Trip Report: A prodigal son returns after many years.....
I grew up in NO, but have been away for decades. We were back earlier in October, and planned to hit a number of old favorites, along with some new recommendations, tempered with input for Chowhound members several weeks ago. Here goes...
Friday night at Emeril's. Loved the room, and the energy. My meal of bbq shrimp and a dinner special of soft shell crab and a crab cake was excellent. My wife thought her crawfish balls and the famous andouille crusted drum was less good....she thought there was too much going on with the fish. The chocolate souffle was dry. Wine list was ABSURDLY expensive.....90% over...well over....$100/bottle. 3.5 of 5.
After a huge late dinner Friday, and too much to drink, we kind of laid low on Saturday. Thought soup and rice might settle things down, so we went to Moon Wok on the recommendation of Yelp and Trip Advisor. Worst food ever...'nuff said. 0 of 5.
Sunday we had reservations in the Garden Room at CP for 1 PM. Fabulous overall experience! Saints were on Sunday night football that day, and the revelers were starting early. Football jerseys kid of against the dress code, but created a unique atmosphere. I had turtle soup (if I don't get it in NO, where will I?) and a wonderful butter poached flounder stuffed with crabmeat and baby bok choy. My wife had a salad and a lobster fritatta. Desserts were excellent, good service, good drinks, what's not to love? 5/5. That night we went to Felix's for raw oysters. Excellent quality, considering the hurricane. After being seated I went next door to bring back a beer. I also had a very good shrimp Poorboy, and my wife had fried oysters. Surroundings were a crummy as I remembered, but no more so. Nice to be back! 5/5 Still do not understand why people stand in line for Acme for hours on end, when they can walk right across the street.
Monday we toured Plantations down River Rd and ate at B&C Seafood in Vacherie. Absolutely fabulous catfish, and wonderful red beans and rice. 4/5. For dinner we stopped at Drago's in Metarie and had chargrilled oysters. I also had a wonderful bowl of gumbo, and my wife had a lettuce wedge with blue cheese, bacon and cherry tomatoes. The smaller oysters tended to get too charred, and the cheese and butter were to done, but the bigger ones were cheesy, garlicy, buttery and wonderful. Also longs of good juice for dipping bread. Good as advertised. 4.5/5.
Tuesday we were a ready for a change from seafood, so decided not to go to Casamento's. We were touring the city to see my old house, schools, the lakefront, the remnants of West End, etc. so we ate at Sammy's Food Service and Deli on Elysian Fields. We both had roast beef poor boys and they were great. I personally like the fact that they were not drenched in gravy. Bread was nice and crisp, good dressings, good fries, and I had a pretty good cup of gumbo. Recommended! 4.5/5.
That night we went to Herbsaint. We both had a very flavorful shrimp bisque for starters. My wife had the duck, which was tasty. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. She said it was among the best ducks she had ever eaten. I went with the small plates. First a kind of ceviche with shrimp and fish, along with cucumber and pepitas in a mild citrus dressing. Very good, and a nice change from all the rich, food. Next I had the homemade spaghetti with guanciale and the wonderful poached/fried egg on top. Dessert was a chocolate mouse cake with salty caramel sauce....best dessert of the trip. Exellent meal. 5/5.
Wednesday we went to Cajun country, and the only meal of the day was at Shucker's in Abbeville. We each had a fabulous baker's dozen oysters on the half shell. We did a mix and match...I ordered fried oysters, and she ordered the crabcakes, then shared. Oysters might have been touch overcooked, bu the crabcakes we fabulous....they tout how they only use 1 cup of breadcrumbs to make 130 crabcakes. Good place to eat if you are in that part of the world. 4/5.
Thursday was the last day. We had planned on the $20 lunch at August, but saw the new Fall lunch specials at Antoines, and it looked better. I had Oysters Bienville (pretty good) and an excellent Quail in port wine sauce, and bread pudding. My wife had salad, stuffed roasted drum, and mousse. Food was pretty good, and I love the room, the waiters in tuxes, and the history of the place. I had not been here in over 40 years. I don't know that I would eat inner here, but the whole package is a hell of a deal for $20....plus the 25 cent martinis! 4/5
Dinner at Brigtsen's was the big disappointment of the trip. I was ok with the old cottage, small room thing. The server's were efficient, and nice as could be, the wine list was reasonable, but we didn't think the food was very good. The shrimp in my remoulade were overcooked, although the remoulade itself was very good, and the deviled egg was great. I had the "South Beach Diet'....seafood platter. The scallop was excellent, the drum was good, the seafood slaw was fine, the shrip cornbread was ok but unnecessary....but the two oysters were horrid. Rather than a fresh oyster baked in its shell, these were little tiny oysters served engulfed in sauce baked in a tin foil cup like you find in cheap store bought stuffed crabs. LaRuth was a kind of breaded coating, Bienville was a puree of something....not much taste, overcooked nugget of oyster.....awful. My wife had a ribeye. She thought it was hard....not tender or juicy, and she didn't like the blue cheese sauce. My pecan pie was good, as was her key lime pie. Dinner was just.....ok. 3.5/5
I hope this helps someone planning a visit, or elicits a response to my opinions. It was wonderful to go to Commander's, Felix's and Antoine's after all these years....to bad that Brunings, Masson's Beach House and Moran's are gone......
It's always good to hear opinions on some places that rarely come up on the board.
We all miss the ambiance of West End. I can only pull out my Brunning's Flounder T-Shirt (and the Hubig's one also) i was craving a Hubig's Sunday.
Great trip report, particularly the variety of your oyster experiences! Sounds amazing. Interesting about the Antoines Fall lunch special. Thank you!
I really enjoyed reading your report and it makes me glad I have Herbsaint as a must do next visit. I was so expecting to be blown away with Cochon last visit, but wasn't , so I hope to correct it and with Butcher too this time.
I thought Commanders was my best restaurant experience I have EVER had, and I still say that. Service can make a "good" food meal incredible!
Thanks for your report! I was entertained with the read and your thoughts.