Whirlwind visit, with some excellent food. Here goes:
Kingfish - Plane arrived at 7:00 and I was seated at the bar at Kingfish by 8:15, hoping to see Chris M. but he was not there. Ordered a "Bramble" (gin and some other ingredients) and was surprised to see it served with crushed ice brimming over, like a snowball. Interesting presentation, but 15 seconds later, all of the ice slid down the glass, making a thorough mess on the bar. I can't imagine that Chris would have been involved in something so ill-conceived. I rate this as a "fail" (but obviously, that's just one drink). Tasty, but I expected better. I didn't stay to try another.
Pelican Club - After 2 weather-canceled attempts to eat here, I finally made it, and it was worth the wait. The Coolinary menu did not excite me, so I ordered 3 appetizers. I do not eat raw oysters (too squeamish), so the opportunity to order them baked was a treat - and boy were they good. The seafood "martini" (shrimp, lobster, potatoes, remoulade) was delicious, and the escargot were so good, but so intensely garlicky that I think my fumes may have killed off some of the plant life in Audobon park as I ran through it the next morning! Lovely wine suggestion (a Spanish white) by the competent and friendly waiter. Beautiful and comfortable restaurant.
6:30am wake-up call for a 12-mile run, ending, conveniently, at Cafe du Monde. Calories OUT, calories IN! As delicious as ever (had them to go and sat by the little fountain just around the corner.
Cochon Butcher: After some serious day drinking at the Country Club, by 4pm I was ready for something solid. The muffaletta at C.B. was excellent (though being my first, I can't say how it compares to Central Grocery). I will try to post a picture of it. I saved the last quarter of it for a late night snack. C.B. is such a wonderful, fun little place, especially at that hour when it's not super busy. I will definitely go back, because there were so many other intriguing things on the menu.
Iris: This place is lovely, service was great, menu very nice, but unfortunately, I just didn't have enough appetite after to the late lunch and too much booze to enjoy it thoroughly. The arugula salad was good, though nothing special. The Drum served over potatoes with both a fennel sauce and an olive-tomato sauce was great. Huge portion for $25 - I would have been satisfied with 2/3 that amount.
Antoine's - OK all you nay-sayers - time to shut up! I was thoroughly impressed. I ordered from the Coolinary menu (for $20!!), starting with 3 baked oysters (Rockefeller, Bienville and Thermidor), pork tenderloin stuffed with crabmeat over potatoes with a champagne sauce, and pecan bread pudding in a rum sauce. And two 25-cent martinis. Food was excellent, service was gracious and skillful and the value excellent. Even nice touches like oven fresh loaf of crusty bread, with butter served at just the right temperature (why do so many restaurants not get this right, either serving it ice cold or so warm it's almost liquid?).
Peche - Wow! Walked in and was bowled over by the noise, but quickly got used to it as I got lost in the food. Was hard to decide which way to go (small plates, large, etc.). The waiter helped me put together an excellent dinner. I started with a great cocktail (Buffalopigus - bourbon, peach vinegar, mint, aperol, etc. - more impressive than Kingfish in that department). Then the raw tuna appetizer (with ginger, orange and some other ingredients I forgot. Stellar! The crab/eggplant gratin with toast points, and then capellini with crab and chilis. Washed down with a lovely glass of rose. Definitely some heat in that last dish, and the chilis diffused their heat into the butter. As a combination, it was perfect as to range and quantity. I then had the honey, fig caramel ice cream for desert. Very impressed all the way around!
Sylvain for brunch. Started with the chicken and biscuit appetizer at the waiter's suggestion. Served with a delicious gravy and honey butter. Heavenly!! Then the crispy pork shoulder hash. This was pulled pork formed into a cake, topped with tomato hollandaise, served over the most wonderful grits (I normally think they're horribly bland, but not these - great flavor and texture) and a fried egg. Lovely place, nice service, nice crowd, even at 11am on a very hot Sunday.
West Beignet. Surprisingly good beignets for an airport place! Went home with a happy tummy!
THANKS, as always, to the NOLA chowhounds for your expert guidance. Can't wait to come back!