Our next stop on our Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown staycation adventures was an oldie but goodie. I’ve ushered countless out of-town guests through the doors of The Court of Two Sisters (named for the two inseparable sisters who once ran a fancy shop at this location) to check out the famous patio and to sneak a Pimm’s Cup at the bar, but I’d shamefully never tasted the cuisine. Time to rectify that, don’t you think?
I should know better than to clean my plates during a multi-course New Orleans dinner, but I’ll never learn. We started out sharing a plate of big ol’ plump, juicy, fried oysters, but, surprisingly, it was the alligator sausage (of which I’m not normally a huge fan) with sweet, caramelized onions and creole mustard cream sauce that knocked my socks off. This was followed by a huge bowl of a lighter version of turtle soup than I’m used to. The waiter poured it over a lemon slice, then doused it with sherry, and I pretty much inhaled it. De-lightful. The tableside Caesar salad, I have to say, will ruin you for all others. “Tangy” was our answer to the waiters query, “tangy or not too tangy?” Then, he went to town making the dressing from scratch and tossing the whole thing together before our very eyes.
By then, we were already sort of on the verge of busting a gut, but we still had entrees coming. I’m not sure what prompted us to order heavy comfort food in the heat of summer, but we did. Beef Tenderloin with marchand de vin and béarnaise sauce for me, Seared Duck Breast A L’Orange for him, each cooked to tender perfection. The duck came with spiced sweet potato puree and candied pecans that tasted like a fond Christmas memory on a fork. The very definition of comfort food!
Though I was unable to cram in my last two slices of beef, we still ordered the Bananas Foster. Our waiter, Nick, gleefully told us about how the preparation process feeds his pyro fetish, and we found out why. After wheeling up a mobile camp fire and whirling and swirling butter and brown sugar in a pan, he added bananas and liqueur and, WHOOSH! Flames shot up to the ceiling. He spooned it all over ice cream, and that was all she wrote.
Some gentle strolling past Royal Street’s glittery antique store windows was about all we could handle at this point. We gave up all notions of carousing on Bourbon Street, and waddled back to the hotel.
We woke up fresh as daisies the next morning (how often can you say that after a night in the Quarter?), and having finally digested that huge dinner, were ready to reload. We opted for another establishment we’ve heard lots about, but never tried. Café Adelaide, located on the first floor of the Loew’s New Orleans Hotel, is named for a woman I wish I could have met. Adelaide Brennan (yes, of that Brennan family) was an Auntie Mame kind of character who lived large in a grand, Garden District mansion, partied with celebrities, like Rock Hudson and Jane Russell, enjoyed lots of furs and sequins, and she and her Yorkshire terrier wore matching sleep masks.
It’s no wonder that the huge, playful, airy space, named for this colorful character, hosts fun special events, like Brunch with Hat-itude on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Very simply, wear a hat (baseball caps don’t count), get your pick of some fancy martinis with names like Green Fedora and Blue Bonnet.
The eclectic brunch menu at Café Adelaide offers a nice variety of appetizers, salads, breakfast and lunch items. First we chowed down on the Bacon-Crusted Oysters (yes, this is a theme when you dine with me), which is like a wonderfully deconstructed po-boy. A slice of French bread, topped with remoulade, arugula, cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and a generous portion of crispy, fried oysters. Yummy.
It was kind of early, but I felt it was my duty to sample their Bloody Mary, which didn’t disappoint. It arrived brimming with all the necessary ingredients: spicy green beans, okra, olives, lemon, and lime. It had super fresh tomato flavor, nice heat and tang, and was rimmed with Cajun salt. While I enjoyed my basic power breakfast as much as I could handle, I’m pretty sure my husband would leave me for his Shrimp Courtbouillon, if it could clean house and cook a meal or two. Seriously, I barely managed to sneak a bite before he hoovered down the saffron-crusted Louisiana white shrimp with tomato courtbouillon, and stone ground grits with Parmesan cheese. I seldom see this cynical foodie-man in this state, but he was utterly over the moon for this dish. With good reason.
The “off season” in New Orleans may be slower than usual, but it’s also a great time to rediscover all the wonderful mainstays we have year-round, so take advantage of the New Orleans CVB’s Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown deals through September, local or not!
Be sure to take your shot at fabulous “staycation” prizes with the Instagram Contest, featuring eight weekly themes and giveaways. Fun!
This is the second installment of a three part Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown series, that show how locals enjoy New Orleans chronicled by GoNOLA writer Liz Genest Smith. Stay tuned next week to find out what Liz does next after Cafe Adelaide! All photos by Liz Genest Smith.