Upon my research, I read over and over on Chow.com and other blogs about New Orlean's insitutions - Antonie's, Galatoire's and Arnaud. I made dinner reservations for the first two restaurants and hoped for the best. There are mixed reviews of service and food but since it was my first visit I wanted to visit the historical places. The French Quarter established in the 1700s so there are so many places over 100 years old.
I hear Galatoire's was a place to be seen and to bump elbows with New Orlean's finest. I read regular customers have preferred servers and even have house accounts at the restaurant. Galatoire's is located on Bourbon Street and since our reservation was at 9pm it was an obstacle to walk to the restaurant. The street was already filled with party goers and mardi gras beads flying everywhere.
Bourbon Street at night
Ladies, be careful a couple of Mardi Gras beads whacked me in the head
We were greeted at the host stand after a few minutes of waiting. The restaurant was full with large parties and customers dressed to the nines or in business attire. The men were in suits and jackets, the women in cocktail dresses or suits from St. John. I even spied a Coco Chanel looking lady in a tube dress with a mink wrap. The style is very old school, classy and the days of yore.
Our server welcomed us to Galatorie's and made sure we got our bread while browsing the menu. Our server was available, walked by frequently, but we definitely did not have the connection or affection like the other regular customers, which is understandable.
The food was only fair and decent and expensive. I noticed after we placed our order, our server walked to the kitchen and brought our food right out. The food was room temperature as if the dishes were prepared in advance and kept warm. The temperature was an issue because the food was devoid of aroma or fragrance which hits the nose before consuming.
I liked the atomsphere of the restaurant - fluer de lys wallpaper, glowing field of fan chandliers, and mirrors all along the wall. The servers are all male, middle age and dressed in suits.
The bread was a french bread seen all about town, probably from Leidenheimer. We started with the oyster rockefeller. The dish was room temperature, pumply filled with the spinach and bread topping with the briny liquid from the oyster.
Next was the Hudson Valley foie gras on brioche, served with a chunky apricot jam reduction. The apricot was as big as the brioche bread, very overwhelming as an accompaniment.
The gumbo was the highlight of the meal, it was chock full of big pieces of seafood - oyster, shrimp and crab. The flavor was subtle but smoky, I could eat a big bowl of the gumbo for days.
We ordered a half order (one) fried soft shell crab, again the crab was room temperature lacking in crispiness and cold legs. The soft shell crab was more bitter than sweet.
Our server recommended the Crabmeat Sardou - a bed of cream spinach, heart of palm, crab meat and hollidaise sauce. The dish was at room temperature and had large pieces of crab, it was a wonderful combination of ingredients.
We ordered a side of souffle potatoes served with béarnaise sauce. The sauce was creamy, herby from parsley and worked very well with the crispy potato.
We ended our meal with the recommended banana pudding. The server kindly split the dessert for us and it was served with a thick sticky caramel sauce.
My taxi driver who was "born and bred" in New Orleans told us Galatoire's was a place to be seen and the food was second fiddle. Overall, I had a great experience at Galatoire's, the servers were friendly, interesting people watching, the decor of the place, and how it felt like another world once we exited the restaurant.
209 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130