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Dec 16, 2013 02:04 PM

old favorites vs. new experiences: please critique my list

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.

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
carousel bar at the Montelone

New places/places we’ve missed:
Booty's Street Food
Killer Po Boys
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.)


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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


        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...


        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


                  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.


            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: