Monday, August 12, 2013

Traveler Review: New Orleans

Another fantastic review of New Orleans from a Trips with Angie client: 

New Orleans
InterContinental Hotel New Orleans

444 St. Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 496-7621
The hotel was well appointed with all of the usual amenities.  The rooms were mildly dated yet well-kept and most importantly clean (with the exception of a stray ant.)  The balconies for the rooms were spacious and nearly as large as the room itself.  There is minimal privacy on the balcony so do not expect seclusion.  This hotel is in a business area slightly removed from the French Quarter.  It is within walking distance of the quarter and all of New Orleans public transportation including the street cars.  The location allows for a more subdued stay as you are not in the craziness of the Quarter.  The service was excellent and there are several food options such as Luke steps from the hotel. 

Hyatt French Quarter
800 Iberville Street,
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA 70112
Were we to travel there again we would consider staying at this hotel.  Walking through the Quarter I was in need of a restroom and stumbled upon this Hyatt.  The staff was outside scrubbing the sidewalks, and was very polite as we entered the building.  The lobby was beautifully done, and the restrooms were modern and clean.  The location puts you nearly on Bourbon St. and were you to not want to venture far, this would be the place to stay. 

In terms of a car, we didn’t rent one.  There really was no need.  We took a total of 3 cab rides.  To and from the Airport for a total of $80 ($33 fare, $7 tip) and one to St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 for about $25 round trip.  The hotels charge between $30-40 per day to park the car, so we made out by walking and cabbing it although we did not have the time to explore much more than the French Quarter.

Food and Drink
800 Tchoupitoulas St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 528 9383

The restaurant is in what seems to be like an old warehouse district.  A 15 minute walk from the hotel, it was easy to find with several bar options on the way in case of thirst.  The restaurant is decorated modernly with wall to wall wine cellars.  I really liked the restrooms which have ceramic tile walls containing black and white photos of Emeril in culinary school, with celebrities, and family.  The service was very attentive to the point of being intrusive, but I attribute this to our waitress having been on the job for only one week.  She was as excited as we were but felt as if she was sitting at the table with us.  The rest of the service staff, between eye rolls at our waitress, was excellent as you would expect.  Since it was Easter brunch they had live music in the bar area that the entire restaurant could hear with the doors to the restaurant open out to the street as it was a beautiful day.  We started with a Warm Mississippi Rabbit Remoulade over Fried Green Tomatoes, and a citrus salad.  This course was one of the highlights of the trip.  His preparation of Rabbit made us long for more and would prefer it as an entrée choice to either pork or chicken due to its texture and richness.  The green tomatoes, which were also in Jackie’s entrée, had wonderful cornmeal batter.  I followed that up with a bowl of Chicken and Andouille gumbo, which had homemade Andouille sausage.  For our entrees we had Sea Scallops Benedict (Fried Green Tomatoes, Shaved Prosciutto, Poached Egg, Baby Spinach, Citrus Hollandaise, Caviar) and Chicken and Waffles (Fried Organic Chicken, Sweet Corn-Belgian Waffle, Watermelon Slaw and Crystal Hot Sauce Syrup.)  The food did not disappoint and the cocktails were successful with the meal as well.  I would definitely eat there again. 

Café Du Monde
1039 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
(800) 772-2927
The landmark beignet café lives up to its billing, providing guests with a monstrous dose of powdered sugar on a light and airy French donut.  The lines during prime time in the morning and on the weekends are substantial, but move very quickly.  The place is very hectic with servers flying around with cups of coffee and trays of beignets.  The service was efficient and it is a New Orleans institution but don’t expect a relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy your donuts.  Reasonably priced and open 24 hours.

Central Grocery
923 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 523-1620
Another French Quarter institution serving arguably the best Muffaletta sandwiches in all of New Orleans.  If you enjoy olives, a variety of cured meats on a monstrous loaf of freshly baked bread, you will enjoy this stop.  They also ship their sandwiches  nationwide if you get a taste for them upon your return home. 
Acme Oyster House
724 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 522-5973
Typically one would expect an oyster house in the touristy part of any town to be overpriced and not necessarily serve the best cuisine.  Acme breaks both of these conventions with relative ease.  The service in this highly hectic restaurant/bar can be friendly but aloof.  The grilled oysters were to die for, and the Oyster-Po-Boy was the best representation in style and flavor I have ever experienced.  They had a decent tap selection offering local beers and on any trip down to NO I would return. 

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
941 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 593-9761
Renowned as the oldest structure used as a bar in the US dating back to the early 1700s.  Many people like to stop in for a drink to enjoy the ambiance of a bar from days gone by.  Other than an interesting back story there isn’t much separating this bar from any of the other 100s lining the French Quarter.  It was disappointing overall and had cleanliness issues. 

Crescent City Brewhouse
527 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 522-0571
A typical brew-pub type with an adequate selection of their own beers designed to please any palate.  The beers were traditionally to style and there was nothing unique or outstanding about them.  The greatest benefit to visiting here is that the upstairs bar/patio has a great view of the river for watching boat traffic.  A beer aficionado should stop in, but New Orleans really isn’t known for their beer scene, its more about the mixed drinks. 

Carousel Bar
214 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 523-3341
The bar resides within the Hotel Monteleone.  The bar revolves around the center of the room constantly changing your view as you enjoy a cocktail or beer.  It is a charming place to enjoy a few and people watch.  Just an aside, this is where my grandparents got engaged over 60 years ago.  It has a rich and storied history. 

Coop’s Place
1109 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-9053
If you are one for dank, dusty, and dirty bars this one would be right up your alley.  It was hot, dark, and crowded.  It comes with a rough feel as though you are somewhere you shouldn’t belong.  Those descriptions aside the service was attentive and relatively speedy.  We enjoyed a nice helping of Fried Oysters and some Abita beers.  It was fairly priced and actually has a reputation of serving some of the best food in the area.  Get their early if this is a place where you want to eat because lines form quickly.

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 Saint Louis Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 581-4422

Another New Orleans institution.  There is a bar as well as a restaurant.  We sat at the bar and had a few absinthe drinks as the bartender informed us of the history and signifance of the restaurant, none of which I remember.  It was charming enough for about one cocktail then we hit the road for more adventures as it was pricey.

Lüke Restaurant

333 Saint Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
 (504) 378-2840

This restaurant is right across the street from the InterContinental hotel.  Stopped in for brunch and had a monstrous serving of eggs, bacon, biscuits, grits and fresh fruit.  The coffee was delicious and I cannot remember ever having grits that surpassed the quality, texture, and flavor of Luke’s.   This is a John Besh restaurant and his homage to a French brasserie.

Cochon Restaurant

930 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone:(504) 588-2123

This is also a hotspot restaurant in the warehouse district near Emeril’s.  The restaurant prepares interesting traditional Cajun Southern with a modern twist.  Cochon prides itself on using locally sourced pork, fresh produce and seafood, focusing on traditional methods, creating authentic flavors of Cajun country.   The restaurant is set in a rustic, yet contemporary interior of a renovated New Orleans warehouse.  It is a bustling restaurant and reservations are highly recommended.  We started with pork spare ribs as an appetizer and they were perfectly crafted and very delectable.  The rabbit dish which tasted like a Cajun pot pie was one of the highlights of all the meals we had in the city.  The Louisiana Cochon was a disappointment unfortunately tasting very plain and having a tacky dry texture.  For foodies, this is a spot you must go once to say you were there. 

Other food and drink options:  Stop at Pat O’Briens for the legendary Hurricane, and hit the Tropical Isle for a Hand Grenade.  Both delicious drinks that will set the tone for a festive day in the French quarter.  Don’t be afraid to stop in any of the numerous pizza shops for an alcoholic slushy and a piece of pizza.  It can be very affordable and the pizza is actually decent. 

Go to a cemetery.  There are three cemeteries in or near the quarter and are excellent tourist spots as these cemeteries have not only a tremendous amount of history, but are far different than most cemeteries people are familiar with.  They bury the dead above ground in open graves or closed crypts that are also above ground.   St.Louis #3 is the safest but the furthest from the quarter.  A cab ride from the hotel and back was about $25 with tip. 

Feel free to dance the night away.  The Quarter has a plethora of nightclubs and entertainment.  Dancing is possible just about anywhere and it is a comfortable place to do so, because just about everyone you encounter is socially lubricated. 

Check out Royal St.  There are numerous eclectic shops and art galleries along this street.  An excellent spot for people who enjoy shopping.  Two blocks south of Royal is a fine art photography shop on the corner of Bienville and Chartres called A Fine Gallery.  Their photography rivals that in any museum.  Take a gander at pictures valued in excess of $150000 by names such as Ansel Adams, Steichen, or Helmut Newton. 

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