Our staff loves to travel and we always get the pleasure of hearing about where they ate and drank. Most recently, Saman (AKA Baguette Hunter)...
This is the end of March, Jazzfest and Mardi Gras are over, the temperature hovers around 70, with an unexpected breeze at times; the delirious reveling hoards have moved on, and the swampy hurricane season has not yet arrived; maybe the perfect time to escape the Acela corridor for a long weekend in New Orleans.
Consider staying in the Marigny for some calm, about a 10 minutes walk from the French Quarter. You can start every morning at Who Dat’s for strong coffee, White Russians, and stupid good brunch, served on the patio (the owner will set up more tables in front of his home next door if need be). Ashtrays at each table, no need to ask. The corn cakes rancheros and fried catfish bene are a must. The Elysian Bar, occupying the former 150 year old Saints Peter & Paul church rectory, possesses the elegance that Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware aspire to but never attain. The bar itself gets more tiki/art-nouveau, and opens to the courtyard; drink the Mai Tai there, made with Smith + Cross and El Dorado 5 year.
Passing through the French Quarter, you might stop at Touchet’s for a bathroom break, found in the carpeted basement that looks and smells just like grandma’s, and catch up on the PGA tour on one of the flat screens. Gayle, the charming proprietor, mixes a refreshing Pimm’s cup. She's working for a below ground pool someday, she says.
Didn’t pack proper clothes for Commander’s Palace et al. and wasn’t looking for latest Keith McNally/Sean Brock derivative restaurant but Marjie’s Grill slaps. Gulf jumbos tossed in lemongrass/sambal butter, “not too oily” ember roasted gulf fish, tom som salad, with a bottle of Viña Tondonia Blanco was worthy of a deathbed meal.
Back in Marigny, Mimi’s serves 'tapas’ and combos until very late. Order the Trust Me Tapa and see what happens. We got a giant delicious bowl of hot & sour soup, made with lots of smoked brisket, egg noodles, and shitake mushrooms. Maybe Kajun’s Pub for 24-hour karaoke after that.
A pilgrimage to Willie Mae’s for fried chicken, rice, and beans is mandatory. Arrive just after 2pm on a weekday for no lines.
Snag a table late weekday afternoon at Bacchanal, bring a deck of cards to pass the time before sunset, and by then the floral sheen on the Tempier Bandol Blanc has faded to show more mineral clarity. The Bouchard Val de Vilaine does not disappoint, but order some bravos potatoes at least for nourishment. Many are eager to make Bacchanal happen in their own respective cities, but the old trees that canopy the yard, the buzz of crickets at nightfall, and the calibre of their musicians cannot be bought.
We never found Bourbon Street. I got beignets from the Cafe du Monde airport kiosk before departure.
- Saman Housseini