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Herbsaint or GW Fin?

thebeanfield Mar 11, 2013 11:12 AM

We'll be in NO next week and need some help, please, choosing a restaurant for a quiet, celebratory dinner. I watched the video on the GW Fin site and it described the tables as having "ample space" between them to permit quiet conversation, but the restaurant seemed pretty lively in the video. Is it quiet? What is the noise level at Herbsaint? Also, Herbsaint does not post its wine list. Are there some modestly priced wines at Herbsaint? (We almost went thirsty at Stella! last trip.)

Previous postings have been ever so helpful.

Thanks in advance!

  1. g
    Gizmo56 Mar 11, 2013 11:20 AM

    GW Fins has a slightly elevated level with booths. The booths are more quiet and private than the tables below, and if you want a more quiet space for conversation, I'd request a booth. I like the booths for that reason, and also because I enjoy having a "catbird" seat where you can see all the activity on the main floor.

    Having said that, the main floor, while more lively, is not really a noisy din, and if you sit there you will be able to talk without shouting.

    I'd likewise describe the noise level at Herbsaint as moderate at most, and (although your estimation may be different than mine) my memory of Herbsaint's wine list is that it has a decent range of options that won't break the bank.

    Enjoy your visit!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gizmo56
      Hungry Celeste Mar 11, 2013 02:47 PM

      Those upper level booths at GW Fins look nice, but beware the thrumming bass vibrations from the club next door. I had to move, as the whole seat, table, etc were buzzing. Sort of felt like being on a train.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste
        Gizmo56 Mar 11, 2013 03:01 PM


        On the occasions I have been there, we've had reservations not later than 7:30, so perhaps the neighboring club does not get into full gear until after we've departed. Those upper booths have always worked fine for us to converse without raising our voices at all.

    2. k
      kibbles Mar 11, 2013 12:27 PM

      my SO were at GW's with her mother, it was loud. we had a middle tier booth - neither on the floor nor against the wall, and it was pretty loud.

      1. c
        collardman Mar 11, 2013 12:35 PM

        Of the two, Herbsaint is quieter. I really like GWF but the big open room with harder surfaces does not make it quiet. The back room at Herbsaint is a bit more intimate.

        1. s
          sanglier Mar 11, 2013 01:12 PM

          Well, I loudly and often tout Herbsaint as my favorite New Orleans restaurant. I go there for dinner 2-3 times a month and also stage private dinners there for large tables. It has never, ever failed to deliver the goods in terms of food and service. Some have commented that it can get noisy, guess I never noticed since I am always in the throes of having such a great time! The wine list has a good, varied selection, and thought there are triple-digit wines (particularly strong in the red burgundy area), there are many fun wines to be had between 35-50. Ask Colin, Sean or Reno, whoever is working that night, for advice, they know their wine stuff. Have fun wherever you end up!

          1. j
            JazzyB Mar 11, 2013 05:04 PM

            Toss a coin. We usually make 2 rsv. when planning to dine at Fins, both at the same time. I call Fins after noon on the day of the rsv. to inquire about the menu since lit changes daily. Should the Scalibut not be available, I cancel and keep the other rsv. Depending upon the app selection, we make a tasting of 5or so and split the Scalibut. Less enticing apps, we order a couple plus 2 Scalibut. The Scalibut with lobster risotto is outstanding as are the cold smoked sizzling oysters. These are the " gold standard" for chargrilled . They arrive plump and juicy with a lovely smoke flavor, unlike the chargrilled elsewhere, that are grilled to death and dry. You are ordering these mostly to sop up the garlic butter sauce. The oysters are inconsequential. FWIW,. I always request a streetside window table. No difficulty with conversation due to noise.

            No Scalibut, keep the Herbsaint rsv. Most anything you order will satisfy. Enjoy!

            8 Replies
            1. re: JazzyB
              sanglier Mar 11, 2013 05:51 PM

              Hey jazzy, what is this Scalibut you speak of? I'm intrigued...

              1. re: sanglier
                Gizmo56 Mar 11, 2013 06:18 PM

                "Scalibut" is halibut that is crusted on top with thin sliced scallops. Really delicious, although after tasting the crab dish that my wife ordered last time, I would have traded my scalibut. I think the whole menu is prepared at a very high level, with very imaginative preparations.

                1. re: sanglier
                  Gizmo56 Mar 11, 2013 06:20 PM

                  scalibut photo...

                  1. re: Gizmo56
                    sanglier Mar 11, 2013 06:52 PM

                    I stared at that photo so long it could've passed for a "trance" upgrade. Good heavens! That looks fantastic, and most original. GW Fins, here I come, sorry I've been away so long! Very kind of you to post, thanks gizmo.

                    1. re: sanglier
                      JazzyB Mar 11, 2013 09:03 PM

                      It's served with tomato and lobster risotto, sugar snap peas and lobster butter. Unfortunately, it is not always on the menu.

                      1. re: JazzyB
                        sanglier Mar 11, 2013 09:11 PM

                        I like the "scalibut strategy" you described above. I might tweak it and call, say, on a Tuesday and see if they could tell me if in the next 3-4 days it will appear, and if so, when. Otherwise they might wonder why I've cancelled 6 consecutive times! Thanks for the tip.

                    2. re: Gizmo56
                      Gizmo56 Mar 22, 2013 10:16 AM

                      sanglier, GW Fins has today announced the beginning of "scalibut season."

                      1. re: Gizmo56
                        sanglier Mar 22, 2013 04:57 PM

                        You are a wonderful co-'Hownder! Thanks for that info, I really appreciate it. On the list for next week's dining out choices.

                2. t
                  thebeanfield Mar 13, 2013 10:35 AM

                  Thanks for your thoughtful responses. After great deliberation we have made a decision. We're going to both! We have reservations one night for a booth at GW Fins (here's hoping they have Scalibut that night) and the next night we have reservations at Herbsaint for the backroom.

                  Many thanks again.

                  'Will report back.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: thebeanfield
                    Gizmo56 Mar 13, 2013 10:52 AM

                    Good plan!

                    1. re: thebeanfield
                      kibbles Mar 14, 2013 11:45 AM

                      the best

                    2. j
                      janbo19 Mar 13, 2013 11:24 AM

                      We like Herbsaint for the food, but it is extremely noisy around the 6-9:00 hour. If the weather's nice, it's fun to sit outside and eat. We even got to meet Donald Link one night while enjoying our small plates. My favorite dessert ever is there: Brown Butter Banana Tort. And I'm a chocoholic!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: janbo19
                        sanglier Mar 13, 2013 11:28 AM

                        So right, other desserts have come and gone, but if he took the banana brown butter tart off, there would be a mutiny!

                      2. a
                        Ambiance Mar 14, 2013 10:06 AM

                        Definitely Herbsaint....and if they have the mussels with coconut curry broth - order me a case of the broth. haha

                        I actually lived in apartment above GW Fins for a couple months.

                        I found the place mediocre, over-priced, over-rated, with slow service to boot.

                        At least Herbsaint has some creativity to it.

                        1. s
                          shanefink Mar 23, 2013 12:36 PM

                          Went to Herbsaint last night and it was fantastic. I wouldn’t call it quiet and the service is a little standoffish, but the food was so impressive. I can’t imagine GW Fins being as creative as Herbsaint. Our group of 4 were all impressed.

                          1. t
                            thebeanfield Apr 1, 2013 11:39 AM

                            Although our experiences were different, the food and service in both restaurants were delectable and attentive.

                            At GWF we split the smoked oysters and the lobster dumplings. Those amazing oysters alone were worth the trip. I enjoyed the scalabot and Hubby had the drum. The apple pie for dessert wasn't as remarkable as the previous dishes - but we managed to clean the plate. Service was prompt but friendly. Honestly, I felt a bit rushed. The entrees arrived while I still had a precious oyster on my plate. The noise level wasn't too bad, but there was some vibration from next door. It was a fun experience.

                            At Herbsaint we ended up with a table at the back of the front room. There was a large, loud party in the backroom. I started with the kale salad. It had slices of smoked drum in it that were like butter. Hubby had a pleasant bean soup and enjoyed his lamb neck. I had the duck confi. The citrus sauce with it was a nice contrast. We split a duck egg creme brule. It was lovely, but I'm not sure the nature of the eggs made much difference. Our table was too close to those on either side. Next time, and there definitely will be a next time, maybe we can sit outside.

                            Thank you again for your thoughtful advice!

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