New Orleans Short Stories (6): Seven Favorite Moments
Writer’s Note: Eighteen days and nights in New Orleans have ended. Looking back, here are some of of my fondest memories from this most recent stay:
Visiting “the Spotted Cat” on Frenchmen Street for the first time:
Bourbon Street is mostly for tourists. Frenchmen Street is for locals, and a few non-locals lucky enough to know the secret. There aren’t many bars and nightclubs here, but those that have music are some of the best spots in town. I’d been hearing about “The Spotted Cat” for years and finally made my way there one night. The band is usually a mix of local talent, often playing odd instruments and improvising. Guest musicians sometimes sit in. Meanwhile, there’s a cement floor with a dance floor in front and everyone crowds around watching dancers who should probably be competing on that TV show, they’re so good. What makes this place really hot is it’s all totally real. You don’t know what will happen on stage. But between the band, the singer, the dancers, and the crowd (always busy), it’s all magic. It works. It melds. Picture what it’s like to walk into a bar in the middle of the swing age — that’s The Spotted Cat.
Enjoying Cafe du Monde with the Bonsack Party / Partying with the Bonsacks:
Here we are at the world-famous Cafe du Monde. From right to left that’s Mark Bonsack, Kevin, Tamara (Mark’s girlfriend), and me. We all went out to dinner, had a few drinks, and topped the night off with chicory coffee and beignets. We argued over religion the entire time. I lost. After surviving this night, there must be a god.
A Morning Carriage Ride and Brunch at Court of Two Sisters with legendary Howard “Tahoe” Andrew:
Howard “Tahoe” Andrew is one of my favorite people in or out of poker. He holds the record as the player who has played the most consecutive WSOP’s — now at 38 years and counting. Tahoe’s first WSOP was all the way back in 1974 and he hasn’t missed one since. Now at 79, he hasn’t slowed down a bit. Tahoe still plays the WSOP Circuit and travels around the country, “spending his grandchildren’s inheritance,” he jokes. One morning, Tahoe treated me and Woody Moore and his wife Becky to a carriage ride through the French Quarter followed by brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters Restaurant. A marvelous time was had by all.
Business Dinner at the Original Emeril’s Restaurant with WSOP Staff and Southern Comfort’s Marketing Manager:
Left to right — that’s (standing) WSOP President Ty Stewart, (seated) Marketing Director for Southern Comfort Carla Bellamy, (seated) WSOP site editor Jessica Welman, and (about to hit the floor) yours truly. The night before, we hit another of Emeril Lagasse’s best restaurants — “NOLA” in the French Quarter. But nothing beats his flagship location in the heart of the warehouse district. This night was really special because we kept ordering all the house specialty drinks, substituted with Southern Comfort. TRUE STORY: WE DRANK THE RESTAURANT DRY. The waiter came over towards the end and informed us they had run out of Southern Comfort but they would borrow a bottle from Tommy’s. Well, we didn’t want that fresh bottle to go to waste. And believe me — it didn’t.
Doing Bourbon Street Right with Ty Sewart / What happens in New Orleans stay in New Orleans:
Photos are not permitted of the couple of hours we spent out on Bourbon Street, including a visit to famous Pat O’Briens. Let’s just say whatever happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans. We spent the night discussing official business, of course.
Meeting the Captain of the U.S.S. Cole:
Pretty cool encounter I wrote about a few weeks ago. Here’s a direct link to the story: THE STRANGERS BESIDE US
Dinner at Jacques-Imos Restaurant with Dennis Jones and Jordan Cutter:
Upon my arrival in New Orleans, I posted a list of my favorite restaurants. The list triggered a lot of feedback. I had probably 30-40 people come up to me while I was working and refer to that article. Most people liked it. Some people didn’t, thinking it was too old fashioned and conservative. Then again, recall that I don’t like nouveau cuisine — so what do you expect?
That said, the one restaurant that I heard more positive feedback about than any other was this one. It’s called JACQUES-IMO’s. It’s located uptown, past Tulane University.
Jordan Cutter, a floor supervisor from the WSOP used to live in New Orleans. Jordan mentioned he was going to dinner there one night. I was lucky enough to join him.
Jacques-Imo’s is commonly pronounced as “Jackimos.” You have to love the sign out front. That pretty much sets the mood of the place. And of course, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you arrive after 5:30 pm, be prepared to wait. Sometimes an hour. There’s not much of a waiting area, except for the bar. The restaurant is nothing more than an old two-story converted house that was probably built in 1920.
The place really does feel like home.
If you enter the dining room, you have to walk right through the kitchen.
Seriously. Here’s the walk to our table, which was up some stairs and then through the kitchen where all the cuisine is prepared.
Here’s the great Dennis Jones on the left. He’s a WSOP Circuit Tournament Director and one of the very best of the WSOP poker staff. He usually runs the night shift at the WSOP, which is a huge job. That’s me in the middle (drinking iced tea — I never drink with dinner). Then, there’s the very talented Jordan Cutter, who spent some years here in New Orleans and knows all the good places to eat.
Dennis Jones picked up our entire tab.
Damn, I wish I would have had a few drinks with dinner!