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New Orleans Trip Report

TRIP REPORT - VERY, VERY LONG

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TRIP REPORT - VERY, VERY LONG

Lives to Eat | Dec 16, 2004 06:13 PM

Just back from 5 great days in NOLA and I miss it already. I planned my trip around my meals and had a wonderful time. This is the 4th time I’ve been in the past 6 years, and I wanted to try different places. Thanks to all for the suggestions when I posted my many questions about where to eat.

In a nutshell, there were 2 places that I would go back to in a heartbeat (Pelican Club and Uggie’s), some that I would probably go back to (Marisol, Upperline & Windsor Court Grill), and one that was a disappointment (Delmonico). I generally don’t eat 3 meals a day, and other than the day I had lunch at Uggie’s, I only had a fresh-baked muffin and coffee at the B&B where I stayed, so this is only about 4 dinners, 1 lunch and 1 brunch.

I was a woman dining alone, and there wasn’t any place where I wasn’t treated well. The one place with extremely slow service was the same for the couple at the table next to me, so I didn’t feel it had anything to do with me being by myself.

My first night in town, Wednesday, I attended the Eat Club dinner at Upperline. This was a great way to start my trip because I don’t know anyone who lives there, and I ended up at a table with a nice group of people, and got to meet Tom. I thought the price was a good deal, since it was a number of courses and included wine, tax and tip. I really only loved one dish…the Oysters St. Claude (or something…can’t find the exact name now). I could have made a meal of them, and I have never been an oyster fan. For the rest, we had a lot of food, but that was the most memorable course.

The next day, Thursday, I made it to Uglesich’s for my first and only time. I arrived close to 10:30 (based on suggestions on this board), and there were only 2 tables taken inside and two outside. One of the inside tables had a couple of ladies from Minnesota and they invited me to sit with them. John was our waiter and he was a hoot. Since the other ladies had already ordered, I didn’t get to experience Anthony sitting and asking what I liked…too bad. The Shrimp and Grits was my favorite dish of the entire trip. It was so spicy and delicious…I only wished there had been more. I also had the Shrimp Uggie, which didn’t seem spicy at all after the appetizer. In fact, when I first started eating it, I wondered what the fuss was about, until I realized that I was still overwhelmed by the first course. Luckily, before I finished the entrée, I was able to appreciate it, once my palate calmed down. Anthony was autographing books while we were there and I broke down and bought one just for the shrimp and grits recipe. I won’t be able to come back before they close next year, and I’m so glad I finally got to experience it.

Sadly, that night I had the most disappointing meal of my trip…dinner at Delmonico. I started with Escargots with Garlic Butter, which I thought was just okay. For the entrée, I probably should have stuck with meat, but I had read good recommendations of the Pan Fried Redfish Meunière. Since I don’t normally order fish when I go out and this is a classic dish, I figured it was worth a try. There was nothing really wrong with it, but it was really bland. I didn’t even finish it and it wasn’t because I was too full…I was just bored. For dessert, I had the special Boston Cream pie, which was okay. This was the most expensive of my meals and the least worth it. (On a side note, I only paid $76 for a cocktail, glass of wine, 3 courses, tax and 20% tip…which is unheard of where I live - San Francisco. At home, I would expect to pay in the range of $85 – 90 for the same at a “fine dining” restaurant, so in the big picture it wasn’t even that expensive. It was just the most I paid in NOLA.)

Friday, I had the best dinner start to finish at The Pelican Club. I had the Reveillon dinner…starting with the alligator & turtle soup, then the lobster, crab & shrimp martini (some folks have complained that this is a small portion, but I thought it was refreshing and just right), then the duck three ways and finished with the white chocolate bread pudding and eggnog. Every course was tasty. The waiter for the table next to me was friendlier than my own waiter, but the rest of the staff was attentive and there weren’t any lags in service. I would definitely recommend this restaurant, and go back.

Saturday, I had dinner at Marisol. This was an interesting experience. My reservation was at 6:30pm and they weren’t really busy, but the service declined as time went on, even though they never seemed really busy. The waiter was as nice as he could be, but it just got slower and slower. I had read that the service was spotty, and at first I thought posters were being overly critical. But when I waited an inordinate amount of time between courses and then what seemed like forever for my check, I understood what they meant. The only "good" thing was that it wasn’t just me. The man next to me had to finally ask for his wine when he was almost finished with his entrée, and his wife started to de-bone her whole fish herself, because the waiter said he’d be right back and then didn’t return for a really long time. I imagine her fish was pretty cold by the time she got to eat it. On the other hand, this is also where I had my second favorite dish of the trip…the Thai crab & coconut soup with ginger and basil, which was to die for. I would go back, but this may be the norm and I need to be ready for it.

Finally, I waddled to the Windsor Court Grill for Sunday brunch on my last day. I was a little confused why the hostess kept saying my table wasn’t ready when they open at 11am and that’s the time my reservation was for…didn’t seem like very good planning to me. You would think that a restaurant of this caliber would know how many reservations they have at opening and they would be ready. Once I sat down at 11:15, all the staff was perfectly fine and on top of things…pouring even more champagne than I needed when my glass was empty. I started with the gumbo, which was good, and had the Eggs Windsor Court, which were good but very salty (I should have expected that with salmon and caviar). I finished with the lemon tart, which hit the spot because it wasn’t too sweet or too much food. This was enough to tide me over until my plane took off at 7:30 that night!

All in all, this was a very enjoyable trip, and I can’t wait to come back. Of course, I now have to go on a starvation diet!!

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