New Orleans Restaurants and Hotel

New Orleans Restaurants

Compere Lapin turned out to be our favorite New Orleans restaurant on this trip. Although we usually share different dishes, we were both so intrigued by the sound of the fried oyster sandwich (topped with a moderately-spiced pickled vinaigrette salad and pineapple tartar sauce) and a side of house-made fennel chips that neither of us was willing to share. (Good thing, since neither of us left a bite). The one-course feast began deliciously with a wonderful buttermilk biscuit served with honey-chive butter with sea salt. While we had already planned our dessert (lemon curd with chiffon cake and poppy seed ice cream), we finished so filled that we were unable to even order it.

La Petite Grocery, a restaurant to which we had gone and loved on our last trip. This time we made a repeat of the blue crab beignets with malt vinegar aioli we still remembered (although slightly less enthusiastically this visit) and the very rich and creamy (unlike what grandma used to make) roasted mushroom pierogi with sauerkraut and brown butter appetizers. These were followed by a very tasty paned rabbit with spaetzli and wilted greens on turnip puree, topped with sauce grenobloise  and a much less interesting shrimp and grits with roasted shitake, smoked bacon and thyme.

Cochon, the very popular, casual Donald Link restaurant. We loved each of our three dishes: wood fired oysters with chili-garlic butter, crawfish and green tomato casserole and the piece the resistance, a fried oyster, bacon and green tomato sandwich with aioli.

Maypop, an Asian-influenced take on New Orleans cuisine where we had two very good dishes, in addition to a complementary amuse bouche and final bite. Our meal began with an amuse bouche of Thai curry beignet with coconut-wasabi cream and sprinkled with lime powder and ended with espresso caramel truffles. In between, we enjoyed both our dishes: wok-fried egg noodles with jumbo shrimp, turmeric curry and pea salad, and especially crisp-skinned sheephead (a Gulf fish) with artichoke and olive citrus marmalade.

Herbsaint, where we had two dishes: Louisiana shrimp, gulf fish and cucumber ceviche in a slightly tomato-y sauce topped with pepitas, and jumbo shrimp on a bed of faro, artichoke and fried maitake mushrooms. While both were fine, we weren’t excited by either.

Pesce, where Tom’s meal was supposed to begin with the seafood gumbo and then move on to a Louisiana shrimp roll (which Joyce also ordered). The wait was much longer than expected for a period in which there were few customers. When the food did arrive, the gumbo was barely luke warm. Tom asked for it to be reheated and returned as he was finishing my shrimp roll. The less then memorable gumbo ultimately did come back hot, but not until 20 minutes after we had finished our rolls (when, he asked our server 10 minutes after we had finished, she impatiently told us if would come). The shrimp rolls, meanwhile, were huge. While they did have too much mayo for our tastes, they were loaded with shrimp and very tasty, with a slight tang. And just across the street we spotted the Auction House Market, presumably an old auction house that has been repurposed into a food hall with perhaps a dozen food and specialty drink stalls around the sides and in the middle, a gleaming, white-tiled bar counter and tables around which patrons can buy alcoholic drinks and eat.

Arnaud’s Jazz Bistro, our first, and probably only visit to a New Orleans institution. with so many of the restaurants to which we intended to go were closed, we took a chance on an old classic with an interesting menu. The bistro serves the same menu as the restaurant but also features a three-man jazz band (with a nominal $4 per person cover) that strolls among tables to play abbreviated, sanitized versions of requested songs. Dinner began with a chilled Shrimp Arnaud with a bland creole remoulade. Joyce’s lump crabcakes with white remoulade sauce were somewhat better (although the crab was more minced than in solid lumps). Tom’s lightly fried frog legs Provençale with herb saint garlic butter, meanwhile, were tasty. Less so was the overly chocolatey (a taste that was not mentioned on the menu) pecan pie with candied pecans and caramel sauce.

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A couple of our meals consisted of Oyster Happy Hours at different restaurants. These included:

Luke where we shared a couple dozen very good raw oysters, followed by a couple dozen fried P&J oysters and a somewhat disappointing seafood and sausage gumbo, for luck. While Joyce stuck with her preferred pinot gris, Tom sampled two Crystal Eagle Pale Ale and his preferred NOLA Hopatoulous IPA. Great prices during happy hour.

Grand Isle, where we had a couple dozen less interesting raw gulf oysters and steamed shrimp served with steamed mushrooms, corn, boiled potato and baked garlic (of which we enjoyed the first three), followed by an order of delicious homemade onion rings. Tom had a Jucifer IPA.

New Orleans Hotel

Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown/French Quarter.This is an old building which with very high ceilings in the room. When we first walked into the lobby, we thought it was under renovation. But no, it is just an older place with concrete floors. Rooms are not huge, but are big enough and comfortable. Wifi was a little slow, but it worked. AC was fine. We could hear street noise so if noise bothers you, ask to be in a quiet room. Our biggest issue is that the bathroom light is motion sensitive which means it goes on at night if you have to go in. Does it really need to turn on at 3 AM? The bathroom also has a night light which is always nice—especially if you are able to turn off the automatic light fast enough. The shower door needed to be resealed so we had lots of water on the floor after each shower. (We did report it but it was not fixed while we were there.)  We do appreciate the cleaning person not rearranging our toiletries each day. Tea was not replaced in our room after the first day and the tea downstairs did not include our preferred flavor. Good breakfast is included with eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, waffles, bread etc. Good location, a 10 minute walk to the French Quarter.

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