My girlfriend and I just returned from Ponderosa Stomp (in between Jazz Fest weekends). Her first visit and my first since Katrina. Thanks to all who posted before our trip. You made it much better than it would have been without you! Time to give you 'hounds my first post and on our still fresh dining experiences. Lots of the restaurants were noisy, but then it was Jazz Fest. So, in no particular order here's what I can remember - although the girlfriend is sure to say "How could you forget to mention..."
Cafe Du Monde - I'm not a beignet fan like she is but I do like the frozen cafe au lait even though I wish it was a little less sweet (but hey, this is New Orleans).
Acme Oyster House - First place we hit. Really great char-grilled oysters. Lines too long at the times when we wanted to return and try other dishes!
Pirate's Alley Cafe - A raffish bar by Jackson Square that makes an absinthe cocktail. Never had one before but unless you're a fan of pastis from the south of France or just love licorice it's no big deal ('scuse me Baudelaire).
Arnaud's French 75 Bar - Classy bar. Cool and quiet. Wonderful informative bartender who uses herbsaint to mix a very fine sazerac.
Herbsaint - Noisy and crowded. Pork Belly was as rich and good as I'd remembered and we had a fine dark roux duck and sausage gumbo just this side of bitter.
Liuzza's By The Track - Good neighborhood joint with outstanding "special heavenly roast beef" po boy. The bbq shrimp po boy was sort of a letdown. It had an almost bland sauce - no real kick to it. Shrimp were cooked perfectly though.
Galatoire's - Lunch here was a real goof! Great old decor of course (mirrored walls, tile floor, etc.) but very very noisy - lady's birthday party in progress with galfriends in ladybug hats whooping it up and lots of business suits trying to outdo them. Pompano Almondine as good as ever. Shrimp Remoulade - also as before - good but not great. G'friend had Chicken Clemenceau another buttery house specialty made with - canned peas?? Like, way historic, man. Still, as everyone says, it's one of the social epicenters of the town.
Mr Bs - Dinner. Excellent dark andouille gumbo and delicious (and very messy) bbq shrimp (heavy on the Worcestershire). Also crowded and noisy but no wait.
Johnny's Po Boys - Would be lunch. I had Johnnny's special po boy - roast beef, swiss, ham, etc. She had a chicken salad. We dumped 'em in the trash after a few bites. Hers tasted tired mine better but with a nothing dressing so we went to...
Camelia Grill - At end of the (current) St Charles streetcar line. When you want a break from constant nawlins chow. Fab bacon cheeseburgers with grilled onions and great freezes (milk shakes). Glad to see it's up and running again!
Bon Ton Cafe - Their wonderful signature drink - the Rum Ramsey - has yet to be decoded by the tiki detectives. Would love to know how it's done. Crab au gratin is a simple and rich cheesy comfort food. The excellent whiskey bread pudding was almost a drink in itself.
Brigtsen's - Excellent appetizers: a special chevre salad, a southwestern-ish version of shrimp remoulade and great pulled pork on a maque choux griddle cake. HOWEVER, cajun duck with cherry sauce was a major $31 disappointment. It had been the best dish ever when made in years past with pecan sauce. Now, it was simply dried out. Didn't another hound mention this recently? Wish I'd paid attention. Of course I should have sent it right back but just kept stupidly chewing away in disbelief. Oh well...
Bayona - Our favorite. Beautiful place, quiet, courtyard and inside dining. Last meal in town was a fantastic lunch here. Hangar steak with creamy poblano omelette (best omelette we'd ever tasted), intense garlic soup, amazing smoked duck sandwich with pepper jelly, cashew butter and carmelized red onions (which wiped out the Brigtsen duck fiasco). Dessert was a delicious decadent dark chocolate banana torte with expresso.
Okay, thanks for listening and hope this helps anyone making the trip to NOLA.