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Trip Report: Galatoire’s, Bayona, Napoleon House & Brigtsen’s

Peter | Jan 19, 200402:30 PM

First off, thank you NO Chowhounds for your invaluable advice. It always pains me to eat a mediocre meal when traveling, it feels like an opportunity lost forever. We went four out of four on this trip, so I’m a very happy guy.

Arrived Friday a.m. and went right over to Galatoire’s for lunch. Long post is linked below. If I were to do it again, I would skip breakfast and make no plans for dinner and just go to Galatoire’s early and then hang out all day eating and drinking.

But after walking it off a bit sightseeing and returning to the room for a few hours, we still weren’t hungry but agreed we would rue missing a meal in this town. So we called Bayona, and luckily they were able to get us in for a late seating at 9:30. We split the shrimp and black bean cake appetizer, which was amazing. The black bean cake was very fluffy, just like a souffle’ almost. The dish also came with a corn relish and a piquant sauce. Was very spicy, which we both love. A great little dish, everything came together perfectly. Then we had the garlic soup and a roasted tomato bisque, and both were outstanding – although I liked the tomato soup better. Really concentrated and intense smoky tomato flavor, with a creamy silkiness to it. Was trying to keep it light, so thought I’d order another appetizer instead of an entrée. – but I couldn’t pass up the duck samosas appetizer. This was delicious, but incredibly rich – samosas were filled with duck confit and potatoes. My wife had a very nice vegetable pasta, which would have been a wiser choice. Everything was excellent, the reputation is well earned.

Lunch at noon on Saturday was at Napoleon House. What a great room, all dark and gloomy. Was raining pretty steadily on Saturday, but it was warm enough outside to have all the shutters open. Perfect place to sit and have a drink and watch the rain come down. The muffaletta was outstanding, as were the red beans and rice. Also had to try a po’ boy, so had the roast beef which was just ok, a little too dry. Gumbo was ok also. Was a lot of food, but it was so tasty that we polished it all off. Figured we’d walk it off sightseeing.

Had a 9:00 reservation at Brightsen’s, but still wasn’t very hungry. If I were to do it again I’d definitely rein it in more at lunch, but I thought we’d be playing it safe with late dinner reservations. But it’s hard to restrain yourself when everything tastes this good. My wife had the butternut-shrimp bisque, which was very tasty but I liked Bayona’s roast tomato soup better – more depth of flavor. I had the fried catfish appetizer, which came with stone ground jalapeno cheese grits and a piquante sauce. Wow, this was really tasty, a really nice medley of tastes and textures. My wife had the pork tenderloin as the entrée, and like a fool I couldn’t resist ordering the duck again. It’s so rare to find good duck in Chicago, and I love it, so when I know a place has good duck it’s impossible to pass up. This was delicious and perfectly roasted, the skin dark brown and crisp with all the fat rendered off, and the meat moist and tender. Came with cornbread stuffing, vegetables and some incredibly rich and tasty mashed potatoes made with heavy cream. I barely put a dent in it, but this bordering upon gluttony. I’d never felt my liver in action before, but I could swear I had the palpable sensation that my bile duct was pumping. Time to set down the knife and fork.

I can usually bring a trencherman’s appetite to the table after a long day of walking, but I was thrown to the mat here a couple times. These meals were great, but I'll need to spread them out better next time.


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