NOLA Locals: A frequent visitor looking for some itinerary feedback for an upcoming visit, sans family/work.
Hello, fellow Chowhounders. I'm a regular visitor and will be coming down in June and it is the first time I've visited NOLA by myself when it wasn't for work so I'm really excited to plan this trip. I love sitting at the bar for dinners so I'll be doing that every night. I'd love some feedback on nice dinner choices, as well as a mix of casual and nicer lunch ideas (full disclosure: I have a RB poorboy fetish). Money is not a factor for this trip. Here is my current dining itinerary:
Lunches: I arrive Thursday morning and want to get a roast beef poorboy on the way into the City from the airport. I have already been to Crabby Jack's, so am thinking of trying R&O. Good choice? For my other 4 lunches, I need some help narrowing down my list. I'm thinking of these places for sure:
1. Cafe Reconcile (I know one of the chefs and want to support a good cause)
2. Buffa's for Sunday jazz brunch.
Lunches 3-4 thoughts include: Dat Dog on Freret, Boucherie, Coquette, Lilette, La Petite Grocery, Rene Bistrot, Serendipity, Toup's Meatery, and/or Crescent City Pie and Sausage Co. (I will also head to Butcher on my way out of town for a Muffeletta for the plane.)
I'm staying at the Hotel Modern, so will go to Barocq for a drink first. Other cocktail bars I would like to visit include
Dinner at the bar ideas are heavily weighted toward new(ish) places I'd like to try:
(Hopefully there will be more information on the really new places before my trip).
Other ideas include:
Something Besh (Domenica, Luke, August, Borgne)
Something Bywater: Maurepas, Mariza, Booty's
Have I missed anything that has opened in the last 2 years that I must try at some point (lunch or dinner)?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and reactions.
Regarding Buffa's -- The place is right down the street and I kind of like their casual food -- they do a great burger -- especially when it's raining; however, their brunch is horribly inconsistent -- on consecutive weeks I had one of the best egg benedicts ever and then the worst. Also, since the ownership change, the prices have been creeping up. It's not long till it's not worth the cost for the food -- drinking in the front room is still just fine).
Further, note that the back room is a mob scene on Sundays, even for solos sitting at the bar. If you're keen on seeing the band (the band is worth seeing), be sure to get there early, 10ish.
If you're a cocktail fan and enjoy eating at the bar, know that Peristroika @ Pravda has been doing a pretty good Sunday brunch. I don't know how long that'll last before their rum bar concept kicks in.
The other couple of places that are newish that I've been frequenting are St. Lawrence (specifically for the fried chicken) and Killer Po-Boys. I'm not sure I'd knock anything off your list for either of those but if you're looking for a midnight snack they're both pretty good.
Thanks for the feedback. I got married across the street from Buffa's and have been there for a drink--nice vibe in the front room. Last time I was down in January, I took a cemetery tour conducted by one of the band members in Some Like it Hot. They play the Sunday brunch. So I'll try to go. And I'll take your advice about arriving early. I'm not sure if Peristroika @ Pravda will still be open when I'm there so the spot may be in the renovation stage during my visit. A good rum bar sounds like a nice idea, especially with this ownership group. I'll do some research on Killer Po-Boys and St Lawrence. Thanks again!
I wouldn't be too concerned with Criollo if I were you. I've had two lunches there, and both times there was a (admittedly fairly minor) problem with the food: a panzanella salad with the bread missing, and a roasted vegetable sandwich with the cheese missing. Food was fine but certainly not exciting or interesting. Just not great. Definitely feels like hotel food.
I would take Sobu off that list, to many other great places to eat. I have been there twice and it was not impressive either time.
Dining in R'evolution's bar is a totally differnt experience than the dining room. I'd skip the bar, Buffa's and Sobu.
August is Besh's best, followed by the more casual Domenica. Can't go wrong with either.
Thanks again for the input. So for dinners, I think I've settled on 3 of my 4 meals: Peche, Kingfish, and Borgne. For that last dinner, I'd like to try one more place I haven't been yet. Which of these would you recommend the most: Boucherie, Coquette, Lilette, La Petite Grocery, Rene Bistrot, Serendipity, or Toup's Meatery. Again, looking for a comfortable bar where I can enjoy some great local food, with great cocktails and service and a fun crowd.
I'm still trying to decide on a 4th dinner locale. I still have like 6 weeks, so plenty of time to decide. I forgot to ask about Dominique's on Magazine. Any comments on that place as a dinner at the bar option? And what's the word on Rene Bistrot? I don't hear much about it these days. The menu doesn't thrill me, but menus can be misleading. I do like the menu (and cocktail list) at Dominique's. I'm obsessed with the Vieux Carre. Order it whenever I see it listed in New York (which is to say, very rarely).
Save yourself the disappointment and do NOT go to kingfish. The food was a fail all around and service was equally bad. You get the feeling management and the kitchen are over their heads.
On a separate note we walked by Rene Bistrot and it was a graveyard at prime dinner time. So I would take that as a sign to avoid as well.
Here is a quick kingfish recap. Hope to hear others had a different experience but I am not optimistic.
One side plate for four of us with pimento cheese and bacon bits. Apparently Kingfish doesn't believe in each diner receiving their own amuse bouche. This set the tone for the evening of Kingfish redefining / misunderstanding the basics.
Needless to say the pimento cheese and bacon bits lacked sufficient punch to stand up to the bread we scooped it on to.
Shakashuka gator. "Free range egg softly cooked in a gator ragout"
The egg came out a shade below hard cooked and need to me jostled to get a little yoke out to mix in to the ragout. The chalky light yellow yoke that remained didn't add much. There was no sign of gator in the almost sugary sweet tomato ragout. This dish was a complete miss.
A brown bag was filled with a good portion of pork, duck and chicken cracklins. The pork cracklin was the best with a good balance of crunch and salt. The chicken and duck cracklins were under seasoned and over breaded.
Smoked rabbit gumbo:
This was the highlight of the evening. A nice balance of smoke and heat. Would have liked more rice with it but it was a solid dish.
Duck a la Sauliner:
"Honey crab boiled, boneless duck tossed in ramen noodles, roasted peppers, mushrooms , served in a preserved lemon sauce, garnished with a duck cracklin."
The preserved lemon sauce over powered all other elements of the dish. The duck was stringy and dry and tasted liked it had been cooked earlier in the day and not properly stored allowing the potential deliciousness to escape. The ramen noodles were run of the mill store bought noodles and the crab, roasted peppers and mushrooms were one big preserved lemon sauce mush.
Dessert was skipped.
I've been thinking over my itinerary today and steadily drinking to help me make a sound decision.
Based on your input and my own research, here's where I'm netting out for dinners:
Thursday: Peche. I think I must try it no matter what, since I LOVE Link's other restaurants.
Friday: Toup's Meatery or Boucherie? Leaning toward Toup's based on the menu and location.
Saturday: Serendipity. Is it worthy of a dinner? Two Mid-City dinners in the same trip?
In my opinion, no, I wouldn't make Serendipity one of my dinners. I've wanted to love the place, and have been five times, most recently last week when we ended up there as a back-up (after swearing we'd never go back). We tried the tasting menu--five courses, two of which we loved (escargot, mahi mahi w/andouille), two of which we didn't (crawfish beignets with not one discernible bit of crawfish: beet "ravioli" managed to be dry, with very little goat cheese"), and one (shrimp in a grass skirt) that was just ok.
It's a place of hits and misses, inconsistencies. The first time we went, we liked it a lot and the beet ravioli was delicious. Another time, the okra rellenos was outstanding; the next time, that dish was a failure--too-chewy okra, very lttle stuffing.
On our fourth visit, we went to a party hosted by a friend--a 90-minute cocktail party for 40-50 people and a dinner for 12 following the cocktail party. Without going into detail, I will say that the chef was an absolute jerk--and I've heard several people who were there, including the host, say they'll never return. Suffice it to say that he left such a bad taste that it almost didn't matter how good the food was.
That aside, the food isn't consistent, and often creativity trumps execution.
I think you'd have a better experience at the bar at R'Evolution, Domenica, or Sylvain. I've only had lunch at Root: almost everything was outstanding except their take on the bahn mi.
BTW, Twelve-Mile Limit is an interesting place: a bar that defies artisan cocktail culture in every sense--except for the excellent, reasonably-priced cocktails. I have a small group of friends who do a Ladies Night Out every couple of months, and we often go there.
Thanks for your thoughts on Serendipity. I'm sorry to hear that you dont think it worthy. ive been to, and enjoyed,
Domenica and Sylvain. Is RRevolution a fun bar atmosphere? I am a fan of twelve Mile Limit too. What about Toup's, Dominique's, and Boucherie--thoughts on these?
I ate at the bar at R'evolution with a friend late last year. It's a nice bar though I can't say that it's particularly special, as bars for dining go. I was focused on the food and catching up with my friend, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves. I've been to the restaurant twice in the past month, and despite some issues, the food, overall--and covering several dishes--has been excellent. BTW, they have a long table set up for solo diners that faces the open kitchen in one of the dining rooms.
I agree with karendor that Coquette is wonderful, if that's in consideration for a dinner.
We love Boucherie though it's been almost a year since I've been; it's tiny, and if there's a bar at which you can eat, I'm unaware of it. I've eaten Dominique's food at a few different restaurants (always very good), but not been to this newest one. I've never been to Toups's, but it's on the short list as I've heard nothing but raves from people I trust in these matters.
Frequent visitor here. Jealous of your trip!
Does Boucherie have an eating @ the bar spot -- I've missed it if it does? If you are still looking for that last "eat at the bar" dinner I would vote for Coquette, but I have not been to some of your other choices.
I went to both SoBou & Boucherie during my last visit for lunch. Loved both - think Boucherie does dinner a wee bit better, more of a fun crowd and robust menu.
SoBou has same menu for lunch and dinner, I think, and a VERY cute bar but it might draw a heavy "W" crowd at the bar at night. If you eat in the main room, ask for Sonya. Crispy chicken plate wonderful and the chocolate coma is a great finish.
Don't miss Maurpas and Coquette if you have not been to either before. I was not at all thrilled with Root for a dinner last year.
Cocktails, if you have not done French 75, yet, I highly recommend for the intimacy and wonderful cocktails. How had I missed it before?
Nope. That pretty much sums it up. All the new ones you mentioned are really good. I haven’t been to Criollo yet though and Kingfish and Peche are brand new so you are right to wait on some reviews, although I would guess they are both good based on their ownerships.