Trip Report Easter Weekend
First day we got there I had arranged for massages right after we got in from the airport, so after we checked into the French Market Inn, we walked to Cochon Butcher and we split a muffuletta and the potato salad. Could only eat a quarter of the sandwich each and devoured the incredible bread & butter pickles. Ate 4 bites of the potato salad which was good but not so good we wanted to fill up valuable stomach space. I had an extra order of pickles, they were that good.
Went for the massages. The "spa music" was akin to the pause soundtrack from an early version of the Legend of Zelda. I got hurt a few times with skin pulling and actually yelped out loud from the pain. Also the guy had no draping skills so he became visually acquainted with my deep south.
On the way back to the hotel we wanted to get iced Ts at CC's Community Coffee. We had the rudest service I have ever experienced! Eye-rolling, back talk, and then complaining audibly to another co-worker about how dumb we were. And on top of that the ice tea was horrifically sweet and synthetic tasting.
At that point we went back to the hotel for D’s first (of many) naps. We got a balcony room because I wanted to sit out and enjoy people watching (I ended up not really doing this at all because it overlooked a car park and H&M. The street noise was super loud (car horns, cheesy organ circus knife sharpening gypsy truck type music coming off the Steamboat Nanchez which docked right across the street). The interior courtyard was lovely – small pool and chairs, and an evasive cat named Patrick.
Had planned to go to Domenica for happy hour 1/2 priced pizzas at 4:45 but D had other ideas zzzz. So I canceled our reservations and let D sleep. When she woke up she was hangry so we ended up grabbing a (really gross) bite at Royal Oyster House. Such a disgusting tourist trap. So expensive and such low quality. Saw a man on Bourbon Street near Canal who’d just been punched or kicked in the face and blood was pouring out of his nose. I stupidly/instinctively lunged to help him and D pulled me back.
Then I convinced D to walk to the “cool Bywater area” and we went to Booty's
At Booty’s I was nervous of looking like an all-inclusive booze guzzling bozo, so I ordered a some tougher sounding cocktail (I don't even like cocktails) while secretly eyeing the daiquiris. I’m an idiot. Our bartender made us try the daiquiris and whether you think their fruity (pun intended) or not, these were out of this world lemongrass yuzu flavoured daquiri mmmmmmmm. We also had the ramen which was one of the best ramen stocks I’ve ever had. I always find the broth too fatty up here in Toronto so I never order it. This was not fatty at all and had such depth of flavor.
Took a cab back so D could have nap number 2. Got up around 11:30pm and went to see Rebirth Brass Band. Took us forever to find the Howling Wolf. It was so awesome - such a good sweaty dance party.
At around 2:30am when they FINALLY finished their incredibly long show, decided we were hungry again. The entire trip we shared everything and never ordered more than one meal’s worth at each establishment so we wouldn’t get too full/tired, could try more food and more places. So we went to the Clover Grill and shared a cheeseburger with tater tots. Got the cheeseburger exactly how they make it (lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo, add your own ketchup and mustard tableside) and this was the best diner burger I’ve had in a long time. Even after the burger, while walking back to our hotel we stopped in for beignets and a café au lait from Café du Monde. Sitting inside and drinking the coffee out of a proper cup and saucer, with the fans swirling, and the nice evening-time lighting was an incredible experience, and far surpassed the take out order of beignets I sampled in a rush on my last trip.
Next day we woke up to this insanely loud music and cheering outside our window at 8am. The front desk informed me it was a marathon. I love that a marathon in New Orleans means costumes, sound systems on wheels, and a 2nd line of cheering toga-adorned fans. I spent my mornings by the pool reading and tanning because D sleeps late.
When she did get up around noon, we did a little shopping for some cheap summer cloths and went to Coops. Waited about 10 minutes in line (popular dive bar with lots of food). Had the Coops Place platter to get a taste of everything. The gumbo was great. The rest (Jambalaya, rice and beans, fried chicken, and shrimp creole) was just so-so. Back to the hotel for another nap (but I needed it too after the multiple shots of Blameson.)
We walked to Frenchmen that night for hot dogs (her favourite) at a spot called Dat Dogs. Sat at the bar and had a couple dark Belgian largers and a straight up hot dog with the Crawfish Étouffée French fries. It was whatever. I’m not really into the hot dog craze. I think they’re good but like $8 for a hotdog? Pffft.
We met up with a bartender friend of ours from Toronto who was on Frenchmen street with a bachelor party. Spent the night bar hopping and listening to music. So good! Ended up going with the bachelor party to a strip club on Bourbon (not something I thought we’d do, but it rounded out the experience). The strippers were surprisingly out of shape and not particularly inventive. It was this place where the pole goes all the way up to the second floor. I read a Vice article reporting that many of the strippers in New Orleans are addicted to heroin, so I kept worrying about them slipping from all the drug induced sweating off the pole and crashing down to the first floor.
Three members of the bachelor party (including the bachelor) really weren’t into the stripclub, so I suggested Flannigans and we went there to play pool.
Sunday morning I walked to Johnny Po’Boys around the corner from our hotel and bought a shrimp Po’Boy. The po’boy was just okay. I think I’m not really into them. So much bread, it’s hard to taste the fillings. The shrimp batter was also kind of tough and not crispy.
That day we checked into a 2nd hotel because I got a good deal and it had a nice pool. The Royal Sonesta directly on Bourbon (terror!) We checked in and our room was ready so we were able to get in and settled in time to watch the Easter Parade from our balcony which was really cool. Caught a bunch of beads and cheered for the kid dance teams.
Convinced D to walk to the Bywater again (I wanted to try Maurepas Foods or the Joint mmmmmmm).
We ended up at Maurepas Food near Booty’s and actually had the worst meal of our trip (worse than the cheap pizza.) Hipster ambiance. Cool design, and decent service. We ordered the wilted greens, the arugula with fava bean dip and flatbread, and the soup with arancini. The food was so bland it felt like a waste to bother consuming it. We asked for salt but it did not help the lost ingredients along. It was as though all flavor and texture had been sucked out of the components. The fava bean dip tasted like nothing, and the arancini covered our mouths with a sawdust like substance. So we stopped after those.
Walked down the street to a dive bar (can’t remember the name) and watched the Habs game (and they won!) Multiple drinks later we had a cab called by the bartender and were dropped back in the French Quarter. I was hungry after my wilted green prison broth and had hoped we would go to the Maple Leaf Bar Uptown for their Sunday night crawfish boil, but my travel companion didn't want to go that far :(
So we went to the casino instead which was actually surprisingly fun. I didn’t know I liked to gamble. I won $30! To celebrate our big win we went back to Clover Grill for more cheeseburgers (one each this time because the wilted greens left us both ravenous.) Finished the night at Molly’s, a local dive bar. Everyone at Molly’s was ordering these frozen Irish coffees. Too sweet for me, but I enjoyed the small shot glass size sample the bartender poured.
Bourbon is a wasteland of liquid human product in the mornings after. I did my pool/read/sunbathe thing for better part of the day because D wanted to sleep. Had planned to go to City Park and then a long walk down Magazine street through the Garden District, but D wasn't feeling it. We went for dinner (charboiled oysters, gumbo, and seafood ettoufee) at Acme Oyster House and watched the tight NBA game between Memphis and Oklahoma. Awesome game and great how the entire restaurant came up to the bar to watch the overtime. Headed back to the casino where D won $60 (the exact cost of our just-okay dinner at Acme.)
I woke up on our final day pretty upset by how little I felt like we’d done. So I went out early by myself and walked the Quarter, Went to Beckham’s Bookstore and bought a hardcover, two volume book about the history of American Cuisine published in 1954. Walked to Lucculus Culinary Antiques which sounded promising but it was just overpriced with not a lot of old tools, more china and copper pots. Walked by St. Louis Cemetery but didn’t have time to go in.
Got her up and checked out and we walked to the Presbytere museum to see the Katrina exhibit, saw a few buskers in Jackson square, and walked to Lafitte’s for a hurricane and a bourbon. Had our last meal at Lukes and it was delicious: matzah ball soup, crawfish bisque, the charcouterie plate, a dozen $0.50 oysters.
All in all, I really regret not seeing the Garden District, City Park, Uptown/Freret, but next time...
I completely forgot that we also went to Domenica on Monday for happy hour - thank you to all who recommended. This was our favourite meal of the trip (although I am sure if we had gone to some of the higher end traditional spots or a steakhouse, we would have also really enjoyed that.)
We had the prosciutto pizza, the rigatoni, a few glasses of wine, and an affogato (which was three times the size of an affogato at Terroni or Libretto, similar places, in Toronto.)
I will plan another trip and probably seek to stay uptown or somewhere along Magazine, I am dying to see more of this incredible city.
Many thanks to all.
Like food, tourist beauty is in the eye, tastebuds or ear of the beholder.
I happen to be fan of the steam calliope on the NATCHEZ and of hurdy gurdys in general. On market days in Holland I love listening to and watching the old machines being rolled down the street.
And the great machines that are part of carousels.
Although I do understand I may not think as highly of the calliope if I had been out late and needed that nap!
Given the limitations (32 almost in tune notes and exactly one volume) the calliopeist on the Natchez is really pretty spectacular ... and has an amazing repertoire. It is crazy how well that sound carries though; not believing it could have been coming from nearly a mile away I did accuse my neighbor of drunken mid-day B3 noodlings once.
It's a live player, yes. One of the more famous players is Doc Hawley:
I like the idea of the calliope but I work in the Quarter (very close to where you stayed) and it does get old. I can mostly tune it out but sometimes it's very grating.