Monday, January 18, 2010

Eatin' & Drinkin' in the Big Easy

We had a goal to eat and drink our way through New Orleans French Quarter. I can't say we hit all the top spots, but we put a dent in our goal! (Must visit again to finish up!)

Overall, cocktails in the Big Easy tend to be far sweeter than I like and the food ... you have to like seafood and pork to survive here. If you are vegetarian or vegan you may want to consider another vacation spot. 

Tourist Traps -
Napoleon House: The Pimms Cup they are suppose to be famous for was actually not bad. The food was very much below average. The place was kinda cool to check out, very busy, and service was sporadic.
Cafe Pontalba: Right by Jackson Square and claims to be in a very historic building. The food here was so sub-par it left me speechless.
Oceana Grill: Right by Bourbon Street. I hate panning this place because the server was super nice but the cocktails were pretty bad (don't order a dirty martini at a tourist trap - ugh). The food was totally average, but prices were good. I give them props for being open on Christmas Day though and would say if you are in a pinch, you can make do here.
Cafe Du Monde: Not all tourist traps are bad things. I strongly recommend getting in the "to-go" line. My coffee au lait was super-watered down and pretty lame but the beignets......delicious.

Over-rated - 
Arnaud's Restaurant: Really? This is suppose to be one of the gems on NOLA? The baked oysters were STUNNING but the quail was only partially de-boned and swathed in bacon which over-powered the other flavors. The filet mignon was flavorless and boring.
Pelican Club: Better than Arnaud's but still hit and miss with the food. The trio of duck had a 1/3 failure rate - the duck breast was in a too sweet sauce and was cold. The calamari was also very good, but the rest of the dishes were over-priced for the quality.

Pleasant Surprises -
Cafe Fleur de Lis: Like many places in NOLA, you better not be in a rush. We waited a long time for our breakfast but it was hot, good, filling and fattening. Oh - and cheap for this area.
Cafe Beignet: In my humble opinion, the coffee and beignets here were better than Cafe Du Monde. Loooooong wait here too (big surprise).
NOLA Restaurant: I have mentioned in earlier blog posts that I tend to be relatively anti-chain restaurants. I also tend to be anti-over-rated-weird-celebrities-who-annoy-me restaurants. And here Emeril went and proved me wrong. NOLA Restaurant had some big hits and the staff were superb!
Louisiana Pizza Kitchen: Who would have thought? Apparently they modeled themselvers after California Pizza Kitchen while trying to stay true to Louisiana food culture. They succeeded. And they had Raspberry Lambic - always a good way to our hearts. 

Big Hits -
Arnaud's French 75: This is technically a cigar bar, but was such a wonderful hit with us. The staff were very charming and the cocktails were amazing (not overly sweet like so many other places in NOLA). They have a small menu of snacks which were good. Love the atmosphere here and the old-timey feeling.
Brennan's Restaurant: A friend of mine called this "ridiculous breakfast" and I wholly agree. It is so rich, over-the-top, delicious yumminess that ridiculous is a great way to describe it. I can also vouch for the bloody marys, after all, I had four of them!

Looking forward to the next trip. I'm hungry.

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