Any Coolinary reports? Good or bad?
Wife and I will be in NO for a few nights midweek later this month. I noticed y'all have an event similar to our restaurant week here in the DC area going on. We had a few great meals in Miami last year in August during their take on this. Any recs for a can't miss deal in/near FQ/CBD? Prefer more local than tourist but most importantly want good food, cocktails and wine!
For a nice air-conditioned respite while walking around in the quarter, the Antoine's Hermes bar is good-you can get an inexpensive taste of the one of the old-line restaurants served at the bar even if you're in shorts. They serve the fixe-prixe culinary menu there. Stiff drinks too.
My wife and I just returned on Monday night from six glorious days in New Orleans (my lengthy trip report has been posted in another thread). We went the "Coolinary" route at several meals, not so much because of the price (we don't count our pennies on vacation like we do at home), but instead because the selections often really appealed to us as much or more as everything on the rest of the standard menu.
There are over fifty restaurants with Coolinary menus, many of them are in the top tier in the city, and many are in the French Quarter and CBD. All are listed here, and almost all show the menus at this site (exceptions in the case of a restaurant like GW Fins, which prepares a new menu daily, depending on what fish are best that day):
I would suggest that you just look at the menus for well-regarded spots in the FQ and CBD neighborhoods, and go with whatever appeals to you the most.
Went to the Pelican Club last night. They are known for their coolinary menu, I think, mostly because they offer a wide array of options. Most of the items show up on their regular 4-course prix fixe. The coolinary is $20 cheaper with one less course (soup). I thought the food was good, nothing groundbreaking, just solid steaks, chicken, tuna, etc. The crab cakes and fried green tomato with remoulade and mango chutney was the best dish of the night.
We spent five days in the French Quarter just to enjoy some of the Coolinary menus.
1. Pelican Club has an outstanding menu and the wine flight was great also. The service was fantastic.
2. The Bombay Club has a Lobster Dinner on Thursdays for $25. That was the best lobster I have ever had!!! The service sucked.
3. Gallatorie's 2 course lunch for $20 was okay. The BBQ shrimp was not what I was expecting.
4. Charlie's Steak House was horrible. The steak was full of grizzle and so much butter on everything that 2 hours later my stomach was doing flops. We felt like we had been taken advantage of, with the limited menu. The only reason we still went after reviewing the menu was because one of the local food critics says it is one of the best in the city. Won't go back.
5. The Palace Cafe late on a Sunday night was good. Again the service was very good, the food was not that good and do not get the seafood cheesecake.
From what we have seen on the Coolinary website you have to be careful. Sometimes you don't get the deal you think you might/should be getting.
Your comments are well taken. My one quibble is with Charlies. I went there with a large party and the service and food was good, considering the place. I would not call it one of the best in town but definitely high on the B List. Considering the cost, we all had decent steaks and very good service and I would return with a group that wanted the old N.O. experience. If we were looking for the finest beef and were willing to pay, we would go elsewere.
different strokes -- i absolutely love the crabmeat cheesecake at Palace Cafe. it's a savory "cheesecake" thats more like a quiche. its one of my favorite dishes.
do not care for Charlie's, tho. it may have been good during the past 80 years or whatnot, but it was just all right when we were there. atmosphere was really blah too. for quality local steak, you cant do much better than Mr. John's. for steak w/ new orleans atmosphere, Crescent City Steakhouse was enjoyable.
went to Iris for their friday lunch coolinary -- it was excellent. many options to choose from. (dinner service is a bit more limited).
as for value, at $35 the typical coolinary dinner is approaching normal prices at some of the participants.
Tried a couple last weekend.
Last Friday we went to 'One'.
We sat at the 'bar', which was more like a serving window for the kitchen, so we got a good eyefull of everything before we ordered. One chef was especially friendly, and the waiter was a good old New Orleans boy. Coulda been from Metarie with his accent, though. Anyway...I should also note that the potions were quite nice, not small and unfulfilling like you get at some places.
I had the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Eggplant & Huckleberry Gastrique. These were very well done. The scallops themselves were perfectly seared, just a touch caramelized, and the insides were tender and soft. With the Gastrique I was a very happy camper. The Eggplant was just sort of there, it wasn't bad or anything but I honestly didn't see the need for it unless you wanted something to soak up more gastrique with. This was a very solid app, not small. I think I got 4 or 6 scallops, and they were I'd say U10's or U12's.
My GF had the Fried Green Tomato with Escargots in a Garlic Bordelaise. We were less impressed with this one. The fried green tomato was done very well, but the garlic bordelaise really needed some seaosning, and honestly wasn't very garlicy. The escargots were cooked well, tender and large, I want to say there were at least 6 with her order, but without a strongly-flavored sauce they were pretty...bare. Eaten with the fried green tomato it wasn't bad, but my scallops were just plain better.
Me: Duck Confit Leg Quarter with Applesauce & Grilled Chicken Sausage served with
Heirloom Potatoes and Baby Carrots. Not the most adventuresome thing in the world, but I *love* confit. The portion was again generous, plenty of duck and plenty of chicken sausage. The sausage was pleasantly light and tasty, and the apple 'sauce' went well with everything. The potatoes were rather plain, just sort of seasoned and roasted. The carrots were better, tender and tasty.
Her: Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Warm Beef Shoulder Rillete and Stilton Cheese Glaçage
served with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Sautéed Vegetables. The 'Beef Shoulder Rillete' was basically debris, the tenderloin was indeed tender, stilton melted nicely on top. The 'Dauphinoise Potatoes' (A term with which I was unfamiliar) was very nice as well, it was almost like a very thinly layered gratin that was flaky...I would explain it almost like a bak lava made with potato shavings instead of phillo dough. I don't recall much about her veggies, I think they were fairly standard.
Me: A malted 'milkshake', that I believe was actually a creme frachie/marscapone thing and malted milkballs. It was an interesting take, but ultimately fairly pedestrian.
Her: Creme Brulee. My GF is a huge Creme Brulee snob, but she was very happy with this one. It was nothing crazy or anything, just a simple creme brulee, executed quite well.
Commander's Palace:We went Saturday night, along with a friend from out of town.
Me: Originally I decided to go for the Turtle Soup. I don't know why, but I went for the Gumbo instead. Duck and Sausage, as I recall. The roux was about as dark as any I've seen, the flavors were deep and strong, and overall I was quite happy with it. I make my own at home though, so I think I should have gone with turtle soup.
Our friend got the Gumbo as well, and I forget what my GF got. Bad memory and all that.
Me: Hog Heaven Grilled tenderloin, housemade sausage, & sticky pork belly over cochon de lait boudin with pickled mirliton, and a spicy peach mustard. Our friend followed my lead and got this as well. The sausage was good, if not special. The Sticky Pork Belly was very nice, almost steak-like, and made me very happy. The Boudin was nice but again, nothing too special.
GF: Garlic Crusted Wild White Shrimp A sauté of sweet summer corn, smoky tasso, crispy garlic, Northshore legumes, and ripped herbs with sauce Acadian. A solid dish, large shrimp, in a strongly flavored and nice sauce. I seem to recall the peice I had was a bit tough, but my GF said that mostly they were cooked perfectly. I think that's why she gave me that peice.
Me: Praline Parfait. A praline ice cream sundae. That about sums it up. Nothing crazy, but pretty decent.
Friend: Pecan Pie. Pecan pie and vanilla bean ice cream with melted chocolate. Being from up north she didn't get much Pecan Pie. She liked it, and the chocolate peices were mixed in well.
GF: Creme Brulee. The presentation of this was nicer than at One, but the flavor was not as good.
Overall, two very nice meals. I have to say we liked One better, though.