Hi fellow chowhounds,
First let me say how much I appreciate the input from this Message Board, and I apologize to everyone in advance for both the length and "generality" of the message. I have, though, spent a week going through previous messages and have also checked out Tom's comments and reviews on "Foodfest."
Some basic facts: My wife and I live to eat and plan every trip around our meals. Since we like spice, creole/cajun is our favorite food type. We've been to NO twice, once in 1980 and again about five years ago. On the latter trip we also stayed a few days in Lafayette and sunk our teeth into Cajun country music and cuisine (Alligator Farm in Lafayette for crawfish boil!). On our first trip we sampled Buster Holmes' rice & beans (we have his receipe!), Tujague's and Broussard's, and last time Praline Connection, Commander's and Mr. B's.
This time we're taking our 16 year old daughter who loves cooking and eating at least as much as her parents. We've taken her on food vacations to France and the Caribbean and she's really looking forward to the NO food experience. Here's what we want:
We have five nights (Dec. 27-31), and dinner is the night's main entertainment. We're staying in the CBD a few blocks from the Quarter, but we'll have a car, so don't mind driving to other areas of the city. Breakfast is taken care of and for lunch we're mostly interested in grabbing something casual like a
'po boy, muffuletta, "ferdie," or pecan pie at Camellia Grill (We can reheat night's leftovers in our hotel microwave) We know about Central Grocery, Mother's and Johnny's, but if there are other lunch stops, particularly ones in City Park area, or near a swamp or plantation tour, don't be shy about letting us know. Also, I'm partial to raw clams--does Acme do these as well as oysters?
For dinners we want to balance our itinerary, and limit ourselves to two higher end creole dinners--more than that would be too hard on both the arteries and pocketbook. Being from northern California, we don't want any new American or fusion cuisine, no matter how good it is, so nothing like Peristyle or NOLA, but having one classic creole and new creole would be a nice balance (Just as long as I get some "mud bugs" somewhere!). So what should the two be: Galatoire, Antoine's, Delmonico, Brigtsen's, Commander's,??? For the other three nights we'd like to rein in the costs a bit, do at least one that's more cajun than creole
(K-Paul's?), one classic french bistro meal--our daughter can never get enough french onion soup--(Crepe Nanou?, Cafe Degas?), and maybe a more mid-range place for NO food like Mr. B's? or one that does a bang up job representing a European cusisine like Spanish tapas (Lola?, Vega?). Two caveats: Though her parents wouldn't mind a "dive" or diner-like atmosphere if the food was great, that wouldn't make the cut with our stylish daughter. And since we all swim before dinner we're famished, so a long-wait/no reservations place won't work.
And finally, a wild card for the Board. Since we're taking our daughter away from her friends and boyfriend for New Year's Eve, we'd like to do something special that night, but being that she's under age, we're kind of limited. What would you do if you were us in New Orleans on New Year's Eve--would trying to make a night of it in a restaurant with jazz like Arnaud's or a club with food like Snug Harbor make any sense or would we get an overpriced and/or mediocre meal?
Much Thanks (And Good Eating!)