Q. My husband Richard and I will be in New Orleans at the end of September for my birthday. Three other couples will be going along with us. Richard and I would like to host a dinner for everyone on Saturday night. We’d like to do so at one of the nicer places. Then we need a few other restaurants for lunch and dinner-mix of upscale and casual would be great. All in the crowd are foodies and won’t minding paying a fair price for meals. The Frommer’s book has 30 pages of restaurants. Any specific ideas?
A. Café Amelie in the Princess of Monaco Carriage House & Courtyard would be a perfect setting for your birthday dinner. Located at 912 Royal St. in the French Quarter, it was once the home of Alice Heine, who married Prince Albert of Monaco in 1889 — long before Grace Kelly was ever born.
The courtyard setting of the restaurant is removed from the noise of the Quarter and is filled with lush green trees, a soothing water fountain and an excellent bar, all of which you can enjoy while waiting to be seated. The food we encountered on a visit in March was excellent, with a key lime pie at the end capping off the evening in the perfect way.
There are various New Orleans institutions that are well worth checking out. Galatoire’s is still the place for Oyster-Artichoke Soup, while the Acme Oyster House remains the home for oysters on the half-shell or fried in a po’ boy. The briny bivalves should be getting sweeter again by the end of September.
The Sunday jazz brunch at Antoine’s was a pure tourist delight with the original Oysters Rockefeller and Eggs Sardou (poached eggs over steamed artichoke bottoms with Hollandaise sauce) on the menu. Make reservations early.
For brunch outside the Quarter, check out Elizabeth’s on Gallier Street. A plate of Cajun Bubble and Squeak or Grillades and Grits with a Pimm’s Cup on the side is a perfect way to begin the day. The place isn’t fancy. The food isn’t picture perfect. But the flavors are great, the atmosphere is authentic, and you should leave with a smile on your face.
My associate, Cecil Flentge, his wife Pam and I were in the Big Easy in March. We didn’t share all of our meals together, so he has a few additional recommendations: Upperline, known for its duck and Southern traditions; Commander’s Palace is back in great form; chef Susan Spicer has a world-wide menu at Bayona; and chef Duke LoCicero offers contemporary Italian fare at Cafe Giovanni. A new favorite is Brigtsen’s (pronounced Brightson’s) that is serious Creole/Acadian.
If you have any dining questions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.