Hi there, I mostly lurk, but have been around a bit, and this will be my eighth or nineth trip to NOLA.
I typically end up making the eating arrangements for a couple of large group meals, and this board has been invaluable, thank you.
This year we're probably a bit larger than in years past, I am anticipating at least 20, more likely 25 men for dinner on a Thursday night in early November.
We stay near the French Quarter and so ideally would have something in walking distance. No problem going outside if it is well and truly worth it...
We don't need to be seated all at one huge table, or even all at one time, as long as there's a bar. Groups of four to eight would be totally fine. We're flexible on start time as long as it's not too early, typically we start anywhere from 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Don't need to finish up at once, either, and don't need a bunch of separate checks... basically we're willing to do whatever we can to make it easy.
We are on vacation so some guys have resisted dressing up. We can handle business casual as long as it's not ridiculously rigorous i.e. if someone is wearing clean $100 tennis shoes, that can't be a problem.
Price point, something on the order of $35ish for an appetizer and entree would be fine. Obviously those who drink will spend quite a bit more... we do require beer, wine, cocktails.
Here's a list of places we have used in the recent past and thoughts on each. We like to try to go somewhere new every year...
2011 Dante's Kitchen -- people loved the food, and we had no issues, slightly expensive, quite a distance from the Quarter, probably worth the effort
2010 Cochon -- a repeat, many people love this place, long walk from the Quarter but doable
2009 Bayona -- great food, some guys really enjoyed an expensive bottle of wine, our group was probably a bit rowdy for the overall tone of the place but conversely the environment probably lightened up and got energized by us, it's not like we felt like we had to really self edit all that much
2008 Pelican Club -- food was OK, not great, we were seated at one huge table, which was kind of nice, but overall was probably more dressy, more expensive, and less hearty than we like
2007 Cochon -- a favorite
One place that comes up in discussion periodically is NOLA. We haven't made it there on a Thursday dinner yet as a big group, but various of us have eaten there and enjoyed it. My records say 2004 for my last meal there. So, that's one possible contender.
We'll be at Commanders for lunch Thursday, so a contrast with their food would be good. (Haven't checked, but am assuming they still do the .25 martinis limit three. Garden room rocks.)
We do tend to get a bit raucous, but we're not a bunch of crazy drunken young guys... average age is 45.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have!