Olivier's, New Orleans: Simply must-not-miss for civilized dining
On our third day of Amtrak travel from Los Angeles, my husband and I reached New Orleans. We enjoyed exuberant Bourbon Street at night, lurid neon signs, excellent jazz spilling out of doorways, and walking the charming French Quarter streets with cocktails in hand. Our fortunate destination, recommended by our hotel concierge: venerable, genteel Olivier's Restaurant, featuring original Creole recipes. From the first stunningly nuanced, flavor-layered spoonful of rich, satisfying gumbo to the mesmerizing spiciness of the shrimp cocktail sauce, it was a transcendent meal. The subtlety of the spicing actually changed the way I think about seasoning foods. The Creole Rabbit was a teensy bit salty, but how wonderful that a restaurant HAS rabbit as an entree! The Shrimp Creole was marvelously complex; the rice was fluffy and the vegetables properly al dente.
On the not-food-but-still-important side, they had a good wine menu. It's a wonderful atmosphere for an intimate meal: romantic lighting, quiet enough to converse, but with great jazz music as soft background. Topping it off, the service was fantastic; attentive yet discreet. Our waiter was so knowledgeable about each ingredient and detail of preparation that at the end, I just gave him an enormous hug (thank you, Scott!) That dinner at Olivier's actually made the trials of a four-day train journey worthwhile. I hope to come back. I didn't get to try the bread pudding... yet!