The best way I can think to describe a Friday lunch at Galatoire’s is that it’s like the best reception that you’ll ever go to, albeit with a more nattily attired and boisterous group of fellow guests who all seem to be in a great mood eating far better food than you’ve ever had a reception served with much more attention and promptness; and those waiters bringing the alcoholic and caloric joy are the only ones who’ve consumed fewer than a half-dozen drinks.
We had reservations upstairs at 1:30 but upon arrival asked if we could be seated in the main dining room. It wasn’t a problem if our large group didn’t mind waiting for an hour or so, and we could while away the time at their bar next door. Several cocktails later our table was ready in the still-full, mostly rectangular room that is the main dining room. Another cocktail then wine. Galatoire’s has an excellent wine list and I was very happy to find a Semillon-heavy white Bordeaux from Petite Sirene that was wonderful for just $40 a bottle. It more than aptly complemented the Crab Maison – subtly decadent jumbo lump crabmeat in a Creole aioli studded with capers – shrimp remoulade and fried oysters en brochette start along with their lighter version of turtle soup and then the terrific Lemon Fish (or cobia or ling) lightly dusted in flour and then sautéed in a surfeit of butter and topped with a fair amount of impeccably fresh crabmeat. The meal was absolutely delicious, the highlight for me was the cobia from the Gulf, which was clean-tasting, mild yet flavorful, delicate and delightful, with the butter going very well with the fish. A white Sancerre from Pascal Jolivet for just over $50 and a trio of American Cabernets did well for others, as did their dishes. Everything was very much enjoyed. The loud conversions were only interrupted by bites and sips. I don’t believe that we left the restaurant before 5:30.
Snaring a table in the main dining room on the first floor is not an easy thing to do, especially when traveling that day from out of town. No reservations are taken. You have to wait in line for a table. Or, you can pay someone to wait in line for you, as many regulars seem to do. When heading to New Orleans last year I made an early flight just so I could wait in line at Galatoire’s. My Lyft driver got hit when heading to the airport, so I missed my flight and we had to fall back on the reservations I made for upstairs. Lunch upstairs was great, if like a normal, if excellent upscale restaurant with a great pedigree. But, when walking out at 4:00 past the still-full downstairs dining room, we could see the party that we were missing. We were very happy that it worked out this time.
209 Bourbon Street (a block-and-a-half east of Canal), New Orleans, (504) 525-2021