We rolled into New Orleans at dusk and intended to surprise Lizzy at her workplace “Oak” but she surprised us instead by not being at work. Coworkers told us that she had a music gig that night. We decided to stay for dinner and were happy to find that this was one of the best meals of the trip – our complements to the chef.
Our accommodations that night were in the Holiday Inn in the French Quarter. It was a great location on Royal Street one block off Canal and across the street from the historic Monteleone Hotel, home of the rotating Carousel Bar. William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Winston Grooms (Forrest Gump) are among the famous authors who have enjoyed drinks at the Carousel Bar. Today, the Carousel still attracts celebrities, including some recent sightings – Michael Jordan, Dennis Quaid, Greg Allman, Sally Struthers and myself :-).
Our room at the Holiday Inn was on floor 19 which is only interesting because the elevators stopped at 18th floor. We then walked down the hall and took the “gold” elevator to the 19th floor. After making this trip several times curiosity finally got the best of me and I had to ask the man at the front desk about the extra elevator, “Are we VIP’s or something? I don’t understand why we have a separate elevator to our floor”.
“No sir, I mean yes, you are very important to us, but that’s not the reason for the extra elevator. In 1982 we added two floors to the hotel and had to add a separate elevator.”
“Oh.” I said. I returned to our room and told the boys, “I just checked with the management of the hotel and we have an extra elevator because we are VIP’s.”
The next morning we met with Lizzy and her beaux, Daniel, at Cafe Masperos. The building is one of the oldest in New Orleans (1788) and was the site where Andrew Jackson met with the Lafitte brothers to plan the defense at Battle of New Orleans). Knowing this made the red beans and rice taste even better. It was during lunch that we learned that our fantastic meal the previous evening had been prepared by Daniel who is a chef at Oak. Don’t be surprised if you notice a few N’awlins recipes finding their way onto our menu sometime in the near future.
Our afternoon was spent browsing the antique galleries and t-shirt shops on Royal street. We worked our way all the way to Marigny (an area with side by side music clubs and a nice park with houses made for lazy afternoons sitting on the porch) moving from canopy to awning to low hanging tree branches to stay out of the summer drizzle that followed us all day and then turned into a drenching later in the afternoon.
I think the nephews’ parents must have been following the stories of our travels and thought we were having too much fun. They called to say that they would be driving in to join us that night. “Oh, cool,” says Graham, “Now we have to go on a Swamp Tour because they’ve never been on one!” The boy does like his alligators.
As we were returning to our hotel, we ducked into the Monteleone to get out of the rain. This was the perfect spot to dry off because it comes with a Sazarac and pretzels at the Carousel Bar.
Dinner that night was at The Crescent City Brewhouse. I got directions from Lauren (you remember Lauren from our previous visits to NO) and it still took us thirty minutes for the ten minute walk to the restaurant. Following directions is not my strong point – you may recall my incident with the customs officer in Detroit. We were in the middle of an array of the tastiest appetizers when the nephew’s parents, that would be bil-Tim and sil-Heather, met up with us. The appetizers were followed by a really delicious dinner and even better hand crafted beers.
I would tell you that we had dinner and turned in for the night – but there was a casino 3 blocks from our hotel and I kept hearing these voices calling “Come win money!” Well, we answered the call but the voices lied about winning money. But it was a lot of fun.
It was hard to decide on the plans the next day. Beignets and café au lait at Cafe du Monde or brunch at Mr. B’s Bistro? I don’t like to brag but I came up with the perfect solution – let’s do both!
Mr. B’s was just a few steps from our hotel so we walked over at TCON and enjoyed a delicious Cajun breakfast Brennan’s style. It was really hard to skip their array of desserts but sacrifices must be made-we had to save room for our beignets.
As we left Mr. B’s Graham and I ran over to our hotel to check out and retrieve the van while the others strolled over to Cafe du Monde for part deaux. My dining plan worked well until we arrived at Cafe du Monde and found that there were NO parking spaces, by the way, NO in this circumstance stands for Not One. TWWNCNBUIP phoned during our parking space hunt to let me know that there was not a table to be found at Cafe du Monde – in fact, she tells me, she has never seen it this crowded before. We had no choice but to order at the “to go” window and eat on the way to Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour in Slidell because we had to arrive there in one hour and it takes one hour to do that (I am still trying to get the powdered sugar out of the van).
As we separated the boys’ things from our car to their parents car I commented that it had been a great two weeks, but I thought that this would probably be last of the Nephews’ Great American Road Trips. After all, they were getting older and Graham would be making college plans next year.
“Uncle Rusty, we still haven’t seen the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the London Bridge, Cadillac Ranch, Old Faithful and lots of other stuff …..”
Well, who knows then, maybe next year?
Obviously can’t see N.O. in one day however, Mr. B’s is always a stop for me as well and 20 years ago Cafe du Monde would have been too. One thing for sure, it is one of a kind and the food is beyond comparison, not to mention the charm and music. Took me a while to realize the bar at the Monteleone was actually turning and it was not just me. Next trip try “Mothers” on Poydras for lunch.