The story goes, about 40 years ago chef Paul Prudhomme was cooking one afternoon in the kitchen of his New Orleans restaurant, when the phone rang.
Prudhomme accepted the interruption and had no choice than to take the important call. Back in those days that meant steeping into an adjacent office, since wireless mobile phones didn’t exist. Trouble started when the telephone call went way longer than was expected.
First, there’s that odd-sounding name, chosen (I was told) because the owners thought it had a nice ring. In a sense, the nonsensical name embodies the free-spirited and self-confident approach here to the entire dining experience — including food, drink, and service.
It’s best classified as a nouveau steakhouse, yet it also defies conventional description and expectation. On one hand it’s a butcher shop, yet also offers an extensive salad and vegetarian menu. It’s bar selection is top notch (Abita Amber on tap!). Deserts are home made. The staff knows and loves food. Bargain prices compared to what you’d pay elsewhere. What more could you ask?
Echo and Rig stands near the entrance to Tivoli Village, an upscale (but surprisingly affordable) enclave of excellent restaurants, specialty shops, and other businesses. The district located across the street from the Sun Coast Casino. Since its grand opening about 18 months ago, Tivoli Village has been introducing a Tuscany-style flair to Summerlin residents, with considerable success. If excellence lies in getting the details right, then Tivoli Village has spared no expense in pursuit of creating not just a popular food court, but an entire neighborhood and atmosphere. Pay a visit and look around at the architecture, the lighting, the ambiance. This entertainment community is as nice as anything on the Las Vegas Strip, without the crowds of tourists and inflated prices.
By my count, Tivoli Village includes five solid restaurant choices, four of which we’ve tried (multiple times). Topping the list, Cantina Laredo serves Mexican fare and is fantastic. Kabuki is Japanese-themed and serves excellent lunch specials. Poppy Den is a one of those celebrity chef joints that I’m not usually fond of — but turned out to be wonderful. Brio is Northern Italian, and although a national chain, quite serviceable. The View Wine Bar and Kitchen has a terrific happy hour with live music. Then, there’s Cafe Leone, the perfect place to enjoy a coffee and pastry. And now, let’s add a sixth worthy destination to the list — Echo and Rig.
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.