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New Orleans 60 Hours


BryanZ
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To some a mid-August trip to New Orleans might seem ill-advised. It's hot and humid, to say the least. There's none of the allure of Carnival and Mardi Gras. And there's the whole hurricane season thing to contend with. Nonetheless, with flights and hotels cheap, I booked a trip with just a few day's notice. Largely inspired by the eating chronicled by other eG'ers, a quick 60 hour trip seemed perfect for my wants. While I'd gotten my fair share of sun in SE Asia a few weeks before, it wasn't that hard to leave this year's disappointingly cool and rainy mid-Atlantic summer for a few days. I would also find New Orleans to be the antithesis of NYC's disaffected hipness and pervasive tongue-in-cheek irony. I love New York above all other cities, don't get me wrong, but New Orleans felt like not only another place but another time.

We would be staying at the Place d' Armes hotel, right off Jackson Square, for our three night stay. At $58 plus taxes per night I'm not complaining. Nice courtyard areas, charming architecture, thin walls, rustic exposed brick, a couple large grasshoppers in the bed. The usual. In the future I might stay closer to Canal St. for the convenience the more central location affords, but this hotel was otherwise well-situated and free from the ridiculousness that is Bourbon St.

We arrived shortly after 4 pm and, after checking in, dinner was surely in order.

We felt like staying in the French Quarter for dinner. Shellfish was the name of the game.

The only place we encountered with a wait for a table was Acme. Thankfully we skirted the short line by coming across two newly vacated seats at the oyster bar. Nice. The shucker who stood before us was quite friendly and talkative. This would be the rule rather than the exception across the city. There's no struggling model or aspiring actor, mind elsewhere, taking your order and filling up your glass here.

Our shucker was pleased with our order: one dozen raw, one dozen grilled, two beers.

Raw

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These are not delicate little kussi or kumamoto oysters. These are the big guys you slurp down with a good squirt of lemon and a drop or two of hot sauce. Saltines serve to cleanse the palate. A dozen oysters were about $10. So satisfying.

Grilled

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Topped with cheese, butter, and herbs while grilling, these guys were a deliciously sloppy way to continue our evening. Crusty cheese bits were picked at, bread was employed to sop up all the juices. These were a bit more at $17 for the dozen, but I was very pleased.

Is the place a bit touristy given its location right on Bourbon? Yeah, sure. But the food was simple and delicious. It felt right.

We walked just a few steps down the block to our next stop, Bourbon House, another popular seafood joint. BH is a good bit classier though, resembling an airy brasserie. For those who've been to Eastern Standard in Boston, the vibe is similar.

We ordered a small chilled seafood plate for $19. This came with snow crab legs, a blue crab, (blue?)fish salad, a few cracked crab claws, mussels, some oysters, and boiled shrimp.

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All in all, a fair deal for the price. The variation in quality across the ingredients was quite apparent, however. The oysters, mussels, whole crab, and especially the shrimp were very good to excellent. The seafood salad served more as a distraction, something to heap on crackers and bread. While I'm rarely one to turn down snow crab legs, these lacked meatiness and were more bland than they should've been. We finished everything with gusto though.

Baked oyster trio

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We also ordered six baked oysters in three different styles. There was the typical Rockefeller, one with bacon and jalapeno, and one with red peppers that had a Spanish vibe. I think the bacon/jalapeno was my favorite. Go figure.

I should also note that the Bourbon House, predictably enough, has a solid selection of bourbon and other brown spirits. I enjoyed my pour quite a bit.

After having done our part to decimate the shellfish population we strolled down Bourbon St. This may be the trashiest place I've ever seen. Myrtle Beach has scale and the various red-light districts I've seen are more in your face, but there was something just jawdroppingly absurd about the whole street, and this was on a Monday night.

I figured if I was going to have one shitty drink on Bourbon it may as well be a proper Pat O'Brien's Hurricane. So into the Piano Bar we ambled and, like, wow, I can't believe stuff like this exists anymore. Poor piano player, possibly even worse as a vocalist, belting out tunes to a crowd that's equal parts drunk and captivated by the whole schtick.

Anyway, my wonderfully horrifying drink.

The Hurricane

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Wow, truly terrible. At once syrupy and cloying yet harshly alcoholic. A story I'll tell for years to come and worth my $9. Once. After a few beers and some bourbon and this lovely concoction and a full day of travel we were done for the day.

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I figured if I was going to have one shitty drink on Bourbon it may as well be a proper Pat O'Brien's Hurricane.  So into the Piano Bar we ambled and, like, wow, I can't believe stuff like this exists anymore.  Poor piano player, possibly even worse as a vocalist, belting out tunes to a crowd that's equal parts drunk and captivated by the whole schtick.

Anyway, my wonderfully horrifying drink.

The Hurricane

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Wow, truly terrible. At once syrupy and cloying yet harshly alcoholic.  A story I'll tell for years to come and worth my $9. 

Wait a minute.

You didn't even pop for the souvenir glass and you're going to tell the story for years to come?

For shame.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pat O's hurricane is like cough syrup on steroids... yum.... Did you hang out by the flaming fountain??? Classic...

It's a shame you were there in August after live crawfish season... while Acme is touristy and reknowned for their oysters (deservedly so), they have IMO the best boiled crawfish in the french quarter - great boil flavor, big, plump, juicy crawfish.... and I think I've sampled every crawfish in hte immediate area... I can't wait until next year's season starts!!!!

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Wait a minute.

You didn't even pop for the souvenir glass and you're going to tell the story for years to come?

For shame.

I know. Lame, right? Had I known how bad the drink was actually going to be I would've sprung for the souvenir glass. Umm, next time?

And though we sat inside for a couple songs, we did make it out to the flaming fountain. Truly, a sight to behold.

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As we were literally steps away, a morning stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait seemed necessary. The beignets were heartier than I would've imagined. I'm not a big coffee guy, but I liked this milky brew well enough. A really enjoyable breakfast.

CdM

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Beignets and Coffee

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As I mentioned, our hotel was right off Jackson Square. The whole square looks quite Disneyland and stands in stark contrast to the dilapidation that still unfortunately clings to much of the city outside of the tourist areas.

Jackson Square

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"The Union must and shall be preserved." -Jackson

After breakfast we stopped in the Presbytere, the Mardi Gras museum right next to the cathedral. For those unaware of the origins of Carnival and Mardi Gras this serves as an educational stop. It seems Mardi Gras is not just about topless girls and binge drinking, for better or for worse. Not the most exciting museum I've ever seen, but it helped me learn more about the history of the city.

Lunch #1 was at Central Grocery, home of the original muffuletta. The place was full when we arrived but a long line had yet to form.

Central Grocery

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Muffuletta sandwich

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A half would be fine for us, thank you. Despite its seemingly basic appearance this was a surprisingly tasty and complex sandwich. For me, the olive salad really made it. There's this nice interplay between the cured meat, sharp cheese, and briny olives. I only wish the bread was a bit chewier. Would definitely eat this again.

We did not have a car, and I'm too broke to take cabs everywhere so we relied on the bus pretty heavily. This made getting around more difficult than I would've liked, but we got most everywhere we needed to get. The infrequency of the buses was a bit frustrating, however.

We left the confines of the French Quarter and headed up Canal to Parkway Bakery. On a Tuesday. Parkway happens to be closed on Tuesdays.

Parkway

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This was heartbreaking. We bussed and walked. It was sad.

After this bit of misfortune we walked over to Willie Mae's Scotch House for fried chicken. The walk was a bit sobering. To see many houses remain abandoned and still more in disrepair was a clear reminder that the city is far from complete recovery and may never reach its pre-Katrina heights. I realize it's cliche, but seeing houses still tagged with post-Katrina rescue spray paint was particularly affecting.

Willie Mae's is unassuming to say the least. Just a little dining room right off the street. It was funny, however, to see a couple on a Vespa ride in as we were walking up to the restaurant. It's also quite clear from the cars parked out in front that this spot attracts more than a neighborhood crowd.

Fried chicken, cornbread, red beans and rice

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The chicken was pretty freaking awesome. So flavorful and juicy. The crust is the real star, however, analogous to an aerated batter one discharges from an iSi whipper. It literally shatters. The other items were solid, too. A respectable muffin and a simple side of rice and beans that managed to avoid being bland. As hot as the chicken was, however, the beans and rice were a bit cold upon arriving at the table.

Two lunches were clearly not enough, so after returning to the Quarter we made a quick stop at Verti Marte for the po'boy I was unable to get at Parkway. I can see why people find this place a bit off-putting. It's not the cleanest, but it's got your smokes, booze, and unhealthy food. Not unlike a typical corner bodega. On the cook's recommendation I had the All that Jazz po'boy. This included shrimp, turkey, ham, and cheese, all tossed together on the large griddle.

Po'boy, traditional accompaniments

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The first thing that struck me when biting into this was how closely it resembled the classic Jersey breakfast sandwich on a hard roll. The little bites of shrimp and solid half-cup of mayo gave it a certain Cajun white trash appeal. This is not a cheap sandwich--around $10--but could certainly feed two as a light meal. A crisp, 24 oz. PBR and a disgusting Hubig's apple pie and we were comatose for the rest of the afternoon.

Interior of the pie

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Hubig's makes local pocket pies. And not very good ones at that.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Interior of the pie

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Hubig's makes local pocket pies.  And not very good ones at that.

I feel like Hubig's were better before the storm, although perhaps I was just drunk more often back then. They are certainly mediocre these days.

Fun report. Looking forward to reading more.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

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

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Looks like you made good use of your time, Bryan. Too bad about Parkway. I hope you got there at another time.

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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Alas, I was unable to make it to Parkway. If I had a car, I could've made it there in 10 minutes, probably less. The issue was walking all the way to Canal, then waiting for a bus, then walking to Parkway itself. Given the limited time we had, another trip wasn't possible.

This, along with Chris McMillan not working any of the three evenings we were there, was the biggest disappointment of the trip.

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Alas, I was unable to make it to Parkway.  If I had a car, I could've made it there in 10 minutes, probably less.  The issue was walking all the way to Canal, then waiting for a bus, then walking to Parkway itself.  Given the limited time we had, another trip wasn't possible.

This, along with Chris McMillan not working any of the three evenings we were there, was the biggest disappointment of the trip.

You will just have to go again :smile:

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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After a brief afternoon respite we headed out again, this time by cab, to Bullet's Sports Bar for an evening Kermit Ruffins show. The entire experience was new to me. The local crowd, drinks made at the table from mini liquor bottles and mixers poured from Tupperware jugs. Everyone was friendly, but I do admit to feeling a bit out of place. With no cover and cheap beers though, I'm not complaining.

Kermit Ruffins

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This is far from your East Village cocktail bar or Brooklyn concert venue. I quite enjoyed the music, a rustic style of jazz I wasn't so much accustomed to but seemed fitting for the city. As my partner-in-crime remarked, on the one hand not so intellectual as some "big city" styles of jazz but not so big band brassy either. As others have reported, a food truck parks outside the venue, a large grill is set up on a side street. People freely bring food in and out of the bar.

From Bullet's it was off to Cochon, certainly my most highly anticipated meal of the trip. Out of all the restaurants we visited this place was right in my comfort zone. Young servers, chilled out cooks, attractive patrons. The one thing that really stood out here was just how aggressively everything was seasoned. Everything seemed to be fully imbued with salt and Cajun spices. For some this level of seasoning might be uncomfortable, but there was flavor abound in everything we ate.

The restaurant is still quintessentially New Orleans, however. The menu reads very Cajun, just seen through a contemporary lens. And like I mentioned, the servers here had none of the pretensions that so often plague NYC restaurants. Less hip posturing, more friendliness, not a bad combo.

Amuse

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We sat at the counter and ordered from a good portion of the menu. Along with our apps they sent out a couple slices of headcheese. Nice. I'm of the opinion that this headcheese was too loose but the flavors were spot on.

Pork cheeks

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A really rich dish that was served well by figs and goat cheese for some sweetness and creamy acidity. Very nice.

Fried rabbit livers, herbs, pepper jelly

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Probably the best dish of the night. The herbs and mint really helped worked well with the slight metallic funk of the livers. The pepper jelly brought just a bit of heat and sweetness. A very, very good dish.

Cochon

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Pulled, crispy pork served with braised cabbage and cracklings. It'd be pretty difficult to screw up this dish and, predictably, they nailed it. The funniest thing for me was how the braised cabbage tasted just like my mother's yoshoku-style cabbage rolls. Probably among my very favorite comfort foods, this was like Japanese home-cooking meets aggressive Cajun spicing with crispy pork skin thrown in for good measure.

Eggplant with shrimp

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I'd heard about this dish and was curious to try it. I think this classifies as Creole-Italian or somesuch, as it was kind of like a heavily spiced eggplant parmigiana with bits of shrimp in it. Rich enough that this portion could have served four, we struggled to get through it all. Don't worry though, we eventually did. This came out of the oven too cool, so we asked them to reheat it. After a couple minutes it was perfect.

Pineapple upside-down cake

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The cake itself was ridiculously buttery, edging a bit past my comfort level. This was alleviated by the coconut-lime sorbet that was really nice.

I really liked this place. Again, it felt new yet also familiar. Quite affordable, too. If I was in the area for longer I would surely return here.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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I may as well write my cocktail post now. Unfortunately, we didn't get to nearly as many places as I'd hoped. The night we were supposed to head to Cure we were just so full from Cochon that it was deemed not worth the effort. I'm kind of regretting this now, but we were so full that it probably would've been uncomfortable. It's rather remote location didn't help things. None of the staff in our section at Cochon had even heard of the place.

As I mentioned, Chris McMillan wasn't working on the three nights we were there. I called dutifully every afternoon only to be turned down each time. I'm guessing early in the week in August isn't exactly a bustling time. When we went to MiLa, a restaurant located in the same hotel, the next night the lobby bar was closed when we finished dinner at 10:30 or so.

We did manage quick drinks at Arnaud's French 75 and Napoleon House. I'd suggest both places more for the atmosphere than for the drinks themselves. These are interesting spots, but not craft bars. Our bartender at French 75 was the quintessential scatterbrained, grizzled bartender. Unfortunately, I had to send my first drink back because it served as the final resting place for a small fly. He also couldn't quite keep our order straight and served me the wrong drink. Oh well, it was fine. I loved the seemingly authentic old school atmosphere and cigar smoke. At Napoleon House we stopped in for a quick Pimm's Cup. Certainly not the best Pimm's Cup I've had, but supremely refreshing. Again I liked how the actual building and decor felt old and a little dingy, rather than trying to be old and dingy.

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The next morning we made it over to Galatoire's for an early lunch. We arrived shortly before noon and found the room bustling. This place is freaking awesome. A time machine, a relic, or something of the sort. I've never been to a place like this. It's like a power lunch spot but with this air of Southern gentility. Suits, bowties, seersucker abound. This wasn't even Friday lunch. Our tuxedoed waiter introduced himself by name--and not in a cheesy, chain restaurant way--and we were on our way. A bourbon milk punch for the lady and a Sazerac for myself. Classic. I was so pleased.

Dining room

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Morning cocktails

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Civilized.

I ordered without consulting the menu. The goute appetizer platter and pommes souffles and eggplant with powdered sugar.

Goute plate

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An assortment of shrimp remoulade, shrimp maison, oysters en brochette, and crab maison. So freaking old school. And totally delicious. Lots of mayo and fat and herbs. And oysters, wrapped in bacon, deep fried. The completely superfluous tomato and iceberg lettuce garnishes, probably grown in some far distant hemisphere, were a nice screw you to the altar of the local and seasonal and sustainable and all that malarkey. It was refreshing in a totally anachronistic way.

Fried veggies

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The reports are true. The fried eggplant sticks are actually elevated by the bowl of powdered sugar served with. Totally weird, strangely addictive. The potatoes simply serve as vehicle for the incredibly thick, but otherwise well-made, bernaise sauce. We ate everything.

I kind of wanted to order more, but we needed to continue our multi-stop lunch at Commander's Palace and were tight on time. We were also given this loaf of ridiculously garlic-y bread--garlic toast seems to be a thing down there. Not sure if this was a comp or not. Our waiter also charged us a bit less for the goute platter, something like $27 or $28 instead of the $32 listed on the menu. Maybe he gave us a smaller portion because we were only two. This isn't a cheap restaurant, but I think it's the one I'll remember most from the trip.

From Galatoire's it was off to Commander's Palace. Unfortunately a private function was being held in the Garden Room, so I can't comment on it. The main dining room, well, it's got a lot of kitsch appeal. And if you like birds, well you're in for a treat. The main facade is quite heinous.

Commander's Palace

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3-D wall decor

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There are these creepy stuffed birds on these perches that jut out from the walls. I found this quite comical, as taxidermy is all the rage in hip NYC restaurants and bars. I can't imagine the designer here was trying to appeal to hipsters.

When calling to reserve a table after leaving Galatoire's, upon our arrival, and upon first conversing with our waiter I made it clear we were just ordering some apps and maybe some dessert. They were totally fine with that, but after we ordered our first round of $.25 martinis we were told that while the first round was fine the offer only applies to guests who order a main course. Our waiter was nice throughout, so I'm not complaining, but it's just a bit of information worth putting out there for those looking to eat as we did.

On the recommendation of our waiter, we went with the definitive turtle soup and another soupy, old-school dish that included absinthe, oysters, bacon, and a puff pastry dome. Both felt very New Orleans to me.

Turtle soup

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I really enjoyed this, but not necessarily for the turtle aspect. Not that turtle is a particularly distinctive tasting meat, but I've had more delicate turtle soups elsewhere. What stood out for me here was the super dark roux that this soup was based on. So rich and pleasingly bitter. The healthy tableside application of sherry gave the dish fruity, herbacious high notes. Simple in appearance but overall quite complex.

Oyster and absinthe dome

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A rich dish for a hot day, I ordered this because it looked so deliciously retro. Who sees folded napkins between soup bowl and charger anymore? A floating puff pastry dome? Oh man. This tasted exactly like I anticipated. A chowder of sorts, with bacon and oysters and a slight hit of anise from the absinthe. This was a little difficult to eat with just a spoon, though. The dome did not yield easily.

Chicory coffee ice cream

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As far as ice creams go this was actually pretty good quality. Very rich and dense. There were also some chocolaty bits in there, too. Not exactly what I was in the mood for, but a solid sweet ending.

Like everywhere else service here was very friendly. While there were an excess of servers, one thing none of the restaurants had mastered was the art of the unobtrusive service ballet. Servers don't suddenly appear at the diner's side. There's no choreographed dropping and and unveiling of dishes. Between the two I'd be much more likely to return to Galatoire's. That place was truly something else. Commander's Palace felt like an homage to New Orleans that simultaneous was trying to catch up with the times while also showing its age. Does that make sense? For a restaurant trying to be the definitive New Orleans dining experience it felt a bit stale, with not the bustling vintage appeal of Galatoire's or the 2009 sensibilities of Cochon.

After Commander's Palace it was off to the cemetery across the street, followed by a walk through the Garden District. The Lafayette Cemetery #1 is one creepy place. It feels like death and decay. Worth seeing though.

Entrance

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Destitute orphan boys interred here

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Yeah, I rest my case on the whole creepy thing.

The houses were cute, so there's that.

After our walking tour it was off to Hansen's Sno-Bliz.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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We did manage quick drinks at Arnaud's French 75 and Napoleon House.  I'd suggest both places more for the atmosphere than for the drinks themselves.  These are interesting spots, but not craft bars.  Our bartender at French 75 was the quintessential scatterbrained, grizzled bartender. 

Unfortunately, you were there on the wrong night. Chris Hannah is a great, baroque bartender (he's working on a series of drinks for each of the Muses). For a lot of his drinks, he has to buy his own supplies.

Except for Cure, that's pretty much how cocktails roll in New Orleans. Some very talented mixologists are around, but you have to where and when to find them.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

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

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Commander's Palace felt like an homage to New Orleans that simultaneous was trying to catch up with the times while also showing its age.  Does that make sense?

Yes, it does. I think that's a very apt description of Commander's Palace.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

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

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Hansen's Sno-Bliz had a lengthy line when we arrived, reaching nearly out the door. The place has no a/c so it's hot, but the waiting gave us ample time to consult the large, if rather confusing, menu.

I got a cream of peach with condensed milk. I was going for a peach and cream kind of vibe. The lady got cream of coconut with a crushed pineapple on top. On the whole I enjoyed both shaved ices but wasn't quite as enamored as some others here. My peach was tasty, but I can't say it tasted exactly like peach. The syrup itself didn't have enough acidity. The coconut with pineapple was probably the better choice overall but was quite rich for those not ready for a full on coconut blast. I actually liked it more once stirred, allowing the syrup to more evenly distribute itself through the ice.

Shaved ices

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This was the perfect thing for a hot day, so I understand the fanfare. I thought the product was a little bit too sweet, though. I thought the texture of the ice was nice, too, but not perfect. I honestly think that because it's so hot in the store, the ice's light texture degrades nearly instantly, leading to some harder, icier bites. The shaved ices I've had in Hawaii have been similar in quality, and I once had the opportunity to try shaved ice, freshly made in super small batches, drizzled with maple syrup by the gentleman who tapped the trees. That remains my definitive shaved ice experience.

From there it was back to the Quarter for a couple hours of well-deserved downtime. Upon heading out again, we stopped in for the aforementioned drink at the Napoleon House, then walked over to the Pere Marquette hotel for a light dinner at MiLa, the fine-dining restaurant overseen by Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing. After John Besh and possibly Donald Link, I would say these two are are the most famous chefs currently cooking in New Orleans.

One thing that frustrated me was how early everything in New Orleans closes in the summer. The Napoleon House closes at 10 pm during the week, and we were told that the last seating at MiLa was 9:45. A little inconvenient, but we made room in our stomachs.

The unfortunate part about MiLa is that it looks like a hotel restaurant. Just as people say that Chris McMillan's cocktails don't really fit in the over-designed lobby bar in the same hotel, the food at MiLa doesn't seem to fit its faux-trendy surroundings. In fact, this was one of the few places in New Orleans that appeared as if it was trying to be cool. Predictably enough, it failed in the process.

At this relatively late hour, we were one of only two parties in the restaurant. Not exactly bustling, but the food didn't suffer. Our waiter was a friendly European fellow, who approved of our choices and was generally upbeat despite the dead dining room.

Amuse

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This lobster salad was totally tasty but otherwise a safe opening offering. No complaints here, but I actually enjoyed the warm cornbread and bean dip more. Seemed more soulful to me.

On the advice of the posts in this thread we chose a few of the greatest hits off the menu.

Deconstructed oysters Rockefeller

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A very delicate dish and our first exposure to a lighter take on New Orleans cooking. The oysters were plump and buttery, the bacon added texture and salt, but it was the sweetness of the licorice root sauce on the bottom of the plate that was most perplexing. We couldn't quite place it at the time, but looking back over the menu it totally makes sense and is what made the dish unique.

Barbecued lobster

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Another dish that was at once comforting and refined, the creamy barbecue sauce brought some nice sweetness to the lobster meat. A roasted garlic clove upped the umami factor. Thyme and lemon confit kept the dish from getting too heavy. In a true fine-dining setting I would find the bread superfluous, but here it made sense.

Sweetbreads, black truffle grits, sherry-bacon jus

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This was a seriously delicious dish, certainly among the best things we ate during our short stay. To be honest, the sweetbreads were almost like a garnish, a bit of protein on a plate that's really all about the starch and sauce. To me, this dish, without the sweetbreads, would be a great side at a steakhouse. Creamy, rich, a decent amount of truffle flavor, all brought together by this gastrique-like jus full of salt and acid.

Wine gelee, tropical fruits, whipped cream

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Our waiter was pushing this pretty hard and though I think it could have been more refined I can see why he likes it so much. It was very light and a well conceived marriage of various flavors and textures. Where the dessert faltered was in that the gelee was too firm and that fruit was cut into slices rather than into little cubes. This made it difficult to eat with just a spoon. I would've preferred a broken gelee, mounded into a bowl, with smaller fruit slices throughout. If anything I would've reimagined the dish to put the whipped cream in a thin layer at the bottom, perhaps lightly gelling that.

By the time we left it was getting late and because we had to be up at 4 am to catch our outbound flight we headed straight back to the hotel. It was something of a whirlwind trip, and there are still entire swaths of the city I'd still like to see. The thing that most impressed and fascinated me about New Orleans was just how different it felt from other popular city vacation spots. Sure, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco have their differences, but all of them feel like big, American cities. New Orleans, through its highs and its lows, felt different, nearly foreign.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Except for Cure, that's pretty much how cocktails roll in New Orleans. Some very talented mixologists are around, but you have to where and when to find them.

I think this is an interesting point and one that I briefly touched upon in two private conversation recently, one with with a friend and cocktailian and another with a bartender out in SF who has worked Tales for the past couple years.

New Orleans has this historical reputation as being a cocktail center. Because of that you do have some serious talent in the city. For the same reason though you also have more bars that claim to be craft bars per capita. This simultaneously allows them to maintain their cocktail center reputation while also perhaps falling a bit short for those who expect D&Co./PDT/Violet Hour/Drink/ZigZag level drinks on any night of the week.

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Except for Cure, that's pretty much how cocktails roll in New Orleans. Some very talented mixologists are around, but you have to where and when to find them.

I think this is an interesting point and one that I briefly touched upon in two private conversation recently, one with with a friend and cocktailian and another with a bartender out in SF who has worked Tales for the past couple years.

New Orleans has this historical reputation as being a cocktail center. Because of that you do have some serious talent in the city. For the same reason though you also have more bars that claim to be craft bars per capita. This simultaneously allows them to maintain their cocktail center reputation while also perhaps falling a bit short for those who expect D&Co./PDT/Violet Hour/Drink/ZigZag level drinks on any night of the week.

In this story I did for the Picayune, Wayne Curtis addresses the topic:

"There are a lot of good drinks in New Orleans, " said Wayne Curtis, drinks correspondent for Atlantic Monthly magazine, "but you need a lot of information to find them."

Curtis likes Arnaud's French 75 if Chris Hannah is there, the Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar before 6 p.m. when Marvin Allen is working and Bar UnCommon from Tuesday to Saturday when Chris McMillian is on the clock. Curtis also frequents the Swizzle Stick Bar, where he's particularly interested to see what Michael Glassberg is making.

In the past few years, however, the amount of bartending talent in New Orleans has increased dramatically, in part because locals are returning home after learning skills in larger cities. Kirk Estopinal, for example, recently moved back after working at Chicago's The Violet Hour, widely considered one of the best bars in the country. He consults nationally and works three nights a week at Cure.

Other experienced bartenders have been lured by New Orleans' charm and long cocktail history. Kimberly Patton-Bragg, the bar manager at Mid-City's Clever, worked at Blue Smoke in New York before relocating to New Orleans last November.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

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

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Is Chris McMillan no longer at the Pere Marquette or is Bar Uncommon the formal name for the bar there?

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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Is Chris McMillan no longer at the Pere Marquette or is Bar Uncommon the formal name for the bar there?

As far as I know, he's still there. Bar Uncommon is the name of the bar. I would strongly advise going during the week, as Mr. McMillian gets a bit cranky when kids come in on the weekends.

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