum Capri was also good, bread pudding just ok.

Wonderful roast beef poor boy at Johnny's for lunch the next day, then a late supper at Rue 127. They were doing a sweetbreads risotto, which was pretty amazing, especially the sweetbreads themselves, which were perfect, maybe the best I've ever had. I was kind of underwhelmed with the rest of the meal however.

Thursday night was dinner at Galatoire's, the only place I know I'll hit a few more times in the coming weeks. Martini, Crabmeat Maisson, Shrimp Remoulade, Turtle Soup, Soft-Shell Crab, all great. My timing was also pretty good: Bill Clinton was dining there that night.

Nursed a hangover the next morning with a big bowl of gumbo at Two Sisters Kitchen: Really potent stuff, easily one of the best gumbos in the city. Dinner at Coquette that night was very good, if not quite as great as the first time I ate there two years ago. Guy's Po-Boys and Hansen's Sno-Bliz for Saturday lunch, and a very late supper at La Boca that night. It was my first time there and I opted for the "skin-on" skirt steak -- which was indeed delicious but ohmygod was it rich. Like some weird steak meuniere or something. Not only could I not finish it, but I think it's still digesting two days later.

For dinner last night I tried Root, which was not bad but not nearly as good as I was hoping for. Picked up some red beans and rice from Matassa's Market for lunch today and am heading to Crescent Pie and Sausage for dinner tonight.

Stay tuned.

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  1. I love your travel philosophy. I think it's always best to try and explore the depth of a place and give it the time it deserves. When it comes to eating in New Orleans that is especially true.

    I have a (much shorter) trip coming up next month and am getting frustrated about the amount of things I have to leave out. I'm making a resolution that the next time I go to New Orleans I go for at least 2 weeks. But I look forward to the rest of your installments.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ndukka562

      <<I love your travel philosophy. I think it's always best to try and explore the depth of a place and give it the time it deserves. When it comes to eating in New Orleans that is especially true.

      I have a (much shorter) trip coming up next month and am getting frustrated about the amount of things I have to leave out.>>

      I agree completely. After living in NOLA for a decade (though a few decades ago), I feel the same way. All of our trips are far, far too short. We also usually have family events, that remove nights from the list, but such is life.

      We're back about 2 - 3 times per year, but with limitations, and we ALWAYS have to leave out restaurants. i try to keep a list going, with the new, and the "must-dos," from the wonderful locals, and others, on CH. Still, we end up missing too much.

      I try to do about 2 -3 "old favs." and throw in a few new options. Sometimes, things do work out, but not that often.

      Enjoy your trip, and do not try to do it all - that WILL hurt.


    2. On your return visits to Galatoire's I recommend the soft shell sauteed (rather than fried), the canape lorenzo if someone back there will load it up with crabmeat, and the oysters en brochette with black butter.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hazelhurst

        Thanks for the suggestions Hazelhurst. I am hoping to try some different menu items this trip and the Canapé Lorenzo was already on my radar (no doubt from one of your posts). My next visit however will be lunch Thursday when my girlfriend is in town and I'll probably let her choose the appetizers.

      2. By Monday my stomach was feeling a little fragile from adjusting to my New Orleans itinerary, so went relatively light for dinner at Crescent Pie and Sausage: a half order of jambalaya (which was still about three times bigger than I was expecting) and some boudin, which I'm happy to report was the best I've ever found in New Orleans (though I've never gotten it at Jazz Fest). Tuesday I did a progressive lunch of Gumbo Ya-Ya at Mr B's and half a shrimp poor boy from Felix's. The Gumbo Ya-Ya was good but barely warm and I've never thought of it as the best gumbo around. The bowl I had last week at Two Sisters on Derbigny was much more to my taste. Late supper that night at the Pelican Club, which I'd never been to before. I made a meal of four appetizers and liked it a bunch. Standouts were the escargots and, especially, the seafood martini.

        Wednesday my girlfriend arrived in town for three days and we had dinner reservations at Domenica, which came thru in a big way. The Burrata mozzarella and the calabrese pizza were great, as was my oxtail stracci, but the grand prize went to the squid-ink tagliolini that Silvia ordered. Wow: single best thing I've tasted on the trip so far. A second dinner may well be in the cards.

        Had a typical (wonderful) lunch at Galatoire's today, no adventurous appetizers but first-rate pompano. Late supper (9:30) reservations at August tonight. Will report back.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Boatman

          The snapper in tarragon pistou I had at August was really, really great.

          Are you going to any more new places? I really enjoyed Maurepas Foods (green onion sausage with fig jam and arancini was a great plate) and Green Goddess (especially the spagetti with tuna heart).

          1. re: foodeye

            Thanks much for the suggestions. Both sound great and I do have some open meals next week. Would welcome any ideas. What does anyone think of Meauxbar?

            1. re: Boatman

              we're fans. steak tartare is excellent, as is the "mac & cheese". house-made cocnut sorbee with raspberry sauce is a smooth dessert.

          2. re: Boatman

            agreed on the Domenica squid ink tagliolini -- it is the bomb. short ribs as well.

            1. re: kibbles

              Rabbit porcini tagliatelle at Domenica is truly one of the most amazing pasta dishes I've ever had.

          3. Having a great trip and have hit a fantastic run of meals, starting with Wednesday's dinner at Domenica (described above), followed by Galatoire's, August, Mosca's, Clancey's, and Stella. White asparagus soup was the best appetizer at our August supper. I had the lamb, deeply flavorful, but again my girlfriend chose best in getting the snapper: not the tarragon rendition that foodeye mentioned, but still a perfectly balanced dish, hard to tell where the fish stopped and the sauce/foam started. Silvia couldn't stop talking about it.

            Had been planning to skip lunch Friday but ended up stopping for a quick bite at Green Goddess. Had the lentil pancake and manchego grits, both of which were fine but left feeling that I hadn't really gotten the full Green Goddess experience. Mosca's that night was great as always and we overordered out of necessity as always as well: crab salad (a concession to Silvia, who doesn't care for chicken), Italian oysters, spaghetti bordelaise, chicken a la grande, and they finally had the sausage when I was there. It was wonderful -- but I ate very little of everything and was the most stuffed I've been on the whole trip. With this and the La Boca experience, my body seems finally to be letting me know that there is such a thing as too rich.

            Split a half muffaletta at Napoleon House Saturday afternoon. We both thought it needed more olive salad and that heating it doesn't really improve anything. Late supper that night at Clancey's, where I hadn't been in ten years and which I didn't remember being quite as awesome as it was this night. Wow, did it come thru: Crabmeat salad with a creamy roasted-pepper dressing, sweetbreads (better than at August the night before), and veal with crab and bearnaise! And top-shelf service. Easily my favorite meal of the trip so far.

            My girlfriend had extended her stay by a couple days and Stella was a last-minute dinner addition on Sunday. We were lucky, got in at 8:45, and did the tasting menu, which I'd done once before. Standouts were loup de mer (which involved a scallop mouse, sweet corn puree, and tarragon sauce), beef tenderloin (with perfectly charred ramps and a smoked bone-marrow bearnaise), and truffled mushroom risotto (which we added on). Wonderful meal, wonderful service, wonderful Nola visit with a lot of it still ahead. On my own again today and dining at MiLa tonight. Let's talk again soon.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Boatman


              Interesting to see Ramps in NOLA. Just came back from Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN, where those are much more common, and had many dishes, that featured them.

              Glad that you enjoyed Stella! They do not receive a lot of love on this board, but we've dined there 6 - 8 times, and they have always come through for us, and we have thrown them some "curves."

              Thank you,


              1. re: Boatman

                I just returned from lunch at Napoleon House and I had the same view of the muff, not enough olive salad. It was unbalanced and a bit dry.

                Meauxbar is next on my list and expect to go this or next weekend. My business partner lives just up the street from there and he and his wife go frequently and we will be going with them.

              2. To continue: Made a very good dinner out of four appetizers at MiLa Monday night. Their white asparagus soup was disappointing after August's, but everything else shown: barbecue lobster, stuffed squash blossoms, and of course black truffle grits.

                I had the rental car for three more days, so drove to Gretna on Tuesday for a planned progressive lunch. First stop: Pho Tau Bay for chicken pho and spring rolls. The pho had a great flavor that grew deeper with every bite. I was thwarted in my second-course plans however. I was following up on an obscure tip for a great roast-beef poor boy at Donewar's Superette, but when I got there it was locked up solid. A passing neighbor informed me it was due to an illness in the family. So no poor boy.

                My plans to dine at Meauxbar that night also changed when I found I had a chance to see a friend's band play at the Saturn Bar. So dinner became a progressive affair as well: Drink and shrimp remoulade (amazing, as always; to me, the best in town) at Arnaud's French 75 Bar; then drink and Oysters Foch at Antoine's Hermes Bar. I'd tried this dish eleven years ago (when, I get the impression, Antoine's kitchen may have been at low ebb) and just thought it was strange (rather than good), but I'm glad I took a second chance: I liked it a lot this time, the sauce really dense and tasty. (I remember it as pasty and kind of yuck eleven years ago.) The Hermes Bar is a great idea, not the most atmospheric room in town, but you can order absolutely anything off Antoine's menu as a snack (even Baked Alaska, as my bartender pointed out). I also got to try a (fake) Ojen cocktail, which I liked more than I was expecting. Sweet but potent. For a third course (several hours later), I had my first hot sausage poor boy from Gene's Po-Boys -- terrific! Really loved it, again more than I was expecting. Best sandwich of the trip so far.

                Thought about going to one of the NOWFE's wine dinners Wednesday night, but opted instead for Meauxbar, three blocks from where I'm staying, and again had a wonderful meal. Was completely planning to take kibbles's advice on the steak tartare, but there were so many attractive specials, I had to pass on it. Had a very good pate, then the highlight of the meal, a crawfish napoleon: stacked, about the size of a soup can, full of crawfish and avocado. Another special was rabbit etoufee, which I couldn't resist. Made with rabbit, morels, more crawfish, and leeks, more brothy than creamy, over noodles. Didn't make me swoon but more than good.

                Was returning the rental car today, so drove to Metairie for a half-dozen chargrilled oysters at Drago's. I'd forgotten that Morning Call was so close, so went there as well. Yes, the oysters are somewhat better in Metairie than at the Hilton; and yes, Morning Call's coffee and beignets are a notch above Cafe du Monde's. Stopped for good measure at Sal's Sno-Balls, which I'd never seen before. Making a return visit to Galatoire's tonight, with the express purpose of trying some new menu items. I've never had any of the famous crab entrees. Any opinions which way I should go? Sardou? Ravigote? Yvonne?

                8 Replies
                1. re: Boatman

                  Ask them to give you one artchoke heart with the sardou ( a full order is two) and a half order of Yvonne. I like to get extra garlic with the latter. The ravigote is good but I'd opt for the others above it.

                  1. re: Boatman

                    And in related snowball news: When my Donewar's lunch went south, I drove over to Hansen's to freeze my sorrows. I asked them if they'd ever thought of doing a pear flavor. Was told that sure, they'd done that before and would be happy to prepare some for this weekend. So I have a custom pear snowball waiting for me tomorrow.

                    1. re: Boatman

                      Would love to know what the Hermes Bar is using as a substitute for Ojen in their Ojen Cocktail.

                      I used to meet my father at his wonderfully fusty old club on Canal Street, where we'd have a round or two of Ojen cocktails before lunch. This was a very time ago, but I've been fond of anise drinks ever since.

                      1. re: BrooksNYC

                        My guess would be Anis del Mono. A pretty good substitution, though not quite as viscous as Ojen. I found a dusty bottle of Ojen on the back shelf of a wine store in Lafayette a couple of years ago. I allow myself a crack at it once a year....Mardi Gras day.

                        1. re: BayouTeche

                          What a lucky find. Ojen on Mardi Gras day was an old Rex tradition!

                          I believe Martin Wine Cellar bought the last 500 cases of Ojen before the distillery closed sometime in the '80s. My last Ojen cocktail was at Antoine's in '04.

                            1. re: BrooksNYC

                              Many say that you are a person, of few words, and I see what they mean.


                        2. re: Boatman

                          i would have skipped the tartare for a crawfish napoleon, too :). i will be checking that out.

                        3. This very long trip is entering the home-stretch and I'm thinking hard where I want to eat in the final week. I'm going back for a second dinner at Domenica and am probably hitting Brigtsen's as well, but I have probably three dinner slots to fill and would welcome any input from the board. Some places I'm thinking about are Green Goddess, GW Fins, Tomas Bistro, Le Foret, Crescent City Steaks, and Cafe Degas (the only one of these I've been to before). Several lunches are open as well. What do you think: Boucherie? Le Meritage? Maurepas Foods? Dante's? Joey K's? Baru? La Petite Grocery? someplace else? I've never been to Crabby Jack's. Any guess what a cab ride out there would run me? Thanks!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Boatman

                            Try Clancy's. If you get there early enough you can sit at the bar. Lively spot.

                              1. re: FoodChic

                                I have eaten at both Clancy's and Coquette already this trip, both excellent. In fact, my dinner at Clancy's is my #1 meal of the trip, two-and-a-half weeks in. I may go back next week but will more likely opt for some places I haven't tried yet.

                          2. I had seen references on this board to an off-menu white remoulade that Galatoire's would make upon request, but when I asked about it last night, my waiter had never heard of such a thing. Hazlehurst, do you have any input on this? The shrimp maison is not the mysterious white remoulade, is it? Other than this, my dinner last night was a success. When I mentioned I wanted to try some new menu items, the first thing my waiter suggested was your Canape Lorenzo, so went with that: Bigger and maybe a little dryer than I was expecting but very good. Also ordered turtle soup, to ground the meal in the familiar at least a little bit, then took your advice and got small versions of both the Crab Yvonne and Sardou. Was completely knocked out by both of them, with a slight preference for the Sardou. Thanks for your help. Am still hoping to try the oysters en brochette before leaving town.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Boatman

                              You cannot go wrong with the brochette. Next time get the Lorenzo and add a drop of Tabasco to each bite..really wakes it up.(The Illinois Cnetral had that item on the Panama Limited to Chicago..I have never figured out if Galatoire's copied the RR or the other way around.)

                              The remoulade you mentioned was made by Milton who left for Tommy's several years ago. It was the one the Old Man (Mr. Justin Galatoire) had back in the 1950's and 1960's. I have the recipe, somewhere, in his own hand. It is very similar to the present one without the ketchup. It did have paprika, though, and mustard.

                              Try the Godchaux Salad..the Dinkelspeil is also good but they rarely make it anymore.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                When we moved from New Orleans to Chicago, we made twice-yearly trips home on the Panama Limited. What wonderful memories I have of that train!

                                Galatoire's Godchaux Salad is one of my favorite lunch picks. Good anytime, but especially nice on days when you're not in the mood for butter and cream.

                            2. Cabbed it to Liuzza's (by the track) on Friday and had a nice bowl of their gumbo for lunch. Then two dinners where the appetizers and desserts outclassed the entrees. Friday night was Patois, my first time there. Got the gnocchi with crawfish in a great cream sauce and, at the waiter's suggestion, a bowl of their rabbit-andouille gumbo, loved them both. I think it was probably the single darkest gumbo I've ever had, coffee black, and one of the best. Went for duck over rabbit for my main and was disappointed. Fatty and tough, in too sweet a sauce for my taste. The sides were fine however and dessert was colossal enough to make amends: a creme fraiche souffle with strawberries and basil ice cream. Just outstanding, especially the strawberries, which were from Ponchatoula and like a taste of childhood. Despite the misstep on the duck, the rest of the meal was so good, I'm at least considering a return visit before leaving town.

                              Saturday night I had dinner at Arnaud's, my first time doing more than snacking in their bar in several years. I had an order of Oysters Bienville (with one Ohan on the side) and their Shrimp Arnaud (remoulade), and liked both as much as any appetizers I've had this trip. Pompano David was good, not great. Still under the spell of last night, I ordered Strawberries Arnaud for dessert and liked it just fine. The only real glitch of the evening was the distinct feeling I was being rushed a bit through my meal. But ignored that easily enough and really enjoyed being there. Heading to Parkway for lunch today.

                              1. Just to catch up: Had a roast beef poor boy at Parkway Bakery for lunch Sunday, then had dinner at a place I'd long been curious about, Olivier's on Decatur in the Quarter. Got their creole gumbo, which was very good, and their rabbit, which was disappointing. Not much different than a decent baked chicken. The gravy was good, sides a little salty.

                                After three weeks here, I need to skip some lunches in order to at least simulate an appetite, which is what I did Monday. Then returned to Domenica for a dinner that was even better than my initial visit. Had the salami Gentile and octopus carpaccio, both outstanding. Then a small order of the squid-ink tagliolini and, on FoodChic's recommendation, the rabbit-porcini tagliatelle -- which was nearly as great as the other pasta. This is definitely one of the best kitchens in town right now. Am seriously thinking of returning a third time yet.

                                My one visit to Cochen five years ago left me cold. But as I was in the neighborhood, I opted for Butcher for lunch: duck-pastrami sliders and boudin. Both were fine. Old favorite Brigtsen's for dinner: soft-shell crab app, their amazing butternut shrimp bisque, and an excellent speckled trout with mushrooms and a lemon-mousselline sauce. Only a few days left now. No lunch again today and have not decided yet on dinner.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Boatman

                                  I don't remember if you've eaten at Upperline yet. (Too lazy to scroll upthread) If not, def add to your list.

                                  1. re: Boatman

                                    Our last trip to Nola was a seven day visit, and we dined at Domenica four times. I'm glad you enjoy it as much as we do.

                                    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I dont see Lilette or Dante's Kitchen on your list. Both are definitely worth your limited time left in town.

                                    1. re: FoodChic

                                      Thanks for the suggestions. I love Upperline and that might be a nice last dinner of the trip. Have never eaten at Dante's, once at Lilette but too long ago to remember well. Have been thinking of Green Goddess, which I've also never had dinner at, or possibly doing another progressive meal of appetizers in the Quarter or Warehouse District. Is Lilette good for lunch?

                                      1. re: Boatman

                                        Boatman, As your epic culinary tour winds down, I just want to say thank you for the posts. Your devotion to keeping the thread complete and current, and the level of detail in your anecdotes, plus the ensuing reactions from the locals, have been so very helpful to me in thinking through a special upcoming August stay with my spouse in NOLA. Bravo!

                                        1. re: Gizmo56

                                          Here here. My wife and I are headed to town tomorrow for a much anticipated weekend and this thread has been a wonderful resource.

                                          I will be sure to offer a report when I get home.

                                  2. The last four or five days of this trip, my dining choices have been somewhat less ambitious, falling back on old favorites and/or return meals. Wednesday night was my fourth Galatoire's meal of the trip. At Hazlehurst's suggestion, I got a small Godchaux salad and my first-ever oysters en brouchette. Loved them both, especially the brouchette. I asked about the black butter but my waiter downplayed the difference (though he said he'd mention it). I'm pretty sure I got the regular meuniere butter, still awfully good. Then turtle soup and sauteed soft shell, which wasn't significantly better for me than the fried. It may have just been the sauce (with capers), which wasn't much to my taste. Afterward, my timing was finally right to stop at Brennan's for Bananas Foster. (There's only a half-hour window, at best, when they'll let you in for just dessert.) Somehow, there's is still the best version I've had: It's the sauce, I'm pretty sure, which is both delicious and plentiful.

                                    Thursday lunch was gumbo at Li'l Dizzy's. That night I did another custom dinner, stopping by various restaurant bars in the Quarter for an appetizer at each: Steak tartare at Meauxbar (wow! the best I've had), Ojen cocktail and Escargot Bordelaise at Antoine's (good but the least dish of the night), smoky duck pasta at Green Goddess, and a chablis cassis and Osyters Bienville at Arnaud's bar, the clear winner of the night. Arnaud's is the king of Bienvilles (and remoulades). Dessert was a great chocolate bourbon panna cotta at Bayona, then one more drink at the Sazerac Bar. Really fun way to eat.

                                    For lunch today I had a very good mangrove snapper with kind of amazing sauteed squash (and blueberries) at Maurepas Foods. Tonight I'm heading to Upperline. Almost time to head home.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Boatman

                                      glad ya were able to sneak Meauxbar's tartare in...it is that good.

                                    2. I also got one of Maurepas's sausage sandwiches to go to nibble on throughout the day Friday. Really good, like a meatloaf sandwich, only a lot tastier than that implies. Dinner at Upperline was nice. I ordered a Creole tomato salad w/blue cheese from their garlic menu, which was great, and my old standby there, Cane River Shrimp, with a cream sauce made from shrimp bisque. Delicious as always and it occurred to me that this dish is very nearly as rich as K-Paul's crawfish etouffee. Seriously: both make me a little dizzy. JoAnn Clevenger was hostessing and came over to chat a couple times. She's such a nice woman.

                                      One last lunch on Saturday was my third visit to Domenica. Was hoping to try their risotto but I guess it's rarely a lunch item. So went with the same pastas I had on Monday. My appetizer was the one thing I hadn't already sampled: wild mushroom soup. Really stupendous. I can't recommend this place highly enough. Then home after three and a half weeks, so tired. I need a vacation.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Boatman

                                        +1 on the mushroom soup. tho practically everything we've had there has been excellent, really. the pastas, the meats, the soup and even something like a side of brussels sprouts.

                                        1. re: Boatman

                                          +1 on the mushroom soup. tho practically everything we've had there has been excellent, really. the pastas, the meats, the soup and even something like a side of brussels sprouts.

                                        2. I’ve been back home now for four days and wanted to post a few last thoughts from my trip.

                                          It’s still not easy to find great coffee in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter. I was served consistently great coffee at dinner restaurants (Domenica, Galatoire’s, Brennan’s, Bayona, Mr B’s all stood out), but morning coffee shops were another matter. Cafe du Monde is fine but their cafe au lait is more of a specialty item (and even then, often too milk heavy). Cafe Envie is probably the best of the Quarter shops, but not very centrally located. CC’s and others just outside the Quarter (Cafe Treme, Cake Cafe, Orange Couch) are the next best, but really no better than Starbucks and often quite a trek besides, at least first thing in the morning. Some other places are just bad. (I tried quite a few.)

                                          Gnocchi, sweetbreads, and of course soft-shell crabs are everywhere around town these days. I always especially look forward to indulging in soft shells but found them a little lacking this trip. Or maybe it’s just that I had my best ones ever two years ago at Galatoire’s.

                                          There is no more fun city to enjoy cocktails than New Orleans. I especially like a good Ramos Gin Fizz. When they are on, the ones at the Carousel Bar are as good as anyone’s, but they are wildly inconsistent there. The ones I had at the Sazerac were always top notch, they are now my gold standard. I did not make it to Tujague’s until almost the end of this trip, which I really regretted once I tasted their Pimm’s Cup, easily the best version I’ve ever had. Two other bars I especially enjoyed this time were Arnaud’s French 75 and Bar Tonique. I regret not making it to Sylvain.

                                          Someday I will eat at the Court of Two Sisters. I know its reputation but it really is a beautiful space and I can’t help but be intrigued by Tom Fitzmorris’s contention that dinner there is underrated. I took one step closer on this trip by stopping in for a pre-dinner drink at their bar. (Fitzmorris also claims it makes the best Sazerac in town. The one I had was very good, if a little sweet.)

                                          New Orleans has more good ice cream options right now than I can ever remember. La Divina and Sucre are both first-rate. The former’s dulce de leche gelato is the best version I’ve ever encountered, while Sucre’s lemon curd gelato delivers the distinct flavor of lemon ice box pie. (That I did not hit Angelo Brocatto’s -- at least not when they were open -- is my biggest regret of this trip.) But, as other posters have testified, Meltdown Popsicles was the big revelation. Their fruit flavors are fine but it’s their creamsicles -- chocolate lavender and especially salted caramel -- that have to be tasted to be believed. They’re like fine chocolates somehow transformed into ice cream bars.

                                          It’s always best to experience a mix of old and new restaurants while in town. Many of the newer places I hit this time were outstanding: Domenica, Patois, Meauxbar. But in the end, it’s usually dishes from the older and/or more traditional places that stay with me, that I find most satisfying, plates I can’t get in, say, Chicago: baked oysters at Tommy’s, Arnaud’s, Mosca’s; gumbo at Two Sisters and other backstreet cafes; veal or sweetbreads at Clancy’s; poor boys at Gene’s or Parkway; bread pudding at Manale’s; or just about everything about dining at Galatoire’s, one of the places it makes me happiest just to be at for a few hours every few years.

                                          Visits to New Orleans are exhausting but also invigorating and inspiring. I know the town has lots of problems. It’s poorly run, with a long history of crime and corruption, not to mention Katrina, the Gulf spill, etc. But in many ways, it’s also close to an ideal city, in that its residents care about the things that matter, at least to me: tradition, architecture, good food and drink, historic preservation, music. The near absence of chain stores and restaurants is unique among American cities of its size and makes an incredible (if sometimes subliminal) difference. I inevitably do a LOT of walking while I’m there, which of course is a good counterbalance to all the eating. But beyond that: walking is never a chore, because you’re doing it through some of the most beautiful and seductive streets anywhere. It’s like walking around under a spell for three weeks. I always leave New Orleans reminded of how rich life can be. I miss it already.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Boatman

                                            Thanks again for this epic thread. Your observations were always richly detailed and very thoughtful. It has been a real pleasure.

                                            1. re: Boatman

                                              Beautiful and thoughtful. Thank you.

                                                1. re: Boatman

                                                  Coffee: For the most part I agree and this should not happen in a place like New Orleans, where people care about the things that matter and good coffee should be on that list. Blue Bottle on the west coast makes a "New Orleans Iced Coffee" that is better than anything I have ever had in New Orleans. It's embarrassing, really. Two places in the French Quarter that are sometimes trying, but the coffee is really better described as "not bad," include Royal Blend on Royal between Toulouse and St. Peter and Decadence Shoppe on Rampart across from Armstrong Park.

                                                  Bars: Chris Hannah at French 75 is perhaps the best bartender in the country right now. Tonique is a neighborhood gem. Two very different experiences. Dress up for French 75. Take yourself back with pitch perfect deco decor and thoughtful, masterful cocktails -- both classics and modern. Dress down for Tonique. Young crowd, hip service, house made tonic, slow drip absinthe and a nice craft beer list. Open late. For the best gin fizz in town if you can convince him to make you one none will beat Chris McMillian's version at Bar Uncommon. Chris is a legend. Bar Uncommon is a mistake. It's in the middle of an unfortunate hotel lobby and it is way too bright. Go for the stories and the drinks, and keep your sunglasses on.

                                                  Restaurants: I'm not sure it's possible to add to what you've accomplished here: an epic journey through past and present and a generally wonderful approach to the city's many and varied dining options. Bravo! For what it's worth, despite living in the Quarter now and a lifetime of eating in New Orleans I have also never eaten at Court of the Two Sisters. I think I'm okay with that.

                                                  1. re: johnstubbs

                                                    Chris is no longer at Bar Uncommon.

                                                    1. re: johnstubbs

                                                      Thanks for the kind words. As Bayou Teche noted, McMillan is not currently tending bar anywhere in town, so I did not bother with Bar Uncommon. Re coffee: I did not try Royal Blend this trip, will remember for next time, but have to disagree on Decadence Shoppe. I had high hopes, since it was only a block from where I was staying, but it was probably the single worst cup of coffee I had on the trip. They did not even offer real half and half, just those little room-temperature containers.

                                                    2. re: Boatman

                                                      Boatman, I loved your closing paragraph so much, I copied and pasted to send to my husband. Your post sums up PERFECTLY why we too love NOLA so very much. Thank you for capturing the essence of the city in words. If a person doesn't totally understand what you wrote, then they just don't "get" New Orleans. Thanks again.

                                                      1. re: Boatman

                                                        agreed on the coffee -- where once there used to be hundreds of coffee shops (especially during prohibition) now there is not so much good coffee. this is sad. Orange Couch you mentioned, and id add Merchant Cafe in the CBD. true they may not be any better than starbucks elsewhere, but the beauty is, as you noted, that they are not corporate chains...just our neighborhoods coffee shops.

                                                        1. re: Boatman

                                                          "I know the town has lots of problems. It’s poorly run, with a long history of crime and corruption, not to mention Katrina, the Gulf spill, etc. But in many ways, it’s also close to an ideal city, in that its residents care about the things that matter, at least to me: tradition, architecture, good food and drink, historic preservation, music... I always leave New Orleans reminded of how rich life can be. I miss it already."


                                                          Come back and visit us again!