Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Trip To New Orleans

Last week we drove over to New Orleans and spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Boubon Street in the French Quarter. This was my first long trip, 200 miles each way, since I had my knee replaced.

Map of the French Quarter, New Orleans
Click on the map for a larger and more readable image.

It was an easy trip on Interstate 10. We stopped frequently for me to stretch and walk around a bit. We changed drivers often so no one was behind the wheel too long.

Morrison's, Mobile, Alabama, still open in May 2009We stopped for lunch in Mobile, Alabama at Morrison's Cafeteria, an old favorite. It is now part of the Piccadilly chain, but Morrison's began in Mobile so three of the restaurants there still have the Morrison's name on the roof.

We got to the hotel mid-afternoon and were glad to be staying in the heart of the French Quarter. The Sonesta had a great Internet deal and we got a room on the top floor with the private R Club down the hall. Free drinks and apetizers in the afternoon, free breakfast in the morning and a high speed Internet computer available 24 hours a day. For dinner we had reservations at NOLA. This would be perhaps the fifth time we had eaten there and we have memories of excellent food and service.

Sadly, although Emeril Lagasse is the restaurant's founder and remains the executive chef the place is now a tourist trap. Quality control seems no longer important. Due to his TV exposure the crowds come anyway despite less than stellar ingredients, indifferent preparation and friendly but sluggish service. The quality of one of our entrees was less than average; the other was inedible. We were not charged -- they wanted us to leave, quickly. I hope his other restaurants in New Orleans and around the country are getting better supervision. Please don't mess with the one in Gulfport!

Middendorf's, Pass ManchacThe next morning was beautiful. We had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel's rooftop R Club with great views of the Quarter. We decided for lunch we should drive to Pass Manchac and eat at Middendorf's.

Jack wrote about our lunch there and his memories of Pass Manchac a few days ago, click here to read his post. On the way back to the hotel we drove across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. At 24 miles it is one of the world's longest bridges. When you start on the Causeway from the north you cannot see New Orleans at all. Soon you see the faint skyline of what appears to be the Emerald City, but it's really New Orleans you see on the horizon, growing bigger and bigger.

Desire Oyster BarAfter we got back to the hotel we decided to find somewhere casual for supper and the best place was at our hotel: Desire Oyster Bar at the corner of Bienville and Bourbon Streets -- the very heart of the Vieux Carré . The food there is wonderful, it's noisy and crowded plus it's open to the street. At night Bourbon Street is closed to cars so the tourists and street performers take over. We had a great view of it all from our table by an open window next to the sidewalk.

The Shed BBQ, Ocean Springs, MississippiIn the morning we headed for home and at lunch time found ourselves in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We made our first visit to The Shed BBQ. We had never been nearby when we were hungry so this was our time to check out The Shed. It's rustic(actually it looks like it's falling down, but that's just stage design), it's jammed with people and the food is great. Worth the trip.

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