Category Archives: New Orleans

Cafe des Amis – Cajun charmer

good thing I booked a table at cafe des Amis in breaux bridge last night because the place was packed…on a Wednesday night no less. The music and the food were a big draw. We had a front table right in front of a three piece Cajun band that played for almost two hours straight while diners danced expertly. Great scene in cozy old storefront cafe. The food was excellent …the best crabcakes ever and a very good shrimp étouffée. I shared a chocolate pecan pie slice with franc and a 29 year French Moroccan lawyer we met on our swamp tour. Fun night!
I was less impressed tonight by maurepas foods in Nola’s Bywater neighborhood. Interesting looking place in emerging arty area but food a bit precious and we ended up spending way too much for way too little food. I had to beg for some bread and the waiter produced four pieces of bread, each the size of a silver dollar. struck me as stingy.
much better was the jazz fund band nearby at Vaughn’s, a small club in the Bywater that rocked as people danced to the jubilant horns of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. fantastic energy and sound. this Detroit girl couldn’t get enough!

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Herbsaint in NOLA?..Yuki jazz, preservation hall

I was second guessing my choice of restaurant when we walked over to Herbsaint in the central biz district of Nola for dinner last night because that’s what tends to happen in a city like this with so many fantastic dining options. I even was second guessing the entree I choose seconds after selecting it because the menu was so enticing. All for naught. We had one of the best meals I can remember. The ambiance was low key, not too hip or snooty, the servers knowledgeable and confident about the offerings. I was looking for something relatively light, fearing that my stomach will not tolerate days of rich southern food. So I picked the entree of the day which was speckled trout served with risotto seasoned with satsumas and tempora fried scallions. It was wonderful. I wish I could cook fish that successfully. It had flavor and moisture, while my efforts tend to produce dull and dry. The server coaxed me into abandoning my eating light pledge at dessert time and he was right. The malted milk chocolate mousse with creme anglaise, which I shared with F. Was unlike any chocolate mousse I have had, it looked like a tiny black breast, with a creamy shell of dark chocolate and then light less sweet mouse and anglaise inside. Sublime.
On our walk backmto Frenchman street we stopped to talk to people inline at preservation hall and learned we can book fix on line, for $30, double the regular price but it guarantees you a seat. We stopped at a jazz bar on Frenchman street called Yuki that was not your classic jazz scene. Most of the musicians were Japanese, including a woman on drums and keyboard. An old black and white Japanese film was projected onto the bar’s brick wall while they played. Fun crowd including a young woman I met from Istanbul. I love hour people just sauntered in, had a seat or in the cae of one young black guy, borrowed a trumpet and started blowing, very well.

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The French quarter by day and night

I see why people come to new Orleans in October. The weather is glorious and there is more of the same to come. As advertised, our hotel, the historic Frenchmen hotel is funky. The best feature is the courtyard where I am sitting now, beside a tiny pool (I forgot my suit) and hot tub bordered tightly by two-story wood frame buildings with balcony catwalks,painted pink with blue trim. Hard not to yell “steella” from the balcony. This is the best part about the hotel…plus the price $169 for our loft with doublebed and sofabed. The sofabed is the worst part…the mattress feels more like a web of wire springs. I put the cushions atop it, which helped. The location is good and not. Perfect for visiting the music clubs along Frenchman street but as I feared, pretty noisy. Even with ear plugs I could hear the faint sound of horns, but hey, it’s new Orleans. Some partiers even gathered around 3 a.m….on a Monday morning no less. You have to admire their energy and party hearty spirit.

Last night we did the obligatory walk down bourbon street which was particularly rowdy thanks to a saints game. We far prefer Royal and Chartes streets, with their elegant balconied buildings and antique shops and galleries. The city is a visual feast. We had coffee at a nearby bohemain coffee house that seemed to be a local favorite , Envie, after having the obligatory chicory coffee and beignets at cafe du monde last night. We wandered through the flea market, discovered the French farmers market was closed due to a water problem (lots of repairs going on here, mainly the roads. Not sure if it’s Katrina related.) we also visited st. Louis cemetery #1′ where Russ was excited to find the above ground tomb of a legendary chess master, paul Morphy. We tried to eat at Luizza’s by the tracks, but it was closed due to a power outrage so we had gumbo,and po-boys at another famous old neighborhood spot in mid city, Mandinas, which was very good with lots of character. There is a plaque about 12 feet from the ground showing how high the floodwaters of Katrina rose. Glad it survived. We took the canal streetcar bAck which was fun. It suddenly stopped midway and we had to transfer to a city bus due to track construction.

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More New Orleans restaurant recommendations


Everyone I talk to who has spent time in New Orleans has her own recommendations of the best, classic New Orleans  restaurants to eat and  only seldom do I see overlap from one list to the other, which means I need A LOT MORE TIME in New Orleans than we’ll actually have during our trip next month. But here’s another list of impassioned recommendations – this one from my hair stylist who used to live in NOLA:

But – Irene’s Cuisine is my favorite!! Very New Orleans through and through. Great location (heart of the Fr Qtr), perfect ambiance, and excellent Italian/New Orleans food. My favorite out of those 4. Cochon is great – especially if you like pork. I only went to Herbsaint once, and the gnocci appetizer was the best Ive ever had. Never been to Boucherie.
Here are some of my favorites:
Patois – the best mussels and frites of my life (uptown)
La petite grocery – a very very very good burger (uptown)
Coops Place – a true new orleans bar with perfect New Orleans food and fried chicken that is like dessert. A locals favorite. Decatur St near bywater/frenchmen. Good for lunch. (fr qtr)
Jacques-imos – New orleans food popular with locals and tourists. The best of everything the city has to offer for food. With crazy new orleans ambiance. (Uptown)
And of course Dick and Jenny’s (see photo above). All around good except for the fact you cant make reservations. Everything is understated except the food and the service. (Uptown)
Stella! – fine dining in the french quarter.
Commander’s Palace – Ive never been, but for about $200 per person you will have the best brunch you’ve ever had. Famous for Bananas Foster.

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Filed under DINING, New Orleans

fantastic recommendations for new orleans!


Given how packed with tourists New Orleans promises to be when we visit in October, I’m not sure I want to share these excellent recommendations for where to eat and hear music (they come from a friend of my stepdaughter’s who lives there) but duty calls:

-Elizabeth’s – in the Bywater; they have praline bacon.  It doesn’t get better than that.
-Surrey’s – in the Lower Garden District; solid breakfast standards with lots of NOLA twists on traditional stuff (ie crab & crawfish added into stuff)
-Cafe Atchafalaya – on Louisiana Avenue just south of Magazine Street – higher end brunch, amazing crab eggs benedict.  Great place for a mimosa breakfast.
-Camellia Grill – delicious greasy diner w/ awesome omelets and waffles; in both the Quarter & way uptown near Tulane Univ.
-Cochon Butcher – in the Warehouse District (my tied-for-fave place, small & reasonably priced gourmet sandwich shop attached to Cochon, one of the nicest restaurants in town)
-Central Grocery – French Quarter (best muffalettas)
-I don’t have an opinion on the best po’boys … since I’ve heard five different answers for who has the best. But Mother’s in the Central Business District (just next to the French Quarter) is a good place to go to try out all the Cajun classics – po’boys, red beans & rice, jumbalaya, etc.
-Borgne – new restaurant from one of the best chefs in town (John Besh).  It’s fantastic, but also pricey.  This is right near the Superdome.
-Bacchanal – my other tied-for-fave place, in the Bywater.  It’s fantastic food, served in a laidback backyard, with a wine shop out front so you can buy your own wine separately; live music plays in the backyard, too.  Totally off the beaten path and really only known to locals, from what I can tell.  The whole experience is a only-in-New Orleans kinda thing.
-The Joint – great BBQ, also in the Bywater
-Company Burger or Dat Dog – good, very casual food, in the Freret Street Corridor
-Acme Oyster House – in the French Quarter.  If you want to get your oyster & crawfish fix, go here
I’d recommend going to Frenchman Street on Saturday night – every Sat at 8pm, John Boutte plays a set at d.b.a. – he’s one of the top acts in NOLA right now, and is best known for singing the opening song in HBO’s “Treme.”
At 10pm, across the street, another act, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, plays at the Spotted Cat.
On Thursday nights, the Soul Rebels Brass Band plays at Le Bon Temps Roule, on Magazine Street in Uptown.  I haven’t been but I’ve heard it’s fun!
Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers also plays every Thursday, at Vaughn’s in the Bywater.  He’s very popular due to being on HBO’s Treme a lot.  The one time I went to see him, Wendell Pierce (Bunk on The Wire) showed up b/c they’re friends; so, you never know who can show up at his set!
Every Tuesday, Rebirth Brass Band plays at the Maple Leaf bar in Uptown – its a late set but it’s so much fun.
Wednesdays, Treme Brass Band plays at the Candlelight Lounge in the Treme. Another good night of music.

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New Orleans Restaurants cont’d: dad weighs in



My dad weighs in with some restaurant recommendations for NOLA: (One of which we went to when I was last in New Orleans in around 1989 – Commanders Palace.)

Haven’t been to New Orleans in ages, but do remember Brennans  for breakfast as being a classic…go late at night and have breakfast. Also remember eating oysters bienville which I haven’t seen anywhere else. Also, if it still exists, Commanders Palace in the garden district was beautiful.
>> (see foto above)

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New Orleans Restaurant Recommendations from someone who should know

My sister-in-law-in-the-know (she was a restaurant critic for a major East Coast newspaper for years) suggests these restaurants in New Orleans (two of which I’ve already booked – Cochon and Boucherie):

Also found a good website with info on restaurants and beyond:

EAT new orleansMy sister-in-law-in-the-know (she was a restaurant critic for a major East Coast newspaper for years) recommends the following restaurants (two of which I’d already booked – cochon and boucherie):

Also found a good website for more info:

A Mano
Arnaud’s (her favorite classic)
EAT (for brunch)
Her saint
Dorky chase

Chef of the YEAR (2009)
Donald Link

Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Calcasieu, Herbsaint

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Leaving wichita

It is really more accurate to say that we are leaving the best western hotel in park city, Kansas, just north of Wichita. We arrived there yesterday at 3pm and didn’t leave until midday today. There was no reason to leave since we came for a family reunion and it was 104 degrees outside. We did make it to Saigon  restaurant on. Broadway  hearty view Vietnamese lunch. (I had the bun as usual, a cold salad of greens, noodles, char broiled pork and egg roll, aka no. 45 on the menu.)

Now we are back in the car driving on interstate 35, another six hours drive north to Wichita. The corn is prematurely brown due to drought..burnt up is the technical term, my husband tells me. Lawns and brown, not their usual green. My brother-in-law, a cowboy in western Kansas report he is running out of pasture for his cattle to graze, it is now 106 on our car thermometer.

Restaurants recommended my various relatives during the reunion:in Kansas city, Lulu’s for Thai.. Chez Elle, crepes;  Amano in New Orleans.

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Filed under Des Moines, Kansas City, New Orleans

Restaurants to try in NYC, San Fran, New Orleans and Chicago

On my flight home from DC this week, I found these restaurant recommendations in the Delta inflight mag, all looked good and all are in places I will be going soon (or have gone recently). They are:

New Orleans – Gautreau’s in the Uptown neighborhood (near where we’re staying in October.) Word has it reservations are a must. The place is dinky. The hot new chef there, Sue Zemanick is 25. Known for dishes with local fresh seafood – citrus-poached gulf shrimp, wild mushroom perogies.

Chicago – Grace, opening in September in the West Loop. Chef Curtis Duffy worked for Charlie Trotter AND Grant Achatz.

NYC and San Francisco – Mission Chinese (154 Orchard Street in NYC; 2234 Mission Street in San Fran) – unusual Cantonese fare by a Korean-born, Oklahoma-raised chef including “kung pao pastrami.”


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Filed under Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco

New Orleans restaurant to try

The back story on this restaurant is a bit disturbing but Boucherie sounds like a good place to eat in New Orleans.  The chef was shot three times during an attempted robbery, managed to survive and locals rallied to support him and his restaurant which is in the Carrollton neighborhood, where we’re staying.

According to a recent NYTimes story, Boucherie serves “moderately priced, beautifully plated food in a converted wooden house in the Carrollton District” with specialties including ” boudin balls, luscious pork belly served with sweet potato latkes and crème fraîche flavored with Vietnamese 5 spice powder,  blackened shrimp with grit toast, Intense smoked Wagyu beef brisket and mild, subtly sweet local redfish. Think I’d skip the  Krispy Kreme bread pudding.

Boucherie, 8115 Jeannette Street, New Orleans; (504) 862-5514; Dinner for two, without drinks, is about $50. Open lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday.

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