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Nov 6, 2013 05:37 PM

"Fine Dining" in New Orleans

There have been a number of inquiries into dining in New Orleans where the poster ask for the dining options featuring creole or cajun influenced food as they can get fine dining in NYC, Chicago, etc. For those of us who are from the south and have exposure to regional cuisine but not "big city fine dining" what would the best options in New Orleans to dine at? Looks like Stellas and MiLa would be a couple of options and the fall tasting menu at MiLa looks quite interesting. What are other options for less regionally focused dining.

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  1. My choices, and not in any particular order, or any particular cuisine of origin, would be:

    Commander's Palace
    Restaurant August
    Grill Room


    1 Reply
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      But with the possible exception of the Grill Room..and even then it will lean towards the local,..the restaurants listed wll all have "regionally focused dining." Given that you'll have gumbos, local fish and shellfish, remoulades, oyster Something-or-Other and so forth. I cannot say that there is anywhere in town that would give you haute cuisine of the NYC style years ago. I cannot think of anyone who is doing service a la Russe.

    2. Thanks for the replies to my poorly worded question. I'm not looking for a Grace or Per Se experience (frankly I am but can't afford it) but dining with inventive new american food without such a tight regional focus. Gautreau's look's like it would fit the bill as would Stella. We had one of our best meals ever at Cuvee when it first opened but on the second trip we felt like red-headed step children. I can see why they closed. We had dinner at Lilette awhile back that was fantastic. La Provence was great. Next week I have reservations at:

      MiLa, Thursday dinner,
      Restaurant August, Friday early lunch
      Dick & Jenny's, Saturday dinner
      Commanders, Sunday brunch.

      We will probably go to Domenica for happy hour & pizza on friday afternoon and maybe try some bar food at Hermes somewhere along the line. Thanks to both for all your posts over the years.

      18 Replies
      1. re: sirbybike

        I've never been clear on what "new American food is"...even Ming Tsai agrees with me on this...and I am weary of "twists" and "iterations." The descriptions are invariably vague. But for the attention-grabbing, set-the-pace types, Stella! seems to be the leader through five furlongs. I like Gautreau's although I recoil at some accompaniments as being show-offy in addition to which there are not-a-few fruit concoctions that I loathe. but you can get a fine meal in there--if a bit stylized on the plate--and escape with wallet intact.
        My experiences at the Uber-Modern places, such as WD-50 in New York, have left me unimpressed at the food but marveling at the marketing. EMP has a level of genius in that realm.

        1. re: hazelhurst

          "...the Uber-Modern places, such as WD-50 in New York, have left me unimpressed at the food but marveling at the marketing."
          Well said.
          In general, I'm usually disappointed in fine-dining establishments.
          In contrast, many of my aquaintenances' appreciation is directly proportional to the amount they spend: the higher the bill, the happier they are.

          1. re: porker

            I agree with you on that point.

            For me, Per Se, Restaurant Daniel and Le Bernardin form MY paradigm of fine-dining in NYC. They have never failed to amaze and reward me, where some others have left me with "Meh?"

            New Orleans, while more formal than some nearby cities, are more "casual," even at the more formal top of the list.

            Still, many offer GREAT food, in a more formal atmosphere, and usually at a very good price-point, especially vs those mentioned above.

            As we more often seek out "fine-dining," when we travel (even back to NOLA), we do allow some latitude, so long as the food and service are very good, to great.

            We have dined at a couple of Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris, and wondered, "where did we go wrong?" but have also dined at others, where we commented, "now we understand completely!" It just depends. In New Orleans, I would give a few restaurants 1 - 2 Michelin stars, and then, there IS the food!


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I feel a "fine-dining" establishment is almost set up to fail: your expectations are sometimes so high (seemingly rightfully so) that the resulting meal can only be less than your hopes.
              Hole-in-the-wall joints generally have the opposite effect...

              I've had 'meals-of-a-lifetime' in all kinds of places; low-brow to up-scale. Also had lousy meals...

              We try to sample a cross section of dining levels when travelling, from street food to jacket-required. However, we'll almost always seek out cuisine not readily available in our neck of the woods.
              What I like about New Orleans is that fine-dining can go hand-in-hand with local food. Unlike many large cities (I dunno, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Chicago, etc) where the cuisine of one fine-dining joint can very much be like the next.

              1. re: porker


                I completely understand. In the grand scheme of things, over my many years, some of the most memorable meals HAVE been at "lesser" restaurants, though I HAVE had some at 3-star locations.

                The full-dining experience SHOULD include the food, and it should make the patron cry in appreciation.

                Due to our travel schedule, we more often do "fine-dining," than other, as time is often limited. I am certain that I miss some great spots, otherwise, but one only has so many evenings to expend.

                We also seem to shun "readily available food," so seek out chef-driven locations, rather than restaurants, like Morton's, Ruth's Chris, etc.. Also, even restaurants, such as Roy's in Hawaii, seldom make the cut, with the exception of trying Chef Yamaguchi's new restaurant in Waikiki - good, but then we have an excellent version in Phoenix, so normally do other chef's locations.


              2. re: Bill Hunt

                Recently I had a meal at Root. While there I got a text from a good friend who had just had a meal at Cafe Boulud in NYC which reminded me of a meal at Daniel's, which is on my top 10 list.
                Sitting at Root the metaphor that came to me was the Daniel's was a symphony while Root was jazz.

                Good food can come in all guises, although I haven't made up my mind yet about Root. But I will return.

                1. re: collardman


                  Well-stated, and I completely understand the sentiments.

                  We have not made it to Root yet, but then did not do our normal trips to NOLA. We have them on our radar, but need to get back over. As the family thins out, the trips have just not come so quickly.

                  Thanks for the visual image.


                  1. re: collardman

                    Great analogy. I think we'll try Root on Saturday for dinner instead of D&J. Fine dining, No. Inventive and upscale dining outside of the usual NO stereotype, Yes.

                    I did not mean to imply that D&J was fine dining just an overview of the variety of places to visit on this trip. Just like Seinfeld we "Embrace Diversity"

                    It's funny how the conversation devolves to biases in dining at long established restaurants or the the thrill of the hole-in-the wall discovery. I'm pretty sure that I've had, as a percentage, many more shit meals at HITW's versus upscale. And as much as I like the same dish at the same restaurant for thirty years I am willing to change my routine and step outside of the box to experience new dishes.

                2. re: porker

                  Alain Ducasse famously said many years ago that the definition of "nouvelle cuisine" was "nothing on the plate and everything on the bill!"

              3. re: sirbybike

                I think R’Evolution is the closest thing to what you are looking for. I highly recommend it. I haven’t heard great things about Dick & Jenny’s since new ownership took over. Others may feel differently. I’m going to Marti on Rampart Street which is the new place from the Gautreau’s team. Will report back.

                1. re: shanefink

                  We need to get back to R'evolution, as we hit them, very early on. They were good, and DID seem to have unrealized potential, they might have found that potential - just have not been back lately. All things considered, I hope for the best, due to what they should be able to accomplish.

                  Hope to have an updated report soon.


                  1. re: shanefink

                    Yes, do let us know about Martis, shanefink.

                    I have one night open on my next trip and am thinking about Gautreau's.. but the Marti's story/locale is quite intriguing.


                    Enjoy... and I look forward to your report.

                    1. re: karendor

                      I have an old Marti's menu. If they keep the same prices I'll definitely give them a go!

                      1. re: collardman

                        Went to Marti’s last night. I felt like I was at Galatoire’s for a Friday lunch. It started with a friendly greeting from the affable Patrick as he escorted us to the center table. In the dining room on Saturday night was a veritable who’s who of New Orleans society including Archie Manning, John Georges, Brian Kern and Helena Moreno. The menu is very bistro-style. They have little small plate starters like toasted almonds, eggplant puree, crab croquettes and they were all priced between $3-$5. The eggplant was probably the best of them, but none of them were knockouts. They have about a dozen apps to choose from, but most in my group had salads or the soup of the day, which was a crab bisque (and referencing the debate last week on bisques, this one was sans cream, but did have the desired crunchy croutons). The entrees are split into three groups with three entrees each-- Fowl, Seafood, Meat. Our table ended up each of the seafood options--scallops with shellfish, a twist on trout amandine and I had the swordfish with carmelized onions and cauliflower. All three dishes were average, nothing spectacular. The dessert menu was a little lacking and the wine list is very small. Wife likes malbec and there wasn’t even one to choose. The ambiance is very nice, pretty small inside, but very classic and comfortable. Judging by the clientele, I would bet that Marti’s will be a very successful restaurant. Also, it’s starting to feel like Rampart Street might be ready for its resurgence.

                        1. re: shanefink

                          Am thrilled to hear about opening of Marti's on Rampart at Dumaine. Although Marti's is a name that I'm not familiar with, I sure remember reading about Peristyle and am disappointed I never got to dine there before it closed and Anne Kearney moved to Ohio (was it Cinci or Dayton?). We pass by the "Wolfe's" sign on that corner building every time we come to NOLA now because we always stay at New Orleans Courtyard/FQ Suites at 1101 N. Rampart. Excited that a restaurant like Marti's is back and will join our faves like Bar Tonique and Meauxbar Bistro on Rampart. Haven't been to Mr. Gregory's yet. I'm curious....Is it worth a try?

                    2. re: shanefink

                      We're some of the others who feel differently....dined in September at Dick and Jenny's after the takeover by the Martinique and Cristiano's folks, and we liked it a lot, and thought it was fab. Enough so that we'd recommend and certainly go back again. Give it a try sometime and see what you think...

                      1. re: shanefink

                        im not certain id agree on R'ev -- part of what i like about it is their regional focus...two gumbos, corn & crab bisque, crab beignets, froglegs, etc.. it's fine dining, but relies heavily on the sort of cajun influences the OP is seeking to avoid.

                        Stella comes to my mind, as its more detached from new orleans.

                        1. re: kibbles

                          I agree. Revolution seems to me to be taking Columns "A" and "B" and running them as an entry. But they are trying to carve out a special place in offering what visitors want--or think they want. I have no idea what "Cajun fried oysters" are or what technique/additions is said to make them so. I am not certain if Folse has grown in his interests or is casting about for something that will make him stand out. Perhaps both. He certainly has a talent for marketing. But I grow weary of his recent declarations of a classic crawfish bisque (or, better, something rural and not well known...say a mayhaw concoction...that was (allegedly) made by his Great-great-great Uncle Jean-Etienne Telephore St. Hippolyte Galvez de l'Honneur, Sieur de Cabanocy ("Or, (Uncle) Nonc T-Chop").

                    3. You might also want to check into Root. While not "fine dining", it's most definitely not Cajun/Creole.