New Orleans is a city of multifaceted contaminations so its Creole cuisine mingles the flavors of many world regions such as the Caribbean, France, Spain, Portugal, and even Italy with local American culinary traditions and African influences. The inspirational sources of this cuisine are as numerous as the Jazz Clubs hiding out in this city. Prized ingredients such as shrimps and oysters, artfully dosed with retro atmospheres, have made the largest city of Louisiana a gourmet Mecca for lovers of Creole and Cajun cuisine, which does not always come at an affordable price.
Here are some tips for making the most of your budget.
From 0 to 25 Euro
Before visiting any city, it is always useful to admire it from above. Hot Tin is a bar located on the top floor of the Pontchartrain Hotel in Lower Garden District: it offers a 270-degree view of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi river. The cocktail to order is the awarded Death in the Afternoon, made out of absinthe and Champagne (it comes at 12 Euros with a couple of nibbles).
Fresh cage-free eggs cooked to order, hot pancakes, country style bacon and sausages, roasted potatoes, sliced seasonal fruit, artisan bread, fresh roasted coffee and selection of leaf tea for gourmets. This sumptuous breakfast can be found at the Rib Room, the cult venue inside the luxurious Hotel Omni Royal Orleans. In 50 years of service, the Rib Room has racked up a number of famous diners, from Luciano Pavarotti to The Rollings Stones and Robert Redford to Paul Newman. The magical experience will cost you 22 euros.
No praise can be too high to describe this splendid old hotel, the legendary Monteleone, with its magnificent lobby. A “family” hotel, now run by the fifth generation, has clocked up 127 years of business activity. Positioned in downtown New Orleans in the heart of the French Quarter on Royal Street, its recent makeover has cost millions. No visit to New Orleans would be complete without dropping in at the Carousel Bar & Lounge on the hotel premises. This is an authentic bar with a circular counter looking like a 25-seat luminous merry-go-round, decorated in the style of a circus. Vogue Living recently described it as one of the top 20 bars in the world and particularly recommended its Sazarac cocktail. Naturally, the music on offer here is live jazz. Every 15 minutes the bar counter rotates and its prices are such that you can afford to indulge in more than just one cocktail.
At Brennan’s restaurant, chef Slade Rushing draws inspiration from French and Spanish influences with contemporary updates. Even the dining room reflects the elegance of the old continent, but the real attraction is the two-floor cellar housing 15,000 bottles, whose second floor is almost entirely given over to Burgundy wines and 100 selections of champagne and spumante. Your budget will stretch to a couple of glasses or, alternatively, just one glass and one food course from the menu. Enthusiasts flock here for the New Orleans BBQ lobster dressed with Creole spiced butter, lemon confit, thyme and Portuguese bread, priced 18 Euros.
Ross Dover is a Louisiana-born chef who, together with pastry chef Patricia Morton, works in one of the top fine dining restaurants of the city. The August restaurant is located in a historical 19th century French Creole building in the central business district. Once inside, it is a triumph of columns, mahogany surfaces, and period-style mirrors. One of the most popular dishes of this establishment is the Flounder Pontchartrain with shrimps, crab, mushrooms and Béarnaise sauce. You can afford to order three courses or, for 77 dollars, to choose A Tasting of Farmers Market Vegetables, a salad of Brussels sprouts and apple, crisp shallots, crème fraîche, and sunflower seeds. When it comes to Patricia’s desserts, her Cheesecake with tonka beans, apple, Calvados, lime and milk crumble is memorable.
Antoine Alciatore started his culinary career in 1840 by opening a simple "boarding house". Since then, Antoine's has been run by several generations of the same family and is now a cult venue. The signature dishes are Oysters Rockefeller or Eggs Sardou, but what really makes it different is that Antoine’s offers 14 separate dining rooms, each one of which has its own story to tell. The most fascinating of all is the Mystery Room, complete with a secret passage dating back to the Prohibition period.
The winner of six James Beard Foundation Awards, the Commander's Palace, which dates back to 1860, has now become a gourmet legend. Together with chef Tory McPhail, its owners have transformed this venue into a restaurant of international standing, one of the few to serve Creole Haute Cuisine with something of an avant-garde approach. The 25 cent lunchtime Martini served in the courtyard under the oak trees is quite an experience. Then you can go on to order the menu without wine at 70 Euros, and enjoy the famous turtle soup and bread pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce.