Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dining in New Orleans

After 3 nights in New Orleans, I can officially say I'm stuffed. I'm not exaggerating when I say that we likely at 10,000 calories a day. My waistline may never forgive me, but my taste-buds are very satisfied indeed.

Like the good little obsessive travel planner I am, I had scoped out the entire New Orleans dining scene for weeks. It wasn't easy to choose where to eat with so many incredible options. I'm a researcher at heart, so I triangulated Food and Wine, NY Times, Concierge.com and personal recommendations to come up with our plan.  Alas there is too much to try in a long weekend, or even a month, so I couldn't try every place that sounded good, but I like to think we got a pretty good sampling of New Orleans' incredible dining scene.

I wanted a mix of high and low cuisine. A trip to the the Big Easy wouldn't be complete without some down and dirty dining. This is the birthplace of po' boys and muffaletta of course! That led us to try Mother's for their famous po' boys, the ever-popular but awfully dirty Cafe du Monde for beignets, and the atmosphere free mecca of oysters and fried seafood, Casamento's

We of course wanted to explore the exciting high end cuisine on offer, too. A number of great restaurants have re-opened or newly opened post-Katrina, so there quite a few places to choose from. I must admit that the menus of many top restaurants sounded similar and came with entrees priced in the $30-range. I opted for two slightly lower priced restaurants - Cochon, heralded by the NY Time's Frank Bruni as one of THE places to try this year, and Luke, the French-German brasserie opened by John Besh, a Food and Wine best new chef for his more chi-chi restaurant August.

The only plan to fall by the wayside was our effort to try Mr. B's, which I hear has the best Cajun style bbq shrimp around. Alas, it's in the French Quarter, and we opted to tour the Garden District that day instead. Can't complain too much, though, because instead we wondered into Commander's Palace for an over-the-top lunch and a perfect end to an indulgent weekend.

Over the course of the week, I'm going to write articles about the restaurants we checked out, but for now, suffice it to say, there wasn't a single disappointment during our trip, and I may need to eat salads for a week to make up for all that tasty eating!

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