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Pour a drink and get comfy: It's Kukubura's trip report

The Pimms Cup at Tujaque's is one of the city's best-kept secrets: Head-and-shoulders better than the one at Napoleon House or any other version I've ever had.

Jul 17, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Long Trip Wrap-Up, April 9 - 30

Stopping by and ordering at the bar is exactly what I tried doing, three times. My timing was just always off, no empty seats and a probable long wait. Someday. Thanks for the Gumbo tip, will definitely try.

Jul 02, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Long Trip Wrap-Up, April 9 - 30

Spent the last three weeks of April in the city and had the usual fantastic time. Though I usually try to avoid the festivals (this trip overlapped both French Quarter and Jazz Fests), the weather was so spectacular it more than made up for the slight crowdedness. Not up to a detailed day-by-day report at this time, but here are my top ten high points:

1. ABSINTHE SUISESSE: My new favorite cocktail (though admittedly I’m a sucker for anise liqueurs and drinks made with eggs). In researching my trip, I’d seen reference to the version of this at the Hermes Bar and tried ordering one my first night in town. Alas, they claimed never to have heard of it. A few nights later, I saw it on Kingfish’s drink menu and was completely knocked out by the one Chris McMillian made me. I’m a big Ramos Gin Fizz fan and my first thought was, wow this is better than a Ramos. Herbsaint, orgeat syrup, cream, and egg white; shaken and poured over crushed ice: herbal, just sweet enough, perfect really. At the very least, it’s the best setting for absinthe/herbsaint I’ve ever had. Which brings us to

2. THE BAR AT KINGFISH: The accolades Chris McMillian has racked up over the years are apparently all deserved. I stopped by this new spot at Chartres and Conti many nights and left always a much happier man. Early reports on the kitchen have not been encouraging and I did not have dinner here (though the one menu item I did sample, a smoked-rabbit gumbo, was superb). The bar however rivals any in town. Besides the Suisesse, I also loved the Milano Turino (sort of half a Negroni). This place has the best kind of casual Quarter walk-in feel, great service and product, to go along with McMillian’s inspiring conversation. Especially if Greg Sonier can shore up the menu, I expect Kingfish will be here for a long time.

3. BORGNE: John Besh’s gulf-seafood restaurant was the best new place I ate at (twice) on this visit. At first I was disappointed the crab bisque was not on the menu, but its replacement, a cream of garlic soup, turned out to be one of the stars of the trip: cream, a little cheese, cured egg yolk, fantastic. Equally good was another dish involving garlic, the spaghetti in a lightly creamed oyster broth, as good as any pasta at Domenica. Borgne is a little out of the way and in a hotel to boot, which has apparently kept its clientelle more random than foodie so far. (I was told the crab bisque was discontinued because half the orders were being sent back by conventioneers who didn’t know what to expect.) It certainly deserves better.

4. GRAZING: More and more, on my last two visits, dinner has consisted of picking a neighborhood and hopping from place to place, sampling drinks and small plates: an appetizer crawl. So far, I’ve found the Quarter, Warehouse District, and CBD all great for this approach, which lets me experience more menus than would otherwise be possible. It’s also good for returning to the scene of a recent great meal, without committing to a second dinner. One night, I ordered sweetbreads at La Boca, gumbo at Cochon, Oysters Bienville at Tommy’s, and a great poached pear, across the street at Tomas Bistro, sitting at the bar at all four. The one place where this approach has never worked is G.W. Fins, which has always been too busy to accommodate me. If not for this practice, I’d still be thinking Oysters Foch was the off-putting gummy mess I’d experienced twelve years ago.

5. GALATOIRE’S (AGAIN AND AGAIN): Two dinners and one lunch. The big revelation this trip was the sweetbreads (meuniere), which somehow I’d never ordered here before. Wow, I can definitely see getting an entree portion sometime. My timing at Galatoire’s this past year has been pretty spot-on. Last May, I picked the same night to dine there as Bill Clinton. This time, on a Friday night, an older couple (he’d just turned 90) was seated at the table next to me, just as my dinner was winding down. She immediatly informed me that “they caught the second bomber in Boston” and conversation took off from there. It turns out they eat at Galatoire’s at least once a week. (They recalled one instance where they ate there four nights in a row.) I asked where else in town they went and they would only admit to really liking four places: Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, Ruth’s Chris, and Dickie Brennan’s. I told them my two attempts to dine at Antoine’s had been pretty problematic -- and she immediatly wrote down their regular waiter’s name and told me to say they had sent me! How lucky is that?! They were just incredibly nice people and meeting them was the kind of everyday magic that only seems to happen in this town. (Alas, I wish I could say that having a waiter’s name made much difference at Antoine’s, but the meal was as up-and-down as ever. Though I will say this: Filet Marchand de Vin, excellent!)

6. SOUPS: This was not the first time I’ve left New Orleans thinking what a great town it is for soups. There was that amazing garlic soup at Borgne; but I also had any number of good gumbos (Emeril’s, Two Sisters Kitchen, Dooky Chase, Cochon, Revolution, St Rose, and best of class at Kingfish) and turtle soups (Clancy’s, Commander’s, Brennan’s, Manale’s, Galatoire’s, a fantastic version at Hymel’s). Best of all though might have been an exceptionally rich crawfish bisque, complete with stuffed heads, at Luke, a place I hadn’t been since the year it opened. Domenica’s great wild mushroom soup seems to have departed the menu.

7. CONVERSATION & COINCIDENCES: New Orleans has to be the easiest city in the world to fall into conversation with strangers, both visitors and natives. (It happens nearly every day of most visits.) It’s fertile breeding ground for coincidences as well. This time, in the course of a single Saturday, I met two different people who’d grown up in the same county I had (in northwest Indiana) and a third who, before he moved to Nola six years ago, had lived twelve blocks from my current residence in Indianapolis.

8. DAY TRIP: Up early one day to take a drive along the River Road. Lunch was at a new place (for me), Hymel’s, outside Convent, and it was great: an outstanding turtle soup and fried shrimp as vivid tasting as any in recent memory. Conversation at the bar was mainly “I hardly ever go out to eat but when I do, it’s always (insert several restaurants in different towns).” I then drove thru Baton Rouge and over to the Lafayette area for Boudin. My stops were Best Stop (as good as ever), Don’s Specialty Meats (just ok), and Broussard’s in Milton (my first time here and possibly even better than Best Stop!). Though I was back in Nola by seven, it was the one night I skipped dinner.

9. ST ROSE TAVERN: Of course, there’ll always be restaurants in New Orleans I haven’t tried. What amazes me, for as much as I visit, is how often I’ll find restaurants I’ve never even heard of before. Case in point, this ancient neighborhood spot on the edge of town. Picture-perfect looking, still using mainly 60-year-old recipes, including probably the best chicken-andouille gumbo I had this trip, with a light-brown roux at once complex and downhomey. Another such place:

10. ALOIS J BINDER: I spent several mornings reading and waking up at this ancient bakery (seven blocks from my apartment), which I’d walked past on previous visits, uncertain if it was still in business. The coffee is pretty terrible, but it’s only 55 cents; the pastries are better and not much more. But mostly it was great just to hang out and enjoy the constant foot traffic, almost all of it local and involving conversation. One of the best sources of unadorned local color still intact. And no tip jar.

So, what else? Tried Dante’s, Boucherie, and Mariza, all for the first time, all worth returning to. Had two terrific meals at Clancey’s, which has now replaced Brigtsen’s as my must-do every visit. Biggest disappointments this time: Liuzza’s (on Bienville) and Soda Shop (Besh, at the D-Day Museum), both of which were kind of terrible. Somehow, I was in town for three weeks and never made it to Hanson’s. It’s all right though, I’ll be back.

May 28, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

In Town For a While Again

Only a few days left of a tremendous vacation. Have eaten well all week, including first-time visits to Dante's, Boucherie, and St Rose Tavern; and a nice early dinner at Manale's last night. Also took one day to drive the River Road and make a couple of boudin stops around Lafayette: the one day I skipped dinner, even though I was back in town by 7. Will post a more detailed report after I get home next week.

Apr 27, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

In Town For a While Again

Halfway thru my trip, fighting a cold, but enjoying the amazing April weather. Many great meals, including Domenica (the squid-ink tagliolini is impossible to oversell), Casamento's, Clancy's (which I think has taken over from Brigtsen's as a must-stop for me), Dooky Chase, and Galatoire's again. Had my first meal in a while at Herbsaint (following some bizarre and off-putting service issues three years ago) and was glad I did, if only for the Spaghetti with Guanciale app, though I must admit being defeated by the Lamb Neck -- and I dearly love lamb belly, but this was an even fattier proposition. Also had good first-ever meals at Mariza and La Petite Grocery, both highlighted by appetizers: the gnocchi at Mariza and La Petite's crab beignets.

The highpoint of this week, however, has probably been the bar at Kingfish, where Chris McMillian is again tending. In particular, his Absinthe Suissesse may be the tastiest egg-based drink ever. He is also a great conversationalist and it's an easy stop en route to lots of French Quarter spots. Will try to sample their rabbit gumbo later this week.

Apr 21, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

NOLA Locals: A frequent visitor looking for some itinerary feedback for an upcoming visit, sans family/work.

I ate at the bar, which is very long, larger than Domenica's. And it's not a quiet room by any stretch, but certainly comfortable enough and friendly.

Apr 17, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

NOLA Locals: A frequent visitor looking for some itinerary feedback for an upcoming visit, sans family/work.

I just had a terrific dinner at Borgne. Especially good was the garlic soup. Granted I'm a sucker for a good soup, but my god it was good . . .

Apr 17, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

In Town For a While Again

Back in the city and a week into another three-week stay. Within 24 hours, I'd stopped (for a drink and/or appetizer) (and/or gelato) at French 75, Pelican Club, Brennan's (I was actually surprised they let me in just for a cup of turtle soup, but they were very nice), Hermes Bar, Sylvain, Mandina's, Liuzza's, and Angelo Brocato. My first real dinner was at Emeril's: fine, but I think I'm good for another then years, then Galatoire's (also fine, but I'm probably only good for another week or so). Patois was good but not as terrific as last spring, A Mano was good but mostly I wished I was at Domenica. Then last night, the meal of the trip so far, my first visit to Borgne. Grilled oysters and Sheepshead en Papillote both first-rate. And while at first I was disappointed the crab bisque was not on the menu, their cream of garlic soup turned out to be the clear star of the night: cream, a little cheese, and an egg yolk. The flavor was intense and out of this world. I'll be back later in the month just to gave it again. Chocolate-hazelnut pudding with condensed-milk sorbet (!) also mighty fine. More later.

Apr 15, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Paging Hazelhurst re:Clancy's

Thanks Hazelhurst (and Sanglier), that's just the kind of suggestions I was looking for. (And I'll keep Annunciation in mind.) It'll be hard for me not to order the sweetbreads twice.

Mar 28, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Survey: What is your favor condiment for toast?

A good amount of butter, then on top of that, a faint layer of peanut butter. Trust me.

Mar 27, 2013
Boatman in General Topics

Paging Hazelhurst re:Clancy's

Hazelhurst - While visiting last spring, I had dinner at Clancy’s. It was my first time there in maybe ten years and I’d forgotten how good they are: as in, it was the best meal of a three-week stay. I had crab salad, sweetbreads, and veal with crawfish and bernaise, all three home runs. I’m returning to New Orleans in a couple weeks and am hoping to have a couple meals there this time. Was wondering how early I should plan to arrive to secure a seat at the bar? Would 6:30 on a Wednesday work? Also, since I know you’re a Clancy’s man (and I’m a big fan of your posts), what are some of your favorite menu items? Thanks much in advance.

Mar 26, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Le Foret Lately?

Has anyone been to Le Foret lately? I've never been but am considering dinner there when I visit in April. Had heard there was a drop-off when they lost their original chef, but have heard nothing about it in a while. Thanks.

Mar 12, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Revolution's Lunch Plats du Jours

Am lucky enough to be returning for another three-week visit in April. I'm pretty sure I won't be doing dinner at Revolution this trip, but am intrigued by their daily lunch specials -- recreations of specialties from long-gone New Orleans restaurants (Maylie's, Le Ruth's, etc). Has anyone here tried any of these? Was especially wondering about the version of Buster Holmes's red beans and rice that they do on Mondays. Does it come close to anyone's memories of the real thing? Thanks, more questions on the way.

Mar 06, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Need help narrowing foodie places to eat for second trip - what's your bucket list

Suggested bucket list:
1. Galatoire's
2. Clancy's
3. Mosca's
4. Commander's Palace
5. Brigtsen's
6. K-Paul's
7. Patois
8. Domenica

Go for the main dining room at Arnaud's (or snack at the bar) and concentrate on appetizers, especially Shrimp Arnaud and Oysters Bienville. And if lunch doesn't work out, don't hesitate to do dinner at Galatoire's (just as good IMHO). I agree with you on Cochon, but love Herbsaint. Have a great visit.

Feb 13, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Friday lunch - not the usual suspects

Two Sisters Kitchen would be a very different experience and Friday lunch is the time to go: It's the only day they do gumbo, one of the best in town.

Feb 12, 2013
Boatman in New Orleans

Crawfish etouffee in the French Quarter or CBD

You'll pay for it but nobody does a better crawfish étouffée than K-Paul's.

Dec 06, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Best Bloody Mary & Pimm's Cup?

I agree and wish I knew what their difference is. This was last May, on the last day of a long visit. I met someone there for drinks, they recommended the Pimm's Cup (which I've never been particularly excited about), and it was better than I could have imagined one being. Do not know what they do differently, if anything, but if you get a chance to try one, please let me know what you think.

Dec 06, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Best Bloody Mary & Pimm's Cup?

The best Pimm's Cup I've ever had (by far) was at Tujague's.

Dec 05, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans
1

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

Thanks for the kind words. As Bayou Teche noted, McMillan is not currently tending bar anywhere in town, so I did not bother with Bar Uncommon. Re coffee: I did not try Royal Blend this trip, will remember for next time, but have to disagree on Decadence Shoppe. I had high hopes, since it was only a block from where I was staying, but it was probably the single worst cup of coffee I had on the trip. They did not even offer real half and half, just those little room-temperature containers.

Jun 08, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

I’ve been back home now for four days and wanted to post a few last thoughts from my trip.

It’s still not easy to find great coffee in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter. I was served consistently great coffee at dinner restaurants (Domenica, Galatoire’s, Brennan’s, Bayona, Mr B’s all stood out), but morning coffee shops were another matter. Cafe du Monde is fine but their cafe au lait is more of a specialty item (and even then, often too milk heavy). Cafe Envie is probably the best of the Quarter shops, but not very centrally located. CC’s and others just outside the Quarter (Cafe Treme, Cake Cafe, Orange Couch) are the next best, but really no better than Starbucks and often quite a trek besides, at least first thing in the morning. Some other places are just bad. (I tried quite a few.)

Gnocchi, sweetbreads, and of course soft-shell crabs are everywhere around town these days. I always especially look forward to indulging in soft shells but found them a little lacking this trip. Or maybe it’s just that I had my best ones ever two years ago at Galatoire’s.

There is no more fun city to enjoy cocktails than New Orleans. I especially like a good Ramos Gin Fizz. When they are on, the ones at the Carousel Bar are as good as anyone’s, but they are wildly inconsistent there. The ones I had at the Sazerac were always top notch, they are now my gold standard. I did not make it to Tujague’s until almost the end of this trip, which I really regretted once I tasted their Pimm’s Cup, easily the best version I’ve ever had. Two other bars I especially enjoyed this time were Arnaud’s French 75 and Bar Tonique. I regret not making it to Sylvain.

Someday I will eat at the Court of Two Sisters. I know its reputation but it really is a beautiful space and I can’t help but be intrigued by Tom Fitzmorris’s contention that dinner there is underrated. I took one step closer on this trip by stopping in for a pre-dinner drink at their bar. (Fitzmorris also claims it makes the best Sazerac in town. The one I had was very good, if a little sweet.)

New Orleans has more good ice cream options right now than I can ever remember. La Divina and Sucre are both first-rate. The former’s dulce de leche gelato is the best version I’ve ever encountered, while Sucre’s lemon curd gelato delivers the distinct flavor of lemon ice box pie. (That I did not hit Angelo Brocatto’s -- at least not when they were open -- is my biggest regret of this trip.) But, as other posters have testified, Meltdown Popsicles was the big revelation. Their fruit flavors are fine but it’s their creamsicles -- chocolate lavender and especially salted caramel -- that have to be tasted to be believed. They’re like fine chocolates somehow transformed into ice cream bars.

It’s always best to experience a mix of old and new restaurants while in town. Many of the newer places I hit this time were outstanding: Domenica, Patois, Meauxbar. But in the end, it’s usually dishes from the older and/or more traditional places that stay with me, that I find most satisfying, plates I can’t get in, say, Chicago: baked oysters at Tommy’s, Arnaud’s, Mosca’s; gumbo at Two Sisters and other backstreet cafes; veal or sweetbreads at Clancy’s; poor boys at Gene’s or Parkway; bread pudding at Manale’s; or just about everything about dining at Galatoire’s, one of the places it makes me happiest just to be at for a few hours every few years.

Visits to New Orleans are exhausting but also invigorating and inspiring. I know the town has lots of problems. It’s poorly run, with a long history of crime and corruption, not to mention Katrina, the Gulf spill, etc. But in many ways, it’s also close to an ideal city, in that its residents care about the things that matter, at least to me: tradition, architecture, good food and drink, historic preservation, music. The near absence of chain stores and restaurants is unique among American cities of its size and makes an incredible (if sometimes subliminal) difference. I inevitably do a LOT of walking while I’m there, which of course is a good counterbalance to all the eating. But beyond that: walking is never a chore, because you’re doing it through some of the most beautiful and seductive streets anywhere. It’s like walking around under a spell for three weeks. I always leave New Orleans reminded of how rich life can be. I miss it already.

Jun 06, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

I also got one of Maurepas's sausage sandwiches to go to nibble on throughout the day Friday. Really good, like a meatloaf sandwich, only a lot tastier than that implies. Dinner at Upperline was nice. I ordered a Creole tomato salad w/blue cheese from their garlic menu, which was great, and my old standby there, Cane River Shrimp, with a cream sauce made from shrimp bisque. Delicious as always and it occurred to me that this dish is very nearly as rich as K-Paul's crawfish etouffee. Seriously: both make me a little dizzy. JoAnn Clevenger was hostessing and came over to chat a couple times. She's such a nice woman.

One last lunch on Saturday was my third visit to Domenica. Was hoping to try their risotto but I guess it's rarely a lunch item. So went with the same pastas I had on Monday. My appetizer was the one thing I hadn't already sampled: wild mushroom soup. Really stupendous. I can't recommend this place highly enough. Then home after three and a half weeks, so tired. I need a vacation.

Jun 03, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

The last four or five days of this trip, my dining choices have been somewhat less ambitious, falling back on old favorites and/or return meals. Wednesday night was my fourth Galatoire's meal of the trip. At Hazlehurst's suggestion, I got a small Godchaux salad and my first-ever oysters en brouchette. Loved them both, especially the brouchette. I asked about the black butter but my waiter downplayed the difference (though he said he'd mention it). I'm pretty sure I got the regular meuniere butter, still awfully good. Then turtle soup and sauteed soft shell, which wasn't significantly better for me than the fried. It may have just been the sauce (with capers), which wasn't much to my taste. Afterward, my timing was finally right to stop at Brennan's for Bananas Foster. (There's only a half-hour window, at best, when they'll let you in for just dessert.) Somehow, there's is still the best version I've had: It's the sauce, I'm pretty sure, which is both delicious and plentiful.

Thursday lunch was gumbo at Li'l Dizzy's. That night I did another custom dinner, stopping by various restaurant bars in the Quarter for an appetizer at each: Steak tartare at Meauxbar (wow! the best I've had), Ojen cocktail and Escargot Bordelaise at Antoine's (good but the least dish of the night), smoky duck pasta at Green Goddess, and a chablis cassis and Osyters Bienville at Arnaud's bar, the clear winner of the night. Arnaud's is the king of Bienvilles (and remoulades). Dessert was a great chocolate bourbon panna cotta at Bayona, then one more drink at the Sazerac Bar. Really fun way to eat.

For lunch today I had a very good mangrove snapper with kind of amazing sauteed squash (and blueberries) at Maurepas Foods. Tonight I'm heading to Upperline. Almost time to head home.

Jun 01, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

Thanks for the suggestions. I love Upperline and that might be a nice last dinner of the trip. Have never eaten at Dante's, once at Lilette but too long ago to remember well. Have been thinking of Green Goddess, which I've also never had dinner at, or possibly doing another progressive meal of appetizers in the Quarter or Warehouse District. Is Lilette good for lunch?

May 30, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

Just to catch up: Had a roast beef poor boy at Parkway Bakery for lunch Sunday, then had dinner at a place I'd long been curious about, Olivier's on Decatur in the Quarter. Got their creole gumbo, which was very good, and their rabbit, which was disappointing. Not much different than a decent baked chicken. The gravy was good, sides a little salty.

After three weeks here, I need to skip some lunches in order to at least simulate an appetite, which is what I did Monday. Then returned to Domenica for a dinner that was even better than my initial visit. Had the salami Gentile and octopus carpaccio, both outstanding. Then a small order of the squid-ink tagliolini and, on FoodChic's recommendation, the rabbit-porcini tagliatelle -- which was nearly as great as the other pasta. This is definitely one of the best kitchens in town right now. Am seriously thinking of returning a third time yet.

My one visit to Cochen five years ago left me cold. But as I was in the neighborhood, I opted for Butcher for lunch: duck-pastrami sliders and boudin. Both were fine. Old favorite Brigtsen's for dinner: soft-shell crab app, their amazing butternut shrimp bisque, and an excellent speckled trout with mushrooms and a lemon-mousselline sauce. Only a few days left now. No lunch again today and have not decided yet on dinner.

May 30, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

Cabbed it to Liuzza's (by the track) on Friday and had a nice bowl of their gumbo for lunch. Then two dinners where the appetizers and desserts outclassed the entrees. Friday night was Patois, my first time there. Got the gnocchi with crawfish in a great cream sauce and, at the waiter's suggestion, a bowl of their rabbit-andouille gumbo, loved them both. I think it was probably the single darkest gumbo I've ever had, coffee black, and one of the best. Went for duck over rabbit for my main and was disappointed. Fatty and tough, in too sweet a sauce for my taste. The sides were fine however and dessert was colossal enough to make amends: a creme fraiche souffle with strawberries and basil ice cream. Just outstanding, especially the strawberries, which were from Ponchatoula and like a taste of childhood. Despite the misstep on the duck, the rest of the meal was so good, I'm at least considering a return visit before leaving town.

Saturday night I had dinner at Arnaud's, my first time doing more than snacking in their bar in several years. I had an order of Oysters Bienville (with one Ohan on the side) and their Shrimp Arnaud (remoulade), and liked both as much as any appetizers I've had this trip. Pompano David was good, not great. Still under the spell of last night, I ordered Strawberries Arnaud for dessert and liked it just fine. The only real glitch of the evening was the distinct feeling I was being rushed a bit through my meal. But ignored that easily enough and really enjoyed being there. Heading to Parkway for lunch today.

May 27, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

And in related snowball news: When my Donewar's lunch went south, I drove over to Hansen's to freeze my sorrows. I asked them if they'd ever thought of doing a pear flavor. Was told that sure, they'd done that before and would be happy to prepare some for this weekend. So I have a custom pear snowball waiting for me tomorrow.

May 25, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

I have eaten at both Clancy's and Coquette already this trip, both excellent. In fact, my dinner at Clancy's is my #1 meal of the trip, two-and-a-half weeks in. I may go back next week but will more likely opt for some places I haven't tried yet.

May 25, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

I had seen references on this board to an off-menu white remoulade that Galatoire's would make upon request, but when I asked about it last night, my waiter had never heard of such a thing. Hazlehurst, do you have any input on this? The shrimp maison is not the mysterious white remoulade, is it? Other than this, my dinner last night was a success. When I mentioned I wanted to try some new menu items, the first thing my waiter suggested was your Canape Lorenzo, so went with that: Bigger and maybe a little dryer than I was expecting but very good. Also ordered turtle soup, to ground the meal in the familiar at least a little bit, then took your advice and got small versions of both the Crab Yvonne and Sardou. Was completely knocked out by both of them, with a slight preference for the Sardou. Thanks for your help. Am still hoping to try the oysters en brochette before leaving town.

May 25, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

This very long trip is entering the home-stretch and I'm thinking hard where I want to eat in the final week. I'm going back for a second dinner at Domenica and am probably hitting Brigtsen's as well, but I have probably three dinner slots to fill and would welcome any input from the board. Some places I'm thinking about are Green Goddess, GW Fins, Tomas Bistro, Le Foret, Crescent City Steaks, and Cafe Degas (the only one of these I've been to before). Several lunches are open as well. What do you think: Boucherie? Le Meritage? Maurepas Foods? Dante's? Joey K's? Baru? La Petite Grocery? someplace else? I've never been to Crabby Jack's. Any guess what a cab ride out there would run me? Thanks!

May 24, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans

Mega Visit -- Trip Report In Progress

To continue: Made a very good dinner out of four appetizers at MiLa Monday night. Their white asparagus soup was disappointing after August's, but everything else shown: barbecue lobster, stuffed squash blossoms, and of course black truffle grits.

I had the rental car for three more days, so drove to Gretna on Tuesday for a planned progressive lunch. First stop: Pho Tau Bay for chicken pho and spring rolls. The pho had a great flavor that grew deeper with every bite. I was thwarted in my second-course plans however. I was following up on an obscure tip for a great roast-beef poor boy at Donewar's Superette, but when I got there it was locked up solid. A passing neighbor informed me it was due to an illness in the family. So no poor boy.

My plans to dine at Meauxbar that night also changed when I found I had a chance to see a friend's band play at the Saturn Bar. So dinner became a progressive affair as well: Drink and shrimp remoulade (amazing, as always; to me, the best in town) at Arnaud's French 75 Bar; then drink and Oysters Foch at Antoine's Hermes Bar. I'd tried this dish eleven years ago (when, I get the impression, Antoine's kitchen may have been at low ebb) and just thought it was strange (rather than good), but I'm glad I took a second chance: I liked it a lot this time, the sauce really dense and tasty. (I remember it as pasty and kind of yuck eleven years ago.) The Hermes Bar is a great idea, not the most atmospheric room in town, but you can order absolutely anything off Antoine's menu as a snack (even Baked Alaska, as my bartender pointed out). I also got to try a (fake) Ojen cocktail, which I liked more than I was expecting. Sweet but potent. For a third course (several hours later), I had my first hot sausage poor boy from Gene's Po-Boys -- terrific! Really loved it, again more than I was expecting. Best sandwich of the trip so far.

Thought about going to one of the NOWFE's wine dinners Wednesday night, but opted instead for Meauxbar, three blocks from where I'm staying, and again had a wonderful meal. Was completely planning to take kibbles's advice on the steak tartare, but there were so many attractive specials, I had to pass on it. Had a very good pate, then the highlight of the meal, a crawfish napoleon: stacked, about the size of a soup can, full of crawfish and avocado. Another special was rabbit etoufee, which I couldn't resist. Made with rabbit, morels, more crawfish, and leeks, more brothy than creamy, over noodles. Didn't make me swoon but more than good.

Was returning the rental car today, so drove to Metairie for a half-dozen chargrilled oysters at Drago's. I'd forgotten that Morning Call was so close, so went there as well. Yes, the oysters are somewhat better in Metairie than at the Hilton; and yes, Morning Call's coffee and beignets are a notch above Cafe du Monde's. Stopped for good measure at Sal's Sno-Balls, which I'd never seen before. Making a return visit to Galatoire's tonight, with the express purpose of trying some new menu items. I've never had any of the famous crab entrees. Any opinions which way I should go? Sardou? Ravigote? Yvonne?

May 24, 2012
Boatman in New Orleans