I only had three days in NOLA, but high on my things to do while I was in town was to go out for Oysters Rockefeller. New Orleans is the birthplace, afterall. When in Rome, folks. When in Rome.
Originally, I wanted to go to Antoine's, the restaurant that first created the Oysters Rockefeller, in 1899. But Marshall declared that Antoine's was no fun, and veered me towards Galatoire's instead; he insisted I would enjoy the atmosphere much more.
Galatoire's has been around since 1905 (!), right on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. We showed up around cocktail hour, so the staff was still setting up the restaurant. Can we simply sit down for some oysters and a glass of wine?, Pat asked the Maitre d'. The man, in a perfectly fitted suit, obviously very proud of his post, kindly complied.
What an enchanting restaurant indeed! Check out the wallpaper. Love the ceiling fans.
Ahhh, white linens and real silverware. While I love grubby hole- in-the-wall joints, sometimes, just sometimes, I love this too.
Thing is, the place was not stuffy at all, the way fine dining fancy places can be. All the servers were in tuxes, but it still had a laid back, welcoming vibe. I walked in wearing jeans and orange Adidas, no problem. Bottles of Tabasco and Worcester sat on every table. The balance between fancy and casual was right on.
Naturally, I wanted to order the entire menu, but we had just had a late lunch, so I refrained and limited myself to the Rockefellers and a plate of the shrimp rémoulade, which is a Creole dish. How good of me.
Now, I'm used to little dainty oysters, so you could imagine my astonishment when these babies came out. Oysters bigger than your HEAD. Or at least my fist.
The spinach (just spinach?) was a gorgeous green, mixed with breadcrumbs and lots of garlic. And of course, Herbsaint (or Pernod?). It really is such a curious combination of flavors, but somehow compliments the baked oyster so well.
I don't have any close-ups of the shrimp rémoulade (SAD!) but these were served cold, and were absolutely wonderful. I asked the server how exactly they made them, and he went on a long soliloquy about how they boil the shrimp with a long list of spices for ten minutes, chill, then mix with the tomato-ey, mustard sauce. I loved everything about this dish.
Pat told me that it was near impossible to get a table after 7pm, and the place was always lively and packed. The staff were all exceptionally knowledgeable and seemed to have worked there forever. They possessed a sense of pride in the restaurant that was evident in how they moved through the restaurant. It is a special, magical place.
Galatoire's, I will be back for more!
209 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA