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Brett Anderson's Top 10


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#1 TAPrice

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 08:51 AM

The Picayune's big annual dining guide came out last week. For me, the most interesting part is Brett Anderson's picks for Top 10 restaurants. As far as I know (I should probably ask him), his first list appeared in the 2003 guide to 100 "great" restaurants.

To give us a little historical perspective, I pulled up the older lists. Are these the best restaurants in New Orleans? Are worthy contenders being overlooked? What does it say about New Orleans dining that there is so little movement in this list?

Note: The restaurants are listed in alphabetically order, not by rank.


2003

Bayona
Brigsten's
Commander's Palace
Cuvée
Emeril's
Galatoire's
Herbsaint
Lilette
Peristyle
Restaurants August


2004

Bayona
Brigsten's
Cuvée
Emeril's
Galatoire's
Gautreau's
Herbsaint
Lilette
New Orleans Grill
Restaurant August

(Exit Commander's Palace, which never makes the list again. Any idea why? Exit Peristyle. Anne Kearney sold the restaurant in 2004, so I'm guessing the change bumped it off the list. Enter Gautreau's. Was that around the time that Mathias Wolf took over? Enter New Orleans Grill.)


2005

No list that year. I think you know why.


2006

Bayona
Brigtsen's
Cuvée
Emeril's
Galatoire's
Herbsaint
Lilette
Long Branch
Restaurant August
Stella

(Exit Gautreau's. It was still closed at this point. Exit New Orleans Grill, which lost chef Jonathan Wright after the storm and was still in serious limbo at that point. Enter Long Branch (since shuttered) and Stella.)


2007

Bayona
Brigtsen's
Emeril's
Galatoire's
Herbsaint
Lilette
Restaurant August
Rio Mar
Ristorante del Porto
Stella

(Exit Long Branch, because it closed. Exit Cuvée. Cuvée, along with Commander's Palace, are the only restaurants, as far as I can tell, to leave the list without major upheaval in the back of the house. Enter Rio Mar and Ristorante del Porto.)

Did Brett publish a Top 10 list before 2003? Did previous critics keep a top ten list?

Edited by TAPrice, 24 October 2007 - 08:55 AM.

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#2 syoung68

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:05 AM

I am not sure I agree with del Porto, not that it was bad, I was just not blown away. I think, for me, it was similar situation of over hype like Longbranch. A good restaurant, but not mind blowing. Del Porto was solid, the pasta was great, but the entrees were mediocre. I have not written it off, b/c everyone I know loves it and anyone can have an off night.

For what it is worth, The "Dean" has always kept multiple Top 10s over at NoMenu.com.

#3 TAPrice

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:16 AM

For what it is worth, The "Dean" has always kept multiple Top 10s over at NoMenu.com.

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Are these posted anywhere? I can't find them on Tom's site (although I did see his list of 20 best restaurants not included in the Picayune guide--in general, he likes Brett's effort.)
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#4 syoung68

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 09:25 AM

They may just be in the subscriber section, and I do not think he has any of his pre Katrina lists. I bet if you emailed him, he has them archived somewhere. Though I am not sure he woudld willingly give them up.

#5 saturnbar

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 07:54 PM

Curious what others think about Commanders falling out of the top ten. I must say I was quite surprised when I opened Sunday's paper. If anything, it seems their descent is more newsworthy than Rio Mar or Del Porto's ascent. I haven't been since they re-opened so I can't comment? Just goes to show its not all about the wallpaper. ch

#6 ada

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 03:50 AM

I've been to Herbsaint twice. The last time we went the food was very salty. I'm not going this trip. What do others think? I really like KPaul's, and Upperline. Have they been on this list in the past?
I only visit here a couple of times a year, but always check egullet before I make the trip. It seems that the last time everyone was raving about Commanders again, so I'm surprised it is off of the list too.

#7 Robert Peyton

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 12:34 PM

I've been to Herbsaint twice. The last time we went the food was very salty. I'm not going this trip. What do others think? I really like KPaul's, and Upperline. Have they been on this list in the past?
I only visit here a couple of times a year, but always check egullet before I make the trip. It seems that the last time everyone was raving about Commanders again, so I'm surprised it is off of the list too.

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I'm very fond of Herbsaint, and not so much of KPaul's. The Upperline is a great joint.

Were it my to 10, I'd keep Cuvee, and dump del Porto. The last meal I had there was very uneven; some great stuff, some stuff that was inedible. I love what they're trying to do, and I think it's a good restaurant, it's just not in my top ten.

#8 TAPrice

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 04:54 PM

For what it's worth, here are the ratings I could find for restaurants that have cracked the top ten. The Picayune's website is a mess, so I'm not sure if some places have never been reviewed or simply are not on the site (maybe because a critic prior to Anderson reviewed the place?). Remember, at TP it's beans instead of stars, so mentally replace the stars with miniature red beans:


Bayona (no review)
Brigtsen's: **** (5/4/01)
Commander's Palace: no beans listed online (11/1/02)
Cuvee: **** (2/15/02)
Emeril's: **** (9/28/01)
Galatoire's (no review)
Gautreau's: **** (11/09/01) (Note: Chef was Brent Bond)
Herbsaint (no review)
Lilette: **** (3/30/01)
Long Branch (opened after Anderson stopped reviewing)
New Orleans Grill (no review)
Peristyle: ***** (10/5/01) (Note: Chef Anne Kearney)
Restaurant August: **** (1/4/02) and ***** (6/6/03)
RioMar (no review)
Ristorante del Porto (no review)
Stella: *** (7/20/01)


I'm not sure what this all means. Clearly restaurants can change dramatically over the course of a few years. Still, it certainly would suggest that even our best restaurants could be better. Even in New York, though, there are no where near 10 restaurants that carry the New York Time's top rating.
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#9 Big Country

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 08:52 PM

I am going to pose a question to everyone, Why is Brigtsen's not talked about more. I think that it is the most consistant restaurant in New Orleans. I have never heard of anyone ever having a bad experiance there and the food and service are outstanding!!! Chef Frank has been at the helm for 20 years at Brigtsen's and I think that he has gave as much or more back to the community then any other Chef in the city. Also there are so many Great Chefs and Restaurants in the city but I think Brigtsen's does New Orleans food the best. I actually flew through New Orleans and was there for a 23 hour lay over so I could have dinner there. There is no question where he is from or where his heart is. It is the same place, New Orleans.
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#10 TAPrice

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 07:51 AM

I am going to pose a question to everyone, Why is Brigtsen's not talked about more.

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Does Brigtsen's really get less attention? That's hard to measure. Here are the number of articles written about these restaurants in major newspapers over the last five years (I don't have an easy way to search glossy magazines):

Bayona: 29 hits
Brigtsen's: 12 hits
Commander's Palace: 125 hits (some may be for LV location, although this still promotes NOLA original)
Cuvee: 2 hits
Emeril's: 197 hits
Galatoire's: 100 hits
Gautreau's: 9 hits
Herbsaint: 31 hits
Lilette: 4 hits
Long Branch: 11 hits
New Orleans Grill: 12 hits
Peristyle: 15 hits
Restaurant August: 34 hits
RioMar: 0 hits
Ristorante del Porto: 0 hits
Stella: 12 hits

While Brigtsen's isn't the most mentioned place, it certainly gets attention.

If it's not mentioned as much in the media (which I'm not so sure about), there could be a few factors (I'm just speculating). First, Brigtsen's doesn't have a PR person. A place like Restaurant August has a very effective PR machine working on its behalf. Also, a lot of places get attention when travel writers come in for paid-for trips and are taken around to certain locations. Brigtsen's may not be part of that process.

Also, Brigtsen's is outside the main tourist area. Now, many other talked about places are far from the main zones, but they fit a certain idea of New Orleans. They're funky and gritty.

Do people in New Orleans talk less about Brigtsen's? I don't know. Do participants on online discussion boards talk less about Brigtsen's? I don't think so. And they always seemed to be fully booked.
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#11 syoung68

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 08:53 AM

I recently read about Brightsen's in one of the big National food mags though it slips my mind which right now - I will edit if I find it.

Robert, as you can tell from my previous post, I totally agree on del Porto. The pasta was great, but everything else was ... eh.

However, I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised at K Paul's. Maybe for the opposite reasons, I grew up in this city and did not eat at K Paul's until a year ago figuring it was a tourist trap, but I had a fantastic meal. A little heavy on the spice, which for ME to say means a lot. The duck dish I had may have killed a mid westerner.

#12 Big Country

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 01:07 PM

I know that Frank doesn't have a PR firm working for him. I just do not see it mentioned here as often. I just think that it is a fantastic restaurant and if someone is visiting New Orleans and wanting a New Orleans Experiance then Brigtsen's is the place to go.
It is easier to change a menu than a growing season.

#13 TAPrice

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 02:09 PM

I know that Frank doesn't have a PR firm working for him.  I just do not see it mentioned here as often.  I just think that it is a fantastic restaurant and if someone is visiting New Orleans and wanting a New Orleans Experiance then Brigtsen's is the place to go.

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I don't disagree that it's great place.

Over on the Chowhound Louisiana board, which tends to get a high percentage of tourist traffic, it's mentioned quite frequently. You're probably right that Brigtsen's gets less mentions on the eGullet forum than other places. Not sure why.
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#14 syoung68

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 02:24 PM

It may just be the audience. I feel like eG is more about the food and preparations as opposed to restaurant reviews. I know I use it that way.

I am on eG almost daily and rarely on chow, but if I am traveling, I usually check chowhound first. Then if a restaurant keeps coming up, I will cross check eG - never the other way around.

I love Brightsen's but l feel like it is off the beaten path for most tourists. I do agree that it is a perfect "not the norm" New Orleans dining experience. Followed the next night by Jacques-Imo's.

#15 MikeHartnett

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 10:22 AM

Anyone have an idea as to why Iris is not on this list? In my opinion, it's one of the most consistently satisfying restaurants in the city. Although it's not fine dining per se, neither is Lilette...

#16 TAPrice

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 10:57 AM

Anyone have an idea as to why Iris is not on this list?  In my opinion, it's one of the most consistently satisfying restaurants in the city.  Although it's not fine dining per se, neither is Lilette...

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No idea, although Brett seems to prefer long-established restaurants for the top 10. With the exception of Long Branch, I don't see anything cracking the top ten without a reasonably long track record. Perhaps he's looking for consistency over many years? Or, maybe he just didn't like it enough.
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#17 TAPrice

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 02:56 PM

The 2008 Dining Guide is out, and here are Brett Anderson's current picks for the top ten places in town [Note: these are unranked and in alphabetical order]:

2008

Bayona
Brigtsen's
Cochon
Emeril's Delmonico
Galatoire's
Gautreau's
Herbsaint
Restaurant August
Ristorante del Porto
Stella!

For those keeping track at home: exit Emeril's, Lilette, RioMar; enter Cochon, Emeril's Delmonico, Gautreau's (the last previously on the list with a different chef).

Sorry to see RioMar go. Surprised to see MiLa not crack the list.

Full disclosure: I contribute to the Times Picayune these days. Not sure that it matters, but I don't want people to think I'm promoting the paper under the table.
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#18 faine

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 03:13 PM

Is Upperline really that excellent? I am a poor undergrad but I happen to live VERY close and walk by it daily and think "That looks tasty." Worth a splurge?

#19 docsconz

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 03:36 PM

The 2008 Dining Guide is out, and here are Brett Anderson's current picks for the top ten places in town [Note: these are unranked and in alphabetical order]:

2008

Bayona
Brigtsen's
Cochon
Emeril's Delmonico
Galatoire's
Gautreau's
Herbsaint
Restaurant August
Ristorante del Porto
Stella!

For those keeping track at home: exit Emeril's, Lilette, RioMar; enter Cochon, Emeril's Delmonico, Gautreau's (the last previously on the list with a different chef).

Sorry to see RioMar go. Surprised to see MiLa not crack the list.

Full disclosure: I contribute to the Times Picayune these days. Not sure that it matters, but I don't want people to think I'm promoting the paper under the table.

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I would certainly put MiLa over Restaurant August. Other than Cochon, which would shock if it wasn't there, I can't really comment on the rest of the list. Cochon can't have a much longer track record than MiLa, can it?

Upperline was great 14 years ago. I still hear very good things about it.
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#20 Dave the Cook

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 05:30 PM

I'm not sure I'd put MiLa over August (the last time I was at August, the food was great, but service was iffy ), but I'd easily rank it over Brigsten's and Bayona (admittedly, I was at those in 2007, not 2008). On the other hand, I think Brett is solid and sincere. Next time I'm in new Orleans, I'll make sure to hit Delmonico and Stella.

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#21 TAPrice

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 06:51 PM

Is Upperline really that excellent? I am a poor undergrad but I happen to live VERY close and walk by it daily and think "That looks tasty." Worth a splurge?

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Certainly worth it. As these things go, it's not that expensive. The taste of New Orleans menu is a bargain.
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#22 docsconz

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 07:35 PM

I'm not sure I'd put MiLa over August (the last time I was at August, the food was great, but service was iffy ), but I'd easily rank it over Brigsten's and Bayona (admittedly, I was at those in 2007, not 2008). On the other hand, I think Brett is solid and sincere. Next time I'm in new Orleans, I'll make sure to hit Delmonico and Stella.

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My experience at August had the food as decidedly mediocre and the service poor. Mila was exceptional on both counts. Ironically Brett Anderson was dining at MiLa the night I was there and I met him then.
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#23 MikeHartnett

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 07:39 PM

I'm not sure I'd put MiLa over August (the last time I was at August, the food was great, but service was iffy ), but I'd easily rank it over Brigsten's and Bayona (admittedly, I was at those in 2007, not 2008). On the other hand, I think Brett is solid and sincere. Next time I'm in new Orleans, I'll make sure to hit Delmonico and Stella.

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Do hit Stella! It's fantastic.


Regarding the top ten, I think it's a good list, but it's missing both MiLa and Iris. Also, I haven't heard good things about Bayona in quite a while, though admittedly, I haven't been there in a while.

Edited by MikeHartnett, 31 October 2008 - 07:43 PM.


#24 Dave the Cook

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 07:54 PM

We had one amazing dish at Bayona in 2007 -- I'll have to find my notes to delineate the details.

As for Upperline, it's still among my favorites -- Ken Smith is unparalleled. Unfortunately, I'm usually in New Orleans in July for Tales of the Cocktail, and the place is closed then.

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#25 TAPrice

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 07:34 AM

Regarding the top ten, I think it's a good list, but it's missing both MiLa and Iris.  Also, I haven't heard good things about Bayona in quite a while, though admittedly, I haven't been there in a while.

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Iris wasn't open at the time the guide was put together. The new French Quarter location opened just last week, I believe.
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#26 MikeHartnett

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:58 AM

I understand that, but considering it was closed for only a short time while they were moving, wouldn't at least a note indicating this be in order? It's one thing if the restaurant wasn't yet open, or was closed indefinitely. Iris closed for a short time, with an intent to reopen as soon as they moved.

It just seems unfair to preclude such a fantastic restaurant unnecessarily.

#27 TAPrice

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 11:15 AM

I understand that, but considering it was closed for only a short time while they were moving, wouldn't at least a note indicating this be in order?  It's one thing if the restaurant wasn't yet open, or was closed indefinitely.  Iris closed for a short time, with an intent to reopen as soon as they moved.

It just seems unfair to preclude such a fantastic restaurant unnecessarily.

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For some reason he's never ranked it among the top since it's opened.

It's also not clear that Iris can maintain the quality. It's a much a bigger place. I hope they do, but there isn't a guarantee.
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#28 MikeHartnett

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 02:35 PM

Please, please knock on wood after saying that. Iris is one of my absolute favorites. I'll be devastated if they start going downhill.

#29 Robert Peyton

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 09:58 AM

Please, please knock on wood after saying that.  Iris is one of my absolute favorites.  I'll be devastated if they start going downhill.

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I think you're safe. The dining room isn't really all *that* much bigger, and they've basically ported all of the staff.

I'd put them in my top ten list too, though my "top ten" would probably end up being 15 restaurants deep...

My only criticism of Brett's list over the years was the inclusion of Emeril's, where I hadn't had a really good meal in 15 years. But to be fair, I stopped going after a few mediocre, expensive trips some years back. A friend whose opinion I respect recently went to Delmonico, and enjoyed it, so maybe I should give it a shot.

#30 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:14 AM

  A friend whose opinion I respect recently went to Delmonico, and enjoyed it, so maybe I should give it a shot.

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I am a flat out fan of Delmonico. My SO is nuts about it, and she knows her way round restaurants all over the world, both as an operator and a diner, and it's gotten to be a habit. The tartare is as good as it gets and the "12 oz" beef filet generally is about the size of an elephant filet and perfectly cooked. Whatever the grilled fish is has never disappointed either.

I like the service, alot, and I wish that they were busier on a regular basis. I seem to end up there on weeknights and it's never very busy. Certainly this helps out with really good service (though not overattentive-which I appreciate. That whole " two sips of water and a refill is immediate" thing kind of drives me nuts). Both of the wine stewards (#2 is a relatively young man who knows his stuff really well. He has a particular like for big Spanish reds, one of my old favorites) know what they are doing and don't attempt to oversell. Also, they don't overpour just to see if you will cough up for another bottle. Nice touch.

It's also conveniently right on the streetcar route, so for Downtown tourists, it's really convenient.

Also, given the food and the service, it is not overpriced in the least. A good bargain, overall, and somewhere I highly recommend.
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