Thanks for all the advice on our trip it made it one of the most memorable holidays ever. See Texas board for all our chowing there.
Bayou Boudin and Craklin House we stopped off here en route to New Orleans as we heard that they had the best cracklin in Louisiana. They didnt ,but they did have the best slice of head cheese that I had tasted for a long while. Made with head meat simmered for 12 hours them mixed with salt, the inevitable bottom burning cayenne and green onions and then allowed to set in the broth. Fabulous
At the suggestion of a Chowhounder, we booked The International House for our stay in New Orleans. It was a triumph. A modern efficient hotel with none of the attitude of its equivalents in London or New York. The staff were friendly and efficient beyond words and the owner Sean was a constant good presence.
It took me a few days to get used to the pace of this lazy city (and indeed the heat.) Once I had got over the grim trip down Bourbon St with its piss and vomit perfume, I felt ready for the rest of it. Like it does with so many people, it got under my skin and I was devastated to have to leave what is one of the most visually stimulating cities on earth
I can also say that with the possible exception of Chicago, it is the finest city to eat in the United States based on my, admittedly limited, experience.
We started with reasonably well made drinks at the hotels bar, Loa
Clancys a much recommended neighbourhood joint and worth its recommendations. The look was quite old school with waiters in old fashioned badly fitting tuxedos ( a look that seemed to be de rigour throughout the city ) and the food matched, but that was no bad thing.
Starters of Sweetbreads and Gumbo were followed by a huge veal chop and a breaded Grouper.
The service was excellent and efficient. The only gripe would be the very poor choice of wines by the glass.
Galatoires It has to be done. The equivalent of eating at Rules in London. The place was packed as it was Mothers Day ( when you asked your mother when Kids Day was, did she reply "every day is Kids Day" Mine did. Gypped.)
Again the amiable wait staff were dressed in someone elses clothes , but seemed to manage just the same .
Starters of Gumbo and Turtle soup with the pre-requisite shot of sherry were excellent. Salads were not, natch. Mains of Soft Shell crab and Trout Almondine were crunchy and huge both good things.
Bar 365 There is a recurring theme in New Orleans Bars. They think that rotating them makes them hip. It doesnt it makes them look like Hanks Look Around Café from the Larry Sanders Show. Still this otherwise tacky tourist trap made a decent whisky sour for a massive $10 ouch!
B& C Seafoods (Grammercy) A stopping off point after our swamp tour. I went in search of my ex parents in law. Apparently they were so odious they were taken off the endangered species list and open season was declared on their ass.
The B&C was our guides recommendation and he was spot on. A plate of Alligator tails was followed by a superb plate of crispy Frogs Legs. This was meaty and flavoursome and was served with an entirely nasty side called "hush puppies" which I didnt like and Robin did, so there.
Monteleone Bar Another revolving bar in this famous but grimly expensive and expensively grim hotel.
The Bombay Club made a decent Martini and a good Pink Gin, when I showed them how.
Bayona we approached this much vaunted place with much trepidation as so much of our upscale eating in the US has been disappointing. I am thrilled to say that it was a huge success and worth nearly all of its plaudits.
The service was amongst the best I have ever had, from the efficiency of the staff to the bringing of a copy of the recipe for a momentous Garlic Soup starter which I have raved about.
Other starters were Scallops and Sweetbreads followed by Veal and a slightly disappointing lamb dish. I have yet to find a good lamb dish outside an ethnic restaurant in the US.
Desserts were not great even though they boasted a pastry chef on the menu.
The list of wine by the glass was exceptional and topped by a wonderful Gigondas.
Finally, they were able to make a proper mint tea. Boiling water and mint , er, thats it. Something upscale places on both sides of the pond find very difficult.
A "must visit" place
Bon Temp Café A bustling business lunch type of place and serving great omlettes Robins Crawfish one in particular was a winner.
Jaques-imo The highlight for me in a trip of highlights. A stunning neighbourhood place which everyone told us we had to got to even if it meant a 90 minute wait. As it happened we only had to wait 30 minutes and they came and found us sitting outside the entirely agreeable Maple Leaf Bar drinking our third Abita
Service was quite frankly stunning and the operation ran like clockwork
Starters of an Alligator cheesecake ( better than it sounds, oh so much better ) and a deep fried Beef Po-boy. Were faint inducing ly good and were matched by faultless fried Chicken
If all places could be like this, I would never cook again
The Napoleon Bar A good Calvados and excellent hot chocolate and expresso topped off our evening at Jaques-imo. Perfect