Best of New Orleans

I was in New Orleans May 17 to 21, 2017. While I was there I obviously ate all the things. This blog post is a summary of the highlights of the experience. There’s no Michelin Guide for New Orleans so many thanks to Ben Weider, who basically did all the research about where to eat. So without further ado I give you my NOLA trip organized by fine dining, cheaper eats, and drinks.

Fine Dining first stop: Restaurant August, whose Chef John Besh won the 2006 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Southeast.

This restaurant was absolutely gorgeous; think flowers, wood paneling, and chandeliers. And while the space was spectacular, the food may have been the best I had all week.

Clockwise from top left: shrimp étouffée reimagined as dumplings with squid ink cracklin’, the BEST fried oysters ever in the world ever, the most perfectly crisp stuffed squash blossoms, and “breaded” flounder topped with shrimp and crab fat.

Next up was La Petite Grocery, whose Chef Justin Devillier was the 2016 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for Best Chef South.

This place was so special. The food was great but the service was just amazing. The sous chef Joseph Tiedmann went out of his way to welcome us and it was beyond.

Clockwise from top left: Blackthorn Fizz (gotta have my egg whites!), fabulous crab beignets, almond financier with the most delicious basil ice cream, and yummy turtle bolognese because obvi I had to try that.

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And here’s Sous Chef Joseph, who I of course made take a selfie. He was so great!!

The final fine dining restaurant I visited was Herbsaint. The Chef Donald Link won the 2007 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South and just this year the Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Wilcomb won the 2017 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South.

The space had a sort of art deco vibe but the hanging meats in the back dining room were the best part.

Clockwise from top left: gumbo (because how could I not?), savory and delicious spaghetti with guanciale and friend-poahed egg, grilled cobia aka the best fish I’ve ever had, and a delicious banana brown butter tart.

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Sous Chef Christina was so kind to come out, chat with us, and take a picture. We talked about how rare it is to have so many women working in a restaurant kitchen, which is awesome!

Cheaper eats

Cochon Butcher, whose Chef Stephen Stryjewski won the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South.

As the piggy gal above can attest to, the vibe at Cochon Butcher is obviously lots of fun. The smoky pastrami sandwich (above left) was as smoky as the name implies. The star, though, was the perfectly toasted muffaletta sandwich (top right). I still feel the crunch of biting into the sesame seed bun.

Ruby Slipper Cafe

The Ruby Slipper Cafe is known for their eggs benedicts so we tried many! Left to right is the Smoked Salmon Bennie, the Chicken St. Charles Bennie, and the Eggs Cochon Bennie–man was the pork on that last one tender!

Central Grocery

Since I obviously had to try all the muffalettas, Central Grocery was next on the list. This sandwich was cold rather than toasted but was still really good. It’s also huge: that’s a quarter of a sandwich in the picture above!

Mother’s Restaurant

This place known for their po’ boys. The Famous Ferdi (top right) did not disappoint and the jus it was swimming in definitely didn’t hurt. The best part was the ham served in both the sandwich and on its own with eggs. Tt had an almost cinnamon flavor and was amazing.

Cafe du Monde

Duh, this place is iconic. The beignets come under a mountain of powdered sugar and the cafe au lait comes hot, iced, or frozen. Note that this place is cash only.

Drinks

Bar Tonique

This bar was recommended by multiple bartenders along the way. They had a great beer selection and make a fabulous dark and stormy.

Arnaud’s French 75 Bar

It’s easy to see why this won the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. They offer fantastic cocktails, like the namesake French 75 and the Blackberry Cobbler. It also doesn’t hurt that the classic space is absolutely gorgeous.

The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel

Speaking of classics, I absolutely adored The Sazerac. It had all the old school charm of New York City hotel bars like Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle or the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis. The Ramos Gin Fizz (above right) was out of this world delicious and went down a little too easy. The Sazerac (above center) tasted a little too much like whisky for me but everyone else seemed to love it.

Napoleon House and Pat O’Brien’s

And of course what trip to New Orleans would be complete without a Napoleon House Pimm’s Cup and a Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane?

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