Category Archives: Restaurants

Next from National Theatre at Home: Gillian Anderson plays Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire

This is a big one.

The National Theatre’s live-on-film series presentation that begins today will be the 2014 production of Tennessee Wiliiams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, with Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois and Ben Foster as Stanley Kowalski.

You can watch it free on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel, starting on 21 May 2020 and running through the morning of 28 May 2020.

Must admit that after seeing some of the teasers, I’m not in love with the set, and the accents are…disturbing. But Streetcar has a strong claim to the title of The Great American Play, so this is unmissable.

“Memories, Light the Corners of My Mind…”

(Of course I’m not serious. I’m using it sarcastically.)

Five or six years ago, I was walking down Saint Peter Street in New Orleans, on my way to the world’s best dive bar, Yo Mama’s Bar & Grill, which served the world’s greatest hamburger, the famous and much-missed Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger. (And as you can see, I’m still obsessed with Yo Mama’s and its burgers, and upset that they’ve left New Orleans and moved on to the Dive Bar Heaven in the Sky.)

About a block from the bar, I read the small plaque on the wall at the front of 632 Saint Peter Street, which commemorated the time in 1946 – 47 when Tennessee Williams lived there while he wrote Streetcar.

632 Saint Peter Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Dining: Four Favourites and a Memorial Service

It might have something to do with that fact that since I’ve returned from New Orleans, the economy has crashed and we’re in the midst of a world-wide epidemic, but I find myself thinking back on some of the pleasures of my little vacation, before everything went wrong. Life was so easy then, a month ago.

So I reviewed my favourite New Orleans meals and made up a list of the Best of the Best. I may wind up broke and sick, but I’ve got some lovely memories.

Best Starter

Boom Boom Shrimp at Acme Oyster House.

Best Main

Chicken Bonne-Femme at Galatoire’s.

Best Dessert

Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake at Commander’s Palace.

Best Sevice

Commander’s Palace.

Most Missed

“Did you ever walk into a bar and realise that you’d finally come home? This happened to me at Yo’ Mammas [sic]. Why? A jukebox full of Johnny Cash. Over 100 Tequilas. THE best burger in the World- topped with peanut butter. Lesbian bartenders who could kill you if they wanted. Did I mention the peanut butter burger?” – from Jake Burger’s review of  Yo Mama’s on the World’s Best Bars website.

Granted, my experience with dive bars has been somewhat limited in recent years, but of all the dive bars I’ve known and loved, I loved Yo Mama’s in New Orleans best.  And now it’s gone.

Besides being marvelously unpretentious and friendly, Yo Mama’s had something going for it that no other bar had: It was the home of the justifiably world-famous Yo Mama’s Peanut Butter Burger.

You think I’m joking. I’m not. Yo Mama’s Peanut Butter Burger was, quite simply, the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten. For verification of its greatness, check any of the online restaurant guides like Tripadvisor. This dish was amazing!

Yo Mama’s shut down a few years ago, but soon reopened under a new name with the same menu and staff. Even that bar has since closed. The world is a poorer place without them.

Contra Jake Burger’s note at the top of this section, I never heard a Johnny Cash song during my several visits to Yo Mama’s. The soundtrack was late-60s and early-70s hard rock like Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and Cream, with maybe some Jimi Hendrix on the side, as it should be in any dive bar worthy of the name.

Mr. B’s Bistro — Lunch on 14 February 2020

Mr. B's Bistro

Mr. B’s Bistro

The “B” in “Mr. B’s Bistro” stands for “Brennan”, and in the New Orleans restaurant world, it signifies that you’re in good hands. The extended Brennan family owns and operates more than a dozen of the city’s best restaurants, including Red Fish Grill, Cafe Adelaide, Napoleon House, Ralph’s on the Park, and the jewel in the crown, Commander’s Palace.



This is Mr. B’s Royal Street Salad, made with whole leaf baby Romaine lettuce tossed with crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, and a fresh herb market vinaigrette.



And for the main, I had roast beef, cottage fries with more of that bleu cheese, and string beans. After a week of French, Cajun, and Creole cuisine, it was a very Anglo-American meal.

Café Du Monde — Dessert on 13 February 2020

I’d skipped dessert at Galatoire’s earlier in the day because I knew I’d be spending part of the afternoon eating beignets at Café Du Monde. You have to eat beignets at Café Du Monde when you’re in New Orleans.

Beignets are deep-fried, pillow-like pastries, served hot and covered with powdered sugar. They’re eaten by hand. Etiquette note: Traditionally, you hold a beignet in one hand, while simultaneously using the other hand in a frantic and futile attempt to brush the powdered sugar off the front of your shirt. It won’t work, but people will be impressed when they see you’re making the effort.

The original Café Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862,* the year that the Union Army seized and occupied New Orleans, which somewhat ironically saved the city from much of the destruction that occurred in other Confederate locales.

Café Du Monde seats 400 and is open 24/7, except on Christmas Day and during the more severe New Orleans hurricanes. It shut down for seven weeks of cleaning and physical upgrades after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, for instance.

Best thing about it, other than the delightful setting and beignets themselves, is the price. Café Du Monde is one of those rare tourist “Must-Do” sites that doesn’t gouge its visitors. That serving of three delicious beignets costs less than $4.

*That’s 158 years ago. I did the math.

Galatoire’s — Lunch on 13 February 2020

You’ve probably read somewhere that “Sixty percent of restaurants don’t make it past their first year and 80 percent go out of business within five years” or “The average lifespan of a restaurant is five years and by some estimates, up to 90 percent of new ones fail within the first year”.

Urban legends—none of that is true.

According to Forbes, “…only 17% of restaurants close in the first year, not 90%.”

And then there’s New Orleans, which is probably the home to more “centenarian” restaurants—restaurants that are still thriving more than 100 years after their founding—than any other city in the country.

They must be doing something right to last 100 years. Whatever that “something” is, Galatoire’s, on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, is doing it particularly well.



Founded 115 years ago, Galatoire’s is yet another New Orleans centenarian restaurant, like Commander’s Palace and Acme Oyster House. Five generations of the Galatoire family and descendants have been involved with the running of the restaurant.

Shrimp Remoulade

Shrimp Remoulade

For my simple Shrimp Remoulade starter, the shrimp were boiled and served on iceberg lettuce. The authentic, definitely-not-from-a-bottle remoulade sauce was a quintessential taste of New Orleans.

Chicken Bonne-Femme

Chicken Bonne-Femme

Somewhere under that luscious mound of bacon and caramelized onions is a perfectly seasoned roasted half chicken, complemented by cottage fries.  Highest possible praise for this one. Looking back, it was my favourite main course in a week full of great meals.

Acme Oyster House — Lunch on 12 February 2020

Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House, founded in 1910, has been around almost as long as Commander’s Palace, but in many ways, they’re worlds apart. Commander’s Palace is in New Orleans’ elegant Garden District, while Acme Oyster House is in the raunchy French Quarter. Commander’s Palace is quiet and refined; Acme Oyster House has the look and feel of a good ole honky-tonk. Commander’s Palace provides the most superb service you could find in a restaurant, while Acme Oyster House features a neon sign that reads: “Waitress Available Sometimes”.

What they have in common is that they both serve wonderful food.

Acme Oyster House Interior

Acme Oyster House Interior

Acme doesn’t take reservations, and the line to get into the restaurant starts forming before its 10:30 AM opening. Service is non-stop through an 11 PM closing.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Another day, another rich and filling Gumbo. This one featured chicken and andouille sausage.

Boom Boom Shrimp

Boom Boom Shrimp

This was the main reason I was here. It’s called  Boom Boom Shrimp, and it tastes fantastic. I didn’t count, but I think there were somewhere between 30 and 40 shrimp in that bowl, and I gobbled down each and every one of them. Eleanor Shellstrop would die of envy, if she weren’t dead already.

The fried shrimp are coated in Acme’s homemade sauce, and its sweetness made me think one of the sauce’s ingredients might be honey. I later found some recipes online, which said it was made with mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, and either toasted sesame oil or Sriracha.

The recipes look easy, and if I ever have a fully-functioning kitchen again, I’m certainly going to try this at home.

Commander’s Palace — Lunch on 11 February 2020

Commander's Palace

Commander’s Palace

Nothing lasts forever. The polar ice caps are melting, the West is in decline, and there will eventually come a time when Commander’s Palace is no longer the definitive New Orleans restaurant, if only because New Orleans itself has sunk beneath the waves.

But happily for us, we’ll probably all be dead by then.

Commander’s Palace has been serving fine food since 1893. It has won seven James Beard Foundation Awards, and the list of some of its other awards and critical appreciations goes on for screen after screen on its website.



After being greeted by what seemed like most of the restaurant’s staff, I was given this little amuse-bouche. It’s a miniature king cake, filled with caramelized onion and pepper jack cheese and decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colours of green, yellow, and purple. Two delightful bites.



Gumbo has an infinite number of variations. The server said that this one was called “The Three Little Piggies” because it contained three different forms of pork. (Bacon, sausage, and pulled pork, if I remember correctly.)

Satsuma Glazed Duck

Satsuma Glazed Duck

Love me my duck confit, so when I saw it on the menu, I didn’t bother to read further. The dish was described as “Crispy duck leg confit over Camellia white bean, andouille, and Cajun ham cassoulet with brown butter, turnips, spicy greens, and Louisiana citrus.” I had to see what Commander’s Palace would do with this classic. Would it be the best duck confit I’d ever tasted?

Well, no. It wasn’t.

The problem with setting expectations so high is that anything less than perfection is a disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the dish,  but nothing to remind me that I was dining in one of the most celebrated restaurants in America, either.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake

Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake

While the main didn’t live up to my very high expectations, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake dessert wildly exceded them. I mean, just look at it!

Those are first of the season Louisiana strawberries macerated with a touch of cane sugar, served on a warm buttermilk biscuit.

And I am beginning to wonder why I don’t spend all winter in New Orleans every year.

The 25¢ Martini

25¢  Martini

25¢  Martini

I think the last time I tasted hard liquor was before I was old enough to drink it legally, which was, eh, some months ago. A glass of wine, once or twice a week, is about my speed these days. Nevertheless, when in New Orleans…. I had to try the famous Commander’s Palace 25¢ Martini special. (“Limit three (3) per person ’cause that’s enough. Available with the purchase of any Entrée.”)

But what to order? I glazed over when the server recited the list of possibilities, because being ignorant of what the names meant,  that didn’t help me at all. I knew that I didn’t want a Cosmopolitan, because that was what people drank on Sex in the City, and at the time it slipped my mind what Patsy and Edina would drink. (Answer: Almost anything.} So I asked the server to surprise me.

It seems that cocktails are an acquired taste, and it’s a taste I’m unlikely to acquire. I don’t remember the name of the drink in the picture, but I only drank half of it.

Looks like Windex, doesn’t it?

Pêche Seafood Grill — Lunch on 10 February 2020

Pêche Seafood Grill.

Pêche Seafood Grill

Founded in 2014, Pêche is a newcomer in a city that measures the longevity of its restaurants in decades. It got off to a brilliant start, though, winning that year’s James Beard award for Best New Restaurant in America. The same year, Pêche chef Ryan Prewitt took the James Beard award for Best Chef: South. Pêche regularly turns up on lists of the 10 best restaurants in New Orleans.

The restaurant is a big, airy single room. No dress code here; the accent is on casual comfort.

Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

I joked, a few weeks ago, about preparing for an elegant homemade gourmet dinner by first defrosting the fish sticks. Fish sticks! How silly of me.

When I started to research restaurants for my trip, I noticed something unexpected about the reviews of Pêche: the food critics kept raving about the restaurant’s fish sticks. “You can skip the shrimp toast …but not the beer-battered fish sticks (really)”, wrote one. “Don’t miss the shareable beer-battered fish sticks”, said another. Who’d a thunk it?

Pêche’s fish sticks are indeed excellent. They’re worlds away from the elementary school cafeteria staple that gives fish a bad name.

Now if only someone would reimagine tater tots and chicken nuggets….

Smothered Catfish

Smothered Catfish

“Smothered”, in this context, describes a cooking method used in Cajun and Creole cuisines. It’s basically stove-top braising, and in Louisiana it’s used to tenderize and flavour all sorts of game, domestic animals, seafood, and vegetables.

For my main, I had a fine serving of Smothered Catfish. Or so I thought….

A Disturbing Discovery

I left the restaurant happy and satisfied, a mood that lingered until I took a close look at my receipt and noticed something shocking.

Smothered cat? My god, what had these maniacs served me?

Drago’s — Dinner on 9 February 2020


Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

I arrived in New Orleans late Sunday afternoon, checked into my hotel, and walked down to Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, “Home of the Original Charbroiled Oyster”, for my first meal of this year’s visit to the city. My Colorado brother and sister-in-law had recommended Drago’s years ago, and a visit to the restaurant has become part of my standard New Orleans routine. Drago’s doesn’t take reservations—unusual for New Orleans—but it’s huge, so I knew I’d have no trouble getting in.

The seafood restaurant has an extensive menu, but the specialty of the house is the aforementioned Charbroiled Oyster which the menu describes as “The Single Best Bite of Food in Town”.

Here’s how charbroiled oysters are prepared:

First, the chef places an order of lightly-breaded oysters on the half shell on a grill over a fire.

Then this happens.

After that, the oysters are plated and drenched in melted butter. Lots of melted butter. This is not a meal for the weak of heart, in any sense of the term.

And it comes out here.

You can choose between a serving of six oysters for $13.95 or a dozen for $23.95. I went all-in and ordered the dozen, and had absolutely no regrets.

Lincoln — Lunch on 30 January 2020



Last stop on the January 2020 Restaurant Tour: Lincoln. Lincoln is the sister restaurant—brother restaurant?—of Teddy & The Bully Bar, our previous stop. The restaurants are owned by the same people and have similar menus. Lincoln actually came first, with Teddy opening a few years later.

If the owners ever decide to open a third restaurant with a complementary theme, they could name it after President Eisenhower. “Ike’s Place”, possibly.  After that, they’d be in dangerous territory, because they’d have pretty much exhausted the list of Republican presidents who don’t cause at least mild nausea and indigestion among a sizable portion of the population. Tricky Dick’s Cafe? Donnie’s Wall-burger?

Bacon & Apple Croquettes

Bacon & Apple Croquettes

Brussels sprouts were on the menu here, too, and because I’d so liked the Brussels sprouts at Teddy’s the other day, I was tempted to try Lincoln’s variation. I went with the bacon and apple croquettes, with brown butter-pear puree, pickled cipollini onion, and fried sage instead, because I’d already decided to have steak for the main again, and repeating both the starter and the main seemed a little too OCD.

Grilled New York Strip Loin

Grilled New York Strip Loin

This time, the New York Strip Loin came with smoked fingerling potato, grilled broccoli, and a sherry-mushroom fricassee. Nicely done.

Heirloom Carrot Cake

Heirloom Carrot Cake

Dessert was carrot cake and salted caramel ice cream.