First I would like to thanks those that took the time to post comments, esp during Mardi Gras!
A brief recap, will expand more for specific points if asked.
We were there the weekend after Mardi Gras, arriving after midnight Thursday the 7th. Tthere were four of us, two that have been to NO 5 times and newbies. We also visited about a year ago and there is certainly more life in the city :)
Cafe Du Monde Same as it ever was. Mean this in a positive light, coffee still good, beignets still covered with too much sugar that gets everywhere. Although it was packed, service was quick once we finally got to order. Coffee and doughnuts were hot.
Casamentos - On the suggestions of many posts on this board we took the street car up and had lunch here. Was concerned regarding wait, but we arrived around noon on Friday and while there were a few smaller tables available we had to wait about 5 min for a 4 top. Wonderful raw oysters, fried crab claws were ok, oyster loaf was ok (not a fan of big slices white bread). Surprise was the gumbo. Excellent!!! Enjoyed the atmosphere. Service was very friendly.
Stellas! Hands down the hit of the trip. Since we were four, we all tried to order different
selections and share a bit. Foie Gras with a persimmon parmesan gelato was beyond excellent and very generous. Risotto with supplement of winter truffles was incredible. Iron Chef Shrimp was excellent. Salad with crab, lobster and a orange creamsicle drink was light and refreshing. Veal and shrimp gyoza was good, but not over the top. Gnocchi with lobster, corn and parm cream sauce was disappointing. While it was still enjoyed it was not as wonder as other app selections.
The veal loin with porcini was every bit as good as others as raved about on this board. Popcorn crusted grouper did not get any comments for some reason and was not shared, although not finished either. Getting full by that time I guess. The surf and turf was mixed. While the filet was cooked spot on MR and was probably the best filet anyone ever had (and believe me, we have all had great filet) the yakatori shrimp was virtually unseasoned and iodiney, the kale was fine, the wedge of sweet potato was pretty much that. I had ordered the surf and turf to see what the kitchen would do with a very basic type of meal- and while the meat and orange cognac sauce was exceptional, the other components did not measure up to the caliber of what I was hoping for. Thinking back, I think the meat must have been poached in butter, then lightly grilled. Any input?
Dessert The Banana stuffed toast was easily one of the best desserts in a life time. The frozen gran marnier creme brulee with green tea gelato was mixed reviews and only lightly touched. Complimentary habernero meringue was outstanding.
Wine We purchased a bottle of Vieux Telegraph CDP blanc which was very nice. ($80). We had brought a bottle of red and was charged $25 corkage. Offered decanting etc, not made to feel like a leper.
Service No complaints. Not especially friendly, but extremely proficient and timely.
Overall, the high light of our trip.
Port of Call - Wow! I don't think I will ever look at grated cheddar cheese in the same way. Sat afternoon, arrive around 1:40. Seated around 2:40. Burgers were incredible. Be forewarned, the amount of cheese they pile on a burger is enough for 4. I was a bit surprised that it was not slices melted on, but it was still good. Same goes for adding on sour cream and cheddar to the baked potato. Enough for all with one add on. Potato was great, service a bit slow, but it looked as though only 2 servers for whole restaurant. It is very dark inside, even in the middle of the day. Favorite cheap meal.
Bayona We had been about 10 yrs ago and enjoyed it. While we were able to sit outside, the atmosphere could not begin to make up for the meal and service. What a disappointment. Took 1/2 hr. to get drinks. Actually it was about 15 min before we were even greeted at our table. There were 8 or 9 tables seated outside and what appeared to be one server and one back wait. However, the outside server was not in a rush and would be mia for spells of time. Apps ordered were spinach watermelon salad which was enjoyed, sweetbread in sherry butter sauce which was good, and scallops with grapefruit, cous cous with green olives, basil puree and pine nut brittle. This was probably the best thing ordered all night
. Entrees - scamp grouper with roasted tomato vinaigrette, wild ricer and mushroom pancake and asparagus. The fish was so overcooked I had to use a knife to cut it. Asparagus was simply steamed. The pancake - the main reason I ordered this dish was about as adding a few mushroom slices and a few grains of wildrice to bisquick mix. Even then, it was clumpy and falling apart. Yuck.
Rabbit - the leg was to be wrapped in prosciutto and crisped, which is was, however the skin was left on which was about as appealing as undercooked chicken skin. Not enjoyed at all.
Lamb Loin in Zinfandel sauce - was enjoyed by the two that ordered it and appeared to be cooked to MR as ordered.
I wish I had kept my reservation at Cuvee. I think Bayona has lost its charm for me. I couldn't help but feel frustrated watching the wine sommelier sit in the lounge with her feet on the table talking to another staff member for a solid 20 min while we are given the worse service I have ever had in a restaurant of this league.
Acme in FQ Sunday Lunch - Raw oysters were fine, grilled looked and smelled awesome. Peace maker Po boy with fried shrimp and oysters was nothing exceptional. Gumbo (seafood) was good, preferred Casamentos.
Pelican Club - Second time there. While it is not 'fine' dining, more simple, it was enjoyed. Escargot were decent. Seafood Martini was very nice, nice sauce and generous seafood amounts. Baked Oysters were very good. Lamb was done correctly, the over the hill steam table potatoes were missing the 'white truffle' essence. When pointed out, it was brought out in a gravy boat - the white truffle oil that is. Black drum with jalapeno bernaise was a much better choice than the grouper at Bayona. No great expectations, no disappointments. Service was friendly and sincere.
Monday Lunch - took advice of someone on where to find great red beans and rice and was sent to Lil Dizzy's on Esplanade. While the walk was interesting, lets say I am glad it was 11:30 am, the meal was not worth the hike. Fried Chicken off the steam table was sooo dry it was unchewable. Red beans were made from canned beans, but did have nice pieces of pork product. Jambalaya tasted like white rice with ketchup, but had nice sausage in it. We did feel like we were eating in a local place for sure though, which was what I was looking for.
Another place we got coffee from and the pastries looked GREAT was a french place on Ursuline? Thick and crusty baguettes, wonderful looking pastries. I am sure French was in the name of the cafe, but can't recall.
Bombay Club - love that place for after dinner drinks.
I realize this is all sketchy, but if anyone wants clarification, I will try to respond to posts. I love visiting NO, and will be back. Sorry for any typos, etc.