New Orleans and Baton Rouge

I’d only been to New Orleans for Jazz Fest so it was interesting to go there for aimless fun. We pretty much just walked around, shopped, and ate. We stayed at the W New Orleans, which would have been nice enough if we weren’t aware of the W in the French Quarter. Maybe the rooms there suck (I’m sure they don’t), but it’s got a sweet courtyard bar area. We spent most of our time wandering around the French Quarter, and the patch between the quarter and the W is a little ugly, so it would have been nice to stay there.

Piano man

Our first gastronomic tour stop was an early dinner at Cochon. Their logo involves a pig and fire, so you can imagine what I was expecting to find there. I was slightly disappointed in the selection of pig parts, but I had excellent smoked brisket and Mandi’s duck appeared to work for her, so we were pretty happy with the meal. I guess I’ll just have to go back to see if they improve the pork-osity of the menu.

On our way to Cochon we passed a wine bar called Wine Institute New Orleans, or WINO, so on the way back to the hotel we decided to give it a try. They’ve got big cabinets of automated wine dispensers where you can get three pour sizes at the touch of a button, keeping track of your tab on a smart card. We tasted quite a few by the time our friend Aliza arrived at the hotel. We met up with her to have a snack across the street at Restaurant August. We’ve loved Restaurant August since our first visit – we already had reservations for one of our dinners for the trip – but it was convenient so we decided to give it an early taste. Mandi and I were already pretty full from Cochon, but I still managed to eat some delicious rabbit cassoulet.

Purple-pink bridge

We still love Restaurant August, but I think we all now agree that Stella is better…except for the bar, which only has 3 comfortable seats. Mandi had a spectacular Kobe beef appetizer, which included its own grill. It smoked up our end of the restaurant, but the tiny taste she shared with me made the eye-stinging smoke well worth it. My truffle-stuffed lobster custard appetizer…well, how could that go wrong? I had some very rare venison for my entree, wrapped in bacon for insurance.

Breakfast is the only meal we have trouble with in New Orleans. We like Cafe Fleur-de-Lis a lot, but the line there is always crazy. We’d seen a restaurant called Stanley on Jackson Square in the French Quarter, but hadn’t tried it because we’ve been conditioned to avoid restaurants on squares. At the end of our meal at Stella the chef dropped by our table to chat and casually mentioned his new restaurant Stanley and how hard he’s been working there. His sales pitch worked – we tried it for breakfast the very next day. It’s a classic diner, with burgers, shakes, sodas, and a variety of breakfast stuff. The eggs benedict dishes were our favorites, especially the Breaux Bridge benedict, which involved some sort of cheesy, spicy pork goo that I probably shouldn’t have eaten.

Stanley on Jackson Square

We drove to Baton Rouge, about an hour or so northwest of New Orleans, so Mandi could do some actual work. I only had a few hours there, so to save time I immediately got lost. Fortunately, I ran into the Mississippi River and turned the correct direction to end up back at Baton Rouge. It was a beautiful day, but cold enough to keep the town quiet…or it’s always like that.

Old State Capitol

I walked along the river to check out the USS Kidd, a World War II destroyer that’s part of a veteran’s memorial. The top of the levee provides a nice view of the river, the Horace Wilkinson bridge to the south, and the city. I wandered into town to get coffee and walk around the Old State Capitol, an awesome Gothic castle that’s now a museum. That was about it for Baton Rouge…

Horace Wilkinson Bridge

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By isaac

I like cats. he/him