I would check out Little Gem Saloon. I went their during JF this year and really liked it. They serve food, which I heard was good, but I did not eat. The upstairs room is really plush and has pretty good sound. The Saturday you are there DJ Soul Sister is putting on a show with Mike Clark, which ought to be fun.
Luke's is more of a French Bistro with a Louisiana twist. Emeril's is fine Creole dining. I like both, but would probably go with Emeril's, the service is more consistent.
Since you asked, here are my picks.
FRI: Lunch at Galatoire's, Dinner at Peche
SAT: Lunch at Atchafalaya. Your dinner choice is tough, as those restaurants are apples & oranges. I've eaten at Cochon a bunch of times and always enjoyed myself. My one visit to R'Evolution was filled with good food and uneven service. It is much more formal than Cochon.
Hope this helps!
PS- Here is my report from April:
In town for a week this trip, only made it out a few times.
My wife & I went here for a late lunch, as to avoid the crowds.
I started with a cup of She Crab soup. This was good, but could have used a little more crab and sherry.
Next up was the Creole Catfish. A nice size filet, dusted in cornmeal, and pan fried perfectly. Topped with a very tasty Creole sauce, served over steamy Jasmine rice. The side of fried okra was outstanding.
My wife's Shrimp-n-Grits were, as always, best in show.
Hominy Grill is not breaking any new ground in their menu, but they really nail the classic dishes.
I stopped by for a quick lunch. I had the Shrimp-n-Cheese Grits, with a side of Black Eyed Peas. The shrimp were decent size and fresh. While the grits were tasty, they were quite rich. The B.E. Peas were fantastic. Cooked in a nice broth to perfection, which to me means not too mushy. Solid meal.
If you asked me to make a list of essential Charleston restaurants to visit, I'm not sure I would have put Coast on that list. However, time constraints and the presence of young diners, brought us here for dinner.
We started with the Mussels with White Whine sauce. This was as good as you would hope, served with plenty of great bread.
I had the Swordfish served over rice, with a Green Curry sauce. The fish was fresh, but a tad dry, while the sauce was very light and delicious. My wife had the cashew encrusted Grouper. This was the hit of the evening. A nice big chunk of Grouper, broiled to perfection. I was jealous I didn't order this dish.
My children's fish sticks were made from filet, and were very enthusiastically devoured.
This was a great family meal at a restaurant that I might usually avoid.
BEST MEAL OF THE TRIP
As always the best meals are enjoyed at home with family and friends. I made a Low Country Boil, including the Blue Crab I caught of the Shem Creek Pier with my kids. Pure bliss!
Another great visit!
PS- I have noticed that Five Guys Burgers and Fries get better the closer you get to Virginia. The burger I had at the one in Mt. Pleasant was killer.
Thanks for the report, that was quite a trip. I too went to Middendorf's on my last visit in April. I plan on making that a tradition.
Here is what I might do:
Start with the 3 course $20 lunch special at August.
Johnny's makes a decent Fried Shrimp Po-boy. Killer Po-boys in the back of the bar Erin Rose makes some great offbeat versions.
For a cool treat, checkout Meltdown, for funky Popsicles. I like the salted caramel.
If oysters are still good, I would head to Luke's for 50 cent oysters & half price cocktails at happy hour.
I would then head to Preservation Hall for the 8PM show. You could also see who is playing at One Eyed Jack's.
There is also a new spot called Little Gem Saloon.
Hope this helps!
PS- At some point during the day I would head to Cochon Butcher to grab some sandwiches and other goodies for the flight home.
Thanks for the extensive report!!
Here is my trip report from last month, if that is any help. You mentioned that you would have a car, I highly recommend taking the 45 minute drive out to Middendorf's. That is a unique LA experience. Have a great trip.
Thanks for such a great report! You have inspired to try Sylvian next time I'm in town.
I think you would like Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. Here is my trip report from last week for New Orleans:
The crawfish pasta was $22, the paneed veal was $49. Still, these are both crazy prices. Our lunch at Middendorf's was $50, and the best meal we had all week.
In town for my 20th straight Jazzfest, and all I can say is, this town never gets old.
After landing at MSY, and seeing new and improved food offerings, I met a friend in Mid City at Toups Meatery for lunch. The place has a strong neighborhood type vibe. We started with the Veal Meatballs that had some type of tomato sauce. Decent start, but nothing earth shattering.
After checking into my hotel, I walked to Cochon Butcher to grab a couple of treats for my friend who wasn't landing til midnight. The Pastrami and The Gambino were promptly made and packaged up to go.
After some pool time at the hotel, I headed to Luke to meet a large group of friends. Now I have eaten here often, at all times of day. However I had never done Happy Hour. Here is the Deal: Fifty cent oysters and 1/2 off cocktails. WOW, are the oysters fat and tasty this year, especially this late in the season. This has got to be the best bargain in town!!
After a late night of revelry and music, my roommate was nice enough to share the goodies from The Butcher. Both were outstanding, and I was shocked I preferred the Gambino, as great versions of this sandwich are abundant in my hometown of Chicago.
For me, First Friday of Jazzfest is always the best. The crowds are thin, the excitement in the air is palpable, and the food lines are short. Here is the List:
Soft Shell Crab Po-Bo: A longtime favorite.
Cracklins: Delicious & fun to share.
Grilled Chicken Livers with Pepper Jelly served with Crowder Peas & rice: A recent arrival to JF, and a great addition. The rich liver balances perfectly with the peas & rice.
Crawfish Pie: Pretty good, but I like the Meat Pie better.
Dinner at R'EVOLUTION
Like all of you, I have read and heard so much about this place, that I felt like I had already been here. Yet I was still excited to go. Here we go:
What more can I add about Death By Gumbo? A roasted quail stuffed with Andouille, oysters, and rice, with a dark Gumbo poured over at tableside. As good as advertised.
We ordered the Fazzolleti with crawfish as an app. for the table, and then all fought over it. Paper thin pasta ribbons, with crawfish, corn, fried sage in a heavenly cream sauce. This was when extra bread service was requested for some serious sopping. Unfortunately it took 10 minutes and another request to receive the bread.
The Heirloom Beet salad was terrific. A mix of different beets, most I had never had. A tasty and light palate cleanser before the mains arrived.
The "Bird in the Cage" won best presentation for the trip. It is chicken done coq au vin style served in bowl with black truffles. On top of the bowl is a thin, see-thru lattice work of a delicate cracker. Unfortunately parts of the chicken were dry, otherwise delicious.
An order of Sea Scallops was devoured to much acclaim, before I got a taste.
The star of the night was the Paneed Veal Chop. Pounded to about an inch in thickness, and covering the plate, with the bone still in. Breaded and cooked perfectly, served with a light gravy, this is like southern schnitzel.
Sides of Brussell Sprouts & Gruyere Potatoes au Gratin were decent.
It is strawberry season in LA, and the desserts focused on it. We had a sample of ice creams and a special. The house made ice creams were great, with the Strawberry and the Peanut Butter taking the cake. The special was a custard tart topped with strawberries, meringue tubes, aged balsamic. Sublime.
After a late night/morning of music, we decided to skip the Fest and relax by the pool. Once our heads had cleared and our stomachs awoke, a decision was made to drive into the bayou for lunch. Now a trip to Middendorf's is something that had been on my list for many moons. However I rarely have a car in NO. Not this time, my roomie had wheels and was raring to go. The drive was scenic and took 40 minutes. Middendorf's has been around for 75 years and the specialty is Cafish. Paper thin sliced and deep fried Catfish to be specific.
We started with the fried seafood platter and a 3 pound crawfish boil.
The crawfish were fresh and tasty, they had the perfect amount of spice in the boil. The marinated crab fingers were beefy, yet light at the same time.
The BBQ Oysters with Red BBQ sauce: We weren't really sure what to expect with these. It didn't matter, any expectations would be blown. These were CharGrilled oysters with a real light BBQ sauce, with heavy vinegar tones. The oysters were plump to begin with, then bulging after their time in the roaster. The explosion of the oyster released the brine of the ocean, with the sauce working perfectly. This was the meal of the trip, and the oysters were the prize winner!
After another late evening of music, I got to the Fairgrounds in the late afternoon. Upside was the rain had stopped. Here is Sundays list:
Spinach Salad with Fried Oysters:
Crawfish Struedal: Crawfish & pepper jack cheese baked in a phyllo dough pastry? What more to say.
Trout Baquet: I was determined to try something I had never had at the Fest before. This was killer. Pan fried trout with a lemon butter sauce, topped with crabmeat. Mmmmmm.
Fried Chicken: The fight over the best fried chicken is everlasting IMO. I think the Fairgrounds is pretty good. I always get one thigh,' put lots of hot sauce on, and grab an Iced Tea. Perfection!!
One side note: I have not had the Strawberry Lemonade in many years, as I thought the quality went down. I noticed a new Strawberry lemonade stand by the Gentilly Stage this year, I thought they might be a different vendor, so I gave it a try. Horrible, way too sweet. I gave it away after one sip, and felt kind of guilty doing that.
It was truly a fabulous trip this year. As always the food, music, and most of all the people make NO the place I always want to be.
Charlie's Seafood in Harahan is a real short cab ride from MSY. It was reopened by Frank Brigsten after Katrina. Old school neighborhood seafood joint, done very well. I'm sure they wouldn't mind you taking a table, or spot at the bar, especially that time of day. They do fried seafood real nice, and the daily specials are good.
I didn't realize it was a survey done by Esquire. Not a go-to soure for food topics, IMO.
You're right about proximity being a factor for MB BBQ. The new location is 5 minutes from my folks house.
Charleston Trip Report Nov. 17-24:
I have been a long time lurker on these boards, and gleaned much information. Felt it was time to try and give some back. Here we go.
MOMMA BROWN'S BBQ
I think this place is more of a traditional southern "Meats & 3" than a BBQ joint. We had their signature pulled pork in pepper/vinegar sauce. This is alway decent, and sometimes great. Today it was decent. The sides here are a big draw for me. We had collard greens that were very good, not over cooked , which is common. The hit today were the butter beans. Perfectly cooked, with bits of ham in a tasty broth. All meals are served with hush puppies, which I enjoy. Overall, I really like this place because of their food and it's down home ambiance.
I had been looking forward to eating here since my last visit almost two years ago. I know many people in Charleston have very strong opinions about Sean Brock, so I'll just stick to the food.
We started with the potato & pork belly bisque, "Kentuckyaki" pig ear lettuce wraps. and fire roasted clams. The bisque was tasty, and not nearly as heavy as you would think. The clams were delicious, served in beer broth with some type of smokey tomato thing going on. As always, any type of shell fish dish of this nature, the broth has to be sopped up with tasty toast or bread.
For mains we had the cornmeal dusted catfish, Bibb salad with smokey fried oysters, and the heritage pork chop. The catfish was the star of this line up. Very fresh, cooked perfectly. It came with a corn & field pea succotash, covered in a tomato gravy. The salad was solid, with fresh & well fried oysters. Pork chop was what you would expect from a restaurant of this caliber serving Heritage breeds. Very juicy with great flavor, served with butter beans, which always makes me happy.
We split a carrot cake for dessert. I was not a huge fan, but I was in the minority here.
Oh yeah, almost forgot my cocktail. I think it was called "Fire in the Orchard.". An excellent small batch bourbon with apple cider, topped with pickled jalapeños. Enjoyed this very much, but for me these are the kind of drinks where I stop at one.
In summary we enjoyed our meal. The place was packed on a Monday night, although there seemed to be less electricity in the air than two years ago.
I love this place and it is a local institution. The room has a great vibe. They are known for their fish tacos, which I always get. The tacos are offered with a choice of mahi, tuna, or buffalo shrimp. All are good, I like the mahi best.
On this day I changed up and ordered their cheeseburger, upon recommendation. The burger was solid, hand packed, fresh beef. My only complaint was that I ordered it Medium, and received it Well Done. I am loathe to send food back, and even at Well Done, it was tasty. Fries and onion straws were above average for bar food.
HOME TEAM BBQ
This was my second vist to this establishment. And sometime since the first, I heard some claim this to be the best BBQ in the country?!?!?
I don't claim to be a BBQ guru, but I've had my fair share. This place is average at best. It is typical SC BBQ joint: good pulled pork, mediocre ribs and sides. I am not a fan of the SC mustard sauce, and thankfully Home Team offers a variety of good sauces. I'm not a hater of Home Team, and I'm glad to have it nearby. I just don't think it is worthy of national attention.
Another local institution that I always hit when I am in town. I am sure some locals like to hate on this place, but we don't have restaurants in Chicago like this. Not yet.
I wanted to do lunch, but my schedule forced me to the breakfast table. I had their signature Shrimp & Grits. As good as advertised. Six plump,fresh, local caught shrimp sautéed with bacon, mushrooms, and green onions. Served over perfectly cooked cheese grits.
Overall a great visit to Charleston, looking forward to next visit to try some of the newer restaurants in town.