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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.

      Hunt

    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

              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,

              Hunt

              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.

                              Hunt

                        2. re: Boatman

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