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Blumie's Profile

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All-time best dessert?

I don't understand the concept of "saving room." I have a completely separate compartment for dessert. I can fill up on other stuff, and yet my dessert compartment remains empty and usable.

Restaurant or bar with a view?

"In order to see Manhattan you can't actually be on Manhattan."

That's kind of silly, no? Every restaurant I've ever been to in Manhattan -- at least those with windows -- has had a view of Manhattan.

Sep 18, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Staying 10/30 - 11/2

The first time I encountered Patrick Van Hoorebeek, one of NOLA's more highly regarded maitre d's, it was about 20 or so years ago when he answered the phone at the Bistro at Maison de Ville. Responding to my question about appropriate attire at this elegant and fairly high end restaurant, Patrick responded, "We're about the food, not about what you wear. You can come naked for all I care." (I chose not to take him up on that.)

Sep 18, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Marta - When in NYC, do as...

Are they supposed to be crisp?

Sep 16, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Marta - When in NYC, do as...

Reservations available on opentable. Just booked mine!

Sep 16, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Soft Shells

The season normally extends through September, no?

Sep 16, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Revisiting Dassara

You're right seb. I cut-and-paste the wrong description from the menu without even reading it. The correct menu description is "A brothless ramen tossed with pork, roasted garlic butter and lime. Garnished with a relish of our house made pickles and salted chilis, along with strips of ham, chunks of Cuban roast pork, cracklins and cilantro."

I almost didn't order it because of the "brothless" description, but I'm glad I did. As noted, I loved it (especially spiced up), and found that there was plenty of liquid in the bowl. Not sure why it's described as "brothless."

Sep 15, 2014
Blumie in Outer Boroughs

All-time best dessert?

Sometimes the least fancy is the best. I love, love, love the mint chip ice cream at Mistral, which tastes like mint grown in the garden, not artificial mint flavoring. I always order it with a side of chocolate sauce.

Sep 15, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Essential NOLA for first time tourist

JazzyB might get put off if I don't point out that I'm not a local, but I have been to New Orleans over 50 times in the last 25 years, which should count for something.

First off, don't get a car. I generally do rent a car when I'm in town, but don't recommend doing so until you're more familiar with the city. It's easy to get around by taxi.

Here is one website's idea of the "essential" New Orleans restaurants:

http://nola.eater.com/archives/2014/0...

While anyone can find things with which to disagree when it comes to lists like this, what I like about this particular list is that it doesn't concentrate on the old school New Orleans haute Creole favorites like Commander's Palace and Galatoire's, but rather is in many ways a broader and more contemporary list. Plus, with a lunch reservation at Commander's, you already have the old school haute creole covered.

I would plan one meal (lunch or dinner) at Coop's Place, in the Quarter. It's a popular dive bar in the Quarter that does a very credible job with gumbo, red beans and rice (I really like their red beans and rice with sausage), and jambalaya. I think it must be in a lot of guidebooks now, as there often are lines of tourists, but I still think it's worth going to for this purpose.

Some on this board may disagree, but between Commander's and Coop's, you'll have covered a lot of bases in terms of traditional New Orleans cuisine and can focus more on the contemporary scene. (Doesn't of course mean you have to, but at least it's an option without feeling like you missed out on classic New Orleans food.

)

For a po' boy, it's hard to beat Domilise's and Parkway Tavern, both of which are on the list I linked above, but to be honest you can also do quite well at Johnny's, which is right in the Quarter. (I'd much rather go to Domilise's or Parkway than Johnny's, but if I'm in the Quarter, I'd go to Johnny's rather than travel to one of the others.)

Sep 15, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Suggestions for dinner 20-25 men near Quarter

I was thinking upstairs, too, but just to be clear, when you distinguish it from the "regular place," you simply mean the downstairs. (I just don't want anyone to be confused into thinking these are in any way two separate places. Clancy's is Clancy's, but they have a large, main dining room downstairs, a smaller dining room off the bar downstairs, and one large and one (or is it two?) small dining rooms upstairs. But it's all the same place!)

Sep 15, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

On the Bab, Old Street/Shoreditch, London

Thanks for the heads up on the place, limster. I was at the Hoxton Hotel this past weekend, and this place was perfect for a late lunch after the Turner exhibit at the Tate on Saturday. I loved the spicy fried chicken, and had I allowed myself I could have eaten a whole lot more. The bebimbab might not have been the best I've ever had (it didn't measure up, for example, to the okdol bibimbap from the Korean stall at the Super 88 Market in Allston, with which I suspect you're familiar), but still it was quite tasty.

Sep 15, 2014
Blumie in U.K./Ireland

Suggestions for dinner 20-25 men near Quarter

Brigtsen's is not a good choice for a group that large, particularly if you want to be a little boisterous. Clancy's would be awesome. Obviously not near the French Quarter but worth the trip.

Sep 14, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Scenic Drive from NYC to Boston..

Agree with RoyRon that driving up through Litchfield County, Connecticut and through the Berkshires is a great start, but skip the Mass Pike, which is the fastest but also the most boring of roads, and instead take Route 2 from the Berkshires east until you reach Boston.

Sep 12, 2014
Blumie in Southern New England

Creating my own Pub Crawl in NOLA, Help Please!

Another question: is the primary goal drinking, or seeing/experiencing? The Quarter almost certainly is the better option for the former, given the high concentration of drinking; while a stroll along Magazine St., heading uptown from the Lower Garden District, would be more interesting, IMHO, but would involve longer walks between drinks.

Sep 11, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Creating my own Pub Crawl in NOLA, Help Please!

Limited to those two neighborhoods?

Sep 10, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Casual Dinner with Business Associates (16 people)

I made no assumption. There may be women, some of whom may wear 4" heals. It may be a group of all women with 4" heels, for all I know. So I thought it might be useful to embellish your comment that "it's a bit of a trek" with the actual distance so the OP and his or her group can make their own determination about how desirable it is.

Sep 10, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Casual Dinner with Business Associates (16 people)

Not making a judgement, just providing the facts (although I'm not sure where the 4" heels came into play!).
In any event, given that the OP's dinner was last night or tonight, hopefully the plans already have been made.

Sep 10, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

;)

Sep 10, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Casual Dinner with Business Associates (16 people)

It's half a mile (maybe a few steps less since you can go out the back onto Common St.).

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Eataly - Rosticceria

Thanks for this report. Although I have not tried these sandwiches, and in fact have not eaten in any of the Eataly restaurants, I have become a big Eataly fan. When it first opened, I was turned off by the touristiness of Eataly, as well as what I thought were over-the-top prices. But upon closer examination I have found the quality of their products to be extraordinary and the prices to be in line with comparable high end places (and on par with Whole Foods, which I do not consider comparable). I now routinely buy my meat, cheese, seafood, bread and produce from them. And at my last dinner party, I bought one of their large containers of gelato, which was a huge hit.

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Casual Dinner with Business Associates (16 people)

Actually, the wine room at Emeril's might be large enough.

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Great meal at Jaiya (Thai; 3rd Ave. at 29th St. location) last night

A quick search revealed that perhaps many people wrote this place off years ago. I was only recently introduced to it, and had fine, if unremarkable, meals at each of their Gramercy and UES locations last Fall. But my wife and I returned for a quick bite last night and LOVED it. She had a green papaya salad. I asked the waiter to direct me to their spiciest curry, and he suggested the Panang, which I ordered with Pork and thoroughly enjoyed. I recognize that it's only an n of 1, but we'll certainly return.

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Recs near Hyatt Regency on Loyola?

The CBD is right out the door. The French Quarter also is less than a mile away, although Jackson Square is about 1.25 miles. But then again, one is also that much closer to the Garden District and Uptown!

As you note, it's a fine hotel and, while not right in the thick of things, a short cab ride away to most everything.

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

NAspy, my sincerest apologies if your assertion that "Bourbon Street, Galatoire's, Cafe du Monde and a cemetery tour ... makes NOLA NOLA!!!" made me believe that your view of New Orleans is extremely limited. I'm sure your knowledge of the city is much broader than that statement would suggest.

Sep 09, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Revisiting Dassara

I haven't been to Dassara since it was all the rage when it first opened. I went on a Tuesday last week and it was fairly empty; not sure if that's because it was Labor Dayish or because it's fallen out of favor. Nevertheless, I LOVED my meal there. I started with the duck buns, which were the special steam bun of the day, and then followed it up with the "Cubana Mazemen," which the menu describes as "a mostly brothless ramen in a butter enriched clam sauce with littleneck clams, parsley and Japanese milk bread croutons." I was a little concerned about the "mostly brothless" part of the description, but that proved not to be an issue at all. I ordered the ramen as spicy hot as the kitchen was willing to make it, and supplemented both the buns and the ramen with sriracha. Both were superb. The ramen, in particular, was incredibly rich both with flavor and spice. My wife just had the green papaya salad, and although I didn't try it, she was very pleased, as well. We're both looking forward to returning again.

Sep 08, 2014
Blumie in Outer Boroughs

Casual Dinner with Business Associates (16 people)

Luke has a good private room that would work well.

Sep 08, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

I should add that my NOLA dining strategy has evolved as the NOLA dining scene has evolved (and, in my mind, matured considerably). Until recently, every dining experience had to be a quintessential NOLA dining experience. But now there are so many options for great eating that are not stereotypically New Orleans that it's hard to be that rigid. So, for example, I occasionally like to eat Vietnamese in NOLA. Sure, these restaurants could be in New York or LA, but New Orleans does have some great Vietnamese. And then there are places like Sylvain, which I love. You certainly could imagine Sylvain thriving in Brooklyn or Cambridge or San Francisco, but it happens to be in New Orleans, serving really good food with a good vibe, and I see no reason to pass it up. Of course I'll have been at Parkway that day and you'll find me at Clancy's the next night!

Sep 08, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

Nolapants, Bacchanal is the kind of place where, once you go, you'll know pretty quickly what makes it special and what makes it quintessential NOLA. (That said, it's has gotten very popular, and clearly has been "discovered," so go as soon as you can!) Here is my personal history with the place. Apologies in advance for what likely will end up a long post.

Like many non-locals, I have a hard enough time deciding where to eat when I visit from among my established favorites, such as Clancy's and Brigtsen's, making it extraordinarily difficult to keep up with all the newer places opening up. So even though Bacchanal had been open for quite a few years and well known to the locals, it never had made it on my radar screen.

Then one day several years ago I was out for a run. I had recently changed my regular running route from along St. Charles Avenue to running along the riverfront through the French Quarter and then through the Marigny and the Bywater. On this route one day, I got to the end of Chartres St., where I take a left onto Poland Avenue and a left onto Royal St to make my way back, and happened to notice a small, funky looking wine store on the corner of Chartres and Poland Ave. I didn't think much of it other than that it looked kinda cool for this little wine store to exist where it seemingly didn't belong, but then again that's part of what makes NOLA special too.

Later that afternoon, and purely by coincidence, I was invited to dinner in the Bywater. Not wanting to show up empty handed, I was reminded of that funky little wine store I had ran past that morning, and figured I'd stop by there on the way to dinner to pick up a bottle of wine. Which is exactly what I did. And what I found was -- just like it looked on the outside -- a funky little wine store with a small but well curated selection of wines.

I was in the store for maybe five or 10 minutes choosing a bottle, and happened to notice as I was milling about a number of people coming in and out of an unmarked side door. I decided to investigate what was on the other side of that door, and discovered a huge back courtyard furnished with a hodgepodge of old patio furniture and a good number of people enjoying a lazy evening drinking the wines they had just purchased in the store. That's all I observed, and that's all I needed to know that I wanted to return.

I can't remember if I made it there on that trip or on a subsequent trip, but I did go back with a friend, purchased a bottle of wine, and sat in the courtyard while we enjoyed a leisurely evening. I don't recall seeing people eating that night, but maybe I did, or maybe something else caught my attention, but somehow it registered with me that food was available too.

Flash forward now to my next trip. For years my NOLA routine had been to fly in after work on a Thursday or Friday, typically landing late at night, and heading directly to Coop's, which was always my go-to place for a late night meal sitting at the bar. On this particular occasion, I flew in earlier than I normally do, but still decided to go to Coop's. I arrived at Coop's to discover the typical dinner-time line out the door, but did what I've done many other times, which was to bypass the line and just go straight to the bar, where I found a seat waiting for me. Almost immediately, someone tapped my on the shoulder and quite rudely informed me that I'd have to wait in the line outside. I told them that I thought one didn't have to wait in the line to sit at the bar, but quite rudely was told that was not the case. (I don't mind that one has to wait to be seated at the bar, just like at the tables, but didn't appreciate the tone. Nonetheless, that is only one reason why Coop's has jumped the shark for me, but that's for a different thread.)

So I left Coop's, and thinking about where to go decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try the food at Bacchanal. I hopped in a cab, and as I did it started to rain. I was kicking myself at this point, thinking that sitting in the courtyard at Bacchanal in the rain was not a particularly good idea, but as we pulled up out front, I noticed lights and activity in a room above the wine store. I walked through the wine store, out the unmarked door to an empty courtyard, and found an unmarked staircase up the side of the building, which I climbed to find a beautiful new indoor space that I believe they had recently opened above the store. And inside I found a full bar, a lively crowd, and a jazz trio playing in the corner. It was love at first sight, and it was at that time that I learned how Bacchanal works:

-- Wine is purchased in the wine store. If you are purchasing a bottle to go, you get a small discount. If you are purchasing a bottle to drink there, they'll open it for you and hand you wine glasses when you pay at the register.

-- If you want a cheese plate (trust me: you want a cheese plate), you choose as many and whichever cheeses you want out of the cheese case in the wine store and pay for them at the register in the wine store. You pay a small surcharge for the cheese plate, and they'll take the cheeses in back and hand you a number to put on your table so the servers know where to deliver it.

-- All other food is ordered in a window into the kitchen around back. Photocopies of the menu are available in the wine store, upstairs at the bar, and by the kitchen window. Again, you'll be given a number to place on your table so the servers know where to deliver your food.

-- Beer, wines by the glass, and mixed drinks are ordered from the bartender upstairs. There is no table service, other than food delivery.

-- Although the staff clears and cleans empty tables, you have to set your own table. Flatware and napkins area available by the kitchen window and by the bar.

A few more things to know about the place:

-- Notwithstanding the casualness of the setup, they are serious about their food. This is not what you might expect in NOLA from a place this casual. There is no fried anything. This is serious food.

-- But this is still NOLA, and if you're in a rush, go elsewhere. It's a relatively small operation that can accommodate a lot of people, so food orders can take a bit of time. For the typical Bacchanal patron, however, this is not an issue, as the folks sitting in the courtyard and enjoying a bottle of wine and listening to live music generally are not in a huge rush.

-- And because this is still NOLA, the music is awesome, even if you haven't heard of whomever happens to be playing. My favorite is Helen Gillet, who plays solo cello (with a repeater!) most Monday nights. She's wonderful.

-- This is not a late night music venue, so you can go at 7:30, have some yummy wine and food and listen to some great music, and still make it out to dba or the Maple Leaf or Tip's or wherever to see whomever is playing that night.

-- They used to only accept cash at the kitchen and upstairs at the bar, but I understand that they now accept credit cards everywhere (in the wine store, in the kitchen and at the bar).

So I apologize for this long personal history, but to me it's all of this stuff that makes the place special, and quintessential NOLA: the funky location, the funky space, having to know how to negotiate food and wine purchases, setting your own table, the courtyard full of what looks like salvaged patio furniture, the great music, etc. But you need to experience it to really understand.

One last point: As I noted above, like many I have a hard time keeping up with all of the wonderful places that seem to be opening up in NOLA at a furious pace. Although, as with any list of "bests" one can argue the inclusion or exclusion of particular places, I find the Eater.com lists to be particularly helpful. They publish an "essential 38" list of the 38 "essential" NOLA restaurants (the current list is here: http://nola.eater.com/archives/2014/0...) and a "heat map" of the hottest restaurants of the moment (the current list is here: http://nola.eater.com/archives/2014/0...). I've already decided that on my next trip to NOLA, over Halloween weekend, that I am only going to go to places I've never been before. It'll be interesting to see if I can stick to that plan!

Sep 08, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

esatrae, I love your odering strategy. Similarly, when I dine at a place for the first time, I will always ask my waiter what his or her favorite items on the menu are, and will never accept "everything is good" as an answer.

hazelhurst, thank you so much for your excellent summary of the issues at play here.

Sep 08, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans
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Is a visit to Commanders Palace a must?

It's clear that you're not really reading my posts, NAspy.

"Locals go to Commander's Palace, so why can't tourists?"

I never said they couldn't, and in fact lots of locals and lots of tourists go to Commander's. Nothing at all wrong with that.

"I don't think a Chowhound post is really the place to discourse on what makes a city a city ..."

Perhaps not, but if you're gonna write in a Chowhound post that "Bourbon Street, Galatoire's, Cafe du Monde and a cemetery tour" are what make NOLA NOLA, I'm gonna rebut that. I vehemently disagree with that assertion.

But look, I'm not trying to argue that Commander's in not a good, maybe even a great, restaurant. I just don't think it's a must. You, of course, should feel free to disagree with me just as I disagree with you. And although I'd send a first time visitor to Clancy's and Brigtsen's before I'd send them to Commander's, I wouldn't claim that either of those is a "must" either. But I would argue that both do a better job of delivering the essence of New Orleans to a first time visitor than does Commander's. (And although clearly not in the same league in terms of the type of restaurant, I'd put Bacchanal very high on the list of "musts" for tourists because of how well it delivers an authentic -- and I apologize for the use of that word because it's so loaded -- New Orleans experience.)

Sep 07, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans
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