Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: New Orleans

We've had the good fortune to visit New Orleans several times and, on our first post-Katrina trip, are happy to report that the good times still roll.  Without at all minimizing the tragedy that occurred, the tourism industry has rebounded nicely and the French Quarter remains as entertaining as ever.  We stayed again at the venerable Windsor Court and the service and accommodations remain top-notch.  Many an afternoon was spent nursing a pre-dinner cocktail, often a sazerac, in the Polo Club Lounge on the hotel's second floor while we planned the evening's festivities.

Only way to stroll the streets, with a Bloody Mary in hand!

And a freshly hand rolled cigar!

Jackson Square in the heart of the waterfront, with Saint Louis Cathedral in the background.

Lined with eclectic artists displays.

And the ever prevalent "po'boy"

Cafe du Mond where you can wait an hour for a powdery sugar delight, a Beignet.

The restaurant scene in 'Nawlins is difficult to beat.  Dinner highlights of this trip included Stella!, where one of the dishes, Duck Five Ways, stood out.  We concurred that the Szechwan seared breast may have been the best duck we've ever tasted.  Also notable was Commander's Palace, where memories of the turtle soup will linger long after the meal.  For lunch, we particularly enjoyed the French Market and the mounds of boiled crawfish and blackened alligator that graced the table.   Our favorite dish, however, remains the char-grilled oysters.  For those alone, I'll return again.  Sunday brunch at Brennan's is always a treat, even though it packs in enough calories for a couple of days. 

Char grilled oysters

Boiled crawfish

and alligator at the gritty French Market.

Brennan's "Eggs Husarde"

Oysters Benedict

Irish Coffee

Bananas Foster

Crepes Fitzgerald, thanks Wayne, we had a great time!

Besides the Polo Club Lounge, two other cocktail lounges were impressive, the French 75 Bar at Arnaud's Restaurant and the Sazerac Lounge in the beautifully restored Roosevelt Hotel.  Both spots are very popular, but waiting for a table to enjoy post-prandial libations is worth it.  We've also dined at Arnaud's on prior visits and enjoyed that restaurant as well. 

Restored Roosevelt Hotel lobby

and bar.

For entertainment, strolling the Quarter remains our favorite.  Other than the roving hoards of alcohol-fueled youth who turn Bourbon Street into a game of human pinball, the Quarter is a tranquil place of truly unique architecture.  The graceful balconies, many displaying beautiful floral arrangements, make perfect photographic opportunities.  A casual walk, drink in hand, to explore the variety of shops and galleries, is a great way to spend an afternoon.  Royal Street, with a stop at the Monteleone Hotel's rotating Carousal Bar, always results in a new 'find'.  It's also fun to tour Jackson Square, photograph the iconic Cathedral, and take in the varied work of the colorful street artists. 

We got there 2 days after Mardi Gras,  good time to visit.
The crazies are gone, but the decorations are still up.

I suggest taking one of these tours, well worth it.

Bourbon Street is pedestrian in places,

and runs the gamut!

For music, Frenchmen Street, just outside the Quarter, is the place to go.  There will likely be a band in the street, playing for tips, and several great clubs--Spotted Cat and Three Muses are a couple--are located within walking distance of each other.  If you don't like what you hear at one place, move to a different venue.  If nothing else, New Orleans is not short on the variety of its entertainment options.

And All


Inside and out!

Indeed, the only thing you might be short on in New Orleans is sleep.  But with a cold drink in one hand, a fresh-shucked oyster in another, and shared laughs with family and friends, you won't miss that at all.  May the good times always roll!!

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