I read Chowhound obsessively before visiting New Orleans with my fiance for three nights (well, three dinners, two lunches and a brunch!), and I wanted to post a quick review of our trip as sort of a thank-you to everyone whose advice I heeded! I have to apologize in advance for the length of this post as I know it is going to be wordy.
First of all, we stayed at the newly-reopened Roosevelt. From what I could tell, they've spared no expense in returning this hotel to its glory days. We got to peek into the Blue Room and were only sad that Domenica hadn't opened. I usually stay at the Windsor Court, but the Roosevelt gives it a run for the money (especially at August grand-opening rates!) for sure.
We got in Saturday evening. I wasn't sure whether we'd be in on time, so I hadn't made a reservation, and we decided to walk over to Cochon. We waited about half an hour before we were seated at the food bar. We ordered six small plates - my favorites were the dark, dark gumbo, the corn calas, and the fried rabbit livers, as well as the chocolate and chicory custard we split for dessert. In general I loved the feel of the restaurant and the food, although the service was a bit rushed, and we loved being able to watch the kitchen while we ate.
Sunday we went to Stanley for brunch. I had an eggs benedict with boudin and smoked ham and my fiance had a regular benedict. We split ice cream (homemade chocolate and pecan pie - they blend the whole pie into the ice cream, crust and all!) for dessert in part so that I could drink a third cup of coffee. I really liked Stanley; our server was friendly and knowledgeable, and our table by the window was great for people-watching. I would absolutely go back there for one of the fried soft-shell crab po-boys that I saw coming out of the kitchen! (And it made me want to go to Stella! even more.)
Sunday night we had reservations at the Pelican Club. We both did the four-course prix fixe. The cooking seemed extremely competent if not super inventive, and service was very professional, but the restaurant was a ghost town. I know that it's August, but really - it is a fairly large restaurant and I would be surprised if there were six tables total while we were there. I would be interested in trying it again when I visit in December as I think it would be a far better experience with more diners.
Monday we went to lunch at Commander's, which was fabulous. Both my fiance and I opted for the two-course lunch. My starter was a summer melon salad and his was an oyster chowder, both of which were fantastic. For mains, I had a grilled pork and peach salad with a warm whiskey, peach and bacon dressing - again fantastic! - and he had sauteed black drum with a mix of eggplant, shiitakes and leeks. The fish was perfectly cooked. We finished with the bread pudding souffle, which my fiance deemed "ridiculous."
Monday night we went to Bayona. I've eaten there twice before and though I know there are mixed feelings on this board about Susan Spicer and her restaurant, I love it. I was thrilled to open my menu and find a "We Remember Julia" four-course dinner; every bite was delicious, particularly of the chicken liver mousse topped with aspic and the lamb navarin-style with baby vegetables. My fiance had the wild mushroom crouton, followed by a tuna and white bean app from the "specials" menu and a hanger steak. Yum.
We left on Tuesday after going up Magazine Street to have po-boys at Mahony's. I subsequently wished we'd bought an extra as our flight was delayed by sheets of rain and a brief electrical outage at the airport!
To conclude this novel - I just want to say that I had never been to New Orleans prior to Katrina, but have been five times since. I love your city. I know that as a tourist, it's easy for me to say that, but I have been so impressed by the resolve, humor, and flat-out gumption of the people that I've met on my visits. Not to mention the fact that Lally Brennan and Susan Spicer were both at their (very busy) restaurants on a steamy Monday in August - you all are serious about your food.
We bought our wedding bands at Adler's while we were in town (best souvenir I could think of), and I know that we'll be back many times in the future. So thank you all. I wish I was still there!