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Restaurants & Bars 4

Just got back (a bit long)

Rob Hargrove | Aug 13, 200211:08 AM

We flew from Austin to NO for a long weekend last weekend and ate three phenomenal meals. We arrived at about noon on Friday, dropped our bags at the International House and headed over to Galatoire's. We ate lunch from 12:30ish until 3:00ish, and it was as good a meal as I've ever eaten.

We started with shrimp remoulade and the avacado stuffed with lump crabmeat that has been tossed in a light vinagrette. Perfect. We then rested for a bit with some fried eggplant and souffle potatoes before our fish arrived. This was initially dissapointing: we ordered grilled pompano with the crab meat meuniere on top, but moments after ordering our apologetic waiter came back to report that they had run out of pompano. While in theory I love restaurants that run out of things, since it usually means they only get what they need and it's really really fresh, in practice I was a bit down, since I had flown in from Austin for the most part just for a piece of pompano. Fortunately for me, the snapper and amberjack replacements were flawless. Dessert was tasty but unremarkable - bread pudding and cup custard. Actually, my lunch companion said it was the finest bread pudding she'd ever eaten, and it tasted good to me, but I am no expert since I seldom order it.

What was remarkable about the meal, though, was the impeccable service. The moment I would finish a glass of wine our waiter was there to pour another, yet he was invisible when not needed. Running out of pompano was a tiny drag, but it was 2:00 on a Friday afternoon, so it was to be expected, and the waiter handled the situation quite nicely. The restaurant was packed and we were clearly from out of town, but the waiter treated us with amazing tact and courtesy, and we were obviously never rushed. It was the finest lunch I've ever had at a restaurant.

Supper was a wash, since we were still a bit tipsy and full by 9:00 p.m. We ate something, somewhere, that was mediocre. I think we may have spent most of supper discussing and re-hashing lunch.

The next day we had lunch at Mandina's (after bloody marys at the Napoleon House) which was excellent. Gumbo first, followed by the shrimp & oyster half-loaf for her, and fried softshell crab for me. Fresh and great.

For supper on Saturday we went to Bayona. After all the hype, I feared a bit of a letdown. There was none. According to our excited waiter, "Susan is cooking tonight!" Since this was the only time I've been to Bayona, I cannot comment on the difference between a Susan meal and a Susan-less meal, but our food was, for the second day in a row, perfect. We started with scallops and a grilled shrimp salad which were outstanding. The scallops sat in a cucumber-cream sauce accented by little crsipy bits of fried prociutto and were as good as I've ever eaten. The garlic soup between courses was as good as advertised on this board. For our entrees, she had lamb while I ate rabbit. We could not eat dessert. Again, the food was absolutely impeccable in every way. The restaurant was crowded and loud on a Saturday night, and the service, while solid, was not what it was at Galatoire's, but we were there for the food and we left ecstatic. Despite being stuffed, we spent the stroll back to the hotel discussing every aspect of the meal, and I still think about it during quiet moments at the office, some three days later.

Sorry about the lengthy post, but I got a bit carried away reliving the meals of last weekend. Thanks to this board for the suggestions, particularily the garlic soup, which we otherwise may not have sampled.

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