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old favorites vs. new experiences: please critique my list

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Seems like the intervals between visits are getting shorter and shorter…we were last in New Orleans in August, 2012. At the time I said that our next visit would be in the winter, and now we’re on our way in early January (planning on watching the Joan of Arc parade on January 6).

I’m wondering if we might need to try more new places, but the old favorites are all so good. Any and all advice appreciated, especially places with good seafood or vegetarian options for Mr. Arkham. We’re not sticking to strictly “cheap eats” this time, but we’re generally more comfortable in less formal restaurants.

Staying at Hotel Provincial without a car; we always used to stay at the W by the casino so we’re excited to be a little closer in this time.

Re-visits:
Felix's (for raw oysters, if you can still just stand and order them at the counter)
August for Friday lunch
Domenica for happy hour
Angelo Brocato’s
Eat
carousel bar at the Montelone

New places/places we’ve missed:
Booty's Street Food
Killer Po Boys
Casamentos
Parkway
Cure – still on the fence on this one. It’s pretty far out of our way, and we have some nice upscale craft cocktail places around here in DC.

Pravda was a favorite but I understand they’ve changed hands and aren’t the same. Ideas for a good replacement?

Oh, and I’ve never had a New Orleans-style king cake, and I can’t leave without trying one. Are they ever served in restaurants, or is it something where I’ll have to buy a whole one? (If I do I suppose I can share it with the hotel staff or something.)

Thanks!

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  1. Keep in mind I am NOT a local, so take whatever i say with as many grains of salt you deem appropriate. However, I do travel to New Orleans once or twice a year, and have since 2002 -- only missing one trip that was scheduled for October of 2005. Since Katrina hit only eight weeks before our scheduled visit, canceling that trip was understandable. But we were back in in 2006 . . .

    Casamentos is very good, but I'm not sure it's worth a special visit -- unless you want to go once to say you've been there.

    I'm not as enamored of the Carousel Bar as some; the "thrill" of drinking while spinning in a circle is something that, should you wish to do more than once, you can easily do yourself after the 6th martini. I'd rather go to Arnaud's French 75. Besides, on each of the three times I've sat at the bar, it seems I've always been "downwind" from a cigarette smoker . . .

    I still like August, honest, but the last two times I've been there the service has been weak and the food not up to the same level as our first 2-3 visits.

    I'd add R'evolution.

    You know you can always order a king cake online for Mardi Gras . . . FWIW, that's what we do so we can share it with friends.

    Just my 2¢. YMMV.

    11 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Thanks! If not Casamentos, where would you suggest for raw oysters? Since our last trip was in August we didn't get any, so that's a high priority.

      1. re: JoanArkham

        Joan, let me be clear: I enjoyed Casamento's and would gladly eat there again, BUT . . . I generally stay in the CDB when I'm in New Orleans -- either in a hotel or a friend's flat. I can walk to Felix's (or wherever) in the Quarter when I'm there (typically for a conference that's actually *in* the Quarter), and I'd rather do that then hop on a bus/take a cab uptown to Casamento's. But if I'm headed to Magazine St. anyway, I'm happy to drop in.

        Like I said, if you haven't been, by all means go.

      2. re: zin1953

        Jason,

        I guess that I am just a "traditionalist," as the Carousel Bar holds something over me. I am not a "cocktail guy," as you know, but there IS something special about that location, as I have had many lovely Bloody Marys there - maybe just an old guy's memories...

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Is is being a traditionalist, or being nostalgic? ;^)

          Just to be clear, I think every tourist should go to the Carousel Bar (it will help to keep the places I go less crowded). ;^)

          OK, seriously: everyone should experience the Carousel Bar at least once. It *is* -- like the Napoleon House or Galatoire's, among many others -- a New Orleans institution! But if your desire is for a great cocktail, there are far better options (both in and out of the Quarter). And -- truly -- as a Californian, every time I've been there, I've been "downwind" from a cigarette smoker . . . it bothers me, but my wife ends up coughing!

          Besides, Arnaud's French 75 is just a short walk . . . ;^)

          1. re: zin1953

            Z53, fellow Californian here. Fortunately, i have not had the smoke problem at Carousel, but the space is a challenge to navigate due to its popularity.

            I fell in love with Carousel on my first visit so I do stop by even if only to introduce new folks.

            It does *not* have the same cozy feel since the expansion, IMO, so for cozy and great drinks I think F75 is the big winner. Carousel is pretty amazing for the great sport of people watching.

            Joan, consider going to CB early on a Friday night (5-8) to see the lovely songbird, Robin Barnes, and then go to F75 for one of their signature cocktails.

            And, I would add Sylvain to your list if you are looking for a romantic, well-priced, casual Bistro-style fabulous dinner in the FQ.

            That would be a dreamy night for me: Carousel for early drinks, Sylvain for dinner/dessert and French 75 for nightcap!

            1. re: zin1953

              The Carousel Bar has been nonsmoking since the renovation.

              1. re: uptownlibrarian

                Amen to that!

                Now if the drinks get better . . . .

                1. re: uptownlibrarian

                  Yes, I don't recall any smoke when we went in August 2012.

                  I think we'll stop in if we are in the area and wanting a drink, but likely won't make a special trip. Looks like we'll be spending most of our time near Frenchmen St, since that's close to our hotel and all mostly new to us.

                  1. re: JoanArkham

                    Fun! Joan, have a GREAT time and we would all love a trip report. Off topic, re: music, I would highly recommend Glen David Andrews' band on Monday nights at dba.

                    1. re: karendor

                      Thanks! Flying out of Baltimore a o-dark-thirty tomorrow morning. As long as we escape the snow I'm sure we'll have a blast!

                2. re: zin1953

                  Jason,

                  In my case, there is MUCH nostalgia, but it is tough to get beyond that. Once, we had our morning "board meetings" at the Carousel Bar, and those are tough to discount.

                  Hunt

            2. Like Zin, I'd give the Carousel Bar a miss. Remember it as being fun and move on: French 75, Sylvain, or Cane & Table (to name but three places in the FQ) would be a step up cocktail wise.

              Booty's is okay but if you get out that way Maurepas Foods is better ... or visit both. MF has the better drinks too. If you go at lunch time (but not on a Wednesday) there's never a wait.

              Cure is very good but as you've noticed, out of the way. On the one hand, it's a cheap cab ride; on the other, Cane & Table (that replaced Pravda) is owned by the same people and delivers on the drinks (and occasionally the snitty attitude too, alas).

              Killer Po Boys gets a big thumbs up and the Erin Rose is a great bar. Parkway -- huh. I know everybody raves about it and it's not bad but I think it's not nearly as good as its reputation would have you believe.

              3 Replies
              1. re: montuori

                Thanks! Those drinks at Maurepas look intriguing!

                We did go by French 75 last time, but it was empty and we kind of felt ignored. Maybe we just picked a bad time. Shame about the Cane & Table attitude; the reason we liked Pravda was the staff, we'd drink there even though their prices were a little higher than elsewhere.

                1. re: JoanArkham

                  On my last visit, over Thanksgiving, I ate at the bar at both Sylvain and Cane & Table. I enjoyed and had good service at both, but no question the service at Sylvain was friendlier.

                2. re: montuori

                  Montouri, I agree with you 100% Maurepas v. Booty's, and +1 on hitting KPB/Erin Rose, Sylvain & French75 in the Quarter. [I am getting hungry/thirsty just thinkin' about the delights.]

                  I am a bit surprised you are not on the Parkway bandwagon: of the four or five spots I have "Po-boyed" in your fine town, Parkway is my favorite, in its category, for food, service (at the bar) & ambiance. Is there another spot I am missing for a great Po-boy in town?

                  Also, Joan, if you want a raw oyster experience very different from Casamento's (and Felix's), I would suggest the oyster bar at Peche. It is a fun place in the CBD. Ask for the tuna dip, too.

                  AliceQ, you and I had opposite experiences at Peche vs. La Petite. Funny. We were disappointed in the latter, impressed with the former. Agree 100% with your impression of Booty's. Good report!

                  Have fun!

                3. We just got back from a week in NOLA - the place that used to be Pravda is now Cane and Table, a high end rum bar. We were dying to go there and didn't make it - only open after 5:30.

                  I have also heard good things about Cure, and we loved the cocktails at Maurepas Foods in the Marigny - a block away from Booty's Street Food. Booty's was good for brunch, but service was abysmal and the hipster factor is HIGH (and I have a high tolerance for that sort of thing.)

                  We really liked the High Hat on Freret, and it seems to fit in with your list. We went to Petite Grocery and liked it a lot, though we didn't order much. We split an entree, two apps and a dessert - would have liked to try more of the menu. Great cocktails there too. I kind of thought Peche was just ok - not sure if it was our ordering, but I had that same feeling about Cochon on our last visit - almost to the level, but not quite.

                  Had lunch at Tujagues, recently reopened after a reno. I liked the roast beef po boy and shrimp remoulade. Lunch at Stanley was just ok IMHO. I was not amused by coleslaw on a po boy. Everyone is talking about Tableau, which just opened in the Quarter right by the square. Brennans owned, Palace Cafe chef. My husband also went to EAT with a friend and loved it.

                  King Cake is kind of like a giant danish pastry - it's really nothing extra. I think Sucre probably has the best (on Magazine) but it will be expensive. Mail order will be fine. Enjoy!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: aliceqfoodie

                    Thanks! I see where Tableau is super close to our hotel, will definitely give that a try.

                  2. Hmm, now that it's time to make reservations I'm thinking that Friday lunch at August will be cutting it too close, since we get in that morning (after getting up at 4AM...oy).

                    Any recommendations for something similar? By which I mean upscale but not over-the-top-break-the-bank, with a not too fussy dress code. (Husband does not own a suit or sport coat.)

                    We've never done any of the "old line" places. Maybe Galatoire's for a (non-Friday) lunch?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JoanArkham

                      Have Friday lunch at Coquette. Great service, laid back & the food is delish!

                    2. Came across this while planning my own itinerary...

                      King Cakes from Haydel's can be found (for a short time) in Uptown: http://goo.gl/fS8a4j

                      1. Have no fear, January 6th is 12th Night which marks the beginning of Carnival Season. King Cakes will be everywhere.

                        1. Thanks to all for the recommendations! Unfortunately, the deep freeze kind of put a damper on our plans to explore farther out. It was just too damn cold to go too far, and I'd only packed one nice outfit which wasn't that warm and wound up dressing in layers like a hobo most of the time. We still managed to get to a lot of places though:

                          Killer Po Boys, our first stop. I have the "dark and stormy" pork belly po'boy and it was wonderful, if not exactly traditional. We also had Dis Tacos at Molly's, very good "food truck style" creative.

                          Luke's for a happy hour oyster fix. Twice. This is the second time we've taken advantage of a Besh happy hour (we did Dominica last visit) and I have to say they are the most generous, gracious happy hours I've ever had. (Do not look for bargains like that in DC!)

                          Eat, for BBQ shrimp. Still very good, but different than last time. I may need to seek out other versions.

                          Finally tried Coops. I was pretty underwhelmed, but now I know. Made a return visit to Johnny's for traditional po'boys, but never did make it to Parkway or Angelo Brocato's (which I really regret).

                          We also missed out on Casamentos and the Carousel Bar.

                          We did make it out to the garden district for brunch at Atchafalaya, which we enjoyed despite the stressed out host chiding me for coming so early (oops, we didn't know how long we'd have to wait for a streetcar).

                          Cane and Table was good but, honestly, I was expecting a little more. They also weren't serving food on Monday, so we only had one drink each then left. We had equally good drinks and a much friendlier experience at our hotel bar, The Ice House.

                          We liked Spitfire and 13 Monaghan for dive bar/hole in the wall places. I know it's probably not "Chowhound Worthy" but 13's tachos (nachos made with tater tots) were amazing for a post-drinking snack.

                          I never did find that king cake. We walked right by Sucre, but weren't hungry and wanted to get back and out of the cold. I did grab a small slice after the Joan of Arc parade though. I'm now seeking an easy recipe to try and make one (plain, unfilled) myself.

                          Thanks again to everyone for being an excellent resource! We're already thinking about maybe sneaking down for a long weekend over the summer to hit some of the spots we missed.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: JoanArkham

                            Thanks for the nice report, Joan. That is really too bad the hostess chastised you at Atchafalaya. I mean it is a small restaurant but they have a bar in the front? I think that is when true hospitality should shine!

                            When we were there in April, we were a bit early, too, but the weather was perfect, so we sat outside on that little bench around the corner.

                            I have been a layered hobo-type on cold days in NOLA, too. Even in Galatoire's my bestie kept her touristy sweatshirt on 'cuz that is all she had.

                            Too bad about the cold spell but it had to have been better than DC right?

                            Thanks, again!

                            1. re: JoanArkham

                              Not "Chowhound Worthy?" Untrue! 13's tater tachos are mighty fine ballast for all the booze. Around thanksgiving they did a version with turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato taters ... those weren't bad either. (My favorite tater tots are at the Clover Grill though where they're fried, not baked, and served with a side of camp.)

                              Too bad about Cane & Table's mediocre performance; usually their drinks -- if not their service, which ebbs and flows like the tides at Fundy -- are among the best around. They had a stellar example of a mulled wine going during the cold snap earlier this week.

                              1. re: montuori

                                I should have gone with the mulled wine. I went with the boss colada, even though it was really too cold to appreciate it.

                                (We did make it to Clover Grill for our last breakfast!)

                              2. re: JoanArkham

                                No need to find an easy recipe for king cake. Order a Mam Papaul's kit on line and make your own. They are better than a lot of the cinnamon roll-tasting cakes you find in the city and I live here so I've tasted quite a few in my day. Here's a pic of one I make regularly and this one was damn delicious: http://girlygirlfury.blogspot.com/201...

                              3. Casamentos is not very good these days.
                                Bootys is fair, not worth going out of your way
                                Parkway for shrimp po boy and Bloody
                                Commanders for lunch in the garden room
                                Domenica HH...split a opizza and any small plates or HH specials of interest then, you MUST split the pork chop Milanese. Outrageously delicious. Topped with basil mascarpone, pickled baby root veg and herb salad.
                                Killer po boys' shrimp bahn mi and the pork belly po boy are tasty. Get a frozen Irish coffee while you wait.
                                Mopho opened this week. I've not been, but the menu reads well.... near Bud's Broiler on City Park Ave.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: JazzyB

                                  Could you elaborate on Casamento's?

                                  1. re: LorenzoGA

                                    Last time time they were so muddy. But still so fresh...

                                  2. re: JazzyB

                                    JazzyB, have you been to Marti's. If so, what do you think?

                                  3. Ok will give y'all a recommendation about Cure don't go on a Fri or Sat. The best days for Cure is Mon-Thurs and Sundays but it's a must! Cure is the bar that helped boost our booming bar scene.
                                    I would also recommend this old school restaurant that recently got major press b/c of a famous singer had her moms party there Muriel's. That restaurant is responsible for my love for great food. The lamb chops and duck are to die for

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: hltran

                                      I am afraid I would never refer to Muriel's as Old School. There are those who love it. It always reminds me of the Chart House, supposedly owned by Burger King.

                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                        Why wouldn't you refer to it as old school hasn't been around for a while? As opposed to all the 2-3 year new restaurants. And there style of cooking is traditional?

                                        1. re: hltran

                                          They have not been around that long. As I suggested it used to be the Chart. The two-to-three years restaurants don't even count in my book although I've had food at many here and elsewhere that I wish had survived.

                                          old school are Antoine's, Arnaud's(even though it is only about 30 years old in its present form) Commander's (also a story of two restaurants but it is established and plays within the rules). Muriel's does lots of the traditonal stuiff..so does Court of the Two Sisters. It takes a long time for a place to become established..to become a "place" and have a sense thereof. I just remarked on the Manhattan Board that a bartender at the Bull & bear bragged to me that they'd been there a "quarter of a century" (which sounds longer than 25 years) Big deal. I remember the space before they built that bar and it still seems "new" to me.

                                          1. re: hltran

                                            i'm glad your experience was a positive one at Muriel's. Ours was dismal, for various reasons, food and service being the main ones. Definitely at the bottom of the list of all the restaurants (11) we ate during our last visit several months ago, Probably won't be going back. I think one of the main reasons Muriel's is so popular is because of the prime location on Jackson Square in the FQ.

                                            1. re: hltran

                                              "Muriel's Jackson Square opened its doors on March 10, 2001" (per their website).