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Herbsaint or Emerils (warehouse district)

Overwhelming doing research here for eats in this amazing foodie extravaganza of a town. My husband and I will be coming from another more modest foodie destination (Portland, Maine) for a week during Thanksgiving. On one, possibly two nights - before the family obligations kick in, we'd like to enjoy a lovely dinner or two. We are staying at the Marriott near the convention center and really would prefer to walk from the hotel to our dining destination. We are not interested in the French Quarter. We love farm to table locally sourced restaurants very much, but what we like more is good, no great, food. Obviously, this is not mutually exclusive but let me know if you disagree. I'm not sure if we can do two expensive meals. If we can only do one, I'm leaning towards Herbsaint. But, I've made a reservation at Emerils. I can't decide!!! Or, perhaps there is another restaurant in the area, I haven't explored yet. Food is our principle interest, but ambience is important too. We are casual folks, and unpretentious. If we have pretentious staff, it will harsh our mellow. What do you think? Also, ideas for cheap eats in the area will be appreciated, too! Thanks folks. Looking forward to revisiting your town.

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  1. Forget the "Bam"! Seriously, Emeril's has its strong points, sure, but overall Herbsaint is a better restaurant. I know you'll be happy with it, I have had countless dinners there and never been less than wholly satisfied.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sanglier

      Thank you! I just switched out my reservation. I also made a reservation for brunch on the following Saturday at Atchafalaya.

      1. re: nyawira

        Two good choices. Emeril's is good but for your purposes Herbsaint is better.

        For thrift, one of our favorite lunch places is Grand Isle, across from the begining of the convention center/Hilton Riverside. There are many good places in the Quarter for thrift. Johnny's Po-Boys, Veri-Mart, Coops, Felix/Acme, all at lower costs that the "white table cloth" places.

        As for Portland, I consider it a decent foodie place, tho maybe not a destination. I'm always amazed at the amount of activity on Commercial Street even late, midweek, and snowing

      2. re: sanglier

        I think Emeril’s appearance on Treme last week said it all. He’s a terrific chef, but his hands never touch a plate at his restaurants anymore. It’s too bad, but that’s the price you pay for fame. Chef Link is getting into the same boat. Expect to see a drop off at Herbsaint at some point.

        1. re: shanefink

          You are mostly correct. But Chef Emeril does occasionaly still work the kitchen at Emeril's. But that is just being physically present to keep up some chops and not hands on management. I think that is difficult to impossible for anyone with more than three sites.

      3. We were in NO for a week in October, and ate in both places. Herbsaint in a landslide.....

        We had a better meal, quieter surroundings, at significantly lower cost.

        Duck was spectacular, shirmp bisque was excellent, and the homemade spaghetti with guanciale and fried/poached egg was transcendent...

          1. re: zin1953

            Good enough for me, folks. Thanks much. I'll post my thoughts once I return home. My husband LOVES duck, so great news on the review above, Mountaindog, and I love shrimp bisque so this is going to be enjoyable, I can feel it.

          2. Trip Report: First, thanks all for your recommendations. It was fun to once again explore your town, only this time with a little more cash at hand.

            Sunday, November 18th. We touched down just as the Saints wrapped up a win. So we walked into Lucy's with a happy New Orleans crowd. They were super nice and agreed to put on the Ravens game, despite the fact that no one else cared, and music was on. Big news was my formal introduction to the Fireball! Wow. Yummy. Too yummy...:-( We also ate some catfish chips which we enjoyed so much we ordered a second helping. We spent the first half here and then on our way back to the hotel, we dropped in on the District. Strangely enough, we met a rabid Ravens fan decked out in a leather Raven jacket getting all jacked up and drunk (with us) wathcing the third quarter of the game. This place was not crowded and very chill. And $2 drinks was the best we found in town.

            Monday, November 19th: Herbsaint. Absolutely fantastic. One of the best meals of my life. Bill and I shared three dishes; the Louisian Shrimp with Calasparra Rice, Artichokes and Maitake, the Beef Short Rib with Potato Rosti and Salsa Verde, and the Kurobuta Pork Belly with Cajun Grain Risotto, Grilled Pok Coi and shrimp broth. Each dish was utterly divine, the portions were perfect, not too small and certainly not overbearing. Just perfect. It's a great space, too. We do kind of look like riff raff so the staff was slightly snooty when we first walked in, but once we opened our mouth, they elevated their judgment, and all was well.

            Tuesday November 20th: We stopped by Howlin Wolf for a beer and some gator balls. Okay, not bad. I probably wouldn't order them again. But it was cool to be in a dive ish type bar in the late afternoon before the crowd gathered. That night they were having a benefit for Sandy victims which we thought super cool. We gathered with the entire family at Jacque-IMO for dinner that night. The food here was very mediocre. We heard the fried chicken was good, and sure, it was good, but for $24. I don't think so. We also had the duck and andouille gumbo which we thought was very good and the fried shrimp Ettouiffe which we did not like at all. The shrimp tasted not fresh and it wasn't properly cleaned. I also took a bite of the alligator cheesecake which I found to be utterly disgusting. We were disappointed in this meal, but likely wouldn't have been if the place wasn't hyped as something it's not and it wasn't overpriced. I actually selected this restaurant so we could walk next door to Maple Leaf which was hosting the Rebirth Brass Band which was fantastic!

            Wednesday, November 21- the entire family once again met up again for a dinner at Galatoires. I can tell you this, their pours are AMAZING. I ordered a tequila shot and got a bourbon glass half filled. I thought it was water at first. Needless to say, that's all I had to drink for dinner. I ordered the turtle soup which I thought was absolutely fantastic. To be honest, I can't remember what else I ordered, but I do know I tried the steak, and I thought it was mediocre. Many at the table had the salmon and they all thought it was fantastic. My husband ordered a fish dish, but forgot to order a sauce with it and found it bland and dry. The waiter should have advised him better, I thought. I also tried the gumbo and again thought it was great. I like gumbo!!! The presentation of the evening was really good, we enjoyed the servie there tremendously, and they were notably responsive when we let them know that this night was also the birthday of our oldest sister. We did enjoy the service quite alot. It was refined, yet not snooty, and it was responsive to our needs which was hard to do with our crowd. I'd recommend this, but not really so much for the food as for the experience. I agree that a must order is the Turtle soup.

            Thanksgiving: at my nieces. I'd rate her cooking here, but I doubt youd be interested. Suffice to say, it was delightful.

            Friday: I was getting sick with a flu that I'm only now recovering from, but we did do a swamp tour and on our return, my husband and I were able to snag a table at Cochon, despite the fact we did not have reservations. I was pleased with this. We sat at an outside table, which was cool, although the ambience wasn't great since the restaurant is on the corner of a busy, non descript intersection. But that's cool I ordered the smoked ham hock, which I thought was competently prepared, but not exceptional in any way. I wasn't feeling very well at this point, though. I'd like to give Cochon another chance. I suspect it may be better than I would currently give them credit for.

            The big winner for us was Herbsaint. Thanks so much for helping us decide on this one. Turtle soup and overall experience at Galatoires was also well worth it. I'd give a big NO Jacque-IMO - way overrated and they think of themselves as something that they definitely are not.

            Thanks folks.

            5 Replies
            1. re: nyawira

              That's a great write up -- thanks for reporting back. By the sounds of things you slotted nicely into the New Orleans groove!

              Aside from its location next to the ML, I never really understood the Jacque-Imo's thing but because it's still there after all these years (and doesn't go unrecommended on CH) I thought I was missing something.

              1. re: nyawira

                Seems every dish at JI went up $4-$5 recently. Think they might lose some of the local crowd with that move. We scored a 6top reservation a week before on a Saturday night and they didn’t have their normal long wait. Surprising. Was your cheesecake hot? Ours wasn’t last week and it made a big difference.

                1. re: shanefink

                  The cheesecake was not hot, actually. It was more like room temperature. Maybe that might have made a difference. I just got the feeling the restaurant was collectively full of themselves and over confident about their future.

                2. re: nyawira

                  Nice detailed report! Herbsaint was our top meal as well and we had none of the dishes you mentioned. And after spending a lot of quality time here I thought the general consensus was to stay away from JI

                  1. re: Ziggy41

                    Thanks. I appreciate the help I got from this board.