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The coming closings of many old time new orleans restaurants

Ill list Brennans, felixs, and I think broussards and arnauds will probably go in the next ten years, and quite possibly Antoines. Chow hounds give these places nothing but grief and they will die a horrible death. And then new orleans will be left with a bunch of upstart places just like everywhere in america. outside of galatoires the old school places are always almost always ripped to shreds. chowhounders shame on you.

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  1. Restaurants exist to serve food. Good restaurants serve good food. People who want to eat good food will go to restaurants that serve good food.

    I am not going out to eat in a restaurant that insults me (and my bank account) by serving mediocre food with poor service.

    I have been urging myself to go to the old school places over the last few years. The results have been mixed. My visits to the upstart places have been mixed, but over all they have supplied much better meals and service.

    It is a VERY competitive business. And an irrational one. There are mediocre restaurants that are busy and good upstarts that fail (of course the failure can come from many things other than the quality of the food)

    I don't want to see some of the old places go. I'd love to go into Kolb's again. But they have to be, in some way, competitive.

    20 Replies
    1. re: collardman

      So true.

      Reflecting on the requests from this board (maybe not an ideal cross-section of folk traveling to NOLA to dine), it seems that most are looking for the location of a Tommy Bahama, or Hard Rock Cafe. They want down-scale, similar to what they get in Seattle, or wherever, and be able to wear cut-offs, flip-flops and a tank top.

      Those looking for up-scale, seem to want Morton's, just like they experience in Chicago, or Detroit, and never care about NOLA cuisine.

      Personally, I find this "trend" to be a shame, but then I have my memories (think Kolb's here). Even some places, that had let us down, in my past, have "risen to the occasion," and have earned a spot, higher up on MY list. Stuff changes, from restaurants, to chefs, to personal palates.

      I do love many of the newer restaurants, but also have loved the older group too.

      I will let the newcomers head to a "Hand Grenade" stand, and then to the nearest Hard Rock Cafe, for dinner. Just not my scene. [OT - we are in London 2 - 4x per year, and stay at the Hilton Park Lane. We dine at upper-end restaurants, but have to walk past the Hard Rock Cafe, on the way to Piccadilly, and our evening meal. The lines go around the block, and people actually pay people to stand in line for them, sort of like Galatoire's. Odd, but that is just me.]

      I am sorry, but I do not want to dine in NOLA, in a restaurant that exists in almost any large city, around the world. I call those "Adult McDonalds."


      1. re: Bill Hunt

        You wrote:

        "Reflecting on the requests from this board (maybe not an ideal cross-section of folk traveling to NOLA to dine), it seems that most are looking for the location of a Tommy Bahama, or Hard Rock Cafe."

        Are we reading the same posts? Most people here are asking "Commander's or Galatoire's?" ... or so it seems.

        Maybe I've been living under a rock but what you say here doesn't ring true: local, non-chain places seem to be doing just fine on the whole, both low key spots and fine dining. That Brennan's isn't (apparently) is not an indicator that the so-called up-scale visitors to NOLA are all flocking to Morton's.

        More generally on the topic of the demise of the old timers: I'll point out that praising newcomers isn't the same thing as bashing the traditional places. It's fine to continue to enjoy the classics, I certainly do, but you're a fool to think that the upstarts on Freret and the in Bywater -- for example -- aren't contributing a lot to the city, having an impact that goes far beyond just providing another place to eat.

          1. re: montuori

            Well, I am basing my comments on the vast number of requests for "low-end," or "cheap dining." Obviously, that excludes many of the "Grand Dames."

            Next, we see so many requests for suggestions, where "cut-offs, flip-flops, and tank tops, are accepted," that I am left to assume that many (most?) do not wish to dress for dinner.

            How would you read those common requests?

            Maybe I am just the fool?


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Bill, you and I have exchanged comments enough [as have many others] to know you are in no way a fool. But I myself am constantly on the lookout for great cheap, low-end dining. Not because I am cheap, but because I find them memorable, and yes, I do not wish to dress for dinner, even though I never wear cut-offs,flip-flops, or tank-tops [I know how I make them look] and am no fanny-packer. I consider a necktie barely a step above a noose, and for me any suit might as well be a clown suit.

              I have experienced most of the 'Grand Dames' in the past, do not feel the need to do so again, and am more interested in finding a new Coop's than I am a new Galatoire's.

              1. re: Fydeaux

                I remember a series on TV. Franks Place. What a find that would be. I am coming to NO and plan on hitting some of the Old Great Places but would be tickled to find a small unknown place. Love NO. See ya soon.

                1. re: Fydeaux

                  In NOLA, there are some GREAT, less expensive fare. I will never fault that, and when we lived in NOLA, were happy to enjoy many.

                  Now, travelers to NOLA seem to be looking for something else. Mostly, they appear to want cheap, they want familiar (to them, from where the come), and very casual - no trousers, no jackets, and certainly no ties. They do not appreciate a "fine-dining experience," at least as I know it.

                  I field many requests for what I term "Adult McDonalds," as most want exactly what they know in Chicago, Detroit, or elsewhere. They want Morton's, and just do not care to experience NOLA cuisine. To me, that is a horrible shame.

                  Just using one possible example, why would one want to do something, just like what they have at home, when they could do Parkway Bakery?

                  I do not think that we are that far apart, though I DO have a place in my heart for those "Grand Dames," since I grew up with them, and find that many are unique to NOLA.

                  When I see a myriad posts, along the lines of "We love Hard Rock Cafe, and wonder what we should order in New Orleans," I gasp for breath, but maybe that is just me?


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    This is what I mean. I never heard anything about the Parkway Bakery. Where are there other places like this. I only do research when I'm coming down so I apologize my ignorance.

                    1. re: ibew292

                      Parkway Bakery and Tavern should show up in every thread, discussing po-boys.

                      Like most po-boy shops, it is down-scale, but still very charming, with very good po-boys.

                      New Orleans is full of such places. Most are unique, and offer something special, whether a dish, a charm or maybe just good food, at a good price. It just depends on what a person wants.

                      Good luck and enjoy,


                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      <<Now, travelers to NOLA seem to be looking for something else. Mostly, they appear to want cheap, they want familiar (to them, from where the come), and very casual - no trousers, no jackets, and certainly no ties. >>

                      Let's face it, you could replace 'NOLA' in this phrase with the name of virtually any other place in the world and it would be just as valid.

                      And anyone who asks what they should order at Hard Rock or Bubba Gump's or Appleby's and still calls onemself any kind of food aficionado [a Chowhound by any other name...] needs to be disabused of that notion immediately. I feel about them as I do about people who travel hundreds of miles and only shop at malls. Or people who think Eddie Van Halen is a great guitar player in a world where the recordings of Danny Gatton, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Jimmy Vivino can be heard.

                      I dont have much to say about the 'Grand Dames'. I have eaten at several; enjoyed them, but have no desire to go back. And when you get down to it, how different is the person who HAS to eat at Commander's every time they visit N.O. but wont try Coop's, from one who will only eat at chains they have 'back home'? They're both set in their ways, and Edesia bless them all.

                      I am not about to 'block bust' any establishment that wont be pleased to have me dressed casually, regardless of how good their food is reputed to be. My personal comfort is the one thing more important to me than the best terrapin soup in the world.

                      So Bill, the next time we are both at Molly's at the Market, I would be honoured to buy you a drink and a bowl of the best gumbo I have ever had other than from my own kitchen. But I'm afraid I wont be able to join you at Galatoire's; I dont have the right clothing with me. (^-^)

                      1. re: Fydeaux

                        <<Let's face it, you could replace 'NOLA' in this phrase with the name of virtually any other place in the world and it would be just as valid.

                        And anyone who asks what they should order at Hard Rock or Bubba Gump's or Appleby's and still calls onemself any kind of food aficionado [a Chowhound by any other name...] needs to be disabused of that notion immediately. I feel about them as I do about people who travel hundreds of miles and only shop at malls.>>

                        No arguments from me, with the possible exception that NOLA probably has more great, and unique restaurants, than nearly every other city in the US. Luckily, we are on CH, or I'd go ballistic on the "shopping" aspect - a pet peeve. I see this all too often in my travels. People fly into, say San Francisco, from Phoenix, just to shop. Instead of going to unique establishments, they head to the Westfield Mall, and shop at the same exact stores, that they left behind in Phoenix!

                        Well, the dining attire IS a big issue, and it seems to be getting bigger, as people want to wear the same clothes, that they would don to do a "swamp tour."

                        Make you a deal - I will buy at Molly's, but you probably have to take me in a blazer. We will not even bother with Galatoire's.


                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                    I read requests for cheap places or restaurants that don't require much dressing up at face value, figuring that if people really wanted the Hard Rock or Starbucks there'd be no reason to come round to CH looking for recs.

                    Actually, I particularly enjoy discussions about places I've never heard of *especially* when they're low rent. It's pretty easy to find excellent expensive (and local) places but there are hundreds of neighborhood joints in NOLA, some are very good, some are overrated, some are just awful. Reading reviews and recommendations for these places is hugely valuable. Perhaps I'm misguided but I figured people asking about cheap eats pretty much have the fine dining sorted and want to branch out.

                    But also: I'm not ready to admit that civilization is ending because there are people who don't want to dress for dinner. As much as I like to eat well I enjoy motorcycling more, and it's very difficult to pack a dress shirt and jacket in a tank bag. (Though not impossible -- a story for another time.) When we go motoring I'm often the one asking around for places that I can walk into wearing riding clothes and boots. I don't think that because I'm unfit for Commander's that I have to resign myself to Appleby's.

                    I doubt that everyone asking for "casual dress" has the same reason as me ... but they might have *some* reason and so I try not to just assume they're unwilling to put in the effort.

                    And, of course, I didn't mean to imply you were being foolish. If anything, maybe just a tad pessimistic!

                    (The whole thread is a downer. It's true that the old places are closing up shop everywhere but generalizing on the reasons is a mistake. Locke Ober in Boston closed because Shire left and they were adrift without leadership (and had a terrible bar program, and were in what's become the worst location ever); Maison Robert (another staple on the Boston scene), on the other hand, closed because the family wanted to retire. Given what's been in the paper about Brennan's, that seems more like fiscal irresponsibility than declining sales, though no doubt fewer covers isn't helping.)

                    1. re: montuori

                      Well, it is mt suspicion that if Locke's can go then any Big House can. Their problem..apart from teh Filene
                      s diasco..appears to have been thatnp one anted to ventureout threr even though ti is not that far from otherm succcessful plaes. Maison Robert would probably have run intot he smaeproblem if they'd kept it going. I just look at the old places I have known in other cities and see them dying out. NOLA is always a few years behind the times so it might take a little long. But look at what a chacking great dinner at Antoine's was even thirty years ago--and siilar for Locke-Ober--and you don;t see that much anymore. And Antoines is huge so there is high overhead. They've gotteh Protesu lunch that will keep things going and teh Xmas stuff and other Carnival affiars..but wht about July? I don;t think people come from Missouri to have Dinner At Antoine's anymore. ANd part of teh prblem is thatthe Regulars are dying and their children and grandchildren are not taking up teh salck as they should. SOmetimes it takes those regulars to help teh place stay on top (I remember when pompano could be sold from a guy's trunck to the restaurant. I know what the law is but they did it.) WOrd got acound that Doctor so-and-so had x number of wahtever he'd caught... But thqt was a different day.

                      It is just that teh trac record for old places is running poor to form. As to the raiment issue, I suspect that where your view os commonplace and not wrong, it is when people cease having standards that the Gates Are Open. I read a food critic talk about rating restaurants with his months-old-son and thought to myself "What madehim thaink that would work?" And, of course, he didn;t know any better.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        Uh Hazel, it might be time to go back to a full-size keyboard. Just sayin', ya know?

                        1. re: Fydeaux


                          I sort of felt the same way, and am a big fan of Hazelhurt.


                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            Since you ask, I have a patch over one eye and my glasses don't fitso I am flying--if not blind--then myopic. Sorry

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              Sorry to hear that, Hazel! I hope whatever it is is a temporary condition.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                Was this from one of those "unfortunate Champagne cork incidents?"

                                Get well soon,


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  I wish it were that elegant. S'far as I know, it is nothing crabmeat sardou ( led up to with an artichoke hollandaise) cannot fix but the Carnival parades are going to be viewed largely from the back of a porch with the protection of a column. Well, I retired from Parade Chasing when I was 35 and have been lured out to show the kids a thing -or-two only twice in 20 years.

                2. A visitors perception of a place often differs from the reality of a place. I know many natives who have never patronized the old line creole places for a wide variety of reasons. You could always eat very well without ever darkening the door of the old war horses. I've been thinking about this topic lately, as I recently found a copy of the Luchows cookbook. Luchows survived in NYC for more than a hundred years before it closed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luchow&#... The cookbook records an extremely meat centric, heavy German cuisine. Tastes change, diners expectations change. C'est la vie.

                  And our "upstarts" are hardly identical to those of SanFran, Portland, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Hungry Celeste


                    I agree. I would never mistake R'evolution, or Stella!, or MiLa for anything that we experience in San Francisco (about 2x per month). But... I would never mistake anything there (some great food, IMHO), for Galatoire's, Tujacques, Antoine's, Brennan's, Arnaud's, or Bon Ton.

                    Planning a "farewell tour," and hope to get there in time.


                  2. Where are you getting this information from?

                    1. Brennan's is obviously in deep financial difficulty. But that is hardly the result of Brennan's getting insufficient love on Chowhound.

                      Felix's, on the other hand has new ownership and has been the recipient of a series of compliments on Chowhound since their re-opening last month.

                      The other restaurants mentioned in your post do get mixed reviews here. These are famed, long-time restaurants that enjoy a lot of forward momentum based upon their name recognition. If they fail to continue to attract visitors and locals, despite the advantages of that name recognition, that will be the result of their own failure to keep pace in a city that offers a wealth of outstanding options.

                      Shame on Chowhounders if we ever STOP offering honest opinions. To think that our opinions (either way) can make or break a historic restaurant like Antoine's or Brennan's is absurd, IMO.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gizmo56

                        Honest opinions are what it IS about. That should not change.

                        That is why I have posted of many of our more recent, great experiences at Brennan's (not a favorite, back in the '70s., when we lived in the City), Broussard's and Arnaud's. When I receive good food, and great service, I post of it, regardless of what many might like.

                        Antoine's holds many memories, and a few ghosts, at least for me. The last trip, pre-K, was not stellar, but that was then, and this is now. Many respected posters have urged me to try them again, post-K, and I plan to do so.

                        I only hope to wrangle enough days/nights, to hit them all. If not, then that is MY problem, and I will try to live with it.

                        While I want to get back for a second visit to R'evolution, that can wait - maybe the following trip.

                        In the past, I tried to do a couple of the my "old favs," and then work in a few of the "new guys," but next trip will not be structured that way - "old school" only, while they still exist.

                        In a nod to Collardman, glad that we did a final trip to Kolb's, before they closed. I am so fortunate to have done so.

                        Soon, maybe WYES will do a series on the "Recent, Late, Great Restaurants of NOLA." I want to experience those, before they become a footnote in the history of NOLA cuisine and restaurants. Then, I will buy the DVD set.


                      2. More like shame on the restaurants mentioned. Resting on their laurels. They'll get what they deserve.

                        9 Replies
                          1. re: N.O.Food

                            Or, is it a changing clientele? Seems that most, nowadays, want what they have "back home," and in the most casual clothes imaginable.

                            Not many really think about NOLA cuisine anymore. They want something else, regardless of where they travel. I see this on many boards, where travelers want the location of the nearest Morton's, just like they experience back home. To too many, that is a "comfort" choice, and they could care less about regional cuisine, or history.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill, we nearly always agree, but I actually think many visitors come to New Orleans eagerly seeking "NOLA cuisine," rather than a familiar clone of their local Morton's. New Orleans is refreshingly free of those sorts of chain establishments, and most of the competition to the grand dames comes from independent local operators.

                              And if you look in the standard tourist guides, like Fodor's and Frommer's, the grand dames still score quite well, on average.

                              Brennan's obviously has suffered from poor financial management and is now in genuine danger of imminent collapse. Galatoire's, on the other hand, is expanding this year, both enlarging the FQ operation and re-opening the Baton Rouge spin-off. Felix's has a new lease on life with new ownership and operating capital.

                              Nobody wants to see historic restaurants fail. If anything, the famous spots enjoy an extra competitive advantage in the market place, due to their special name recognition. There is no inherent reason why any of the named restaurants should fail, if they keep their game stepped up, for food, service, and atmosphere, and if they are well-managed ( which apparently Brennan's was not).

                              This thread is somewhat maddening to me. Joedontexan tells Chowhounders that they should be ashamed, the replies pile up, and Joedon retreats back under his bridge watching the uproar and has nothing further to say.

                              I don't see any real evidence that supports the notion that the grand dames are an endangered species, provided that they pursue excellence in every aspect of their business.

                              There will always be new restaurants, new chefs, new dishes. At one time, every NOLA classic was a new "trendy" dish, like the first BBQ shrimp at Pascal's Manale. Thankfully, the city's cuisine is not static. New Orleans is not a theme park for old Creole. There is still ample room for the classic dishes served in classic spaces, but there is no shame in honestly reporting when such establishments don't quite deliver the goods, or when newer restaurants do.

                              1. re: Gizmo56

                                Gizmo I have come out from under my bridge. yes I have a few things to say. If you think losing Antoines would not be a big deal your wrong. New Orleans is a very unique city with a lot of history and tradition. Losing a place like Antoines is losing history and tradition making new orleans more and more like just another bland city anywhere america. New Orleans in 1861 was ground zero for southern culture. And believe it or not in my mind still is. My great great grandfather joined the Confederate army in New Orleans in 1861. Did he dine at Antoines which was already 21 years old at this point. Doubtful as he was a poor farm boy, but he might have walked by it. And I dig that! I find comfort on my trips that its still there, I dont always dine there every trip but I want it there, history and tradition. Otherwise without it New Orleans is more and more just a place with some old buildings. I make no apologies as I am somewhat of a traditionalist. And with that in the words of Paul Harvey Good Day!

                                1. re: joedontexan

                                  I never said that losing Antoine's would not be a big deal. I root for all of the historic properties to remain at the top of their game, so that they will still be preserving the tradition for decades to come.

                                  But there is no cause for "shame" when a Chowhounder reports a less than stellar experience at Antoine's, or a great experience elsewhere. If anything, the occasional gripe should push the ownership and management at the grand dames not to "coast" on their considerable reputations, but instead to make certain that all of their patrons will have a dining experience that will make them want to return, even in a city with so many wonderful options.

                                  1. re: Gizmo56

                                    Now, this goes back to pre-K, but I did just that - panned a visit to Antoine's. That broke my heart, and on several levels.

                                    When I was about 5 - 6 years old, I was taken to Antoine's, as a real treat. I enjoyed it. In later years, I was able to return, many times. Same for Galatoire's. Those became a tradition for me, with many great memories (and one, not so great, but "character-building," none the less), and I was devastated.

                                    Hearing that many things had changed (and some, changed "back"), made me glad. We have not fit them into the mix, but hope to do a "Grand Dame Farewell Tour," in the very near future, before some are but footnotes in history.


                                2. re: Gizmo56

                                  Yes, we do often agree on many restaurants.

                                  I only hope that most do NOT want the "same old - same old," but see such , even in a wonderful culinary city, as New Orleans. Now, NOLA is not alone, nor immune. I see such requests on the Hawai`i board, where travelers want reports on a Morton's, or a Ruth's. I mean why go to Hawai`i, if one wishes to eat the exact same food, that they have in Chicago?

                                  Your comment on the "financial" aspect of Brennan's is a great one. Many things can sink a restaurant, and even one with hard-bound books, and decades of history. Stuff happens, and some of it is outside the purview of just the food.

                                  I do enjoy the "new" NOLA Cuisine, and applaud the chefs, who are heading in that direction. I have been a fan of Stella! (have not tried the new menus yet), though many decried that they did not do "pure" NOLA Cuisine.

                                  However, and with that said, I still enjoy the more "traditional NOLA Cuisine," and feel sorry, that some might be passing into the history books.

                                  Otherwise, I agree with you 100%. NOLA is NOT a "time capsule," and it should never be.


                                3. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Agree wholeheartedly that, given the restrictions of air travel today, people pack to travel in a more casual manner. But a couple of thing are at work here. Certainly people may not be as immersed in local culture (Creole/Cajun) as in time past but much of that is due to a lack of awareness. How many visitors to NO know what Marchand De Vin sauce is? Or Eggs Hussarde?
                                  They might embrace both given the opportunity. And then you have the change in palate of the modern "foodie", wanting a lighter, newer take on a classic cuisine (think Susan Spicer at Bayona). You guys have discussed the Grand Dames of NOLA cuisine. Think they will or need to adapt to these new realities of food and travel?

                                  1. re: sanchoponza

                                    <<And then you have the change in palate of the modern "foodie", wanting a lighter, newer take on a classic cuisine (think Susan Spicer at Bayona).>>

                                    Great point here. Immediately before Katrina, we did the "Grand Dames Tour," but by the end of the week, we were at Galatoire's, and my wife (the NOLA native), asked our server, "What do you have, that is not dredged in butter?" She had hit her "wall." As you comment, often one DOES want a lighter choice. Guess that we had been away too long, and had become used to "lighter fare." While the dining was great, flavorful, and also historic (great memories for us), after a full week, it became too heavy. What we grew up with, tended to overwhelm us, at the end of the trip - a little could go a long way. Is that a bad thing? In smaller doses, no way, IMHO, but a full week... ? Well, my wife was "done."

                                    Do I regret our "tour?" No way, as within 2 mos. many things had changed forever.


                              2. Serious question: "Why?"

                                Why "chowders shame on you"? Do you want people to lie? to cut them some undeserved slack, just because they're old and established?

                                Let's say that long-time, old school New Orleans restaurant "Chez Cache Phloe" is SOLD, and the new owner don't honor tradition, but instead turn it into a tourist trap serving cheap, touristy food . . . would you object to critical comments made by those who post here about how horrible the food is, and that the remoulade tastes like it comes out of a can?

                                Probably not.

                                OK, but what if Chez Cache Phloe stays in the family's hands, but the new generation doesn't seem to care as much and the attention to detail isn't there anymore. Are critical comments permitted then?

                                And what if Chez Cache Phloe opens up new branches -- at the airport, in Destin, Las Vegas, **wherever** -- and the "home base" seems to suffer . . . are critical comments permitted under that scenario?

                                I don't have a horse in this race, as they say. Although I am a frequent visitor to New Orleans (spending at least one week, sometimes two, there every year), I am not, nor do I claim to be anything but a tourist.

                                But let me digress, if I may, just for a moment. Chez Panisse is less than 1.5 miles from my house. We dine there at least once a year, "whether we need to or not." Now, what I mean by that -- more below -- is that Chez Panisse is in a bit of a time warp. It is virtually unchanged in 40 years. The OP speaks of "a bunch of upstart places just like everywhere in america" (sic). Well, few restaurants survive 10 years, let alone 40, or 100. So there is something of a conundrum here: the restaurant HAD to be doing something right, or it wouldn't have survived so long, but on the other hand, from the point-of-view of "inventive" or "cutting edge" techniques/cuisine, in the creativity of their menu. Many restaurants will surpass the "tradition-bound" original in the eyes of the public (think "buzz") as well as in the press. After all, a restaurant critic for a newspaper only has 52 columns a year -- can't cover everyone!

                                Does that mean that the "tradition bound" establishment now sucks? In and of itself, no. Of course not. But it will be seen as "old hat," and often start "flying below the radar" becoming easier and esier to overlook and/or dismiss.

                                In the case of Chez Panisse, very few dishes there are things my wife and I cannot cook at home (unlike the "old stalwarts" of New Orleans). And every time we dine at Chez Panisse, we are reminded of that, and yet . . . the execution is perfect. And so, "whether we need to or not" is a double-edged sword. We *can* make it at home, but there is something so stunning (for example) even by a simple green salad perfectly done . . .

                                That doesn't happen for me in New Orleans.

                                What DOES happen is I get great food that my wife and I cannot make at home . . . though we're getting better as some of the traditional dishes.

                                But I've also criticized Stella! on these pages. In my opinion, it was richly deserved, but it was also many years ago (pre-K, in fact). We've been meaning to get back, but between our own "traditions" -- places we look forward to returning to -- the list of new and new-to-us places continues to grow, and we just haven't had a change to return to Stella! . . . .

                                C'est la vie.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: zin1953


                                  In a word, "NO!"

                                  Chowhounds should report and review with 100% objectivity. Nothing less.

                                  If a "sacred cow" is not up to snuff, they should state that. Though I have great memories, I try to do, just that - report on what I experience.


                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    <<OK, but what if Chez Cache Phloe stays in the family's hands, but the new generation doesn't seem to care as much and the attention to detail isn't there anymore. Are critical comments permitted then?>>

                                    Honest posts should ferret such out, and in short order. However, for some, Chez Chache Phloe might be a "sacred cow," with many running interference for it, along with some CH MOD's. That does happen, but it is usually not too long, before the responders notice "the King has not clothes."

                                    Still, regardless of "sacred cows," it is the duty of real CH's, to report the truth. I try to do so, with every review/report.


                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      <<But I've also criticized Stella! on these pages. In my opinion, it was richly deserved, but it was also many years ago (pre-K, in fact). We've been meaning to get back, but between our own "traditions" -- places we look forward to returning to -- the list of new and new-to-us places continues to grow, and we just haven't had a change to return to Stella! . . . .>>

                                      That was what you encountered. While you and I disagree about this, it is what YOU encountered vs what I encountered. Knowing your background, and proclivity for the truth, I do not dispute your encounters, but just have had the opposite of those - different nights?

                                      Fairly recently, I recommended a restaurant on Maui, to some good friends (she writes cookbooks, and he is a wino), and they had a horrible experience. Then, in a restaurant, that I had panned, they had a wonderful meal. Such is life.

                                      As fate would have it, the restaurant that I warned against, and the one that they loved, is no longer there, where the one that I recommended, where they did not have a good time, is still going strong. Who was right? Well, both of us were, as we were in each, on different nights.


                                    2. Competition is tougher than ever and it has always been a brutal business A lot of the harsh reviews you mention are just fakes..we've all seen them. And whines about the check not being put in the little leatherette thing or having no butter plate are just that..whines. The usual attack is that there is nothing innvative or that whatever it was had poor presentation. When France Parkinson Keyes made it tres chic to have Dinner At Antoine's (copied by "Breakfast at Brennans"), there wasn't that much good food outside New Orleans, San Francisco, some New York. Folks growing up in Cleveland (who didn;t eat then ethnic foods) really knew nothing about this stuff and no doubt it was more impressive years ago. Today, some CIA trained cook has a beanery in a hotel and you can get the same Continental Cuisine there as in Atlanta...or close.

                                      And it is true, as HC says, that tastes change. I recall Luchow's very well (and was surprised when I heard it referred to as a "Chinese place that closed.") It, and Gage & Tollner across the East River, were classics. Kolbs would have been our closest thing to those. And they were fine. Kolb's started to die when Louis Roussel knocked down the St Charles Hotel. I had a friend who was a partner in Kolbs in the 1970's/80's and he worked hard to make it go. But evenings were depressingly empty and you could see the end coming for years before the place went "dark" as it said on the door.

                                      THese places just fell out-of-favor and in some cases the neighborhood changed around them. (Luchow's moved but that didn't save it.) And teh recent death of Boston's Locke-Ober should send shudders over anyone who loves Grand Old Places. Locke wasn't purveying junk...people just wanted "buzz." Lydia Shire, noted Boston chef, ran it for ten years and she said there should be places--like Locke-Ober, (and, by extension, Antoines)--that we go to because the food is good and it is a great experience...to hell with what is trendy.

                                      But trendy is making the cut these days. And some of the war horses kept their business by some keep-the-talk-going innovation (Oysters Rockefeller, "Haute Creole"). Hordes of people read reviews and Go With The Flow. A political operative told me years ago that his job was to convince everyone that his guy was the Winner. People like to be on winning teams. He estimated he got almost half his support that way. Same for the restaurant. Here is a Hot Chef. He tries out a "new concept." Recently we have seen the Return to the Past concept. Hmm..Besh's Luke restaurant is a nod to the "brasseries" which Mr Besh does not remember...but if we knew Kolbs we know what he is aiming at (although Besh's ingredients are probably better..there was a time when the suppliers got lazy, too). Certainly Luke is more manegeable that Kolbs was.

                                      What is needed is a core group of diners who keep these places going. Relying on the tourist trade is a slender reed. Liebling noted that restaurants have strange lifespans..sometimes that of the foudner and sometimes that of a fruit fly. The children of a successful place should work hard to know the business and to keep their customers and their customers' children.(My generation has been pretty good at teaching the kids to support our places). But, as Liebling said, eventually the time comes when the kids decide to expand and ruin everything.

                                      I don;t know that anyof these places will survive forever. I think there will be enough to See Me Through. But the closing of luchows and Gage & Tollner---and Le Cote Basque, Lutece and others suggests the future of dining out is going to be mroe along the lines of that pesilential foomery going on at EMP in New York right now. (The death of Cafe des Artistes a few years ago was easier for me to take because I don;t think CdA really could have survived without George Lang..he was part of the place and he made it popular...by making it trendy at first then by just delivering solid stuff, although Gael Green did a once famous review in which she basicaly said she loved it even though the food was nothing to rave about. The food was perfectly fine, just not "innovative.". It, too, was abandoned in the evenings towards the end.

                                      I don;t thank any of us cares if Antoine's or Galatoire's or COmmanders comes up with a "new dish" but I think we want the familiarity, the easy slovenliness of the menus we grew up with and that our grandparents grew up with. I could eat the same thing my grandfather ate at Locke-Ober or Lucas-Carton and I like that. Besides, I have no fear of cream, butter and other straightforward flavors.

                                      The other problem, for another day, is that the New Places don't seem to mind being a Romper Room, to allow people to watch football and scream, and to show up in all manner of raiment never known to decent public behavior.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: hazelhurst


                                        That rather sums it up.

                                        The masses want a "familiar place," just like they known in River City, and then the rest want to dine in the dark, being fed by blind eunuchs where they cannot see anything, 'cause it is "all the rage." They only want the "buzz." Well, some of us have "been there, and done that," and will report that it is NOT what it was cracked up to be, by the food-press.

                                        While I frequently decry that "familiarity" aspect, when it comes to NOLA cuisine, I love the "old school" food efforts, but that is just me.


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          I had to laugh about the "blind eunuchs" restaurant, being reminded that there is a dine in the dark restaurant in Amsterdam. Our Dutch friends children went there (no mention if the waitstaff could begat) and proclaimed it a one trick pony.

                                          Rosey girl, you gotta have a gimmick.

                                          1. re: collardman

                                            Yeah, a "one-trick pony," indeed.

                                            As we dine all over, we often see some rather odd (and I DO mean ODD) affectations, regarding restaurants. We are just not fans, and will let the El Bullis fade from memory - oh wait, El Bulli HAS faded from memory!. Sometimes, "the emperor HAS no clothes... "

                                            When the day ends, we always remember the restaurants, with great food, great service, great wine list, and a comfortable venue. Much of the "new wave" is long lost, regardless of how much ink they receive.

                                            When I read/hear "buzz," "hot," "happening," we usually head the other direction.

                                            While we DO love innovative cuisine, there ARE limits - and that usually ends with the food.


                                        2. Shouldn't the shame on you be better directed to Antoine's for resting on their laurels and serving if not subpar food, that which is well below their pedigree.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: nolala

                                            Oh, the quality of the food, and the service, should be "job one." History, and tradition are one aspect, but quality is the main driver, or should be.


                                          2. We have discussed similar, and are trying to put together a "Grand Dames Tour," to get to all, before they do close. Too many great memories, to ignore.

                                            Just before Katrina, we did similar, and then the hurricane hit, and we did not regret, even for a moment. Who knew what would come, in the days, post-K?

                                            We need to do so again.

                                            Thank you for posting,


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              From MSP put me in....will be there

                                            2. I doubt that Chowhound has enough influence to determine whether an old, established restaurant survives or not. It's obvious that there are many factors in play.

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                  I certainly hope not (Chowhound has enough influence etc.)

                                                2. Rather than heaping shame on patrons who have had bad experiences at these historic restaurants, the shame should fall on the owners who are resting on their laurels. Some of them are content to serve sub-par food and have mediocre service, whether they are catering to the lowest common denominator of tourists or new owners/family manage them poorly. It is a shame that many of these are going downhill but if they have not maintained standards, then they deserve what they get. I agree with other posters that tastes do change and many people are unwilling to get out of their culinary comfort zones of chain restaurants, but if you have consistently good food, good service and good management to maintain your reputation, customers will continue to patronize the restaurant. Personally I love the dress codes and old world feel with some of the grande dames as it's all part of the experience to me. The reason Galatoires doesn't get ripped on is that they have continued to maintain standards.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: amh615

                                                    I could not agree more.

                                                    If a restaurant fails to fulfill the "promise" to their patrons, then it should reconsider.

                                                    Laurels should NEVER be rested upon. Serving the greatest food, perfectly, in a comfortable venue, should be job # 1.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Wow, what a thread on Chowhound! A couple of things:

                                                      Cheap does not = Adult McD's and most visitors to New Orleans that I know don't want to eat at a Hard Rock Cafe or other similar spot, but they also don't always have the resources to go to a Commander's type place every night of a week long trip either. For that matter do those places even exist in New Orleans? If I wanted that type of food the only place I would know to get it would be Metarie.

                                                      I have also had some so called "cheap" meals that blow away $$$ per person meals albeit non of these were at chain restaurants. With food you don't always have to spend big money to have a fabulous meal. That said I live in a mountain resort, so my idea of cheap may not be the same as others as I don't find Commanders the least bit expensive. For where I live it would be moderate price wise.

                                                      Shame on the Old Guard if they can't cut it. Don't blame food critics or a chowhound internet message boards. Life changes, people change, tastes change and if you don't adapt to those changes you will fail, history or tradition aside.

                                                  2. I live in Berkeley, right near the so-called "Gourmet Ghetto." Chez Panisse, the Cheeseboard, and many other "staples" of great food and fine dining. But I travel to New Orleans once or twice each year. There are restaurants I'm emotionally and sentimentally attached -- in both the San Francisco Bay Area and in New Orleans. Would I be disappointed if they closed? Sure, but not for long -- there are ALWAYS new restaurants opening (and closing) to try, to explore, to visit and re-visit.

                                                    Would I shed a tear if -- let's say Brennans or Chez Panisse -- closed? Yes, if it was due to mis-management; no, if it was due to the quality of food dropping off a cliff . . .

                                                      1. Unfortunately, I see all too many such (or similar) posts, when coming to NOLA.

                                                        As for "what NOLA foods, cannot I get at home?" My answer will depend on where "home" is. I see lots of restaurants, around the US (and some in Europe), that espouse "New Orleans food." However, when looking at their menus, things fall apart, and usually pretty quickly.

                                                        Now, I HAVE had some good NOLA cuisine, in some unlikely, and often "far-away" places, but not that many.

                                                        While, for the last decade, or two, much of my NOLA dining HAS been at higher-end places, not all has. I do not hesitate to make recs. for any level of dining, but do have to admit, that since we left, we are now missing some of the "neighborhood" restaurants. When those come up in a question, I read, more to learn, as I can no longer really contribute.

                                                        Still, so many seem to want what they left behind, in say Chicago, Philadelphia, Des Moines, or elsewhere, and appear to gravitate to the Morton's, the Hard Rock Cafes, or even the Jimmy Buffett places (though we actually had a good meal at a Jimmy Buffett in Las Vegas?).

                                                        Though I do love NOLA cuisine, I do not hesitate to recommend a restaurant, like Stella! (have not done their new menu), though many decry such as not being "true" NOLA cuisine. To me, it is about great food, from that region - whether specific to New Orleans, or not. One restaurant, that has impressed us, on three occasions, has been MiLa. It is more "regionally" oriented, than specific to NOLA. Nothing wrong with that. Heck, if one wants pure NOLA, how could they recommend Cochon, which is "regional?"

                                                        Still, when I travel, one of the last things that I want in food is what I have in Phoenix. I can get that, when in Phoenix. I never ask where I can get Fry Bread, when going to NYC, Chicago, NOLA, Washington,DC, London, Paris or Rome. That is not something that I want. Same for a Morton's, or a Hard Rock Cafe. The closest that I come to that, is going to my local Roy's Hawaiian Cuisine at the Desert Ridge Marriott in Phoenix, when I want an Hawaiian treatment for my dinner.

                                                        Maybe I did not articulate well enough, or maybe we just see different posts?


                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          (not sure why they keep removing my post, but oh well...let me try again)

                                                          first - as for the OP, i think it's a fallacy to blame CH contributors for the possible-maybe-someday closure of restaurants.

                                                          as for bill's comments, let me say again (posts removed) that none of our numerous guests has ever asked for food like what they can get at home. they have always, always asked for "new orleans food", leaving it to me to navigate the way. that's also been my experience here on CH.

                                                          1. re: kibbles

                                                            Obviously, we have seen different posts.

                                                            I always wonder, when I see a request from a Philadelphia visitor for Philly Cheesesteak in NOLA, or a visitor from NYC, wanting a Falafel stand. The NOLA board is not unique in that respect. I see similar on other boards. Why would someone travel from the "Windy City," to San Francisco, in search of Chicago-style pizza?

                                                            I do not go there, looking for nopalitos and fry-bread.

                                                            Now, my culinary desires, when traveling back to NOLA, might be different, as I grew up in the City's shadow, and lived there for many years. I know the cuisine, and desire that (maybe some Deep South thrown in), when there.

                                                            When I travel, I seldom even bother with "New Orleans cuisine," when in Des Moines (though a NOLA ex-pat might be doing a great job of it).

                                                            Now, I am not a "purist," regarding recs. for restaurants in NOLA. I have recommended Stella! several times, where I thought it was appropriate, though it is NOT pure NOLA cuisine - influenced by, and representative of areas in the Deep South, but good, none the less, and not something that one is likely to find in Los Angeles.

                                                            As for the "Grand Dames," it is very difficult for me to separate objective from subjective, but I try to do so. I loved Antoine's, but the last two meals there were not something to relish. However, they were pre-K, but a bit, and I always hope that they regain their former glory. I have always wished them well, and have lamented at posts, with reviews similar to the ones that I wrote, and am gladdened, when someone has a wonderful meal there - hoping for that "return to glory."

                                                            Memories are one thing, but great food on the table, can be something totally different - at least to me.

                                                            When I send someone to NOLA, my recs. are about great food, in a great food city, with NOLA cuisine front and center, but not exclusive of other dining options in that great city. I preface each rec. with some details on the food likely on the menu, and let the traveler decide what they want from my list.

                                                            It is obvious that we see different things, or at least see them in different ways.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              Now you have me wondering what N.O.-style frybread would be like!

                                                              1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                The United Houma Nation sells fry bread with a shrimp topping at JazzFest. fry bread is a common food on the powwow circuit, and many Houma tribal members participate in pan Indian style dancing....hence the fry bread connection. Not a traditional food per se, but a recently adopted symbolic food given a twist with local ingredients.

                                                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                                  Now that is news to me, and thank you for the info.

                                                                  Very interesting.



                                                                2. re: Fydeaux

                                                                  I cannot imagine, and I do have a great imagination.


                                                          2. Every city has old-line restaurants that come to the point where they can either coast to the finish line or freshen themselves up. It's not up to chowhounds to help keep those in the former group alive when there are better restaurants around.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                              I agree completely, in that any restaurant needs to be viable, and not just rest on their laurels. Too many have tried that, and not just in NOLA.

                                                              OTOH, I read many posts from folk, who have not eaten at ____, in a bazillion years, holding a grudge. Also, many, who have never eaten at ___, but decided that because someone else had a bad experience, they would pan it too.

                                                              I have had some bad experiences, but in many cases (most?) have gone back. In a few of those, the restaurant won me over. In some cases, I just do not think that possible, but could well be wrong. As stated above, in a city, like NOLA, if one is NOT a local any longer, the time is short, and the restaurant list is long. It just might not be possible to every try ____ again. For the Grill Room (Windsor Court), it took us almost 15 years, to get back, after a bad experience. When we did, they won our culinary hearts, and have repeated to do so. Same from Brennan's, though that was more like 20 years. Maybe in 2025 I will get back to Drago's at the Hilton? Or, maybe not.


                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                Just to add, if it's not apparent -- one problem with resting on one's laurels is that your customers eventually die out!

                                                                I too am not a local -- we'll probably get to NOLA every two years. So if I read too many negative reviews on a place, I'm just not going to waste a valuable meal slot on it, even if I once liked it. I can no longer eat five meals a day like I could in my salad days.

                                                                For example, I get the sense that the Bon Ton is coming to a critical point, to name one venerable NOLA eatery. I had a good meal there about 15 years ago with my brother Lurker W., but from what I've read more recently, the legion of naysayers seems to be growing. So why I take my family there? The place certainly isn't cheap.

                                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                                  You make a good point.

                                                                  I feel the same about a really bad visit to a restaurant, even when other CH's sing its praises. I am less inclined to expend an evening, in hopes that things might have changed.

                                                                  Now, there HAVE been occasions, where things did change, over time. The Grill Room (Windsor Court) was an example of that, as was Brennan's. Both had fallen off my list, for many years, but after years, we did give them another go, and both impressed us. The same thing happened with Michel's at the Colony Surf in Waikiki. First visit missed on many accounts, and years elapsed, until several trusted CH's urged us to try them again. We did, and things were wonderful - almost over the top. Restaurants CAN change, and often for the better.

                                                                  As for some of the NOLA restaurants, I have a difficult time separating the subjective (read history) from the objective, but that is my problem. While I wish them all the very best, many things do change, and it is all too easy to loose sight of what might be changing on the dining front.

                                                                  However, that does not mean that great food and service, even if steeped in tradition, has no place in contemporary dining, at least to me.

                                                                  I would never argue with your feelings, as I have shared similar, about other restaurants, and not just in NOLA. When one is no longer a "local," then time can be an issue - there are only so many evenings on a trip, and one does not want to waste those.

                                                                  About the best that I can do is conduct a "Grand Dames Farewell Trip," and hope that I am not too late to sample some of the restaurants that I grew up with, can came to love (even if I overlooked some short-comings).

                                                                  Thanks for your insight.


                                                            2. one week a year --for 45 years we have returned to nola. we seldom ( once every 5 years or so) go to antoine's or commander's, but we do go to the old favorites in a sort of a rotation...galatoires one year, arnaud's one year, broussard's, brigtsens , gautreau's every year,. sure we have favorites (brigtsen's, galatoitres, gautreau's) and we try to go to one or 2 "new "places every year.
                                                              new orleans without antoines--unthinkable.( without brennan's or court of 2 sisters would be livable--but undesirable)
                                                              there has to be continuity--otherwise why come to nola. there is better high end in chicago, san francisco, new york, even las vegas (yech). but casamaneto's, liuzza's, mittendorf's--not only irreplaceable but the reason to pilgrimage back to nola.
                                                              even the "new " places--herbsaint, august...have a particularly new orleans charm and repertoire... fresh gulf fish, oysters, turtle soup, etc. that is unique and a magnet.

                                                              still there is reason to keep their feet to the fire. as time goes and chef's change, even the best of operations get sloppy. broussard's was awful for some years, arnaud's mediocre for a few. let them know we love and support them but they must maintain high standards. see you at commander's this year.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: joeljcj2

                                                                Our NOLA trips are not THAT different, with some old favs., but with an attempt to add 1 - 2 new ones.

                                                                While I cannot argue with the comments on restaurants in other cities (we get to dine in SF, NYC, LV, Paris, London and Rome), there is still a big draw to NOLA for us. Part is probably because my wife grew up there, and I grew up near-by, but much has to do with that particular cuisine. Just particular palates.