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Last Minute Trip in Two Days. Help!

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Hi All!

I'm going to have a trip with 3 other people (2 guys 2 girls) to Nola in two days (this Saturday June 1st to Tuesday June 4th). As New Yorker, I feel shamed that I didn't do all the restaurant search and booking in advance but this is really a last minute plan. So any advises would be appreciated.

We will stay in Ritz Carlton with rental car. Not sure if driving is good option though. We want to have an memory making night on Sat since one of us will leave on Sunday.

1. from some other threads, i see people try table hopping to taste many places. Is it recommended for Sat night? i could image a lot of places may be quote crowed.

2. if table hopping is not a good choice, please recommend must go/once in a life experience places for Sat dinner and Sunday brunch :) Also the after dinner plan would be very helpful (basically how to get drunk in NOLA way lol)

3. please recommend some other restaurants we should visit in the rest of days. I get these from other threads: boucherie, commander, cochon.

Since we experienced many fine dining places in NYC, we really want something different that only NOLA could offer.

I know it is very late now...many thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm afraid your request is so short on specifics that it is hard--for me, anyway--to divine what you'd be interested in. Are you willing to dress? New York is so lackadaisical nowadays that I don't know you would. As far as "table hopping" goes, while it can be done it can also be rather rude to the restaurants to say nothing of the waiters who get only a $5 tip on the one item ordered. Commander's is probably the best example of "haute cuisine" in town although it has fallen prey to the modern effort to be distinguished by flying in Norwegian rusk and African mountain perch to serve with local crabmeat. Antoine's is a museum of recipes but most people deride it nowadays because it is not "exciting." (In truth the last steak I had there was ordinary and that is depressing. The wine, however, was stellar.) Cochon has its fans and while I appreciate the efforts to improve swine breed I have not wanted to part with the pelf for ordinary stuff attempting to fly higher. Luke has been satisfactory on several occasions although it adds up in $ quickly. R'evolution has been getting shredded by my friends and part of this is because of its pretensions. But I am no fan of Mr Folse to begin with.

    A lot has to do with whether or not you can entertain yourself and companions or have a need to be dazzled by the Idea of the Moment, as seems to be the trend nowadays.

    9 Replies
    1. re: hazelhurst

      Thanks for the reply. We are ok with dressing up as business causal (i guess shirt + jeans are ok?)

      I know my spec is not detailed enough but due to lack of research, I don't have a good idea what nola is good at.

      Seems like you have mediocre or slightly negative opinions on all restaurants you mentioned, lol. Are there any restaurant you are absolutely satisfied?

      Anyway, I will try to see if commander still have table available first.

      1. re: diablo2man

        "once in a life" is not equal to "shirt + jeans"

        1. re: Gizmo56

          we are absolutely ok with dressing up elegantly but i heard the weather would kill us if suit up. Is it not the case?

          1. re: diablo2man

            No, the weather will not "kill" you. Restaurants are air-conditioned, and so are better cabs (use United).

        2. re: diablo2man

          The standards seem to change weekly and we see clean jeans in the more expensive places nowadays but I would never wear them. in fact I wear suits and ties to all the nicer places. As to what New Orleans is good at, well, it is the keeper of the flame for rich, indulgent food..sauces etc., things that many modern restaurateurs don't want to bother with. (Paul Bocuse claimed sauces covered up the taste of food and then charged outrageously for little slips of nothing. He famously said that the definition of "nouvelle cuisine" was "Nothing on the plate and everything on the bill!"). Commander's walks a line between the sauces and some experimental approaches. Antoine's does the Old Stuff fine but it is less-and-less a "local" place. Clancy's is straightforward fish-and-butter as is Galatoire's which throws fat and cholesterol around with abandon. I agree with Gizmo's comments regarding Galatoire's and Commander's Palace: they are both core New Orleans experiences although Galatoire's is my constant favorite. It is as far from Eleven Madision Park as you can get.

          1. re: hazelhurst

            HH is right on. You will not regret feeling like you are among the better (rather than the worst) dressed patrons in the room.

            " I don't have a good idea what nola is good at." Many things, but Creole cuisine is the bull's eye, and for that you want to go to Galatoire's and trust your waiter.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              Thanks a lot. Seems like you really do some research on me, haha.

              I think i will do Galatoire for sat dinner and commander's for sunday brunch. Hopefully it won't be too much for us in term of fat and cream

          2. re: hazelhurst

            @hazel - i cant speak for the untold legions here who have said Antoine's is not good because it's not "exciting" (they exist, right?), but i can say it's been disappointing because it's...well, not good. the past couple of times we've gone for christmas-time dinners and whatnot the food was simply not up to snuff. poor executions on *their own menu items*. a very different criticism than comparing it to molecular gastronomy or menus found elsewhere.

            thats what Antoine's problem is. as a local i know better, and for that it's regrettably dropping our radar...

            1. re: kibbles

              I am interested in poor execution of their own menu items.The Rockefeller has varied somewhat in thickness and occasional charring(which I don't mind) but it has been that way since I first went in the 1960s. In those days we used to get tripe if they knew in advance we were coming and that was fine. Usually, though, I have stuck to meat courses in there with the oysters Foch or the turtle-then-alligator soup they had years ago. I have never thought their hollandaise was good as Galatoire's but the marchand du vin was always good and the sauce Medics has never disappointed. the Pompano en Papillote is something I have not seen order since, oh, 1977 or so. The new menu in English is disappointing. It does seem to have changed somehow, though and I don't see as many locals in there.

          3. For a quintessential New Orleans dining experience, have a leisurely dinner downstairs at Galatoire's. You will avoid any shame for not booking in advance, since reservations are not accepted downstairs. "Once in a life" NOLA Sunday brunch would be Commander's Palace, if any reservations are still open. Dress nicely at both venues.

            "Table hopping" refers to visiting other tables in the same restaurant; I assume what you really mean is going to multiple restaurants to order individual courses. This strategy has been discussed in a couple of recent threads, but yes it could certainly be problematic at prime time on Saturday night. I'd prefer to have a table for the evening at one great spot.

            This board is filled with ideas for your other meals, including some very detailed recent trip reports from out-of-town visitors.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Gizmo56

              Thanks. I will try to book commander for brunch if it is still available.

              for Galatoire (or generally other restaurants in the area), does it hurt the experience if we go there early like 5pm?

              Really appreciate your advice.

              1. re: diablo2man

                Early is great, since the best way to experience Galatoire's is to settle in, order one course at a time, take your time, and trust your waiter.

                1. re: Gizmo56

                  excellent advice.

                  however i was embarrassed during friday lunch last summer after having told my guest of this ritual, but then having John drop off the check (and try to pick it up) 3 or 4 times, once after each course. and we were crammed way in the back corner on a 2-top, so it's not like we were camping on a nice table or anything...

                  1. re: kibbles

                    Did you let him know your plan? If he doesn't know you---or vaguely recognizes you (people think the waiters all remember them but it is impossible particulary for the more famous ones) he might think you are there for the eat-and-run. He inherited the title of "fastest table-turner" when the late, great Bill Bordelon retired. I have seen Bill get a couple out in under 45 minutes and they never knew they were rushed. He once had five separate tables out in under an hour. Some bets were won that day.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      should I let waiter know I want it slow? what should I say to him?

                      1. re: diablo2man

                        I'd just say that you plan a leisurely lunch...we often order a course at a time. The regulars are going to be back next week if not in a couple of days so it is not a money problem to tie up a table although if I am at a four top and my guests have left I let them know to boot me to a deuce if they need the one I am using.

                2. re: diablo2man

                  Part of the Galatoire 'experience" (for me) is going about 3:30 or 4:00 and having drinks, snacking, and not really starting to eat until about 5:30 or 6:00. Let the waiter know you are going to take it slow. You might have to signal him across the room when you need something..that's what I do.

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    sounds good! we will go there around same time since the flight arrives at 3 and we will be very hungry around 4 or 5!

              2. Here is my trip report from last month, if that is any help. You mentioned that you would have a car, I highly recommend taking the 45 minute drive out to Middendorf's. That is a unique LA experience. Have a great trip.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/900452

                1 Reply
                1. re: Smarttyparty

                  Thanks. This is very helpful. We may want to get out of city on Monday or Tuesday to try Middendorf

                2. A few thoughts:

                  Unless there's some specific reason you need it, having a car isn't required. Cabs are cheap ("call United") and plentiful and if you're doing it right you'll be in no condition to drive anyway.

                  Going place to place as a couple isn't too bad, it's far more difficult with four. If it were me, I'd plan to eat someplace early and again, less formally, late.

                  Aside from a handful of places, many already mentioned above, you can leave the suit and tie at home. Jeans are usually a-ok, though hot in the summer; I'd recommend a sports coat as it gets nippy in the AC. I'd also strongly recommend against wearing open toed shoes in the French Quarter (or, indeed, ever if you're a guy).

                  Drinking in NOLA isn't hard but it's impossible to give good advice on so little information. If you're looking for a destination for priming the pump head towards Frenchmen St. -- it's hard to go too wrong. Ask around when you're out and you'll get more than enough to work with.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: montuori

                    Thanks for the advice. We booked car because it is free, lol. Probably we can just park it in hotel for most of times.

                    I never wear open toed shoes so it won't be a problem for me :)

                    We want to drink at a bar that can see all kinds of crazy people on street, which is what NOLA is like in my mind

                    1. re: diablo2man

                      Pop into the Clover Grill for breakfast at 3 a.m. if you want to get a gander at some local color.

                      1. re: Big Easy

                        Their omlettes can cure a wicked hangover. That was the only thing that got us to the altar after a hell of a wedding eve! ;)