my boyfriend and i are from san francisco were in nola jan 2-7 to visit his alma mater (tulane) and friends. we ate a little too well on the trip, i have to say. after four nights of fancy restaurants, we had palate fatigue. overall, great service, though sometimes the waiters and their fabulous personalities (which i mostly enjoyed) were around a bit too much. amazing desserts. and everywhere, overcooked and often previously frozen vegetables. i guess i'm spoiled in california. you have really great seafood though.
BAYONNA - lunch. my favorite meal of the trip. appetizers were the cream of garlic soup and the eggplant caviar. both very good, the soup the better of the two. entrees: i had a delicious indian-inspired crusted redfish with utterly amazing lentils and rice. there were so interestingly spiced and flavorful. i could eat bowls of this every day. the bf got the scallops with mushroom risotto. also very good, but a little rich to my taste. the wine list was well selected and fairly priced. we had a lovely pinot grigio (i think?) that went amazingly with the scallops. the service was the best of both worlds: fun personality, but not a constant presence. $56.52 without tip. we liked bayonna so much we bought susan spicer's cookbook when we got home and have used it at least twice a week since.
JACQUES-IMO'S - dinner. my bf's favorite restaurant in college. had some good dishes, but we ordered wrong. appetizers were fried green tomatoes with blackened(?) shrimp, alligator cheesecake, and gumbo. my bf insists the gumbo used to come in a "bread house" but apparently the supplier moved away after the storm. my first encounter with all of the above. i didn't find the tomatoes that exciting, but the shrimp was good, and it came with a nice salad that i picked the random fried bits of batter? potato chips? off of. the alligator cheesecake was great; creamy, spicy, and totally different than anything i'd seen before. the gumbo was fine but just ok. entrees is where we went wrong. we both ordered fish. mine was grilled drum with crab imperial, which we discovered to mean fish drenched in bland rich sauce with crab bits. the bf got a potato crusted someotherwhitefish, which also ended up being smothered in a rich and bland sauce. should have gotten fried chicken. we were going to leave, but the (very nice, big personality) waiter brought us dessert on the house. two cheesecake bits, and a coconut caramel bread pudding, which i inhaled. it was hot from the oven and rich and fabulous. 92.08 without tip (we had some wine). next time, the cheesecake, the bread pudding, and different entrees.
BRENNAN'S -brunch. my bf's parents took us here, so i have no idea what the (surely insane) bill was. best mimosas ever, which i guess is what happens with great champagne and great fresh squeezed oj. we ordered the gumbo and the turtle soup. the waiter also brought an oyster soup for us to try when he brought the other two. the turtle soup and the gumbo were both fabulous. i didn't try the oyster. hot fresh bread was at the table, but we hadn't gotten to it, so the waiter replaced it with a fresh hot loaf. wow. he also switched out coffee cups once the coffee cup had cooled so there wouldn't be hot coffee in a cold cup. i had the poached eggs with crab. beautiful hollandaise, fabulous poached eggs, and far, far too much crab. apparently there is such a thing. lovely, giant lumps. i wish that the dish came with some sort of bread product (english muffin?) so i could soak up the yolk and hollaindaise. the bf got a more traditional-ish benedict that he was blown away by. his mother had the same as i, and his stepdad a crab, cheese, and egg omlette which had at least four eggs, possibly six. similarly massive amounts of crab. beautiful and delicious. we had the bananas foster for dessert, and i had the strawberries. the strawberries were sadly not very good (not the season, silly me, not in california anymore), but the bananas foster was both a show and delicious. our gracious and affable waiter ron then gave us a tour of the restaurant, took pictures of us in the patio area, and took us upstairs to tell us about the various rooms (rex, red) and their long history. what an absolute treat. and aside from the food, the only place in nola i found to have toilet seat covers, and high tech too! it was a plastic sleeve that electronically advanced so a fresh cover was in place. this may not seem chowhoundy, but since it was the first i'd seen of a cover in days, i was thrilled.
CLANCY'S - dinner. my bf's favorite meal of the trip. it was a fun atmosphere, not a tourist in sight, and tables full of people who'd been going there for decades. we started with the fried eggplant (not greasy), crab cakes (no pan sear, rather disappointing, though nice seafood), and gumbo (very tasty). for entrees, the bf got the veal with crab on it, and i got the asian-inspired smoked duck. the veal dish was utterly amazing. we might fly back to nola to get it again. i was a little concerned about getting asian-esque food in nola since i am spoiled back home, but they did a great job. the breast was sliced and fanned out on the plate, and the leg and thigh were left whole. the meat was juicy and flavorful, and the subtle smoke was great. not hardly asian, but very tasty. dessert was the best of the trip: lemon icebox cake. we were fighting over it. i've not found anything that approaches that cake in san francisco. fabulously tart and fresh tasting. total without tip $143.77 (we had a bottle of wine). initial heart attack when the bill came because i was charged for six bottles of wine. the waiter apologized and took care of it right away, but it did take me a few minutes to recover from that figure. fantastic friendly professional service, from the busers to the waiter.
SUPERIOR GRILL - lunch. casual mexican-esque fare with nice big tvs and dangerous margaritas (everclear in margaritas?!?!). the chicken fajitas were juicy, with lots of cooked (as opposed to raw) onions on the sizzling platter. good beans too. a nice break from our upscale adventures, and at a fair price. the bf got the steak fajitas, which came as a large slab of sizzling meat. i was also introduced to queso, which didn't appeal to me but made the bf very happy. $25.13 without tip.
BRIGTSEN'S - dinner. we treated the bf's friend and his girlfriend to dinner. i really wanted to like brigtsen's, but was a bit disappointed. appetizers: the bf had the best appetizer of the trip here: butternut shrimp bisque. it was amazing. rich, shrimpy, depth of flavor. i got the fried fish with jalepeno tartar sauce. the fish was nicely fried, not greasy, but this wasn't a very interesting dish. well executed, but i guess it wasn't interesting in concept. oh well. the girlfriend had a nice looking salad, and i forget the friend's app. entrees: the bf and i had the day-long cooked duck. he thought it was great, i didn't like it at all. the (absurdly large serving of) meat was dry and cooked to shreds, with what was to me a flat tasting cherry sauce all over everything. the friend got the seafood sampler. i tried the fish of the sampler, which i found a bit salty. the girlfriend had the veal, and had requested no spinach in the spinach-cream sauce. the waitress was gracious, said no problem, and later came back and said that the chef thinks the veal needs a sauce, how about mushroom cream instead? i thought that was nice. dessert: white chocolate creme brulee with cherries (great) and housemade sorbet trio (very good, and a nice portion size). very friendly service, not a bat of an eye at us bringing a bottle, which she chilled and served with style. we paid $20 corkage for a bottle of champagne, and bought another bottle of wine. total without tip: $240.35.
MILA - dinner. after all the reviews on the board, this was our leap of faith, since none of the bf's nola friends had heard of it. we were pretty fatigued on fine dining at this point, so this impression may not be totally fair. it's a very lounge-y looking place, very different than all the other places with the warren of small dining rooms in converted homes. we were seated in a booth that faced out into the main traffic path from the kitchen. our waiter was a little awkward (new?), overly chatty and stumbled over his words with some frequency. he was also around a lot in the beginning (too much). we got a bottle of wine, and each ordered a fish dish. i had a fish with a mushroom chicken cream sauce, over greens. i was feeling the effects of overly rich food and asked to hold the cream. no problem. i think it ended up being better without it, actually. the sauce had clearly been reducing for a long time and was very rich. nice greens, tasted fresh and bright. beautiful fish. the bf got a cream sauce fish (drum?) which was very nice, but not exciting. again, at this point, we were probably just over fancy food. for dessert, an unsuccessful lemon icebox parfait, which came on a plate (as opposed to a parfait glass) and was a sad comparison to the amazing clancy's lemon icebox pie. not very lemony. i was going to skip dessert, but the waiter brought a trio of house sorbets, which was a very small scoop of three flavors, and charged $6.50 for. the house manager also kept stopping by to check on us. mila was the only service hiccup of our trip, though it wasn't a major issue. $106.46 without tip.