FEATURE Taking It Easy in the Big The French Quarter at Dusk, courtesy of The Windsor Court Easy By Barry Bassis and Demetra M. Pappas T he driver who picked us up at and cooked exactly as ordered. Save room for “The Very Thought of You” was romantic Louis Armstrong Internation- dessert, especially the classic bread pudding. while “St. James Inﬁrmary” had rowdy new al Airport told us that he had The Windsor Court (300 Gravier St., lyrics courtesy of Brown. As a special treat, to turn down his last job. The call came (888) 596-0955; www.windsorcourthotel. the Grammy-winning trumpeter-compos- soon after he started making red beans com) is a deluxe, English style hotel; we had er-bandleader Irvin Mayﬁeld joined the and rice and he could not interrupt cook- a spacious suite with a balcony overlooking group for the last number. ing. Food is a high priority in New Orleans, the Mississippi River. The Grill Room (504- Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter St., 504- which is one of the reasons it is our favor- 522-1994) is the hotel’s award-winning res- 522-2841) presents traditional jazz in a room ite American city to visit. Almost every- taurant, where we enjoyed both lunch and with no frills and no ampliﬁcation. The mu- where we dined, there were wedding and dinner. Chef Drew Dzejak’s cuisine makes sic ranged from a rollicking “Sweet Georgia bachelorette parties. Here, you can ﬁnd imaginative use of the freshest ingredients, Brown” to a reverential piano solo version splendid food in luxurious surroundings like crabs and scallops, and sommelier Sara of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” On Sunday for less than the cost in most other parts Kavanaugh will ﬁnd the perfect wine to ac- morning, we headed to the House of Blues of the country. company your meal. (225 Decatur St., 504-310-4999) for the gos- Within a couple of hours after we arrived, For late night entertainment, we paid a pel brunch. The artists performed “When we took a short walk to dinner at Mr. B’s visit to Irvin Mayﬁeld’s Jazz Playhouse in the Saints Go Marching In” and “Amazing Bistro (201 Royal St., 504-523-2078) in the the Royal Sonesta Hotel (300 Bourbon St., Grace” along with folk tunes, such as “The French Quarter. For a spicy start, order the (504) 553-2299, www.sonesta.com). The Hammer Song” and “This Little Light of gumbo ya-ya; for a less spicy starter, try the featured performer was Leon “Kid Choco- Mine.” The food was served cafeteria style seafood gumbo. The rack of lamb was tender late” Brown, an engaging trumpeter-singer. but with an omelet station. Suite at The Windsor Court 100 • Resident April 2011 On every trip to New Orleans, we have a range of breakfast or lunch dishes, such as meal at Arnaud’s (813 Rue Bienville, 504- catfish po-boy or a crawfish platter. 523-5433). We began with the addictive For the last three days, we stayed at soufflé potatoes in béarnaise sauce and Hotel Le Marais (717 Conti St., 504-525- Shrimp Arnaud. If you have trouble 2300, www,hotellemarais.com), a newly deciding on a main course, try the delicious renovated boutique hotel in the heart of combination of Veal Tournedos Chantal the French Quarter. The room was snug but (which is sautéed and served in a wild comfortable; all the furnishings are tasteful mushroom sauce) and Crawfish O’Connor and new, with wide-screen televisions and (baked in a brandy-infused Creole tomato complimentary WiFi; a free continental based sauce). breakfast is served in the bar area. For Another Creole gem is Broussard’s dinner our first night, we went to Bourbon (819 Conti St., 504-581-3866), an elegant Orleans (a hotel owned by the same group) restaurant with a lovely courtyard. Have a and ate at the elegant Roux on Orleans classic local dish, like oysters Bienville, and Restaurant (717 Orleans St., 504- 571- follow it up with the restaurant’s version 4604). We had a feast prepared by executive of bouillabaisse, which is spicier than the chef Guy Sockrider, whom we had seen on YouTube preparing turtle soup. His shrimp absinthe is sinful and so was the enormous pork chop. Bread pudding with caramel is a tasty twist on a local dessert. The Ritz Carlton Hotel of New Orleans (2020 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504- 566-5090), has a new service, “The Velvet Massage.” Inspired by Japanese bath Hotel Le Marais tradition, the treatment begins with a warm exfoliation cream with Cherry Blossoms French original. and Rice Powder. Then, an exfoliating On the day of our visit, it was too cold towel massage softens skin and invigorates to sit outside at the Court of Two Sisters the body. A unique foot massage based on (613 Royal St., 504-522-7273), but we reflexology revives vital energy complete had an enjoyable time indoors, listening with a full body massage of melted aromatic to the live jazz and sampling the bountiful Shea butter bringing blissful relaxation. The brunch buffet. As the Amy Sharpe trio treatments, which begin on the hour, allow played “Ain’t Misbehavin,” we wondered if ample time for clients to lounge on beds and we were misbehavin’ by overeatin.’ coaches, while chatting or reading. The Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington shower area has every amenity imaginable, Ave., 504-899-8221) has an illustrious including exfoliation ocean salts which history from Paul Prudhomme and Emeril bathers can mix to their preference. Lagasse to the current chef Tory McPhail. The Historic New Orleans Collection Situated in a Victorian mansion in the (410 Chartres St., 504-523-4662, www. Garden District, this is the ultimate in hnoc.org) has a superb exhibition New Orleans dining. The menu is always commemorating the centennial of changing but one perennial is the three soup Tennessee Williams’ birth: “Drawn to sampler: turtle, seafood gumbo and soup du Life: Al Hirschfeld and the Theatre of jour (black-eyed pea soup on the day of our Tennessee Williams,” on view through visit). The ribeye with Tabasco onion rings April 3, 2011. The exhibition brings and osso bucco were delicious but we had to together highlights from the collection’s save room for the bread pudding soufflé and permanent holdings and dozens of strawberry shortcake. drawings by the legendary artist, who The Palace Café (605 Canal St., 504- was a self-described “characterist.” The 523-1661) has the look of a French signature linear calligraphic style drawings brasserie but this restaurant serves are accompanied by photographs, playbills inspired riffs on Creole cuisine. Crabmeat and other memorabilia, culled from around cheesecake with pecan crust turned out to the country by curators Mark Cave of The be succulent as was the andouille-crusted Collection and David Leopold of the Al drum fish. Having started with one winning Hirschfeld Foundation. cheesecake, we ended with another, this For an introduction to the city, Adventures one containing blueberry cobbler. in New Orleans (516 Canal St., 504-523- Breakfast at Brennan’s (417 Royal St., 9745, www.neworleansadventuretours. 504-525-9711) is the best possible way to com) offers historical, architectural and start the day, including local specialties like cultural tours that also include the Ninth turtle soup and grillades and grits. End Ward and ongoing efforts to rebuild both with the dessert the restaurant created: basic buildings and those vying for space in bananas foster, made tableside. Architectural Digest. For a light meal, stop by Café Beignet Louis Armstrong used to sing “Do (311 Bourbon. 504-525-2611), where you You Know What It Means to Miss New can try the namesake pastry, and also a Orleans?” Yes, we surely do. Hotel Le Marais Resident April 2011 • 101
"New Orleans review"