Trip Report April 13 - 20
Night one Dear Friend (DF) and I arrived late, but early enough to mosey over to Irv Mayfield's Playhouse in Royal Sonesta. I had a delightful house version of the Dark n Stormy, DF had a yummy sweet Passionfruit? cocktail. We were too tired to venture much farther so opted for Desire Bistro and Oyster Bar for passable salads and (cold) sweet potato fries. A glorified coffee shop. My earlier Dark N Stormy was prophetic as it started sprinkling, followed by that big noisy T-storm.
Sunday (last day of FQF) we started @ Cafe Beignet. Hot beignets, Cafe Au Lait did not disappoint. Met Dear Daughter (DD) & her friends for FQF music and food graze which included: crab sliders from Something Else cafe (hit the spot!), Abita Amber, Tropical Daiquiris from Organic Banana and early dinner @ Killer Po Boys. We each had a different Po Boy filling: pork, shrimp, veggie and beef. Not the raves I expected from companions, however I liked my veggie/coulis version very much. DF and I went to Carousel and were disappointed: lightening from the prior night's t-storm halted electricity so a) carousel did not turn, b) glasses were not cold and c) no air conditioning. They closed the bar at 8 pm. DF took a sip of my sazerac, but it was not quite right.
Monday was fantastic! Took the Confederacy of Cruisers "History of Drinking" tour with Lara (she tends @ R Bar, too). FANTASTIC. Riding all around the quarter on cruiser bikes with clipped-on moveble drink holders in the rain on a Monday morning. Just a blast. She prepares island style (non blended) daiquiris prior to launching a multi-stop 3-hour FQ bike tour with stops for full size: 1) Finnegan's Easy for local beer, 2) Napolean's House for classic Pimm's cups, stop 3) Roosevelt Hotel for Sazerac or Ramos Gin Fizz and 4) Erin Rose for frozen (or hot) Irish Coffees. At several other stops she tells the history of New Orleans relationship with alcohol. Rain was coming down as we cycled down Bourbon back to the Marigny, drinks in tow.
A great morning followed by lunch @ Maurepas Foods. After the tour we couldn't conceive of a Maurepas cocktails, however hitting the spot were their Strawberry Salad, Arugula salad, Braised Broccoli -- along with cheesy bread and their top-notch grits. Service was fantastic and everyone loved their dishes which warmed us up after the soggy bike ride.
That night DF & I tried to get into Mr. B's Bar: mobbed. Carousel was still out of power. Thank goodness we found French 75 which we loved. Why had I not been there before? Lovely bar and great drinks. We skipped the French 75 (long story). DF enjoyed The Baroness cocktail x 2, and I had the very creative Caibiscus -- a blend of a caipirinha with hibiscus tea. Chris Hannah is very very good.
Across the street to GW Fins for dinner. It was packed, an un-welcoming greeting by hostess, we had to wait an awfully long time for our wine order to be taken. Both of our main fish dishes (Scalibut, Swordfish) although remarkably fresh and nicely prepared, were cold on the outside. I was so anticipating the Scalibut, but maybe it was sitting around too long before being served? The crabcake starter was superb and finishing up with the Salty Malty dessert redeemed GW's, but I would not go back with so many other great options.
Tuesday (after a morning at the zoo) we lunched at Cafe Reconcile and had a chance to meet CEO Glen Armantrout. Great new location although the remarkable berry cobbler I remembered (from two years ago) was just an OK peach cobbler this time; canned peaches could not be rescued by chocolate and caramel. Oh well.
We were pretty stuffed, so Herbsaint was not the over-the-top meal I had anticipated that evening. Plus we were seated at the front window by the bar and it was a bit hectic/noisy. But my local greens salad and shrimp polenta with mushrooms were superb, followed by a perfect lemon sorbet. Mike provided great service. DF's vegetarian/pescatarian limits were felt at Herbsaint, but we had a nice evening nevertheless.
Wednesday DF & I did the Garden District, timing it perfectly to make our 1pm lunch @ SoBou --- big WINNER for this trip. Yes, more of a dinner place (ambiance) but the food and service was stellar. Best chicken (Crispy Chicken on the Bone) I've ever had in New Orleans, and DF's shrimp and tasso pinchos on baked pineapple was a big hit. Lots of flavors, great service by Sonya and those .25 cent lunch martinis (including a cassis version) made it both a great value and a trip highlight. The beautifully presented, perfect portion chocolate coma dessert was a top trip dessert. Will go back in November for dinner: lunch and dinner menu is identical I think.
Shopping on Chartres Street, two Napolean House Pimm's Cups and a pedi-cab ride back to our hotel and we were pretty relaxed. Domenica was on my list since it is DD's favorite place, but we did not make it in time for the 3 - 6 happy hour. I was charged $10 for a Campari and Soda (what?) and was not in the mood for much pizza. I still think it is a great place, just our timing/ordering was not great, service lackluster -- and we had been wowed by SoBou earlier.
Thursday I hung out with DD and we did Boucherie (L) and Parkway (D). Top spots for me, and a two-sandwich day!! Pan au Chocolate at Maple Street Patisserie and wonderful warm break pudding at Sucre made for lovely sweet treats during shopping expeditions. DF went to Two Sisters solo for some patio dining, and loved her shrimp cocktail and trout almondine.
Friday it was raining and cold. Got our name in at Galatoire's at 11:30 and told to come back for a 1:45 meal. No worries, we had last minute errands, but it was a bitter cold day and we were hitting FQ burn-out. Went back to the Galatoire's new adjacent steak-house bar (it had just opened that week, they are pushing it heartily) and I had a yummy creme de menthe whipped cream-topped Irish coffee. As I got drink # 2-- the host came and got us for lunch in the main downstairs room. What a scene!! I know ya'll clued me in about the table hopping but I did not picture the lap-hopping, birthday-song singing, whistle-blowing silliness of that place. Thank goodness we had Shannon as our server -- and my food was fantastic; drum topped with crab/crayfish special sauce. It was a very very worthwhile experience, and glad we went, although needed to get out of there after 2 hours.
Columns Hotel, glad I saw it. Streetcar back for Carousel Bar (working!) and our last cocktails/music in town (the lovely Robin Barnes); dinner got lost in the commotion.
Last meal was brunch at Atchafalaya and it was splendid. I had a bounteous Crab Omelet and spicy jalapeno cornbread muffins; we were both impressed with the freshness of ingredients, attentive staff, charming ambiance and the wonderful coffee. (Best in town IMHO!)
The trip was great: although bookended by Boston sadness and New Orleans storms, we were glad to have been surrounded by music, friendship, great food and hospitable spirits during this adventure in your idiosyncratic and delicious city. Highlights: History of Drinking Bike Tour, SoBou, French 75, Galatoire's & Atchafalaya. Lowlights: GW Fins & Domenica. Back in November, maybe sooner.
My dear, that is one GREAT report! You don't let a moment in our fair city go to waste, do you?! That drinking bike tour sounds fun and SO dangerous, I'm afraid I'd take out a half-dozen pedestrians. Glad you had a fabulous trip, you are quite the culinary ambassador for NOLA!
Thanks, Christine & Sanglier:
Christine -- find a reason to get to NOLA, while the weather is mild!
Rio Mar for sure, Sanglier! And, I can't wait to go back to French 75 with my hubby. Maybe we should have a Chowhound meet-up travelers on the frequent flyer boards do?
Sanglier (and anyone reading this) you must take that trip: M, Th & Fridays.
On cruiser bikes so it is really tough to kill too many people. LOL. Honestly, I had to pour out some of my liquid in order to a) maneuver and b) not spill it all over myself -- but it was still so worthwhile.
What is really fun is trying to tell my fellow cyclists from (more cautious/straight than you would think) No Cal about touring on cruisers with drinks -- they truly cannot get their minds around it. These are people who cycle in the wine country!
I am already raring to come back and have already booked my November hotel (s)-- so food is not far behind. And, I may just have to come back in September for a long weekend. My liver will be repaired by then. /:
All my best to you all - take good care of your wonderful place.
oh, karen, your trip report was fabulous and made me drool and get excited all at the same time....oh me, oh my,it's been WAY TOO LONG since we've been to NOLA. how we miss that city! But reading your post sure made it come alive in our imaginations again. Thank you for posting your great time in my favorite city... you are very fortunate to have a daughter who lives there. ;-)