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Too many choices, not enough meals. Suggestions and comments on our short itinerary, please!

Going to New Orleans next month for a conference and we want to make the most of it. We like modern cuisine over traditional and lean toward fine dining over casual when we're traveling. However, deliciousness is the most important trait of all...

Day 1 (Sat)
Dinner: GW Fins vs Root

Day 2
Brunch: Commander's palace
Dinner: August

Day 3
Lunch: Cochon Butcher
Dinner: R'evolution vs Stella!

I realize GW Fins and Root are extremely different and difficult to compare. The consensus seems to be that GW FIns is reliably good and Root can be uneven. I'm drawn toward the innovation of Root, but the Scalibut dish at GW Fins sounds like a "can't miss."

Day 2 is set and can't be rescheduled. These are the 2 restaurants that are at the top of our list anyway.

Lunch on Day 3 needs to be convenient to the convention center. Was thinking of putting Root here, but they will be closed for renovations on that day. Everything I've read says that the sandwiches at Cochon Butcher are amazing. Is it take-out only? If we have lunch at Cochon proper, is it possible to order off the Butcher menu?

R'evolution vs Stella! seems more of an even comparison as far as dining style. I'm leaning more toward R'evolution since it seems more representative of local flavors, whereas the Stella! menu looks like it could be served in any big city in the world.

Is there anything else we should consider? I wish we had more time. Thanks for any advice in advance!

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  1. Butcher has seating for about 20 at small tables and a counter. You can't order off the Butcher menu at Cochon.

    1. Your list is generally good.

      If you want modern cuisine and fine dining, with a NO flair, you should consider MiLa, a great restaurant that is generally overlooked on this board. Chef Allison Vines-Rushing is a James Beard winner. Sweetbreads with truffled grits (app) is among the best dishes anywhere, and there are many worthy others. We ate there last week (second time) and it's as good as ever. Just across Canal from FQ.

      2 Replies
      1. re: johnb

        Just ate at MiLa last night (again) and had to have the sweetbreads (again). A very good meal. One guest ordered the duck, which he does any city we are in at any restaurant that has it. JHe found it very good.

        Once went with four others and we had 2 to 3 courses each and never left the apps list. We ended up ordering the deconstructed oysters Rockefeller for desert.

        1. re: johnb

          +1 on the Sweetbreads. amazing dish.

          have also made a dinner out of apps.

        2. In my opinion, you should not sweat missing Root. I would choose either Cochon Butcher or Cochon over it.

          I second Johnb's rec of MiLa. Very good but it is pricier than either Root or Cochon.

          1. Cochon butcher. one of the best sandwiches ever... sweet potatoe hotsauce.. so amazing I brought 5 bottles back home.

            1. Day 1 Lunch Coquette
              Dinner Root
              Day 2 Lunch Commander’s
              Dinner August
              Day 3 Lunch Cochon Butcher
              Dinner R’evolution

              A perfect itenerary

              1. @johnb: MiLa looks great...but we'll have to save it for a future trip. Already so many great places to try!

                @shanefink: Thanks for the additional rec for lunch, but our flight doesn't arrive until late afternoon and we wouldn't be able to squeeze in another meal before dinner.

                I just got contacted by Root to tell me that for the inconvenience of having a reservation I was holding cancelled because of their renovations, they are going to send me a gift certificate. Depending how much it is, it may sway my decision for that first dinner.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: karendor

                    Could you explain why? It seems from your post history that you weren't too impressed with Root either, which would be the alternative.

                    1. re: Ponder99

                      I agree that GW Fins is not as good as many of the other restaurants in town. The scalibut is very good, but nothing else we had was even decent. If you want a great fish meal, try Peche. I’ve heard great things about it, but my first visit will be tomorrow night. I’ll report back.

                1. Get rid of August and go to Delmonico's instead!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Shartzog

                    Why that recommendation?

                    I find them to be totally different restaurants, with a major difference in the menus?

                    Just curious,

                    Hunt

                  2. Even if you get a gift certificate, I would choose GW Fins over Root, unless seafood is not that important to you. If it's not that important, Root is a fun place. As you have noted, some dishes are more successful than others.

                    You will love Commanders and August!

                    Cochon Butcher is great. Between Stella and R'evolution, that is tough. Stella feels more like New Orleans to me, but I haven't been there for years. Many dishes at R'evolution are excellent. I would just choose whichever menu appeals to you more.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: pizzajunkie

                      Thanks! Still going back and forth on those options, but it's good to have so much great food to choose from.

                      How busy does Cochon Butcher get? I don't know if we should expect a 15 minute wait or an hour. Is it even possible to get one of those few seats during lunch? I'm sure the other convention-goers like us will surely make it crazier than normal.

                      1. re: pizzajunkie

                        i have to dissent on Stella being more New Orleans feeling than R'ev. i enjoy both, but the times ive had Stella i recall it being more focused on fine dining and technique than on local flare. R'ev OTOH is what i describe as Chicago Meets Louisiana -- lots of regional stuff. gumbo, corn & crab bisque, frog legs, crab beignets, etc... and great steaks...the steak sauces & toppings have their own portion of the menu!

                        1. re: kibbles

                          That is a very cogent comment. I agree as to the food(but Stella! physically does have the NOLA feeling--to me, anyway)

                          1. re: kibbles

                            Thanks. That's the feeling I get just from looking at the menus. Decided to definitely go with R'evolution over Stella.

                        2. Gw Fins over Root. Scalibut is definitely a can't miss however, it is not always on the menu.

                          R'evolution over Stella!

                          Emeril's is open for lunch m-f near the convention center. Corner of Julia and Tchoupitoulas.

                          Butcher is good, there is limited seating. The menu is not available at Cochon.

                          Consider Coquette for unique spins on local flavor.

                          Brigtsen's will give you a terrific representation of local cuisine.. Resv a must.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: JazzyB

                            Hmm... interesting info about scalibut. It's the one thing I'm looking forward to the most about GW Fins. I'll have to rethink and maybe double up on reservations in case they aren't serving it that night.

                            1. re: Ponder99

                              I always do that. I call in the afternoon and ask if it's on the menu. If not, we go with plan "B". I actually passed on the Scalibut ( a first) opting for the lobster feast. I was not disappointed.

                              1. re: JazzyB

                                The lobster feast does look good, but anytime I have lobster down here, it pales in comparison to the lobsters in the NE so I wouldn’t recommend that to a visitor from that area. We ate at GW Fins last month and everything was subpar, except of course, the scalibut which was excellent.

                                1. re: shanefink

                                  The point I failed to make was that the other options are also very good. Should have just said that . Scalibut is exceptional and should always be on the menu.

                                  We have been to Fins about four times in the last few months and they have been pretty consistent. On another note; Is it me, or are those not the driest, worst biscuits ever? They're consistent as well.

                                  1. re: JazzyB

                                    disagree on the biscuits, we enjoy them.

                          2. People hardly ever come back to post in their own threads after asking for advice, so I thought I'd write down a few thoughts.

                            Overall good food in New Orleans, but things in general were on the heavy and salty side.

                            Quick thoughts...can expound if anyone wants:

                            Root (dinner): Service nightmare. Ignored by out server for long stretches of time. Entrees came out before appetizers were finished. My impression of it before going was that it favors style over substance, but they didn't even get the "style" part of it right with sloppy presentations. I get the idea of serving a smoked dish in a cigar box, but it was really unappetizing especially because the boxes did not look clean. Really regret not choosing a different place based on suggestions in this thread.

                            Commander's Palace (brunch): Brunch is usually an uninteresting meal, but it did well to live up to expectations. Wish we could have gone to dinner to get a more accurate representation of the restaurant. The bread pudding souffle was amazing and might have been the single best thing we ate all weekend. Service was a little aloof, but that might have been purposeful to go with the mood of the jazz brunch.

                            August (dinner): Best of the restaurants we visited. Exceptional service. The food was restrained and refined, which appeals to me more than bold and in-your-face. The delicate foie mousse was exceptional. Really enjoyed the oxtail and bone marrow cappelletti. The only miss was a fishy seafood salad dish that started the degustation menu. Didn't care too much for the physical room where we were seated because it isolated us from the main dining room and two of the chairs were right at the edge of doorways.

                            Cochon Butcher (lunch): Maybe we didn't have the right sandwiches, but I wasn't impressed. We had the muffuletta and the pork belly. The bread for both just didn't seem right. I don't have much knowledge about muffulettas, but it seems like a heartier bread is necessary to stand up to the cured meats. The pork belly was dry and didn't have that fatty, juicy consistency that makes it special.

                            R'evolution: My first impression was that the menu was way too big. Service wasn't on point either. Our main server seemed to disappear halfway through out meal. None of the food runners bothered to introduce the dishes as they were delivered. Timing of the appetizers could have been much better as they were being shared and we ended up with too many plates on the table at once. Everything was consistently over-seasoned, especially the signature Death by Gumbo app. The scallops and foie main was a big disappointment as the celery salad accompanying it seemed really out of place.

                            Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. I already have a list for the next time we will be there.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Ponder99

                              Everyone complains about the white bread on the pork belly sandwich. It is my least favorite sandwich there. The roast beef is to die for as are the brussel sprouts and some of their other small plates. Speaking of brussel sprouts, had a great one at Noodle & Pie last night. The banana cream pie was solid too. Really interesting and unique menu. Loved the decor too. Stopped by Ivy to eat at the bar and strangely they told me that they don’t serve food at the bar. Um, okay. Bye, bye. Sorry you didn’t like R’Evolution. It’s one of my favorites.

                              1. re: shanefink

                                I've always had an idea that the pork belly on white bread is an homage to Miss Linda's (and others') fried pork chop on Bunny bread sandwich you get at second lines, jazz fest, etc. But that's not based on any facts.

                                1. re: shanefink

                                  The pork belly on white would have been much better if the pork belly itself wasn't dry. I order pork belly expecting a moist, fatty, flavorful piece of meat. This was more reminiscent of loin than belly.

                                2. re: Ponder99

                                  Just curious, has anyone had a really good meal at Root?

                                  1. re: Chulacat

                                    Not I.

                                    But to be fair: the one time I tried to go I was told I couldn't sit at the empty bar and have a meal, I had to sit at a table. Not my scene I guess...

                                    I miss the place that was there immediately before, the one cooking straight out of Fergus Henderson's book (the name, alas, escapes me). I have a half dozen good meals there -- at the bar! -- before they closed up shop.

                                      1. re: montuori

                                        I went twice and liked it for its orginality and differentness. I had a few good dishes and a few clunkers. The scallops were hit and miss. I thought the presentation was cool and the scallops were cooked perfectly, but the overall dish lacked flavor. It was surprisingly bland. With the chef about to open his second restaurant on Magazine, I wouldn’t expect Root to flourish or improve. If anything, it will only get worse.

                                        1. re: shanefink

                                          I was actually excited reading about Square Root and was hoping it would open in time for our trip.

                                          The more I think of it, the more I dislike the presentation of the scallop dish. The scallops were cooked perfectly, I will give it that. My order looked like everything was thrown in the box and shaken up. No elegance or finesse to it at all.

                                          1. re: Ponder99

                                            P99, thank you so much for the thoughtful trip report; and it sounds like you need to head back to NOLA for a personal trip & a re-boot.

                                            I am one of the under-impressed by both C/Butch -- although I agree with shanefink about the brusell sprouts -- & Root, so not all that surprised. And, I am so glad you had lovely experiences at CP & August, neither or which I would call modern.

                                            For me, the winners i always come back to in NOLA have a bistro flair, and ambiance, such as Coquette, Boucherie, or Herbsaint, the latter being a bit more "modern" in architecture.

                                            Shanefink, no service at the bar @ Ivy, WT?

                                            1. re: karendor

                                              While I probably won't make it back for a personal trip anytime soon, our meeting heads back to NOLA every few years. We'll see what's still around and what's new at that time!

                                          2. re: shanefink

                                            yeah I'm surprised about the second Root location. the first one is unpolished and needs focus. seems the wrong time to expand.