A group of friends and I visited for a few nights recently, and it was one of the best 3-4 day stretches of meals I’ve ever had. Much thanks to this board for steering us towards many of those meals. We tried to have a mix between traditional and modern New Orleans and between various price points. I can’t wait to return and try so many more places!
– Dinner at BRIGTSEN'S
We started the trip with a long streetcar ride from the Central Business District to the Maple St stop, only a couple blocks from Brigtsen’s. After traveling all day, we had worked up quite an appetite, and Brigtsen’s did not disappoint. The quiet neighborhood and charming setting and staff were so welcoming, and everyone’s food was hearty and delicious.
I started with their take on crawfish etouffee – a couple biscuits and a lot of tender crawfish drowned in lush gravy. Then I had the roasted duck entrée, which I must say lives up to the praise with its juicy meat, beautifully crisp skin, and that cherry sauce adding just enough sweetness without overwhelming the duck. Also tried a friend’s cochon du lait entrée, which might have been even better! Our group finished the meal sharing a few desserts – banana bread pudding, pecan pie, and double chocolate cake. The chocolate cake felt dull, but the bread pudding and pecan pie were both winners, solid takes on classics. Excellent start to the trip.
– Lunch at AUGUST
This was my favorite meal from my first trip to New Orleans a few years ago, so I had to come back and introduce my friends to the restaurant. Despite some mixed reports recently, our meal was a complete success. I was concerned the servers might be thrown off by our large group, but they stayed on top of everything the entire time.
Most of us ordered off their Friday lunch prix fixe menu, a fantastic deal at $20.15 for 3 courses plus amuse to begin and candy/pralines to finish. My favorite dish was the starter of crawfish bisque with saffron foam, which added a delicious, fragrant twist to the silky bisque. A close second was actually the amuse, parmesan custard in an egg shell. A lot of textures and strong parmesan flavor through the whole thing.
– Happy Hour at SOBOU
After some walking around and exploring, a few us landed at SoBou, whose cocktails I wanted to try. I had their take on the Corpse Reviver No. 2, my first time trying the drink, and I was blown away. So clean and well balanced, a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, as the name suggests! We also tried a variety of snacks from their happy hour and regular menus. The standouts were the oyster taco and boudin balls. Nothing revolutionary, but really well-executed and good complements to the drinks.
– Dinner at PECHE
Peche was most people’s favorite meal of the trip (for me, a very close second to Patois). The fun atmosphere and sharing menu really lent itself to a fun experience for our big group, and I must have ended up trying about 2/3 of the entire menu. Sure, there were one or two dishes that didn’t hit the mark for me (shrimp noodles seemed like a watered down Southeast Asian curry, gumbo was too salty), but they were easily swept away by the wave of deliciousness from the dozen or more other dishes we had – from raw items like plump oysters, spicy crab legs, and steak tartare w/ oyster aioli to snacks like the wonderfully smoky tuna dip to heartier dishes like the ramp/bacon pappardelle and baked drum.
The desserts lived up to the rest of the menu, the standout being sticky toffee apple cake with sour cream ice cream. That was my favorite dessert of the entire trip – the tartness of the apple and ice cream really balanced out the rich, salty-sweet cake. People couldn’t get enough of it.
– Lunch at GUMBO SHOP
We wanted to mix things up with a more casual place in the heart of the French Quarter, so it was time for jambalaya, gumbo, and red beans and rice. Everything was solid and filled us up for a long day ahead.
– Dinner at PATOIS
Like I said above, this was my favorite meal of the trip. The whole experience was polished without being stuffy, and this could be a perfect place for either a large group (us) or a romantic night (we saw many of those, too).
We started with great cocktails – I tried the Sancho Pimm (a jalapeno-y take on Pimm’s Cup) and a watermelon vodka drink that I think was called Summer something. The table shared almost all of the appetizers, 8 or 9 total. We enjoyed everything, but my favorites were the octopus and mussels. The octopus was beautifully tender and had so many bold Spanish flavors while adding heat with local chilies. I usually find mussels too soft and mushy, but these were juicy and meaty with just a little bit of chew to them. The spicy broth was delicious, and we asked for extra bread to lap it all up. Moving on to entrees, I had the boudin stuffed chicken, which read like it could easily go overboard with all the heavy flavors – crispy chicken skin, tasso, gravy, sweet potatoes. But the dish was nicely balanced – rich, yes, but also restrained. No single component overwhelmed, and everything came together really well. I also tried my friend’s sea urchin pasta, which was as decadent as it sounds. As a single bite, it was one of the best things I had, but I don’t think I could’ve eaten the entire dish.
For desserts, we shared the “Snickers”, hazelnut semifreddo and coconut bread pudding. While no single dessert reached the heights of Peche’s toffee cake, all were delicious and had some interesting ingredients that elevated them, like the marzipan in the bread pudding and the bourbon sauce on the semifreddo.
– Breakfast at OLD COFFEEPOT
After a long couple of nights out, we felt like eggs/breakfast. From what I’ve read, I was hoping to make it over to Elizabeth’s or Surrey’s, but convenience won out as we walked over to Old Coffeepot. We shared callas cakes, which I was glad we got to try. They’re pretty much what they sound like, a sweet fried rice ball. Then we gorged on various egg dishes, Eggs Creole, Jonathan and Sardou. They weren’t anything special, but they were well prepared and hit the spot.
– Muffulettas for the airplane – CENTRAL GROCERY/FRANK'S
We grabbed a few muffulettas from both Central Grocery and Frank’s to do a side-by-side comparison. My friends enjoyed both although I couldn’t really compare them. I had one quarter of one Frank’s sandwich first, and then a couple hours later, I dug into a quarter of a Central Grocery sandwich. It was a little hard to distinguish with that time in between and the olive salad soaking into the bread. Central Grocery’s seemed more evenly packed while Frank’s fillings were mostly in the middle. I hope to try Cochon Butcher’s next time!
Brigtsen's crawfish and duck
August crawfish bisque
Gumbo Shop jambalaya
Patois appetizers and chicken entree