I was in New Orleans for the national bridge tournament at the Marriott on Canal Street. Because of the strange schedule of the tournament, we could only eat in the very early evening and had to be near the site. Most days, I only ate one "real" meal.
Even with the constraints, we ate marvelously. We had lunch at Bayona, Uglesich's, and Cafe du Monde (beignets and coffee constitute a well-balanced meal), and dinners at Marisol (a "traditional Latino Thanksgiving"), Mandina's, Upperline, Brigsten's, Mr. B's, Gabrielle's, Camelia Grill, Galatoire's, and Acme Oyster House. Not one of these was a bad experience, although there were a few disappointments (the fried green tomatoes and mirlikins at Uglesich's seemed to be a notch below the usual standards), but there many highlights.
The dish of the trip for me was the grilled pompano with lemon butter at Galatoire's, absolutely the best pompano I've ever eaten. It's the first time that any entree at Galatoire's has overshadowed the trout amandine (trout wasn't available, so we tried the drum amandine -- which had a little more batter on it than usual. It's still a fabulous dish).
The sweetbreads at Bayona were as astonishing as ever. The place is an out and out bargain at lunch.
We tried to go to Jacques-Imo, but the wait was too long. We ended up at Camelia Grill and our loss was our gain. The cheeseburgers were outstanding (I had two).
The "mixed sausage" appetizer at Gabrielle was wonderful, especially the rabbit sausage -- spectacular.
I consumed mucho crawfish on my Spring trip, and of course they were unavailable now. I compensated with raw oysters. They were outstanding all over, especially at Uglesich's and Acme.
We arrived at Brigsten's soon after they opened, so we were eligible for the "early bird" special, which my friend ordered. The single best dish on the meal was available only on that menu -- the split pea soup -- which was far superior to my gumbo on the ala carte menu.
Best service of the trip? At Upperline, with a wonderful server, Kathy. And no suprise -- the most ebullient restaurateur was JoAnne Clevenger.
I was completely charmed by my first trip to Mandina's, and I liked my Trout Bayou and the onion rings, in particular. I even enjoyed the rough-hewn shrimp remoulade.
I didn't get a chance to get to many of my favorites, but didn't exactly feel deprived. What a wonderful, food-obsessed city!