New Orleans lovers please read!!!

Old Dec 4th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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june211
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New Orleans lovers please read!!!

I am totally confused!!
Let me start by saying that me and my husband are both in our 50's and live in New York. We are going to New Orleans for the first time in April and staying at the Hotel Monteleone. I am one of those crazy people that makes "lists" and gets off the airplane running with things to do and places to go every moment of the day. This drives my husband crazy, but the poor thing goes along with me.
My problem is that I want to go to really nice restaurants our four nights there. I have looked at plenty of New Orleans travel websites for recommendations. Every time I look at the Fromers rant and rave section on this site I throw out my list and start over. let me say the Brennan's for breakfast has been on and off three times. When I read five people saying a certain restaurant is GREAT and five people saying it is a dump and the food and service is terrible who am i to believe??
Sometimes I think these "Bad Raters" are "Plants" that have an aim at taking business away from certain restaurants. Is is possible that some of these people are really angry at the Prices?? Being from New York it is very common to spend $100 for dinner out for two. Maybe some of these people are from other parts of the country that can go out to eat for practically nothing. I can say that because I have family in Texas and when I visit them I am amazed at the restaurant prices and how reasonabe they are compared to New York.
The restaurants on my current list are, Muriel's, Redfish Grill,Stella's and my favorite being a place called Jean Lafitte Bistro (jeanlafittebistro.com) I found Lafitte by browsing on the net. When I mentioned it on this site a couple of weeks ago, no one ever heard of it. BUT IT IS MENTIONED ON A FEW NEW ORLEANS TRAVEL SITES, PUT OUT BY NEW ORLEANS. Now do you see why I am going nuts and have gone through notebooks of paper?? Any comments out there?
 
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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SORRY, I MEANT TO TYPE IN "FODORS.COM RANT AND RAVE" SECTION NOT FROMMERS.
 
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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We tend not to eat at the higher end restaurants while in New Orleans. I'm not really sure why, it's not really money. Anyway, we did eat at Red Fish Grill last April. I didn't think it was all that great. Nothing awful, but I wasn't really impressed.

If I were going for some finer dining, I'd look at Brigsten's. Seems to get consistently good reviews.

Next trip I'm really going to try and make it to Jacque Imo's, which sounds like a fun place, although certainly not 'fine dining'.

Have you looked at Chowhound? The people are that site are real foodies, you can get some good ideas there.

Jean
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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Hi, June - I sympathize with you; there are so many great restaurants in NO it's difficult to sort things out. First of all, I'm one of those people who pans Brennan's for breakfast. Many, many years ago that was a wonderful meal, but has since turned into a tourist trap. Brennan's does much better at dinner, so if you think you absolutely must eat there, go at night.

I looked at the website for the Jean Lafitte Bistro, and followed the link to the names of their other properties. I'm not familiar with Mango Mango Daiquiris, but frankly the Old Absinthe House and Tony Moran's don't have very good reputations. So if I were you, I'd eliminate Jean Lafitte's and try something else.

My personal favorite restaurant is Commander's Palace, but there are lots of other wonderful options. If you want to go with another well-known standby you could try Galatoire's or Arnaud's. I love the Palace Cafe on Canal Street, and Bayona would be a good choice, too.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Susan, thanks for your reply. Believe it or not I have heard of those last two restaurants and guess what?? again bad reviews. overpriced, food not so good yada, yada, yada.
 
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Mango Mango Daquiris are just walk-in places that you can grab a slice of pizza that's been sitting out too long, a beer or a frozen alcoholic drink of many assorted flavors (which would be my personal favorite). For a great breakfast you might want to try Petunias in the Quarter. It's not really high price, but the food is great!! You have a good time and I'll just about bet this may be your first time there, but not your last!
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 11:02 AM
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June, I have been puzzled about this too in the past. My sister lives in New Orleans (NOLA) and we visit her there often. Seems like we eat our way through each visit! I have decided that one of the main attractions of teh city is its good food; therefore there is a LOT of comparison to be made, and also a lot of competition. Therefore, there will be a wide range of opinions on any place you ask about. Just like going to NYC, people will tell you to "do this" or you "must do" that, and that one place is overrated while another isn't...when really it's the experience of being that that makes the thrill, and it all turns out to be fabulous in the end.

Having said that, I am a HUGE fan of Brennan's, depsite the mixed reviews. I recommend dinner, as the bananas foster dessert is TDF and we have always had superior service there. Also, Commander's Palace is a classic, "must-try" place for anyone new to the city. The Emeril restaurants are sometimes good to try also. Mother's is, hands down, the BEST for po-boys, but eat there for lunch and don't expect a nice place--it's a hole in the wall (but another classic "must"). Also, Cafe Dummond is the best for after dinner dessert: beignets! (or an early am breakfast treat.) Additionally, all of the restaurants mentioned in SusanCS's post are classic NOLA restaurants.

Go for the experience and you'll enjoy anything you try there. If the restaurant doesn't meet your criteria for great food, it probably will offer a great ambience (or service or whatever...). Everyone's opinion is different, especially in a city where you can find SO MANY great options that everyone has an opinion!

Have FUN!

(ps and go to the aquarium! it's fun!)
 
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 11:41 AM
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bamakelly, you pretty much said it all. I think you are right when you say you have to look at eating in many of these places as an "experience". The excitement of being in New Orleans and on vacation has a lot to do with the persons attitude. A GRUMP will go into any restaurant and find fault. After reading one of the post I think I will nix the breakfast at Brennan's and go for the Dinner there instead, if only for the experience of eating in a beautiful restaurant in the Quarter. Thanks all.
 
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 01:49 PM
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First, remember that a list "put out by New Orleans" (your words) are probably paid placements. Hotels and restaurants who pay to be in the Convention and Visitors Bureau get placement and some others don't.

You should review all the information and make your own decisions. I think you've come up with a good list so far (Muriels and Stella are great!) but I also have never heard of Jean Lafitte and I eat out all the time. I suspect it's a tourist-oriented restaurant and the ownership group mentioned by SusanCS (a good poster!) doesn't make me think it's very good.

Finally, it's a bit paranoid to assume that all negative reviews are the works of "plants" or someone trying to steer you elsewhere. There are hundreds of restaurants in NOLA and the chances of you encountering both great meals and not-so-great meals are high if you don't do your homework.

Overall, I consider chowhound and tripadvisor's limited dining reviews to be pretty accurate.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Just checked out the Jean Lafitte menu as well. For those prices, you can dine at Bayona, GW Fins, Peristyle, Rene Bistrot or many other good places!!
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 03:46 PM
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june211,
I am an admitted "foodie". I love NO for the restaurants, and the fun they have while dining.
Brennan's IS touristy, but an experience for breakfast that is really impossible to have ANYWHERE else, but it is pricey ( they do Bananas Foster at breakfast too)

I love good food, prepared with care. Bayona is my choice for a top restaurant.

Commander's Palace is also touristy, but they do a GREAT brunch.

Galatoire's isn't really about the food,
try and get a table DOWNSTAIRS on Saturday night, and you will see what eating in the Quarter is all about. It is the "scene", really quite interesting

It really is hard to eat badly in NO, stay out of chains, and RELAX, it is the Big Easy, you know.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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As I mentioned the last time you questioned NO dining.....Bayona is my favorite "fine dining" choice in NO. There are several more, but you need to decide which ones you want to try.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 07:12 PM
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PETUNIA'S for breakfast!
oh, ccolor, thank you for reminding me of the wonderful and fun time my DH and i had at Petunia's... i know it sounds goofy, but the little chocolate mint sticks covered in silver paper - we didn't eat - i saved them and hang them on my Christmas tree each year!
d
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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We recently returned from NO and had the same delimna when deciding on which restuarants to try. I've learned from experience that there is no "right" or "wrong" answer. Everyone have different tastes and no restaurant or opinion can please everybody.

We tried Commander's Palace for brunch, based on several recommendations, and thought it was just "OK". We did enjoy the Bloody Mary's and Mimosas and the atmosphere, but didn't really care for the food. The price was really expensive since the brucnh does not include the over-priced alcohol.

We also ate a Muriels for lunch. I enjoyed it, but DH didn't.

We both agreed on the recommendations we recieved for Acme Oyster House. We loved it and ate there twice. (It's not a fancy restuarant) There are consistant lines to get in and we understand why.

I also posted a thread questioning food at Pat O'Briens. Recieved several responses to not eat the food, just go for the hurricanes. We decided to eat there and loved the food, hated the hurricanes. Go figure. Also got several thumbs down for the riverboat dinner cruise, but we enjoyed it very much.

Take recomendations with a grain of salt. Just because someone else thinks its wonderful, doesn't mean you will. Pick what you "want to try" and if you don't like it, try something else next time. If you do like it, then that's great. When we go back, we have on our list: Antonios, Mr. B's and The Court of Two Sisters.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 08:30 PM
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Thanks Dan, a lot of good advice. Seems like that Jean Lafitte place was just a good picture on a website. HA
Kvr, your post made me laugh. Like you said, things that people say are not good turn out great and places people say are good turn out not so good. I am going to stop over thinking this and just have a good time in new orleans. I'll stick with Muriels, Stella's, try Mr. B's and go to the acme oyster house. BY THE WAY!!! DOES THE BRENNAN FAMILY OWN EVERY RESTAURANT IN THE FRENCH QUARTER??? I love seafood so how can I go wrong in New Orleans. This New York girl can't wait to see what it is like there.
 
Old Dec 5th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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June, the Brennans are indeed quite the restauranteurs! Different branches of the family own about 9-10 restaurants, inc. (from memory and in no particular order!) Commanders Palace, Brennans, Mr. B's, Bacco, Palace Cafe, Dickie Brennans Steakhouse, Cafe Adelaide, Redfish Grill, Ralphs on the Park and Bourbon House.

I like them all to varying degrees except Bacco, which I don't care for.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 07:49 AM
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Hello, June. I was one of those who responded to a previous post you initiated regarding Jean Lafitte Bistro. Your questions here are a bit different. We ate breakfast in NO only once on our recent trip. It was a Sunday(sit down)brunch at Dante's Kitchen. I would describe this restaurant as an upscale neighborhood dining room. No music--as in Jazz Brunch, but wonderful breakfast plates and ambience. Many families filled in the tables around us, and the service was cordially delivered by Tulane and Loyola wait staffers. We will return to this one.

We were wobbly one evening from too much fun, when we had a very late dinner at the Quarter Scene. We intended a breakfast here, but fell into dinner(figuratively, not literally)instead. Very good food. No liquor license, but they provide mixers if you byob. And no "corking fee" either. Again, a neat place we will return to.

For our "significant" dinner, we chose Emeril's Delmonico in the Garden District. We were treated there like VIPs. Our meals were simply put, superb. I was aghast to read a flurry of nasty reviews on Delmonico on another travel site.

Although we've traveled extensively, our FIRST trip to NO will always stand out for the wonderful experiences we encountered there. One thing that really settled into my spirit about this trip is that; when you're a courteous and gracious traveler, your spirit will be returned to you in a delightful way by those who serve you. Go with no doubts, no matter your choices, you'll have a great visit.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 08:56 AM
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I am a local and I will tell you that you must go to Brigtsen's. I do not think you will find even one negative post. This is very much a local's place and it is excellent, in quality, creativity and ambiance.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 09:19 AM
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Brigtsen's, Bayona, Peristyle- my top three for my yearly visits to NO. I also had a great meal upstairs at K Paul's (where they take reservations). I enjoy the atmosphere at Commander's Palace, but the cooking can be uneven. I think you do best there with the traditional local specialities.

I also like Acme Oyster Bar for casual po-boys and seafood. My inlaws love Mr. B's.

Have a great trip!
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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Sometimes the issue is price, and even quantity/price, as those who are accustomed to the the large portions served at the classic creole restaurants may feel that some newer places which are much more concerned with presentation do not provide large enough quantities of food for the money paid.

The other thing that sometimes causes outsiders to slam restaurants is perceived lack of cleanliness. NOLA is a very old city as American cities go, and if you are eating in the Quarter, the building you are in may be hundreds of years old. It is not going to look as pristine as a building that was finished 5 years ago, no matter how hard the staff try. It is also a subtropical climate, and the near-constant dampness causes many buildings to smell a bit musty, even though they are quite clean. I find that I hear these reactions from tourists quite often; they go on ad nauseum about how "dirty" NOLA is, when the problem is just that it is old. The same people would probably say the same thing about London or Paris.

One thing you must understand about NOLA; lots of the very best restaurants in the city are nothing special to look at, and may not have white-glove service, either. Locals rate restaurants on the quality of the food; the speed of the service is very secondary, and the decor of the place really doesn't matter much to them at all. IMO, Brennan's breakfast tends to rest on its laurels these days. It still has good atmosphere if that is what is most important to you, but the food is not as impressive as it once was. Other restaurants in the Brennan's stable tend to have better food, as they cater more to a more critical local clientele.

Honestly, unless you want desperately to eat at one of the restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, just following your nose is an excellent way to find good food. Something good to eat is quite literally available around nearly every corner in New Orleans, because New Orleanians live to eat out.
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