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Restaurants & Bars 11

Trip Report Long & Delicious

AmySue | Apr 22, 200409:30 PM

First of all, thank you to all the Chowhounds who answered questions either directly or in previous posts to help make our recent trip to New Orleans a heavenly food-oriented extravaganza. We arrived in town Sunday afternoon in time for our first excellent adventure: dinner at Galatoire's. As suggested, we got there between 6 and 7 p.m. and when asked who we would like to serve us, we took CH advice and said, "Hudson." Hudson looked perplexed that we had asked for him, but was gracious and helpful. The tone was set when we ordered our martinis: I like a twist and "Huz" likes olives. Hudson asked Huz if he liked any particular type of olives. Huz said no, but wondered what were the choices. Hudson said, "I'll just bring you a tray of everything we have and you can enjoy yourself sampling." After we had a chance to sip our martinis, Hudson started to explain the menu. I told him that we would trust him bring us Galatoire's best. He beamed, asked about food preferences, and then the parade of delicacies began. A deep-fried softshell crab, lightly battered and perfect. A cup of sherry-laced turtle soup. A plate for me with a small crab sardou (an artichoke bottom reclining on a bed of creamed spinach topped with lump crab) and a small stuffed eggplant, more of a moist loaf of whole shrimp, lump crab and fresh breadcrumbs than anything to do with an eggplant. A plate for Huz with a delicate gulf fish topped with lump crab. A perfect Pouilly-Fuisee (sp?). We sipped, we sighed, we shared. It was sublime... On Monday we met my mom at Emeril's for lunch. I know it's fashionable to slag off on Emeril's, but the room and the service make my mom happy -- when the waiter offered her his arm to escort her in the direction of the ladies room, well, how can you hate a guy whose staff is trained to make old ladies feel like Southern Belles! My Nieman Ranch pork chop with grits and greens was very good, my mom's hangar steak was underdone (she ordered medium rare and got bloody rare) and Huz's fried quail was excellent. The banana cream pie, which I usually love, was hard and floury with very little banana taste. The other dessert, something raspberry cheesecake-like, was fine. I don't think I would go there except to see my mom smile, plus she gets a great story to tell her friends at the senior center... Monday night we went to Marigny Brasserie. I take partial credit for it not being that great of an experience. I was still full from lunch, so I ordered a salad and a couple of appetizers. What I didn't pay attention to was that everything I ordered involved strawberries and/or goat cheese! The seared foie gras special appetizer was tremendous in a swipe of strawberry puree and a dab of goat cheese. The salad was okay, but again with strawberries and goat cheese. The kicker was a spring roll filled with beets, fresh ginger and, um, goat cheese. It was strange, and especially so since someone in the kitchen had neglected to remove the goat cheese from its foil packaging before wrapping it up in a won ton skin and deep frying it. I began chewing and the fillings in my teeth started trying to communicate with other galaxies! The waitress was properly mortified and brought me another one, which frankly was not really necessary. I am not convinced that beets, goat cheese and ginger belong together. Huz had another fish that made him very happy, and they comped us a nice chocolate dessert to make up for my still ringing dental work. I'd definitely go back... On Tuesday we went to Brennan's for brunch, and it was probably the biggest disappointment of the trip. I know it's a tourist trap, but I've gone every year for 10 years and, dammit, I love a good eggs hussard. Forget about it. We had to ask four times for coffee, we were ceremoniously presented with butter but no bread, the marchand du vin in my eggs hussard tasted of nothing but salt, and so on. I'm over Brennan's; whoever is in charge there should be spanked... Tuesday night we went to the Upperline and oh-my-god, was it ever worth the $15 cab ride! I had the duck, Huz had the lamb shank. The waitress was new and made a mistake in my favor, so I got to taste both the roasted garlic sauce and the ginger peach sauce, plus the mashed sweet potatoes and the shoestring fried sweet potatoes. Amazing, both, but the garlic sauce/fried sweet potato combo was better. Truly the best duck I've had outside Paris. And the lamb shank! I'd have wrestled Huz for the bone if he wasn't such a sweet, sharing kind of guy. I loved the funky room with the crazy artwork and the owner just smiled sweetly when I told her I was building a shrine to her in my yard when I got home... On Wednesday we had lunch at Commander's. I was happy as always, but then maybe the 25-cent martinis play a role in my sense of satisfaction. I had the 3-soup appetizer of turtle soup, chicken gumbo, smoked tomato bisque. Oh-yeah. I had the pork loin entree -- perfectly lovely. Huz had the Mississippi quail pie, which was like a really upscale pot pie. We shared a strawberry shortcake, made with fluffiest biscuits in North America, and a bread pudding souffle, both delicious. Plus we dropped a full dollar on martinis! We were in the upstairs dining room that looks out over the tree tops of the patio, and I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy spring afternoon in New Orleans... Wednesday evening I had a private hands-on cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Chef Michael was fun, and I learned some techniques. My only disappointment was that they have to use canned crab and frozen shrimp in the cooking school due to some health code rules(?). So I made shrimp remoulade, crab and corn bisque, shrimp creole and bananas foster, and it was pretty darn good. Chef Michael says the best food in New Orleans is at Jacques-Imos. Waiter Hudson at Galatoire's had said the same thing. Alas we could not fit in a visit to Jacques-Imos this time... On Thursday we ate lunch at Acme. A pound of boiled crawfish, a couple of deep-fried soft shell crabs, a couple of Abita beers. The breading was a bit thick on the crabs, but everything was tasty. No complaints... Thursday night was dinner at Brigsten's. Now probably we were saturated with great food at that point, but I have to say it was not all I had expected. The service was indifferent, so maybe I was a bit put off by that. Huz had the rabbit appetizer and the seafood platter and was delighted with both. I am not a big seafood hound, but I liked the bites he shared. I honestly can't remember what I ate there, but I do remember the waitress never checking on us or pouring our wine. Someone else prepared and gave us our bill. I do think I would go there again, but maybe not at the end of a food-filled trip. We wrapped it up on Friday with lunch at the Praline Connection, which I had sort of given up on after the last couple of times I ate there. But it was close to our inn, so we went for it. I had smothered pork chop, collard greens, candied yams and Huz had fried chicken. We polished it all off, I mean we ate like crazy people with stuff stuck to our chins. It was everything it had NOT been the past couple of times, except for one detail. Their cornbread sucks. I don't get it. How can a soul food restaurant have such crappy corn bread? Anyway, we bought a muffalotta at Central Grocery for the plane ride back to Los Angeles and called it quits. The muff was terrible and I will never go to Central again. The bread was stale, the fillings skimpy -- just awful. Does anyone in the French Quarter make a good muff?...So, if you are still reading this long-winded report, thanks for all your suggestions. We loved us some food in New Orleans!

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