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TAPrice

Brett Anderson's Top 10

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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 (log)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.

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

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.)


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.

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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

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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'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.

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.

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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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.


It is easier to change a menu than a growing season.

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

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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.

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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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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...

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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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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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.

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.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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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?

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


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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.

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.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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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.

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 (log)

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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.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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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.

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


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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