New Orleans at 300: Aging Gracefully Along The Banks Of The Mississippi

IMG_7931I  recently visited New Orleans for a speech during the celebration of its 300th anniversary.  It coincides with the French Quarter festival and my son Jack and I had an absolute ball.  I lived in New Orleans when I taught at Tulane Law School (after clerking on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit).  I still have tremendous love for this unique city and its wonderful people.  Unfortunately, due to events in Washington, I have been delayed in posting some of the pictures.  Tomorrow I will be posting the pictures from my visit to the greatly expanded World War II Museum.  As discussed below, my only negative review is the Royal House restaurant, which was truly abysmal.

As soon as we checked into the hotel, I took Jack to my favorite oyster place, Felix’s, for charbroiled oysters. It has greatly expanded now but the oysters are still great.

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We also went to Mother’s for breakfast for its famous ham.

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Jack and I enjoyed the music at the festival and took the streetcar to Tulane, where I visited my old classroom in the former law school building.

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I also took Jack to my favorite bar at the Napoleon’s House for a Pimm’s cup and we splurged on the last day with brunch at Galatoire’s and paid a late night visit to Cafe Due Monde for fresh beignets.

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The only disappointing aspect of the trip was a dinner at Royal House restaurant. It was hands down the worst service and worst food that I have had in New Orleans in years.  We came in to hear a hostess exploding at a man who politely asked about how long it would take to be a table.  We were seated relatively quickly, but never saw our waitress after she took the order.  We had to go and literally find some silverware when the food was virtually tossed on the table.  The food was cold and remarkably bad.  It was also pricey. In the end, I would have paid twice the amount to have skipped the meal entirely.  We went to Cafe Du Monde to get the taste out of our mouths.  As a cheerleader for New Orleans, it is rare for me to pan a restaurant but you can do much much better than the Royal House.  In a city renown for food, it is a disgrace to serve such food to tourists who come to one of the greatest cities for outstanding food.

Despite the one bad meal, the trip was outstanding and, once again, everyone should make it down to the Big Easy to experience its boundless energy, unique culture, and world-class food and music.

15 thoughts on “New Orleans at 300: Aging Gracefully Along The Banks Of The Mississippi”

  1. I was in that TLS classroom on Feret and remember fondly your lectures recounting your lessons learned while attending Gerry Spence’s banker-defense trial in WDLA. Next trip to NOLA, stick to Uptown’s time-tested best (Domilise’s roast beef poboy, Clancy’s lump crabmeat salad, and Sunday Brunch at Commander’s)!

  2. All quite handsome. Problem: the homicide rate is as bad as Detroit’s (9x the national mean). Robbery rate is 4x the national mean. Rape rate is 60% higher than the national mean. Ditto aggravated assault. The city fathers need to deal with these problems.

  3. Unfortunately over the next 300 years New Orleans will disappear beneath the gentle waves ascending.

    1. The water isn’t rising; the ground is sinking (except in the Quarter). It’s all built on silt, not rock (except the Quarter, which never flooded during Katrina). The buildings are pushing it all downward–which is why it is already far below sea level, and has been for a very long time. That’s why they have the place surrounded by levies.

      What is REALLY going to happen is eventually the Army Corps of Engineers will cease to be able to stop the Mississippi cutting into the Atchafalya basin, where it has wanted to go since the 1950s (read about it in The Control of Nature by John McPhee). When that happens, New Orleans won’t be a river city anymore, and will slip into obscurity. Maybe a flood triggered by the New Madrid Fault finally doing it’s thing, who knows, but at some point the flood controls are going to fail.

  4. I might have been exasperated, too, if one of my customers had asked me how long it would take to be a table…

  5. It’s a great city to visit. As we’re just down the road in Houston we do as often as possible; one time we even went by train. The D-day museum is outstanding. I look forward to your pictures.

  6. You can’t go home again, as they say. Things are always are changing and not always for the better. New Orleans still has a certain charm. Oh, and by the way, the city is pronounced “Naw-Leans,” if you want that authentic accent. I recently went to the famous Antoine’s on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter. However, the cuisine was a shadow of its former self.

    Here’s a scene from the movie JFK actually shot in Antoine’s and the art director did a great job of recreating the feel of the place as it existed in the 1960s. The scene features the late, great Canadian comic John Candy in a serious role, playing shady lawyer Dean Andrews, along with Kevin Costner as legendary New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. They both have the accent down.

    1. Yeah, legendary. Clay Shaw was cleaned out financially defending himself against Garrison’s fantasies.

  7. Wow, I didn’t know they served ostrich eggs for breakfast, or at least they make it appear so.

    Now I’m going to have to break out the barbecue and make some charbroiled oysters.

    Last week we went to Lake Quinault and on the way home drove through “Open Sores”, WA. One of the few redeeming, non-corporatized places there is the Irish restaurant and an mom & pop place that served delicious oyster burgers. Very enjoyable. Sadly we were the only ones in the restaurant and afterwards drove past McDonald’s where the drive up was half full of cars. For eight and a half bucks you can either have a delicious fried oyster burger or for the same price suffer some blandly ordinary fake burger. Why do we do the latter to ourselves?

  8. For those wanting to get a feel for New Orleans just after LA joined the Union, when her diverse citizenry had to band together to repel the British recolonization attempt of 1814-15, I recommend Brian Kilmeade’s “Andrew Jackson”.

  9. Well anyone who can get to Mother’s for breakfast, Felix’s for “ersters”, Napoleon House for Pim’s cup (while listening to the classical music from the bar can give one up. Maybe Muffulettas at Central Grocery or BBQ Shrimp at Pascal Manale’s would have been a better choice.

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