Monday, October 13, 2008

Two Cathedrals of Fine Dining

I just returned from several days in New Orleans.

I hit two of my favorite restaurants: Cochon and Herbsaint. And I was joined by my friend, Robert, to visit a few of the grande dames of New Orleans cuisine — Galatoire's and Brennan's, which are only a block apart in the city's French Quarter.
Brennan's is known as a prime venue for brunch/breakfast. The restaurant with the distinctive salmon-colored stucco facade is located on Royal Street on the site of a building first constructed in 1795 by the great-grandfather of French painter Edgar Degas.

The 3-course brunch is priced around $35, expensive but not excessively so for the experience.
Our food was tasty, and the house coffee at Brennan's is superb.

The only thing that bothers me about the pricing is that two of the five starters carry supplements — additional charges above and beyond the prix fixe. Three of the five desserts also carry supplements. My view is that supplements should be rare.

We had lunch on Saturday at Galatoire's, located a block north on Bourbon Street. The restaurant facade is surprisingly austere for the reputation that Galatoire's enjoys.

The restaurant observed its 100th year in operation only a couple of months before Hurricane Katrina walloped the city. The atmospherics are great, but diners should stick with the more traditional creole seafood dishes, as opposed to filet with bearnaise.

Actually, Friday lunch is the day when the scene at Galatoire's is most worth observing. The local glitterati are out in force at Galatoire's on that day. To get a vivid picture of what that day is like, you might read this article by food and culture writer Pableaux Johnson.

And, yes, that's exactly how he spells it.

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