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Restaurants & Bars 5

Day 5 - A Phoenician's Tour of NOLA (Galatoire's, Dante's Kitchen, Bar Uncommon)

Seth Chadwick | Nov 5, 201103:19 PM

It was another day of sleeping in and the harsh realization that it was our last full day in New Orleans. We thoroughly enjoyed the rain dripping down onto the courtyard and just lounged around in the suite before getting dressed up and heading to Galatoire's for lunch.

Wearing ties and jackets and looking quite spiffy, we made the brief walk encountering only a few sprinkles along the way. I was prepared to have to wait for a table, but when we entered, there were several tables available and we were immediately seated at a four-top near the front window.

The room was bustling with activity and conversation and there was a birthday celebration going on at one of the tables which had been filled with bouquets of flowers for the celebrant. We loved the atmosphere with the mirrors walls, the muted green wallpaper, the two-blade ceiling fans, and the old-fashioned lighting fixtures.

We were given water and menus and decided to take our time. While we decided, we ordered two Brandy Milk Punches. In a few minutes, both arrived along with a hot loaf of bread and soft butter for spreading. The Brandy Milk Punches were so delicious that we decided these would be perfect for Christmas Eve, just before heading off to bed to dream of Santa and dancing gingerbread people. The combination of brandy, milk, and just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top was amazing. It was an excellent way to start the meal.

So, we then ordered our meals. J. started with the Duck Crepe, which would be followed by the Salad Maison and then the Crabmeat Ravigote. I went with the Souffle Potatoes, the Green Salad with Garlic, and the Chicken Bonne-Femme. We also ordered a side of Onion Rings.

We dove into the bread and it was perfect. Crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, we gobbled it up while sipping on our punches.

A few moments later, our appetizers arrived. The Duck Crepe was very interesting with the juice of the cherries swirling around on the plate. We each took a bite and were very happy. The duck filling was well seasoned and the crepe was tender and eggy. The flavor of the cherries and the pistachios were such a nice addition. This was a big hit. The Souffle Potatoes were also quite interesting. They were tasty and lovely, but light as angel's hair. J. described them as "potato-scented air" which would be accurate. We loved dipping them in the accompanying Bearnaise sauce. These were very unique.

Shortly after polishing off the first course, we were given our salads. Nothing monumental here, but both where the same salad for all intents and purposes, except that J's salad had a different vegetable base and I had minced garlic on mine. The dressing was tangy and light and this was a nice way to get ready for the main attraction.

J.'s Crabmeat Ravigote was a chunks of crabmeat swimming in a pool of Hollandaise and Bechamel sauces. J. took one bite and uttered an exclamatory "Oh, man!" He was quite happy. However, we also knew that his cardiologist was muffling his sobs into his pillow. J. said the dish was "pure decadence" and loved every single bite.

My Chicken Bonne-Femme was a large, boneless chicken breast that was grilled and then covered with a mixture of bacon pieces and sauteed onions. This was a perfect comfort dish for a drizzly afternoon. It was delicious and filling. It also came with perfectly fried potato slices. What a great dish. The onion rings were excellent, and not greasy at all.

We passed on dessert as we were absolutely stuffed. We had great service, if a bit stoic, but a wonderful time at Galatoire's. I think J. summed it up best when he said, "You can tell this is a classy place where who knows how many business deals have been sealed." I completely agreed.

We spent the afternoon doing little but enjoying the city and then found ourselves heading for our last meal. Thankfully, it was a casual place. While we loved dressing up, we were ready to be in jeans and a henley with a flannel shirt.

Our destination for our final meal was Dante's Kitchen, which is directly across the street from Brigtsen's. We parked nearby and entered. We were taken to a comfortable table in the house turned restaurant and perused the cocktail menu. J. ordered something called the "Aunt Betty" and I had a concoction called the "Old Cuban."

Our drinks came out quickly and we placed our order before tasting them. J. started with the Dante's Pot Likka, then the Covey Rise Green Salad and, for his main, the Confit Pork Steak and Spare Ribs. I would start with the Shrimp and Grits, the Pumpkin Soup and then the Chicken Under a Brick.

We sat back and sipped our drinks. My Old Cuban was tart, tangy and very refreshing. I liked it. J.'s drink was interesting in that is was incredibly smooth; so much so that you could only taste the alcohol on the back end. The maple edge to the drink was really good.

While waiting for our appetizers, we were treated to a searing hot mini cast iron skilled of Dante's Molasses Bread with Honey Butter. It was fantastic. I loved the rich flavor and the cake like density of the bread. It was a perfect autumn dish. J. enjoyed it as well.

Our appetizers were presented and I had three big head-on shrimp watching me salivate. I grabbed one of the shrimp bodies and indulged. The meat was plump and perfectly cooked, and the BBQ sauce was very spice and savory, which had me grinning. J. loved the shrimp heads. The grits were excellent, but with the addition of the BBQ sauce, they were divine. I was moaning in pleasure. J. closed his eyes and savored the taste when he had a bite.

J.'s Pot Likka was a little cauldron of slow braised beef in its own juice with some goat cheese and fig mustard added. Little slices of grilled bread were included. J. was thrilled. The Pot Likka was exceptional: rich, meaty and so comforting. We were both loving every drop.

Our second course arrived and my Pumpkin Soup was steaming away with the wafts of steam pushing the aroma of the soup right into my face. It was awesome. The taste was even better. The soup leaned more toward the chicken stock used as the base for flavor with the pumpkin as a supporting cast member. I was very happy with this.

J.'s Covey Rise Salad was a mix of field greens, Brioche croutons, Gala apple matchsticks and a chestnut dressing. It was excellent. The apples were crisp and the greens were fresh, but the croutons stole the show. This was a very good salad, but the clear winner for this course was the soup.

Our mains arrived and I was spellbound by my Chicken Under a Brick. This half chicken was slightly smushed from the weight of the brick and gave way the minute I sliced a bit with my knife. The chicken was coated in a maple glaze and I was all but jumping up and down in excitement at the taste. It was just a brilliant preparation and I would have to say it was the single best dish we had during our entire trip. The accompanying bacon potato hash cake and fried egg made the whole thing even better. Absolutely sublime.

J.'s Confit Pork Steak and Spare Rib was amazing. The pork steak and spare rib were both fork tender, and were served with a spicy tomato-based BBQ sauce which helped to cut the richness of the confit-styled meats while adding its own contribution to the meal. The meats were served with a healthy serving of Samosa-spiced peas and potatoes, which J. devoured. He said they added a unique counterpoint to the straight-forward southern preparation of the meats.

When we were done, we were too full to even think about dessert, so we departed and realized that Dante's Kitchen was one of the best meals we had in New Orleans.

On the way back to the hotel, I reminded J. that we had two drinks left on our Nola "Bucket List" of cocktails we had to try. They were the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Vieux Carre. So, we decided to pop into Bar Uncommon and see if famed bartender Chris McMillan was tending. Luck was with us and he was there. We took two seats at the bar and ordered the last two drinks. Mr. McMillan chuckled a bit at my order of a Ramos Gin Fizz, but proceed to make it in his forthright fashion. A few moments later, our drinks were sitting in front of us. I tried my Ramos and - WOW! - was a fantastic cocktail, and certainly right at the top of my list. The Vieux Carre was also top notch and delicious.

Since I was driving, one was enough for me, but J. wanted something else and told Mr. McMillan he was a fan of rum. Like lightning, Mr. McMillan pulled a bottle here, a few bottles over there and in short order, J. was enjoying a Rum Old Fashioned. It was Nirvana in a glass for J. and we were both just floored by Mr. McMillan's knowledge of drinks and alcoholic beverages. Every order was a history lesson and we felt honored to be getting the chance to be served by Mr. McMillan. It was a fabulous ending to a wonderful culinary day.

And, thankfully, we ended the day with cocktails, for the alcohol deadened the pain of realizing that in less than 24 hours, we would be on our way home.

Galatoire's Restaurant
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Dante's Kitchen
736 Dante Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

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