My boyfriend and I, both discriminating graduate students, spent a few days eating our way around New Orleans. Below are reviews for Herbsaint, Brigtsen's, and others, plus approximate costs. For both Herbsaint and Brigtsen's, we made reservations in January. All others were walk-ins. Costs are for two people.
We both had the excellent mixed greens with fig salad, followed by the Muscovy Duck Confit for him and the Monkfish with tomato/potato puree for me. According to boyfriend, the duck was delicious: savory, well sauced, and falling off the bone. For dessert we shared a banana brown butter tart with fleur de sel caramel.
Cost: ~$100 (appetizers, entrees, two glasses of wine, dessert)
Cab ride from French Quarter: ~$9
Boyfriend started with rabbit and andouille gumbo, which boyfriend describes as an essay in "umami" taste. I headed straight for the beef tournedos topped with pats of bleu cheese. For an entree, boyfriend had the roast duck with cornbread dressing and pecan gravy. The cut of duck was generous, but would have been well served by the addition of more gravy. Perhaps due to its mammoth size, the duck was a bit dry in places. For dessert we shared the incomparable strawberries with sabayon. Though our meal here was excellent and the atmosphere was preferable to Herbsaint, the entrees didn't quite stand up to those we had at Herbsaint.
Cost: ~$130 (appetizer, entrees, four glasses of wine, dessert)
Cab ride from French Quarter: ~$15
Port of Call
Our problems with this place are philosophical: there is no hamburger on earth worth a forty-five minute wait. If you want bar food and there is no line, go for it. The menu is pretty limited - it's either burgers or pizza.
Cost: ~$30 (two burgers with beers)
Walkable from French Quarter
Delicious fried chicken with a thin, crispy crust, paired with greens and potato salad. Boyfriend had a po boy along with red beans and rice. No wait on a Friday night at around 8 p.m.
Walkable from French Quarter
Get there early - we arrived at 11 to wait for about thirty minutes. Once you get inside, there are interesting imported groceries to look at as you wind your way up to the counter. A whole muffuletta is enough for two. There are tables, but the dining space inside is cramped. If the weather is good, eat your sandwich picnic-style on the banks of the Mississippi, directly across the street.
Cost: ~$15 (muffuletta, drinks, chips)
Better than average bar food - red beans with sausage and rice for the boyfriend, a salad with blackened chicken and chopped eggs for me. Maybe we just had good luck, but we had no wait here during the height of lunchtime.
Arriving at 11 a.m., we finally sat down to eat at around 2. As we stood in the sun and developed burns, we wondered if the food would be worth the wait. It was. When you arrive at the door, you'll find a single small room with cases of soda, crates of sweet potatoes, and a guy shucking oysters at the counter. Fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade and sweet potato souflee as appetizers followed by crab cakes for me and a dressed shrimp po' boy for him. Not generally seafood lovers, the food was a revelation to our unschooled palates.
Cost: ~$50 (appetizers, entrees, four drinks)
A patisserie - great for a cheap, light breakfast of a croissant and a cup of coffee. The $.60 mini quiche was delightful. The fruit salads were also better than expected, with big chunks of kiwi and strawberry.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop
On the quieter end of Bourbon, wonderful mysterious, candlelit atmosphere. Piano in the back with an old guy pounding out Jimmy Buffet, the Eagles and other authentic NO artists. I asked him to play some Jelly Roll or Fats Waller and he looked at me like I was crazy. Sad.
A crew of Hollywood scene designers given infinite time and money couldn't come up with this place. Again, it's about the crepuscular atmosphere of the old quarter. Lines around dinnertime. Almost deserted on a Thursday night at around 11:30.