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November 28, 2005

NOLA Restaurants After Katrina

I ran across this article at the Journal News website and, Nawlins cooking ranking right up there near the top in my personal culinary esteem, had to comment on it.

NEW ORLEANS — Breakfast at Brennan's, a tradition since 1946, is postponed until next year. Dinner at Antoine's, a French Quarter delight for 165 years, won't be served until January or later. Same story at Galatoire's, the century-old Bourbon Street landmark. In this city where two favorite pastimes are eating and talking about eating, Hurricane Katrina caused a massive case of indigestion for the world-renowned restaurant industry.

These days, instead of serving up shrimp remoulade and trout meuniere, owners are installing new coolers, fixing roofs and trying to replace wait staffs and cooks.

At least they're all working hard to reopen, but even still they'll most likely need a lot of local support owing to the fact that it will take some time to re-attain the comfortable cash flow of strong tourism they enjoyed prior to the descent of Hurricane Katrina on the Crescent City, if they are to even begin recouping both their losses and the costs of preparing their restaurants to begin serving again.

One prominent victim was Commander's Palace in the city's Garden District, where folks craving dishes such as fresh Gulf fish served with a potato crust in a caper beurre blanc will likely have to wait until March. The distinctive turquoise building received heavy damage when Katrina roared ashore Aug. 29.

Commanders Palace is one of my favorite among the most famous eateries in Nawlins, and their Sunday Jazz Brunch was{hopefully will someday be again} a really special experience. Their food is wonderful in every way and a trip through the upper Garden District by streetcar adds volumes of ambiance to the whole experience. I lived there for years, and my own sensation as such never diminished.

Commander's is the jewel in the crown of the local Brennan family of restaurants, and not the only one of the group that suffered physically as a result of Katrina's visit from hell.

Food isn't the only concern. At Brennan's, a wine expert is evaluating its 36,000 bottles of wine, which were left untended in soaring heat after the storm.

But let's not forget the low-end economic concerns.

Finding waiters, bus boys and dishwashers is another chore, and wages are extremely competitive. Restaurateur Ralph Brennan, for example, is paying $10 an hour for dishwashers, up from $6 pre-Katrina.

This is interesting, since the national minimum wage was raised well above $6.00 long before Katrina came to call, but then, living in Nawlins for a few years can easily make you forget that you're in the United States, anyway.

Maybe that's why the food they serve you down in New Orleans, and for that matter the state of Louisiana, in addition to its mega-deliciousness, is completely different from the cuisines featured in other parts of the country. Because in spite of its membership in Congress and its presence on maps of the United States, the Pelican State really is a foreign country...

Posted by Seth at November 28, 2005 09:35 AM



Posted by: Raven at November 28, 2005 04:18 PM

Well it is, ask anyone down there and they'll tell you it's a Third World country, LOL!

But the food?


Posted by: Seth at November 28, 2005 05:10 PM