brrr (in early January) . . .
few days in New Orleans; first trip in awhile. Couple trips to Mother's for Po-Boys and also to Johnny's; reliable, fresh (although I confess to being much more partial to mufalettas than Po-Boys as a general matter).
Terrific trip to Cochon's butchery. Extremely impressive. Had an okra-laden gumbo (sublime); duck sliders (delicious); black-eyed pea hummus ('nuff said). Superb butcher shop with a great in-store menu and, get this, a full bar. Some say that the restaurant next door is unevent. All we can say is that the butcher shop is excellent. Check it out: http://www.cochonrestaurant.com/
Brigsten's on a weekday night: Very good; A- on the whole. Comfy, carefully constructed menu; fine service. Menu is a tad limited for a place that obviously excels at neo-Creole cooking. But can't really take much away from a reliable good restaurant.
Acme: Very good oysters, et al (dispensing here with the ultimately unresolvable question of whether Gulf oysters compare favorably with east coast/west coast bivalves). Never has figured out how to move clientele; the result being that folks stand outside in line -- not a great idea in 20 degree January temperature.
Commander's Palace: There is much said about whether this iconic restaurant has faded, is overrated, worth the steep price, etc. . . . but let me just say that the Friday night dinner in the Garden Room was spectacular, truly a culinary highlight. Table ordered, among other dishes, different versions of shrimp, duck, foie gras, oyster dome, vegetarian dishes, and, of course, wide variety of cocktails. Everything was excellent; service was top notch. The entire experience, even to a reasonably jaded bunch prepared to approach CP with healthy skepticism, was extraordinary.
A footnote: Delightful imbibing at French 75, Bombay Club, and Whiskey Bar at W. As many others have said/will say, there is simply a culture of excellence among New Orleans bartenders, perhaps unlike anywhere else. Every drink amply testified to this unique culture.