Finding a good meal in New Orleans is certainly not a problem, and there is a wide price range to choose from, especially if you are willing to crowd into a narrow spot off the beaten path. During our recent trip, I actually planned only one meal ahead of time and I had gone back and forth between four choices. While Commander’s Palace was not the level I was seeking, those off-the-beaten path places weren’t in the running either. I opted for the Pelican Club, a restaurant with a description that sounded just right, and it was an excellant choice.
The Pelican Club is tucked into Exchange Alley in the French Quarter, so it isn’t a spot that you routinely see when strolling the Quarter. The moment we walked in the door though, there was the sense of this being a place to enjoy. It is a large restaurant with a decor you could find in many European restaurants. The service was the kind you should have in such a place and it was truly difficult to choose among the offerings. The prix fixe 4-course option was tempting, but I knew how much food I would be consuming over the three-day period. The wine list was equal to the food of course and it was a wonderful meal. I had the panned gulf fish with jumbo lump crabmeat and creole meuniere sauce while my husband and daughter-in-law went for the trio of duckling.
Our last night after the Nutcracker performance was going to be a very late dinner not beginning until 10:00 p.m., plus I wanted to be close to the hotel to cut down on travel time. Even though the restaurant in the hotel was good, it closed at 10:00 p.m., as did another one I had my eye on. I finally found Grand Isle on Convention Center Boulevard that was actually a very short walk from the hotel with evening hours of 5:00 p.m. until…., and that was what we needed.
While Grand Isle was not exactly the opposite of the Pelican Club, the atmosphere was decidely more casual and had a simpler menu, although a number of innovative twists. Had I not had such a large lunch, I really would have chosen the grilled fish topped with chili butter. The Fisherman’s Stew I selected was superb and a smaller portion. My husband had not had his shrimp and grits and declared theirs to be some of the best he’d eaten. Everyone at the table echoed the same about each dish they ordered. Of special note was the fact that it was apparently a slow night and the place was almost empty when the seven of us came in. Despite the fact that we soon became the only diners, there was not the slightest hint that the staff would like us to leave so they could close. The service was as good as one could ask for.
You may not have occasion to travel to New Orleans, but if you do and you want something a bit elegant – I can easily recommend the Pelican Club. If you want casual and great food, head to Grand Isle.