Just got back from the best trip ever to NOLA. Gosh, I love it there! You lucky locals!
Went from airport to KPaul's with too much anticipation. I believe that Chef PP would have been embarassed to serve what we had. The jambalaya was too crusty and dry; the gumbo was only average and the salad I had was like $9 for 6 shrimp abed a sea of lettuces and no dressing. Service was horrible. I was so disappointed I almost cried. Last time we were there it was completely different. Oh, well, it did turn out to be the worst of the trip.
Met at Napoleon House for a drink - Pimm's Cup tastes like watered-down gatorade. Really liked the service here but would have preferred to sit outside on such a beautiful day. My fault. Had a fun drink at Pat O'Brien's - service was GREAT here which had never happened to me before. Eschewed the hurricane for a very tasty and powerful Bay Breeze.
Had a great cabride to Tommy's. I do love NO cabdrivers. They are a rare breed and should go coast to coast teaching other cabdrivers manners.
Tommy's was utterly forgettable. I don't believe mixing Italian and Cajun/Creole is the best idea. However, it did lead us to the mostest funnest part of of the whole trip - the Wine Loft next door 752 Tchoupitoulas.
Now, this was a business dinner for 12 and we were having some problems relaxing and enjoying each other's company, despite the consumption of a great deal of alcohol. The Wine Loft blew all that out of the water. They were so happy to have us there, we felt so loved and the food and wine was outstanding. We ordered dessert wine and ice wine - pricey but very unusual for our crowd. We also had 3 pots of chocolate fondue with the best croutes available - berries, apples, etc. Someone ordered the chocolate cake which was succulent. Someone else ordered 3 ices - mango, blackberry and raspberry. Each one was reeking of its respective fruit flavor and the texture was sublime. We had a great time here and I can't wait to go back.
CP was not what I was expecting but I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone. We sat in the Garden Room and had appetizers galore, none of which impressed me. I would try it again. Bread pudding was pretty good. I liked the whole experience except the somewhat snooty front desk guy. FYI no shorts here! (But that is not why I thought he was snooty).
The Grill was a revelation. Do not go here unless you are prepared to part with some serious cash. It is a very foo-foo place, which was exactly what I wanted. Next time I go I will do the Chef's tasting but it was too long for my rustic dining companions to sit through. The amuse bouches were excellent - skinny bread sticks with pieces of anchovy, parmesean lollipops and a killer smooth duck pate. I ordered the "Study of Locally Grown Tomatoes", thinking slices of the red things. NO WAY. It was a complete artist's palate! Hot tomato boullion, cold tomato granita, and five different preparations too intricate to describe here except the bizarro "tomato cloud", a white foamy thing that looked like a hard-boiled egg and tasted like heavenly tomato. It just got better from there. The gumbo was the best ever - heavy, smokey with lots of lovely crab and shrimp and tasso (i think) and andouille, served in a little pitcher poured over the rice, which I think is a lovely presentation. I also had the (piggie piggie!) rouget provencale, which is a fish thing. It came, I hated it, they took it away! And brought me a charming piece of elk loin. Just amazing food. Everyone loved what they had. We only wished we had had room for dessert and cheese.
Also went to Palace Cafe for breakfast at the recommendation of the hotel concierge. Lovely space, so-so service, BEST DARN SHRIMP REMOULADE ever and the rest was only half-way decent. I will go back just for that remoulade.
Had a great great time largely due to the hotel we were at. I can't wait to go back there, but I'm not sure chowhound is the place to tell you about it.
Thanks for all the input from the board - I wish I would have listened to you on KPauls.