we had an awesome NOLA vacation this past weekend and had a great time eating till we burst. many thanks to all who made this gluttony possible.
We landed very late on Saturday night and after checking into the Canal St. Marriott, promptly headed over to the FQ to find food. We worked our way through the Bourbon street crowd and finally settled in at Coop's around midnight(Fried Alligator, Shrimp&Oyster Poboy, Jambalaya) The alligator had a VERY weird taste, it's hard to describe the taste but it seemed to resemble raw cowhide or something. I could see how alligator might taste good with the right preparation but I didn't really like the fried version and my girlfriend agreed. The po'boys and jambalaya were also very good, but nothing mind blowing.Grade: B After Coop's, we did the obligatory stop at Cafe DuMonde, good coffee and beignets but again, nothing mind blowing. Grade: B+
Sunday morning, we had reseravtions for the Jazz Brunch at Palace Cafe, next to the Marriott. The deal at this place was incredible! The price of the entree included an appetizer and a dessert. With entree prices between $16-$20, this is an awesome deal, especially us San Francisco visitors who can't imagine an upscale meal for under $50 a person. The food itself was very very good. I had the turtle soup while my girlfriend had the Crabmeat Cheesecake. She commented that the cheesecake had a very interesting flavor, where the first few bites were very cheesey tasting, but with the crab flavor infusing the taste buds after the first few bites. For entrees, she had the Lyonnaise Gulf Fish while I had the Pan Fried Eggs. The gulf fish was also very very good, having an orangy sauce topped with poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce. My pan fried eggs were solid but unremarkable. By far, the Palace Cafe's claim to fame was their desserts. I had the Creme Brulee while she had the Grand Marnier Cheesecake. Both dishes were rich, flavorful, and impeccably presented. Along with the live jazz trio and the service, I highly highly recommend this place. Grade: A-
Dinner was at Casamento's. Although all the reviews on this board and many of the people I've talked to have gushed on and on about Casamento's, our experience was less than stellar. We tried to get a very broad sampling of their dishes and had: A dozen on the half shell, the oyster stew, the seafood gumbo, a half oyster loaf, and a fried soft-shell crab. The raw oysters were good, but no different than any of the other raw oysters available at Acme or Mike Anderson's. The oyster stew was somewhat watery and the oysters looked shrunken and had a lot of sand/mud in them. The oyster loaf was also good, but again, there didn't seem to be much to distinguish it from any of the other sandwiches that we had at other places. The softshell crab wasn't crunchy at all and tasted like it had been fried in the lard at too low of a temperature. Overall, we left Casamento's feeling like it was an ok place, but not worth the long ride out on the Magazine line.(Again, sorry if this offends any Casamento loyalists out there:) ). Grade: B-
Acme's for lunch the next day. We had teh gumbo, oysters, and a sample platter. The food was very good and the oysters were delicious as usual but the very nature of the food served there prevented us from being wowwed in any great way. For what it served, it was very good food and probably couldn't get too much better. Grade : B+
We thought about heading over to Jacque-Imo's for dinner that night but the rains and out of the way location finally persuaded us to stay in the FQ and near our hotel. Since we were in a seafood mood, we headed over to Deanie's and, once again, got the gumbo, fried seafood platter, and an order of boiled crawfish. The gumbo was delicious as usual, thoroughly infused with seafood flavor and having chunks of shrimp, crawfish, and (I think) crabmeat throughout the soup. The seafood platter was awesome! I know Deanie's has the rep of a tourist place and that Amanda suggested Jack Dempsey's for even better fried seafood, but our experience with Deanie's left us wanting for very little. The softshell crab was large, the outside skin was very crisp with steam coming out when you bit into the crab. The catfish slices were thick, oysters and shrimp were big and the seafood balls were all very well done. Grade: A-
On our final day, we decided that we really couldn't leave NOLA without experiencing Galatoire's and I'm very glad that we chose to do so. Our waiter was incredibly gracious and patient to two Californians who had no idea what most of the items on the meant and when my girlfriend couldn't decide between the Fish or the Crawfish for an entree, he generously offered to get her a half order of the crawfish so that she could taste both dishes. I chose to have the oyster stew and sauteed sweetbreads for starters and a dozen Oysters Rockefeller for the entree. Oyster stew was a marked contrast from Casamento's, the stew was thick and creamy with many large pieces of oysters in it. The sweetbreads were also very flavorful although I have no point of comparison, having never tasted sweetbreads before. The oysters rockefeller were delicious as well. I quickly figured that the best flavor for the rockefeller was if you ate the whole oyster at a time and when you do, the mix of spinach and oysters combine to form what can only be described of as the food of the gods. Grade: A
We pigged out at Mike Anderson's for happy hour and 25 cent oysters so we decided to end our trip on a light dinner. Headed over to Central Grocer to get a muffalea. Once there, I was talked down to, encouraged to quickly decide what to buy and shooed out of the store in order to make room for the endless stream of other tourists waiting for muffs. The muffs were pre-packaged and it took him about 5 seconds to retrieve our order. On top of it all, the muffs at central grocer are markedly smaller than most of the other muffs in the FQ. The sandwiches themselves are also much saltier than food should be. With the dubious food and rude people, I definately will not return. Grade: C
Once again, thanks to everyone on this board for all your advice. We thoroughly enjoyed your city's hospitality and can't wait to come back and do it all again.