New Orleans: Day 1

The first day we got in, we found our way to the hotel in the French Quarter, Place d’Armes. I loved the location—right in Jackson Square, down the block from Cafe du Monde, a couple of blocks from Bourbon Street. The oldest settled location of the city, just my cup of tea. Easy access to all the fun, but quiet and beautiful, and (drum roll, please) affordable. More to come on this hotel as we go along.

Even though the foundation of this blog is gluten-free (GF) living, I love to share the overall experience with everyone because, as you know, not everything has to revolve around eating the way we do. The necessary part, the medical part. We have full lives to live, so I want that to always be evident in these writings.

And now, to the food!

Meal 1: Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters

The brunch buffet at the Court of Two Sisters was our first meal since we arrived so early that day. Lemme tell you, I was a bit nervous about the brunch concept, but it seemed well managed and I was able to figure out ways to serve myself without risk of cross-contamination.

This restaurant is one of the most famous in New Orleans; it’s beautiful, it has live jazz at brunch hours, and a wonderful elegant, airy feel. The brunch was $35 per person, on the higher side of my price range. But for a special first meal, we obliged. You’ll find meals on this trip could be pretty pricey, but as our other options for travel were California and Disney World, we spent a teensy bit more for food on this trip than we normally do in a less expensive location. (Watch for my posts on Door County, Wisconsin. It’s awesome, ladies and gentlemen.)

The items at the buffet were marked for all allergens, including gluten. Several of the items were not marked at all, and I asked the staff about them. While at first a couple of the attendants didn’t understand what it was exactly that I was asking about, once I explained what they were looking for, it was easy. They were more than happy to let me know what was in every dish, and even called out the chef to speak to me personally.

I had roast, shrimp, grits, broiled crawfish, and could have had more dishes…if I had not been so full. Of course there were fresh salads, fruit, and other things as well. There were desserts, such as ice cream and Bananas Foster, which I will be posting more about later from other establishments.

Here are some of the choices. Those specifically marked as “gluten” are unsafe to eat. as you can see, a couple of the choices are no-no’s, but there are some tasty ones that were absolutely fine.

Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great introduction to New Orleans cuisine. And, though it was raining a bit for us, there is a gorgeous courtyard fully visible through the high windows where you can enjoy your meal outside.

Final Score: 5/5

The food was great, the service was excellent, and even though I did have to ask for clarification on a couple of things, it was well worth it. It happens. The restaurant was gorgeous as well, and no nasty gluten side effects!

Meal 2: Dinner at Brennan’s

Both of the meals on this day were heavy hitters. Both are high end, famous New Orleans establishments, and I was so excited to try dinner at Brennan’s. (Side note: I am an avid watcher of the Food Network, and was well aware that the Bananas Foster dish was created in this restaurant, and was totally geeking out wanting to try it.)

Now, I must admit I was very tired and forgot to take a photo of the menu (or my meal, for that matter). It was one of those situations that we hit as gluten-free people…I was exhausted and absolutely famished, and the only possible relief was a glass of water and rather delicious looking bread at the table. The menu was very brief and limited, and a limited menu means limited options for GF. The waiter, though extremely pleasant, seemed a bit vague on his understanding of gluten–and wasn’t very clear if he knew which dishes actually were safe. I was glad when he offered to go to the kitchen to ask about the blackened redfish, which looked like a good choice to me. In the end, it was what I ordered.

I will say that my friend ordered pumpkin crab bisque as an appetizer, and when I tried a bite (after asking if it was GF), I found that it was delightful. It was cream-based and did not contain flour. There were also salads on the appetizer menu, but since I was trying to keep costs down, I declined to order either. My own fault.

My fish was tiny. Like, not usually what you see for a main course dish. But this seemed to be an overall theme with the restaurant; my friend’s bowl of crab bisque was probably about a literal half cup portion. It was good, but I was still hungry in the end.

But we did order the famous Bananas Foster–a dish of bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, flambéed with rum at the table and served over ice cream. It was created at Brennan’s in 1951, and is the pride of the restaurant.

Honestly, I don’t even like bananas. But this was blissful. And I fulfilled my dream of eating somewhere that the Food Network had suggested.

Final Score: 3/5

I did not give this restaurant a lower score because I got sick, because I did not. It was simply the issue of having very few (tiny) choices. The blackened fish was good, but very spicy. I did not mind this, but I know it’s not for everyone. I just didn’t enjoy going to a restaurant to pay $34 for a piece of fish the size of a bar of soap. But such is the style of the restaurant and the experience…I get that.

And truthfully, I would go back for drinks and the Bananas Foster.

Pat O’Brian’s

This is one of those places that you absolutely must try at least once when you go to New Orleans. It’s a bar, for a lack of a better term. But really, it’s made up of large seating areas, both inside (hey, with dueling pianos!), and outside on the patio. The patio is the most famous location, and my personal favorite. Their flagship drink is the hurricane, and trust me–it sneaks up on you faster than you think.

Now, I am not a party girl by any means. But Pat O’Brien’s serves drinks from virgin, alcohol-free, average territory, to knock-you-on-the-floor concoctions. It’s a respectable establishment, so only once during these four days did I see someone completely sloshed and having to be taken to a cab outside.

There are plenty of GF options, but I am sorry–I am not a beer drinker and forgot to ask about GF beer options. However, the drinks I did see were plenty to choose from. So come to Pat O’Brien’s, find a seat on the patio next to the fountain, and rest your feet after a day of shopping.

Also: If you could even possibly pass for being under 21, you must have your ID with you or they will not let you in. Some of the bars on Bourbon Street and the overall French Quarter will allow you in, but simply card you when you try to order the drink. Not this place.

I am 32 and I was carded every time.

Final Score: 4/5

This could easily go up to a five if they have GF beer. They are a huge place, so it would be a bit of a disappointment if they did not have it.

Also, there is a small patio restaurant connected and under the same owner where we did eat dinner days later (more about that on another post). But this is simply a score on the bar, and not of their food. They are separate, though they are connected by the same company, and I consider them completely different animals from one another.

What’s the verdict?

I would say it all went very well. I loved The Court of Two Sisters, Brennan’s was okay, Pat O’Briens was a great place, and I also ventured into a couple of sweet shops that I will discuss on a later post. It was the first day of what would be a beautiful trip that I’m so glad I took.

Royal Street has some absolutely gorgeous shops that you have to stop in. Royal is exactly parallel to (one block over from) Bourbon Street. Bourbon has the drinks, Royal has the shops, and the restaurants are scattered throughout. The connecting streets between them have a little collection of everything. Seriously, take your time and enjoy it.

So what adventures are in for Day 2? We shall see in my next post.

Love, Marie

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