Since our first night in New Orleans ended early (and thanks to the time change), we were up bright and early Sunday, ready to take the city by storm. Our first stop was Cafe Du Monde since it was the one restaurant that everyone recommended as a must visit; it was just down the street from our hotel and located across the street from Jackson Square. Cafe Du Monde is so famous for their beignets and cafe au lait that those two items are just about the only menu options. Although they are open 24 hours a day, they start table service (versus ordering at the window) at 8am. We were in luck as we arrived just before 8…although we had no idea what we were doing/what was going on. Some people were standing in an ever-expanding line, some people were sitting at tables…I am pretty sure everyone was as confused as we were. We had no idea what to do. We eventually decided to sit at one of the last remaining tables and learned about the table service. Right around 8 all the servers came out and started taking orders for the entire section and then bringing all of the orders out on one tray. Of course we ordered the beignets and cafe au lait. I am sorry I have to say…we were both disappointed. Beignets should be light and fluffy and covered with tons of powdered sugar. While Cafe Du Monde’s beignets were covered with the right amount of powdered sugar they were not airy and seemed almost overcooked. The coffee was lukewarm and the service took longer then it should. Cafe Du Monde really reminded me of Pancake Pantry here in Nashville (or maybe like a Kardashian)…it is famous for being famous. I thought it was overrated for breakfast – but may be a good late night snack since they are open 24 hours (as the smell of alcohol induced excrement suggested). I have a much better beignet and cafe au lait recommendation coming up on day 3!
Our next activity was taking a street car to the garden district. Taking the street car was an adventure in itself! We had to take all three lines – St. Charles Line, Canal Street Line and the Riverfront Line – to get to the garden district. The street cars are a fun and cheap way to travel the city! A one day pass costs only $3 with unlimited stops and line transfers. It was fun to watch the operators and see how they drive the street cars. The St. Charles line is the original line and I believe they are still using the original cars based on the cranks that the operator used to move the car. Jon and I both thought it was so cool to watch! We took the line up to Tulane and walked around a park and past the Tulane and Loyola campuses.
As mentioned above the main reason we took the street car was to get to the garden district. I imagined that the garden district would be similar to Savannah with houses surrounding squares. Note to self – not the same thing. The garden district is the location of amazing, beautiful, old and modern, huge mansions! It was so enjoyable to walk up and down the tree-lined streets to see all of the homes! I was even able to google Sandra Bullock’s home address (privacy laws what??!!) so that we could see what it looked like – gorgeous and ginormous! We also passed Napoleon House Restaurant (named since it was offered to Napoleon as a home while in exile, though he never made it) and a few old cemeteries with the above ground graves that NOLA is famous for.
Since we didn’t have enough sugar at breakfast we headed to Sucre – a sweet boutique – after about an hour of walking around the garden district. Sucre was an amazing find by Jon! We tried macaroons for the first time – not a fan. But the red velvet cake and salty caramel gelato were amazing! We even had a little taste of their Tiffany cake since they were handing out samples – delectable! The service was also superb. Make time to visit Sucre!
After Sucre we decided to round out all that sugar so for lunch we tried Gott Gourmet also in the garden district. When we arrived there were a few tables open but the hostess took our name down since they were on a ‘wait’. We later found out that the kitchen was backed up so they were trying to get all the brunch customers out before the lunch crowd came in- thanks for the heads up lady! Though the first impression wasn’t stellar we both enjoyed everything we tried – and our pleasant server made up for the hostess. We split a small order of the mac & cheese (don’t judge – vacation is not about calorie counting!!). It was so creamy and the panko bread crumbs it was topped with gave it just a hint of opposing texture. I ordered the curry chicken salad sandwich served on a croissant and it was so good! I loved the sweetness the grapes in the sandwich offered and was happy to not taste any cashews (why do people put nuts in things??!!). I definitely need to try my hand at homemade chicken salad. Jon tried and loved the St. Patty’s Day Massacre which was a corned beef sandwich with french fries in the sandwich. We both loved our sandwiches but could only eat half since we had already eaten our way around the city.
After another street car ride home and some people watching on our room’s ‘balcony’ we changed for dinner and headed out to Mr. B’s Bistro. We heard that you couldn’t really go wrong with a Brennan’s family restaurant but that they can be over-priced. My first observation was that for the prices I saw on the menu the tables were pretty close together and the atmosphere was more lively (read loud – but this may have been due to the Saints home game) then I would have expected; I also found that it was over-priced as the food was good not great. The thing that was most disappointing though was the service. There are apparently two servers for each floor area (though no one ever tells you this). Side note: one of our servers reminded me of the Jonathan Devoroux character from the movie Double Jeopardy. Since you are not told there are two servers it is almost like they are competing with each other to take your order, and it was very uncomfortable. At one point Jon was eating bread and one of the servers came and took his bread plate while the bread was still in his hand! Then when Jon was signing the bill one server was hovering over him and took it as soon as he signed it – which is a major no in my book. You should wait until the customers leave the restaurant. I probably wouldn’t go back there or try another Brennan’s restaurant. The one highlight was that Ronald Reagan ate there and I sat in his seat.
We ended the evening at Pat O’Briens dueling piano bar. It was definitely not the best piano bar I had ever been too – they had to reference sheet music an awful lot. It was first time that I have even been to a dueling piano bar while a female pianist – she wasn’t that great though. They did play the fun sing-a-longs so it was a fun way to spend the evening!
Day 3, our final day in NOLA is coming up tomorrow!
You can read all about day 1 in New Orleans here.