On a warm Friday evening, we headed out early with the week’s stress on our shoulders and cocktails on our minds. With the weather cooperating nicely and our duds fancy, Galatoire’s Bistro seemed just the ticket.
We arrived ahead of our reservation and thought we’d imbibe on the inviting, fan-cooled patio. Sporting comfortable rattan-like woven chairs, a tin-roof ceiling and a wishing fountain in the center, it seemed a choice well made. We were, however, disappointed to see some patrons in blue jeans, very casual shirts and baseball caps, especially since we chose to gussy up in coat and tie-type adornment, as this is a fine dining establishment. I hoped the lackadaisical dress code wouldn’t carry over into the dining room.
Having ordered stiff cocktails, we thought it best to order a snack. The Cajun Bánh Mi Sliders on the bar menu intrigued us. Definitely more Cajun than Vietnamese, the pork on its own was a very simple, tender roast. The sandwich, which was soggy-bottomed from the start, included a pickled vegetable mélange that I found to be dominated by onions, while my companion found it had too much mayonnaise. We are both lovers of real bánh mi, and my companion described it best: “The pork alone is nice, but the whole combination together leaves a lot to be desired.”
With the bar tab paid, we were led to what had to be the worst table in the restaurant. We asked to be moved. The hostess left us standing in the dining room and returned to tell us that if we wanted to have the waiter we had requested, we would have to sit at the undesirable table. We chose to stick with Bryan, whom we recognized from service at Latil’s Landing at Houmas House, over a more comfortable table, but we felt irritatingly on display and were too near both the waiters’ station and exit door.
The dining room was very crowded when we sat and incredibly boisterous (read: deafeningly loud). The wallpaper and chandeliers hinted of a bygone era, while the tile floor was pure pre-war vintage in style. Though beautiful as a décor choice, the floor works to amplify the noise levels. And, sadly, my hope that the diners would dress to impress was for nil. Many patrons’ ensembles were better suited for a monster truck event.
Regardless of our less-than-ideal seating arrangement, we were hungry and ordered the Duck Crepe appetizer. Truly outstanding, the cream-sauced duck was encapsulated in a tender crepe enhanced with a sweet cherry sauce and sprinkled with whole pistachios. I had heard this dish was excellent, and it was.
As follow-ups to the rich crepe, we chose the Turtle Soup au Sherry and Godchaux Salad. The soup was very heavily spiced with peppery heat. I kept fishing for more flavor but came up short—there was no nuance. The salad was dressed with a spicy Creole mustard dressing and laden with plump, boiled shrimp and delicate crabmeat on iceberg with an anchovy filet topper. Not a fan of anchovy, I played along, cutting it into tiny pieces to try with each bite. It added a nice briny saltiness to the subtle seafood. This salad is much hyped, but—although I thought it was decent—I did not think it quite lived up to its lauded reputation.
For entrees, we chose fish. For me it was the Gulf Crabmeat Yvonne. The fish was a well-seasoned drum filet with sweet crab mixed with green onions, mushrooms, artichokes and lots of butter. This fish didn’t stink. At all. My companion went with the Gulf Meuničre Amandine with the recommended lump crab topping. It was showered with an abundance of slivered almonds and what seemed like the equivalent of a cup of lump crab. My companion found the dish delectable, while I found it a bit dry. But with the plethora of decadent lump crab swimming in Meuničre sauce, my observation seemed a moot point. Together we split a side of Smothered Okra that was declared “the highlight of the meal” with its smoky notes, stewed tomatoes and fresh okra. It was absolutely stellar and paired exquisitely with the recommended Oregon Pinot.
Our stomachs could only tolerate a wafer-thin mint, but the Chocolate Pecan Pie sounded too enticing to pass up. The pie was ooey, chewy and not too rich, with a delicate flakey crust. Paired with rich coffee, the service of which was heightened by the addition of heated cups and individual pot pours, it made for a nice ending to the meal.
We’ve heard complaints about the service at Galatoire’s Bistro, but we found it to be stellar. Patio service from Kirsten was fantastic and prompt, while Bryan was helpful in food and wine choices. And Donald, Bryan’s second, was equally helpful and entertainingly witty. All our wait staff and the manager checked on us many times throughout the meal without being obtrusive. We watched as another waiter wiped the Tabasco bottles after each table had cleared. We found that to be an elegant touch. The only thing that could class up the joint more would be a dress code, but in this all-too-casual age, that seems a lot to ask. 3535 Perkins Road, Suite 400 (Map it!) • 753-4864 • galatoiresbistro.com • Monday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5:30-10 p.m.