“Arnauds” Cuisine in New Orleans- Best French Restaurant we have ever Reviewed! (5/05)

The landmark restaurant of Arnauds is located in the
heart of the French Quarter in
New Orleans.  Its an
oasis of spectacular food and impeccable service
amidst the whacky chaos of
Bourbon Street.  A stark
contrast to the touristy places that abound, you get a
feeling of stepping back into the past to a more
refined time when dinning in this historic
establishment.

The restaurant was established in 1918 by a French
wine salesman named Arnaud Cazenave.  Count Arnaud had
a zest for fine wine and food and believed that dining
should be an event, a celebration of the senses, not a
task to get over with.

His vision and traditions are brilliantly implemented
to this day by Archie Casbarian who took over the
restaurant from the Counts daughter, Germaine, in
1978.

The main dining room looks like a scene from a 1930’s
movie; high tin ceiling with original wooden ceiling
fans, portrait paintings, beautiful beveled glass
lining the wall.  The décor is great including the crystal
chandeliers, and original Italian mosaic tiled floor.
It’s an elegant setting and wearing jackets is
suggested. Looking down on the main dinning room is a
mezzanine of romantic tables called the Lovers
Lookout.  It’s a bit more private and a spectacular
setting for a special date.  An adjoining dinning room
called the Richelieu Room looks out to the festive
Bourbon street and is a little less formal.  A jazz
quartet plays a little Dixieland in the corner which
makes for a lively atmosphere and a perfect
accompaniment for Creole dining.

As great as the vibe is in the room, the star of the
night is the food.  The famous air puffed souffle
potatoes or pomme souffle served with a delicious
bernarnaise sauce are a must to start with.  It’s like a
big, light, hallow French fry that has some sweetness
to it.  It’s impossible not to like these.  Other must
starters are the Smoked Pompano Bourgeois and the
Shrimp Arnaud. 
Fresh Gulf Pompano is smoked in house
and served with capers, onions and a drizzle of sour
cream.  The Shrimp Arnaud are boiled shrimp that are
marinated in their famous Remoulade sauce.  It is like
a spicy cocktail sauce with mustard seed oil that is
made in house.  These are tastes that will not soon
leave your memory.  Speaking of memorable tastes, the
frog legs are to die for.  Lightly fried and covered
in spices (hints of anise) and plenty of garlic you
won’t be describing these by saying, tastes like
chicken.

There are many unique variations of baked oysters to
try which can be accomplished by ordering the Oysters
Arnaud.  This is a sampler platter which gives you one
of each of their delicious baked oysters.  Where else
are you to find a baked oyster with eggplant and
andouille sausage?  A nice touch of Creole flair.

Fresh local seafood lead the way for the main courses
like the Pompano Duarte which is sauteed and topped
with Gulf shrimp, tomatoes, and seasoned with garlic,
fresh herbs and crushed chili peppers.  Gulf Snapper
Pontchartrain is a sauteed fillet topped with fresh
Louisiana crab meat.  Speaking of crab meat, ask your
server if the soft-shell crab is in season.  It is
light, crispy and sure to delight you with every bite.
The Speckled Trout Meuniere is a crowd favorite and a
specialty of the house.  It is a fillet that is
crisply fried and served with Arnaud’s famous Creole
meuniere sauce.

There are many unique meat dishes that are Creole
inspired like the Petite Filet Lafitte which is a
petite filet mignon stuffed with fried , plump
Louisiana oysters and Creole sauce.  There is also a
nice selection of veal dishes, duck, chicken, game hen
and a house specialty; Roast Louisiana Quail Elzey
which is a partially deboned and filled with foie gras
mousse, mushroom duxelle and wrapped with smoked bacon
and served on a bed of truffle infused bordelaise
sauce.

Great accompaniments to your meal are side dishes such
as creamed spinach, sauteed wild mushrooms, or
smothered okra.  Portobello, shiitake, and oyster
mushrooms seasoned in bread crumbs and Pamigiano
cheese are smothered in a light cream while the okra
has stewed tomatoes, ham and Creole seasonings.

Try and save a little room for dessert (or a lot of
room!) because there are plenty of mouth watering
things to try.  The Chocolate Devastation is a
decadent flourless chocolate cake with Belgian dark
chocolate and espresso.  Strawberries Arnaud are
strawberries marinated in a port wine sauce and served
with French vanilla ice cream all topped off by some
whipped cream.  The Praline Crepes are delicious
crepes filled with a blend of cream cheese, brown
sugar and pecans.  There’s Crème Brule, Pecan Pie,
and Bread Pudding all tempting you as well if you can
resist the aroma of the Bananas Foster gently
permeating the room.  Banana sautéed in butter with
cinnamon and brown sugar are flamed with rum and
served over vanilla ice cream is a “can’t miss”
dessert.

A great way to top your meal off is with a Café
Brulot or burned coffee.  It’s a spectacle served at
your table to delight your senses of sight, smell and
taste.  The coffee cooks with cinnamon sticks, orange
curacao, lemon rind, and cloves set aflame with brandy
that glow in the side of an orange rind.  There is
also a nice selection of ports and other after dinner
drinks.

After dinner enjoy a French 75, a champagne
concoction mixed with Courvoissier, simple syrup,
lemon juice and a twist of lime, in the classic bar
with the same name.  The drinks tend to taste better
in a bar that has such rich history and lots of
original wood from the early 1900’s.  There is even an
original stoopy bench that was once used for patrons
that had to take a “little rest” before they attempted
to find their way home.  I don’t think many people are
using it for a nap these days, but it’s a great piece
to look at .

You can also take a stroll upstairs to the one of a
kind Mardi Gras Museum that features over two dozen
fabulous gowns of Germaine Wells, who reined over 22
Mardi Gras balls from 1937 to 1968. Along with the
original mannequins that display the gowns, there are
also photographs that capture this amazing piece of
New Orleans history. 

When visiting New Orleans Arnauds has to be part of
the itinerary.  Your trip wouldn’t quite be complete
without experiencing this historic establishment.
It’s part of the history and culture of this great
city and you can feel it as you sit within its walls
and stroll within the corridors.

Arnauds is located at 813 Bienville right off Bourbon Street.  Reservations at  (504) 523- 5433 for either the Formal Dining or the Jazz Bistro.

www.arnaudsrestaurant.com