We were in NOLA for a much too short trip over the week-end. We lived there in the 80's, so it's hard not to go back to some of our old places.
Here's what we did...our plane was delayed, so we got to the city later than we had planned. No matter, we took a cab over & made it to Galatoire's by 4:45pm. Just a few tables of locals remained from the lunch crowd with much table hopping going on. Fun to watch. My husband started with his favorite cocktail...a Sazerac & I started with a French 75. We were both shocked to see his sazerac glass full of ice. When the waiter was questioned about it, he said he didn't know why they put ice in it, but they always do at Galatoire's. It was replaced with one without ice.
We then started with seafood gumbo which was not seasoned very well. It was missing something...we kept adding tabasco & salt that helped some. Next we had the shrimp remoulade which was outstanding. Lots of horseradish in the sauce..yum. For the main, we both had soft shell crabs, 1 fried, 1 sautéed. Both tasted off (we later learned it was probably because so much rain had diluted the brackish water that crabs need). We finished our wine & followed up with more drinks. By the time we left a couple of hours later, the room was full.
The table next to us had obviously been there most of the afternoon celebrating something. The waitress brought them a special treat at the end of their meal which I never knew exactly what it was. She had a stainless bowl which had lots of citrus & spices which she flamed. Made for a good show. We ended up meeting the people at the table, going with them to a couple of art exhibits & then to Bacchanal which was a fun evening.
On Saturday, we had dinner reservations at Coquette which is one of our favorite restaurants for lunch & brunch. This was our first time for dinner. We were seated upstairs at a table by a window overlooking a lovely tree. I liked the room, however large parties are seated there which can make it loud plus the service was definitely not up to par. I think the slow service was due to 2 large parties (although they were in the process of leaving when we got there) or if it's just slow due to carrying everything up the steep stairs!?!? I cannot stand bad service & I've been known to discard restaurants based on service alone. But, I must say, the food was so outstanding, that I overlooked the service.
We started with a glass of champagne & a sazarac which my husband declared was the best one he's had ever had (& he's had quiet a few).We each had 2 appetizers & split them, so we actually had 4 apps! We started with the sweet Georgia corn salad with roasted onions & the chicken fried sweetbreads with celery, fennel, LA hot sauce. The corn was sweet & tasted like summer. The sweetbreads were a real winner. Instead of being whole sweetbreads, they were cut almost into ribbons...so crunchy & so good. Next we had the Farro Antica with sunchoke, sunny side egg, coppa. Farro & runny egg...is anything better? We also had the beef tartare with fried oysters & veggies. Also, very good. For our entree, we split the pork cheeks with oats, carrots & parsley. Another winner.
I don't normally eat desert as I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but we have split some lovely deserts here in the past, so we each ordered one. I had the old fashioned donut with huckleberries, oatmeal crunch & sour cream ice cream. I can't tell you how much I loved this desert. Everything about it worked, the flavor, the texture, the creaminess of the ice cream...I even had a dream later that night & described it to someone in my dream!
My husband had the milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel & peanut butter ice cream. He loved his also. We each thought we had picked the winner, but since he didn't have a dream about his desert, I decided I picked the winner! We also had the desert wine pairings & they were both perfect.
We caught a cab back to Windsor Court & had fun having some drinks & listening & dancing to music. Second best sazarac of the trip.
On Sunday, we had reservations for brunch at Brennens, but decided to cancel due to lukewarm reviews, my last trip there many years ago & we were still a bit stuffed! We walked at Audoban Park & around uptown before deciding to go down memory lane & have a late lunch at Mandina's which we used to frequent weekly. I had not been back since Katrina & the moment I walked in, I felt disoriented. First, I couldn't find the entrance since it's been moved, the room is laid out differently. The waiters are still the most fun & the drinks are still strong, so I was glad that hadn't changed.
We started with the seafood gumbo which was good with the addition of some tabasco. We then order the shrimp remoulade which I used to love there, but not now. I guess tastes change plus it was huge. I had remarked on how much the prices had increased, but until then, I didn't realize the amount of food had increased so much. We then had the salad with blue cheese which was OK, but I miss the huge blue cheese chunks that used to be included. We then split the spaghetti with meatballs which I used to also love, but just didn't feel it this time. The meatball was OK, although, they bring it with 1 giant meatball instead of the 3 or 4 small ones they used to serve. The spaghetti was mushy & the sauce didn't use San Marzano tomatoes, so it lacked some depth. Of course, in the 80's when I loved this dish, I didn't know what San Marzano tomatoes were. We finished with bread pudding that was only worth a couple of bites. I won't be going down that memory lane again, but I was glad I went this one last time.
We went back to the hotel & had a bottle of champagne & relaxed. Around 9, we walked over to the 3 Muses, had a couple more sazaracs & French 75s & a couple of orders of the fries with feta. Very yummy. Music was good, atmosphere good. All in all, a great place to spend a Sunday night.
Monday we had a light breakfast at the hotel with plans to pack our bags, head to Coquette for lunch & then leave for the airport from there. Luckily, I checked their website & realized they were closed for lunch on Monday. My dreams of a second donut gone for now, we decided to be lazy & just stay at the hotel, have a bite of gumbo & just relax for a while at the pool.
Got stuck for a while at the airport while the plane was changed, so we decided we needed a little something. Went to Zatarains & got a bowl of seafood gumbo & red beans & rice with a couple of Tito's & tonic. The red beans & rice were just strange...they were really sweet. I added lots of tabasco & salt which made them almost passable. The sausage was OK. The seafood gumbo was not awful, so that's praise for airport food. The drinks were good.
With that, we said good-bye to NOLA once again. Next time, no more memory lane...I'm going for all the new restaurants!