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Restaurants & Bars 3

trip report (longish)

mrfinewine | Jun 3, 200302:43 PM

just got back from a weekend with two buddies i've known since i was 12 (one's a doctor in chicago; one's a business-school guy who works for a computer giant in california; i'm a dj and magazine editor in new york); we're all pushing 40 now. we hadn't seen each other in a few years and decided to meet up in new orleans for a long weekend of eating, drinking, gambling, arguing, and catching up. they arrived before i did and tell me they had a great thursday-night dinner at IRENE'S. i don't know the details, but they say they wore t-shirts and shorts, which i wouldn't have tolerated. "but we're comfortable dressed that way," they'd counter. whatever.

i arrived friday morning and we quickly got down to business at DOMILISE'S, which i'd never tried. after a long wait in the blistering sun, i was rewarded with a top-notch oyster-and-shrimp po'boy, washed down with a few abitas. nice. friday night, we drove out to MOSCA'S and arrived early for our 8:30 reservation. we had to wait just ten minutes or so for our table, and after we were ignored for another 15 minutes, things improved and we had a fun time flirting with our cute young waitress (what's with all the young blonde girls working there?). italian crab salad, that oyster-pie thing, the chicken a la grande, spaghetti and meatballs (a wise choice, i think, since it provided some flavor contrast that the spaghetti bordelaise wouldn't have), a couple bottles of wine. a wonderful meal at a place i've been dying to try for a few years now.

saturday at noon we had muffalettas at the CENTRAL GROCERY, which i never tire of. that night, after a cocktail at LAFITTE'S BLACKSMITH SHOP or whatever it's called, we made our way to GALATOIRE'S around 8 and had only a 15-minute wait for a table downstairs. our waitress, anne, was efficient, attentive, and chatty and immediately dispelled any worries that we'd be ignored or rushed or mistreated. several rounds of martinis (accompanied by a bowl of assorted green olives--nice touch), a couple orders of those great fried oysters wrapped in bacon, some other appetizers that the gin has washed away all memory of, superb soft-shell crabs with some kind of buttery crabmeat sauce on top...all in a great-looking room full of happy, noisy eaters and drinkers. we loved this place.

before driving one member of our party to the airport for his morning flight on sunday, we stopped for breakfast at the BLUEBIRD CAFE, which was good enough but reminded me of breakfast joints that can be found all across the land--not really a unique new orleans experience, in other words. that afternoon the two of us who remained had sno-balls at HANSEN'S (the chocolate and that pink new orleans cream flavor, whatever they call it), which aren't really my thing but were tasty and refreshing, i must admit. that night i was disappointed to find PASCAL'S MANALE closed when we arrived (i thought they were open sundays??), so we made do down the street at COPELAND'S, which i never would have chosen to go to under normal circumstances. my fried-shrimp-over-angel-hair-pasta-with-butter-and-artichokes was just fine, though.

my other friend left monday morning, and, after a cafe au lait and chocolate croissant at some little bakery whose name escapes me, i had my last new orleans meal early that afternoon at the frenchman street branch of the PRALINE CONNECTION. the fried chicken there is among the best i've ever had anywhere (including detroit, kansas city, los angeles, and harlem), and anyplace that serves a big pile of fried chicken livers is okay by me.

we spent the rest of our time playing texas hold'em at harrah's, except for when i ducked out to dig for old records at the louisiana music exchange and jim russell's. what a great city. i can't wait till my next trip, which i'll make sure is during one of the months when CASAMENTO'S is open, since i missed it again for the third straight time. damn.


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