NOLA, a couple of questions (Gautreau’s, Bayona, 40th Birthday Dinner)


#1

Could anyone please tell me about Gautreau’s? It looks and seems very similar to Brigsten’s in both setting and menu. Would that be a fair comparison? If so, how would you place them side by side one another? I can’t say that I was knocked out by the former, though it was certainly enjoyable. The level of cooking didn’t seem as refined nor the ingredients and preparation as local as Upperline, by comparison. I’m trying to gauge where Gautreau’s fits in with other NOLA eateries that we’ve been to before. It seems to be rated highly but reviews are also somewhat polarized. People seem to either love it or hate it; it’s the best meal in the city or completely disappointing. Some of the more consistent criticisms that I’ve read seem to suggest that preparation can be overly fussy with too many ingredients that often don’t work. Apparently some celebrity ‘Top Chef’ was in the kitchen for a while but has since moved on. If anyone has visited recently or during the transition, please share your thoughts.

I would also love to get some feedback on Bayona, which we’ve never been to before. I’ve read great things in the past on Chowhound; nothing recent. It has a lovely courtyard (most romantic in the Quarter?) and the social media/yelp photos that I’ve seen look pretty impressive. The cooking seems a bit more creative than a lot of the older more traditional places that we love in NOLA. Is it perhaps comparable to August or Coquette? Any thoughts on dinner here?

Also, if planning for Friday lunch at Galatoire’s, is it safe to assume that we’ll be writing off dinner that night? We’ve been many times before and know the ins and outs but we’d like to experience their famous Friday afternoon lunch and I’m just wondering if we should leave out food/dinner plans that evening and stick to bar menus?

Lastly, if planning a milestone 40th birthday dinner for two anywhere in the city, where would you choose to dine? We’ve been to most of the old landmark restaurants and institutions a number of times including some newer highlights (we last visited in 2016) so we have a pretty good idea of the restaurant scene but I’d really appreciate reading your opinions as I want to plan something very special for my wife’s birthday-it’s a big one!

Thanks very much for your input.


#2

My wife is from Baton Rouge.
Her sister and husband have lived in NOLA their whole lives.
We go. Often.
We have been (almost) everywhere in town - except Gautreau’s until this past Xmas. Her brother-in-law causally let it slip out that he thinks Gautreau’s is the best food in the city. (I have known the guy more than 20 years. He knows that I spend 90% of my waking hours categorizing and cataloging restaurants. How it is possible that he has never previously mentioned this to me is a mystery I will never understand.)
So we went. With him. He was right. It is amazing. Easily one of the best in town. Better than Brigsten’s is these days I would say. Also a notch up from Clancy’s (though Clancy’s is very, very good, if you have not been there.) And it is more romantic than most places. Seems like the perfect place for the 40th party since you guys have never been.

Bayona is always terrific. But less trad. than these other places - national and international “foodies” prob like it more than locals, but locals like it quite a bit too.

If I had lunch at Galatoire’s I’d still need to eat dinner but maybe a lighter than normal meal.


#3

Thanks so much!! This is really super helpful!

I was recently hipped to Gautreau’s as well and I heard the same thing as you: best food in the city. I just wonder how much the former chef had to do with all the recent attention and how the kitchen has adapted since her departure; or if that even matters? I’m strongly inclined to suggest that we celebrate my wife’s 40th here.

Thanks for the tip on Galatoire’s also… do you think Patois would be overkill? We’ve coincidentally only been here for Friday lunch, so it might be fun to do a bizarro NOLA food day. Does that seem feasible?


#4

I don’t think she had much to do with anything there except she was a fine chef who brought some (likely unwanted) 21st Century TV recognition to them. Honestly, after talking with Pat Singley, the man who has owned it since the 90’s, I imagine (though he did not say this, it is purely my own speculation after dining there) that that sort of publicity embarrassed, more than helped. It is very old school. You will love it.

This makes good reading. If you get to chat with Pat, he’s delightful.


#5

And I had the Hamachi and the Veal cheeks. Both were fantastic…


#6

Quite a quote for the time ('07). And more so now, than ever.

“I don’t like a tempestuous kitchen, " he says. “Not at all. The energy in a restaurant – the mood, the karma – flows from the kitchen to the dining room to the front door. If you have a chef who’s back there degrading a woman or insulting co-workers, those people hate him and they carry that fear with them right out into the dining room.””


#7

Thanks for that great link. The interview won me over; Gautreau’s for the 40th it is!

On a separate note, is Cafe Amelie any good? We love their courtyard and have talked about dropping in for cocktails at dusk when its romantically lit, but I wonder if the food is generic FQ tourist driven fare or if its worth ordering some small plates or a dessert?

What about Dick and Jenny’s, which is mentioned in the article above as one of the restaurants started by a former chef at Gautreau’s? I’d read overwhelmingly great reviews some years back but time seems to have lessened its esteem. What’s your opinion of D&J for brunch? What about brunch at Surrey’s Café on Magazine St?

For dinner, do you have a preference between Bayona or Coquette? I’m indecisive about our final meal and can’t decide which of the above or whether we should just go back to Upperline?

One more question… ever been to Mosca’s in Westwego, LA (approx. 35 min. drive from downtown NOLA) and if so, is it destination worthy? It could be a fun outing for our last evening in LA.


#8

Have you been to La Petit Grocery? Upperline is great too. I love it.
D/J - it’s been years since I went and I have only heard mediocre things of late, but that’s too second hand to have any real meaning. And I don’t eat brunch.
I had a very average experience at Coquette a few years ago. Won’t return. Never had had bad experience (or dish) at Bayona.

Yes I have been to Mosca’s - 20 years ago. I doubt it has changed much. I don’t think foodwise it is all that great. Or even all that good. But it is a true Louisiana experience. Or at least it was.

Can’t help with Amelie or Surrey’s. Best Brunch I ever had in NOLA was at Cafe Atchafalaya with their Bloody Mary bar because, as I told you I don’t do brunch. But a make your own Bloody Mary Bar is NOT Brunch.


#9

We’ve probably walked past La Petit Grocery a dozen times and each time we’ve remarked that we should visit on our next trip. It looks right up our alley and we’re likely going to make a reservation for our first night in NOLA as it seems like the perfect casual kind of place for that occasion. I take it the blue crab beignets, turtle bolognese, and paneed rabbit are the highlights?

20 years is a pretty long time for me to ask any reliable follow-ups on Mosca’s, but if your memory is really good, would you say that it’s sort of similar to Pascal’s Manale or perhaps Liuzza’s foodwise; maybe a combination of both (Cajun/red sauce)? It’s looks like the kind of hyper local hole-in-the-wall that I’d typically really enjoy and it seems to be rated pretty high, which isn’t bad for a 1940s roadhouse serving Italian family-style dinners forty minutes outside of a major food city. I’ve actually read that most of Mosca’s regular business comes from NOLA, which is impressive if true: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/11/22/no-daily-specials I think it would make for a really fun and authentic Louisiana experience and from what I’ve seen online, their house specialties (shrimp/oyster mosca, spaghetti bordelaise, chicken cacciatore/a la grande) look pretty good, but it might also be better suited for when we have more time in New Orleans. There are a bunch of other places I’d like to check out in St. Jeanerette and New Iberia too. I’ll let the missus decide this one since the trip is really about her.

FTR, we’re not really big on brunch either, but in NOLA we’ve enjoyed Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace, Willie Mae’s, Dookie Chase, etc.


#10

I know all about Calvin Trillin’s heaps of Moscas- love. He writes about it so wonderfully that I often feel guilty when discussing it, but, as I have said, my experience was not all that exceptional (and my wife’s family is actually related to Johnny Mosca by marriage). So, since you are persistent in your questioning, I asked the missus for you - she has been to Moscas fairly recently. She says it’s really great (all the dishes you named are the ones to get) and that my memory is foggy. I recall a very, very heavy garlicky meal with little to no finesse - you’ll have to see what you think. Anyone who enjoys Louisiana as much as you seem to should try it. It ain’t that far.

Pascals - we only go there to have the great, great Thomas tell us stories of the old days while shucking a few dozen oysters for us. Most of he food is pretty average. The BBQ shrimp is tasty but prob better elsewhere.
Liuzzas on Bienville is probably closer to to what you get at moscas but still quite different. I love the frenchletta and fried pickle chips and anything with that Italian Gravy at Liuzzas.

PLEASE report back @oliver - please don’t get upset - I may be wrong - but I kind of recall every year or so you ask a bunch of questions - usually about this LA, not that La - but don’t always give us the feedback.

Love to know where you went to and thought of these places.


#11

And try Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans if you get a chance. Really really good.


#12

This


#13

Turkey and the Wolf - lunch 12/17
What you’re looking at. Deviled eggs with fresh dill and fried chicken skin. Cabbage salad with sunflower seeds fried pigs ear cilantro jalapeños and vinaigrette. Smothered collard greens sandwich with cheese and rye toast. Fried Chicken pot pie turnover with tarragon. And a PBR tall boy. If I died right Then and here it would be as a happy man. A happy man who’s DIDN’T EVEN HAVE ROOM FOR THE FRIED BOLOGNA SANDWICH.


#14

Well I couldn’t ask for better first-hand feedback than a Mosca by marriage! Thank you so much for asking; I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to visit! I’m now insisting that we make the trip because these old time-warp family businesses don’t last forever. Btw, I came across this useful (modified) recipe/cooking video for ‘oysters Mosca’ on youtube the other day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7Id8PLdnNc

Re. Pascals, aside from the BBQ shrimp (good but I agree that we’ve had better) I do remember that I really enjoyed their stuffed eggplant and I think their combo pan roast (maybe? I forget) on our last visit. I remember ordering at least three different casserole dishes- probably the au gratin potatoes as well. Anyhow, Liuzza’s was sort of disappointing for us but we probably shouldn’t have gone for dinner. Their fried green tomatoes with remoulade were very good and the frenchaletta and pickle chips would’ve surely been more rewarding as a quick lunch stop but that’s my fault. I seem to remember ordering some baked Italian dish as well, which was not very good. If I lived in the city, I’m sure it’d serve as a good cheap neighborhood option, but I was definitely more keen on our meal at Pascals. We spent 2 full weeks in NOLA on our last visit, so I tried to squeeze a few casual no-frills dinners into our itinerary to mix things up and give my credit card some brief respite. The only real flop we encountered was at Crescent City Steaks.

Anyway, I will most definitely update this thread with feedback upon return, although we’re not actually going to be in NOLA for another 8 months… we’re leaving for Tokyo in approx. 6 weeks… then Manhattan 2 weeks after we return… then Montreal in June… then New Orleans in September! I just booked our flights/hotel the other day and got inspired. :slight_smile:
(I don’t think I’ve posted in this LA forum before though; you might be thinking of the old Chowhound board)


#15

DROOL!

Just what we needed-another food option!

Adding to my NOLA files.


#16

Now that you mention it, Liuzza’s (I have only been there for lunches, it doesn’t feel like a dinner place to me) was just so-so on my last visit as well. The Frenchuletta was kind of dry and the whole place felt a little forsaken and forlorn. If you want a neighborhood old-school joint in mid-city Mandina’s is quite a bit better.

I’m going to Japan later in the year (in October - Tokyo/Kyoto/Sapporo) so if you have thoughts put them on the Japan pages here at FTC, or private message me. I have not started researching much yet.

Here is some of my Montreal thoughts (and a little NYC too, I see) from 2016.

I’ll be in NYC later in February -
King, Mission Chinese, Tetsu, Via Carota are on the line-up. Thoughts?

Yes - it was the old board I guess. No worries.


#17

@oliver I would love to see reports from all those places you’re visiting over the next 8 months!


#18

I’d be glad to report back on everything, though I should point out that I’m originally from Montreal (born and raised almost 30 yrs) and we visit NYC at least once or twice annually, so I consider both places to second homes. My wife went to NYU and lived in every borough and I’ve had many family members and friends in the city at different points in life.

What drinks did you enjoy at Le Mal Necessaire? My wife and I are sort of cocktail snobs (it happens when you live in San Francisco!) and I have to admit that I found the drinks at LMN to be pretty bad, but again, when Smuggler’s Cove, etc. is your benchmark… I didn’t really dig the atmosphere either. I felt it was trying too hard and didn’t really deliver. Most of the drinks were overly sweet and syrupy and even their mai tai was pretty inept. I’d be glad to offer some good suggestions or alternatives for Montreal though, since I know the city inside and out! I’ve been to all of your other picks many times and they’re all solid choices.

Re. NYC selection, I’m unfamiliar with King and Tetsu, though the former looks very good and I’m going to add it to my ever growing list! I would personally scratch Mission Chinese from your itinerary. I’ve been to the original SF Mission location many times over the years (have been disappointed by lousy delivery a number of times as well) and I have to admit that I’ve never really thought much of what they do. Everything is super oily and greasy and lacks depth, imo. There’s a reason you’ll rarely observe any Chinese people actually eating there with the Bay Area’s status among the largest Chinese-American populations in US; it’s most popular with Mission hipsters and tourists who seem to think that adding corned beef/pastrami to poorly made Sichuan cuisine is so clever. I’m not against Asian-fusion btw, there’s some really good higher end examples of it throughout the city- though innovation isn’t necessarily improvement. I think someone on another forum said it best - “what you consider “creative” I consider drunken dorm hacks”. That basically sums up the MC experience for me. I would personally look into “Spicy Village” instead; though I can’t vouch for it personally as I’ve not been myself. When I go for Chinese in NYC these days (not often as it’s hard to beat regional Chinese in SF) I tend to go more for nostalgia; a late night bite at Great NY Noodletown, Wo Hop, Nom Wah. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these places for anyone looking for a standout meal or refined cooking. Via Carota is supposed to be great, otoh. I might have been before (so many trips its hard to keep track) but I’ll dig through my notes for you.

If you’re looking for any other suggestions for NYC, Montreal, or Tokyo, just ask - I’ve been around! :slight_smile:


#19

Thanks. I’ll skip Mission Chinese then, I get all the great Chinese I need in LA. My Mom (who lives in the Village - I’m originally a NYer - said she thought I might like it).
LMN was just a fun break for us - I never expect good drinks at Tiki bars, just to get hammered with average ones.


#20

Sure…what you got?