Wandering New Orleans in the Heart of Oyster Season   Leave a comment

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal for the private use of our readers



Swizzle Stick Bar, New Orleans

November in New Orleans brings pleasantly cool temperatures and the heart of oyster season. The city’s classic restaurants are doing brisk business, and several new places of note have opened in the business district. With its intriguing collection of one-off shops specializing in everything from toy soldiers to out-of-print cookbooks, the French Quarter has long dominated the city’s shopping scene, but Magazine Street, particularly the stretch between Jackson and Louisiana, has emerged as a pleasant thoroughfare of boutiques and cafés.


Cochon: Chef Donald Link’s latest effort is a proud celebration of the pig. Set in the business district, it is an airy space with rust-colored walls and plenty of wood accents. The menu has many small plates — the wood-fired oyster roast is superb, and a “boucherie” section is devoted to pork dishes that include excellent ribs with a tart watermelon pickle. Main courses include a tender smoked beef brisket with a zippy horseradish potato salad. Groups of six or more can order a whole roast pig, which comes magnificently dressed on a platter before it is whisked away for carving. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is about $55.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street, Tel. (504) 588-2123; cochonrestaurant.com

Cuvée: Another outpost in the business district, Cuvée is a charming, low-key space with brick walls, soft lights and a menu full of inventive Creole dishes. A starter billed as a spiced shrimp Napoleon arrives as a layered construction of shrimp, crisp mirliton (a vegetable also known as chayote) and a remoulade filling. We also enjoyed the beautifully prepared redfish stuffed with jambalaya risotto accompanied by green tomatoes and sauced with a tasty barbecue butter. A wine list of more than 650 bottles features intriguing sections of “alternative” reds and whites, such as an Elk Cove Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $65.
322 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 587-9001

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Commander's Palac

Mandina’s Restaurant: Easily reached by the Canal Street streetcar, this beloved neighborhood spot has made a comeback over the past several years. It’s a family-friendly, cash-only establishment with a lively bar up front and a generous side dining room. The menu includes one of the best turtle soups in town (boosted with a splash of sherry), a luscious trout amandine and, when in season, impeccably fried soft-shell crab. If you visit on a Saturday, do not miss the special — shrimp Creole. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $40.
3800 Canal Street, Tel. (504) 482-9179; mandinasrestaurant.comCasamento’s. Casamento’s on Magazine Street, opened in 1919, is a no-nonsense period piece (the interior is all glazed tiles, small tables and fluorescent lights) that celebrates the monarch of mollusks, the oyster. Whether raw, fried, stewed, or stuffed into po’ boy sandwiches, the oysters here are superb. It’s not a fancy place, but a memorable Uptown institution. It’s closed during the summer months, when the oysters aren’t so good. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $30.
4330 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 895-9761; casamentosrestaurant.com


Hermes Bar: The stalwart restaurant Antoine’s recently opened this room on St. Louis Street, and it appears to have achieved instant classic status. With a checkered tile floor and dark wood paneling, it is a congenial spot for a drink or for a bite to eat. For the first time in its 169-year history, Antoine’s kitchen is serving po’ boys, having created one just for the Hermes Bar. The Oyster Foch is a feast of fried oysters combined with pâté and Colbert sauce (a meat-based sauce made with wine, butter, shallots, tarragon and lemon juice) on toasted French bread.
725 St. Louis Street, Tel. (504) 581-4422; antoines.com

The Swizzle Stick Bar: Part of Café Adelaide in the Loews Hotel, this smart, contemporary bar is the domain of Lu Brow, a knowledgeable and effervescent woman who delights in showing patrons how her cocktails are crafted. A fine brandy milk punch was followed by our favorite New Orleans potion, a Sazerac, a bracing mix of sugar, Sazerac rye, Herbsaint (a pastis), Peychaud’s Bitters and lemon. Put yourself in her good hands.
300 Poydras Street, Tel. (504) 595-3305; cafeadelaide.com

Magazine Street Shops

Magazine Antique Mall is a warren of dealers offering a wide array of jewelry, watches, antiques, books, prints, china — the list is almost endless. It’s an engaging spot with a lot of funk and junk. (We walked out with a charming teapot from the renowned Belleek pottery works in Ireland, for which we paid $75 — a very good price.)
3017 Magazine Street. Tel. (504) 896-9994; magazineantiquemall.com

Sucré: As its name suggests, this stylish place is devoted to sweets. Aside from the assortment of individual chocolates (absinthe, Port, gianduja crunch, coconut truffles — the list goes on), you will find luscious French-style macaroons in a rainbow of colors and flavors, from the mint-green pistachio to the bright pink strawberry. All are made in the shop’s 4,100-square-foot “Confection Studio” four miles away and delivered fresh daily. They can be packed for shipping (the striped hatbox is particularly fetching), and if you just want a coffee or a gelato, that is also an option.
3025 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 520-8311; shopsucre.com

As You Like It Silver Shop: Here you’ll find an impressive collection of silver objects of every description: decorative pieces, frames, tableware, jewelry and more. Makers include Tiffany, Towle, Reed & Barton and Gorham. All of the pieces are handsomely displayed in wood-and-glass cases. We walked out with a beautiful tea strainer that we certainly didn’t need. If you are missing pieces from a cherished pattern, the staff can offer excellent assistance.
3033 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 897-6915 or (800) 828-2311; asyoulikeitsilvershop.com

Wilkerson Row: Artisan Shaun Wilkerson features his own furniture in this handsome shop. It is all handmade, with cypress being his favored wood, and ranges from tables to hutches to bookcases. The overall style is elegant and spare, suggestive of Shaker but with some ornamental moldings. Strolling through the shop is almost like spending time in a museum; the workmanship is remarkable. Prices range from $295 for night tables to $1,495 for queen headboards to $2,250 for consoles. Mr. Wilkerson counts Jude Law, Ron Howard and Anne Rice among his clients.
3137 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 899-3311; wilkersonrow.com

Perch Foto

Photo and styling by Valorie Hart

perch: Inside this bright house dating to the 1860s you’ll find an eclectic mix of antiques, furniture, decorative objects, lighting fixtures, pillows and fabrics. You will find items as varied as an antique sewing table, a Venetian mirror tray and mercury lamps. In short, all things that would add an eye-catching element or accent to almost any style of interior. Perch also offers a selection of custom furniture.
2844 Magazine Street, Tel. (504) 899-2122; perch-home.com


Commander’s Palace Restaurant: The Commander’s Palace remains in a category of its own. Its luminous Garden Room is one of the prettiest dining venues in the country, and the service is always clockwork efficient and friendly. On our last visit, we enjoyed chef Tory McPhail’s wild shrimp, pan-seared with local Abita beer, followed by a rich bread pudding soufflé. If you are in town on Sunday, the Jazz Brunch is a favorite local tradition. Start with the classic New Orleans eye-opener, a brandy milk punch. Reservations are highly recommended; those in high season should be made several weeks in advance. Average meal per person, excluding beverages, is $60.
1403 Washington Avenue, Tel. (504) 899-8221; commanderspalace.com

Posted November 10, 2009 by Alberto & Valorie in Bed and tango, New Orleans

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