a couple weeks ago:
Friday night dinner -- Arnaud's..... decent oysters...as with every restaurant in NO...these were remarkably cheap. excellent shrimp remoulade ..oodles of horseradish in the remoulade. polished service...dressed up crowd. file gumbo....very good....crayfish pie....a little one-note but worth trying. etouffe....this was rather lackluster....bland to my taste.
Saturday breakfast (i.e. 2:00 P.M.) -- Cafe DuMonde. decent chicory coffee...the beignets are not something I'd eat often...but quite good for an occasional sweet craving...warm, very fresh dough....covered with a heap of powdered sugar....
Saturday lunch: Mother's. had the Ferdi Special .... ham and debris (left-over meat bits)....good but much better after I aggressively added some hot sauce.
Saturday dinner: Bourbon House. a Brennan restaurant....this was the most polished service and decor of the trip (it's almost a facsimile of Balthazar). a good wine list. excellent oysters to start....very fresh. fried calamari was the best rendition of that dish I've ever had....the secret seemed to be some sort of flavored salt in the (very light) batter. redfish bisque was extremely creamy (as to be expected) and quite good if missing some sort of flavor contrast. Gulf Fish Iberville was too busy....nice filet (I think grouper) with shrimp in rosemary and cream...and ham....too much going on here...the fish didn't speak for itself.
Sunday lunch: the best of the trip. Central Grocery's muffelatta....best by far I've ever had....the olive salad and the bread appear to be the secret. huge....one fed two guys with gargantuan appetites. Central Grocery itself is quite interesting....filled with gourmet imported foodstuffs...it's essentially a marriage of Dean & DeLuca with a country store.
Sunday birthday dinner: Upperline. this was easily the most subtle, polished food of the trip. very high quality ingredients...had the New Orleans tasting menu. the first roux that wasn't cloying to my taste. excellent wine list. the aged owner stopping by and interrupting the conversation to chat could annoy some but I found it, like the bric-brac on the wall, to be relatively charming. turtle soup and gumbo were both excellent. the duck with ginger-peach sauce was outstanding. the shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes was a little mild to my taste, but the combination worked. the bad: well, the restaurant website indicates that jeans to suits are all equally acceptable. well...we were both wearing jeans and nice cashmere sweaters and good shoes. came in drenched from the rain. seated in outer Siberia. food came amazingly quickly (much more so than other tables)...full tasting menu in a little over an hour. not offered a dessert wine list, a digestif or coffee. (yes, we had a reservation.) someone wanted us out of there. inexcusable. this really pissed me off.