Writer’s Note: I was impressed with the feedback generated by yesterday’s feature on the best restaurants in New Orleans (READ: A RESTAURANT GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS). It’s good to know many others have similar tastes and recommendations. Here’s a follow up with a review which explains more about a typical New Orleans dining experience.
Translated from the French “bon ton” literally means “good form.” Perhaps the most common expression you might hear is “C’est de bon ton,” which means “this is good.”
When it comes to the famous but quaint Bon Ton Cafe in New Orleans — C’est de bon ton!
I initially heard about the Bon Ton Cafe from a local barber named Jack, owner of Jack’s Barber Shop located on Magazine Street. I took his sage advice and have since visited this holy place about 40-50 times. I’ve since lost count along with the calories. Always a delight (never a miss, not even once), Bon Ton Cafe is one of the most consistent restaurants in the city when it comes to supreme quality.
So, why do I keep coming back?
It all starts with the ownership, Wayne and Debbie Pierce. This lovely couple took over the Bon Ton Cafe way back in 1967 and have since run it daily. Incredibly, during all the times I’ve dined here, I’ve always seen one of the Pierce’s inside the dining room. They make you feel like a personal guest inside their own home. You don’t get that personal touch elsewhere. Charm has become a lost art. Not here. It’s part of who they are and what Bon Ton is.
Writer’s Note: New Orleans is my favorite city in America. Over the next 18 days and nights, I’ll be here and will share with you what I love about this special place. With the final WSOP Circuit stop of the season now happening at Harrah’s New Orleans (May 8-20), followed by the WSOP National Championship (May 22-24), many poker players and their colleagues will be coming into town, as well. Hope to see you in the Big Easy!
The title of today’s article was originally going to be — “Top Ten New Orleans Restaurants.”
There’s no way to narrow down all the incredible restaurant choices in this fine city to merely a handful. So instead, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite restaurants with some special menu recommendations — all the way from fine dining down to cheap eateries. I’ve also included a section on restaurants that I think are a bit overrated, which should probably be avoided (assuming you share my tastes).
First things first. I can’t stand nouveau cuisine. Hate it! Listen up — I want to eat my food, not stare at it. Too many pretender-chefs seem to think food presentation is more important than the things that REALLY matter such as taste, texture, and temperature. Sticking with the “T’s,” when it comes to dining, nothing beats tradition. Which is why New Orleans is my taste bud’s mistress.
In New Orleans, food is part of the culture and tradition of this city. I love the New Orleans restaurant scene because most of the places are private and/or family owned. Corporations haven’t taken over and ruined everything yet. Food is a reflection of what lives in the Delta — both plants and animals — not just another means of profit. No other city in America has as many old-style family owned and operated restaurants as New Orleans. Here, you’re likely to see the owners either hanging out in the dining room or working the kitchen. To me, that makes this place really special.
Warning: One tip — Don’t dress in shorts and a t-shirt. Many of these places have a dress code or at the very least you will look and feel out of place. People or New Orleans also tend to dress better than normal when going out. Keep this in mind when you’re dining at one of the most expensive places.
In order to appear on the following list, each restaurant selected has to have what I call a “wow” factor. The food, service, and experience must be exceptional. I’ve dined at each of these places more than once, so I know each of these choices is consistently reliable.
Pretty clear. Simple to understand. Easy to follow.
With apologies to the depraved who misconstrue these words, notably those fixated upon Marlon Brando’s notorious “butter scene” in Last Tango in Paris, my effrontery is aimed at restaurants rather than the bedroom.
Question: Why are people fucking with butter?
Butter is beautiful. It’s comestible gold. Butter is the essence of fabulous cooking and fine taste. Julia Child, the goddess of all goddesses, transformed cooking with butter and made it into an art form. So why would anyone dare mess it up?
Today, I witnessed an affront to Western civilization. Here’s what happened. I ordered a baked potato with my meal. A small metal ramekin came with the main course containing what appeared to be whipped butter. I hastily emptied out the precious contents of that silver chalice, which dissolved instantly into a steaming-hot baked potato. Pure heaven.
One bite, and I nearly lost it. I spewed forth a dollop of indigestible baby mush into a napkin.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the annual “Readers Choice Awards” released yesterday, Olive Garden was voted as the “Best Italian Restaurant” in Las Vegas.” This appeared in the 2013 edition of the “Best of Las Vegas” section.
Among all the outstanding Italian restaurants in Las Vegas and there are many — Rao’s, B&B Ristorante, Barlotta di Mare, Onda Ristorante (Mirage), Valentino, just to name a few — a mediocre family-style chain restaurant best-known for its breadsticks was picked above all the rest. I certainly understand why many LVRJ readers might not be familiar with pricey upscale restaurants. So, instead couldn’t they have chosen something that’s at least decent like Maggiano’s, Cafe Roma, Pasta Mia, Terra Rosa, Brio, or a restaurant in that class? Hell, I could have lived with Bucca di Peppo — which is really testing my tolerance. But fucking Olive Garden?
Go ahead. Like Olive Garden all you want. I like Kentucky Fried Chicken occasionally, too. But KFC is not the best fucking chicken in the city! How in the hell is this spaghetti house picked among at least 100 decent other restaurants? Vai a cagare!
Until this moment, I was vehemently opposed to the practice of waterboarding, which has been classified as form of cruel an unusual punishment. In fact, it’s torture. I now wish to amend my position. I’m now in favor of waterboarding. In fact, I want to be the one who administers the torture. Any idiot who voted for the Olive Garden as the “Best Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas” should be should have to suffer some kind of pain and humiliation.
These Readers Poll choices appeared in yesterday’s newspaper. Marieta read this news to me while I was driving. I spent the next 30 minutes screaming profanities, taking it out in what can only be described as road rage.
Later after I finally calmed down, I asked her how in the fuck could anyone be so stupid to vote for the Olive Garden? That’s like asking people who makes the best hamburger and McDonald’s being chosen as the winner. So, if this is nothing but a popularity contest would these same dolts chose Ford as the best car? Or Budweiser as the best beer? She was as puzzled as I was.
What really alarming about these results is — newspaper readers are likely to be more intelligent than average (non-reading) citizens. After all, they subscribe to a local paper. They keep up with current events. The read daily. Moreover, those who actually take time to respond to a “Readers Poll” are probably even more aware of what’s happening in the community — which means being familiar with more restaurants than the average person. So, what does this damning evidence say about the intelligence of the average Las Vegas citizen?
Question is — are these results typical of what one might expect in other cities? Or, is Las Vegas just full of classless morons?
Perhaps the Olive Garden is the only Italian restaurant many people know. This theory is validated by additional evidence. The “Best Italian Restaurant” selection was but one baffling moment of outrage among many. It’s hardly an isolated incident. Consider the other “winners” in various food and drink categories: