It was Thanksgiving Day and we had roamed several blocks beyond our hotel, looking at the sights and hunting a handy restaurant for lunch. The Palace Cafe suited us perfectly!
It had all the touches of a grand old building, vintage black and white tile floors, soaring ceilings with gently whirling ceiling fans and a lovely iron staircase smack dab in the middle of the spacious dining room, which led to the second level dining area (pic #2).
The restaurant was bustling as the waitstaff saw to their patron's needs. Although we didn't have a reservation, we were quickly led to a table where we were seated by the window, affording us a glimpse of the outdoor dining area and the parade of people drifting by.
Since we had a Thanksgiving dinner ahead of us at Le Pavillon, we chose to eat light. We ordered a smoked turkey pot pie to share ($8.00) and a bowl of sweet potato and crab soup for each of us ($13 for both). The pot pie was crispy and full of flavor, while the soup was creamy with generous chunks of crab. Our meal with wine and tax included was $31.28.
Without exception, the waitstaff was courteous, friendly and prompt. Note: The Palace Cafe has been featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Cooking Light and Wine Spectator. One of the cafe's features is a jazz brunch.
My memory is fading on exactly where I ate and what I had, but I do know that the food was good. I made sure that I had a nice spicey gumbo! The first night there I ate at the restaurant in the Pavillon.
You really can't go wrong, but all of these were great on a recent trip: Palace Cafe, Mr. B's, the Redfish Grill (try the alligator--it's fun biting something that can bite you back!)--all outstanding; Tujague's for traditional Cajun; Galatoire's for traditional Creole; Bennachin is spartan, but the West African cuisine is also part of this city's heritage.
The Palace Cafe has one of the best Brunch experiences around. First all, you can order a la carte and don't have to commit to a $30-$50 for an elaborate brunch buffet. We started with Bloody Marys and concluded that they are the best in NOLA. You would have to go all the way to George's in La Jolla, Ca to find its rival. The Eggs Benedict were delicious with Hollandaise sauce on a poached eggs sitting on a buttermilk biscuit. All the while we were entertained by a live jazz performance. The service was excellent, as well as the ambiance. This is a "must do" in New Orleans.
Favorite Dish: Eggs Benedict were terrific and the eggs and corned beef hash were dynamite.
Had a rehearsal dinner cancelled after having it confirmed, and had the date given to another party. Terrible service, nobody in charge, and left without a reservation after having a confirmation by phone. Never even got to eat at the place, but if you are serious about the event you are booking, stay away from the Palace Cafe. There are many good places in New Orleans with better service and more serious about their business.
Classic upscale New Orleans dining. President Clinton has eaten here several times, hence the tip title. Classy, but not uptight - you should make a reservation, but if you walk-in you can wait at the full bar while you wait.
Favorite Dish: During the summer, many New Orleans restaurants have wonderful menu deals, called "COOL-inary New Orleans". The Palace Cafe offered such a menu - the night I was there, I had the Turtle Soup (I could have had a salad instead, but why??), Shrimp Tchefuncte (shrimp with mushrooms in a meuniere sauce over popcorn rice), and the white chocolate bread pudding which is the Palace Cafe signature dessert - all for $26! It was a great deal.