New Orleans is far more than Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras. (Neither are my thing.) It’s a city of history and modernity side by side.
Sitting in the 200 year old Napoleon House cafe located in the French Quarter, I was reminded of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”. The building is from that era. I will give you a tale of two meals.
Dining alone at Napoleon House
The Napoleon House was first the home of Nicholas Girod, the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. Napoleon didn’t make it but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America. It has been owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914.
You can feel the history in the restaurant. The sound bounces off the plaster walls that expose layers of paint and wallpaper. Patrons (mostly tourists it seemed) are vibrant. It may just be me but I think people enjoy being close to history. The atmosphere is convivial; the food satisfactory. I had Jambalaya which seemed appropriate. It was fine – not spectacular but the environment more than made up for the food being just ok.
Dining at the Bar at Cuvee
Cuvee, on the modern side of Canal Street, offers a very different experience. Serving contemporary Creole cuisine with regional ingredients, it is a restaurant for special occasions that attracts locals.
The restaurant is beautiful. Even though it’s outside the French Quarter it is still in an old building and features exposed brick. Elegantly decorated, it has a small bar which is mostly for people as they wait for their tables. Reservations are recommended, however, without a reservation I was able to eat at the bar – my preference anyway.
The menu is pricey but the food is exquisite. As would be expected, there is a variety of fish on the menu. I had the sea scallops which can be ruined within seconds by being under or over-cooked. They were wonderful.
As I travel alone I go to a range of restaurants.
I’m not a food and wine traveler. The majority of the time I go to inexpensive though interesting restaurants like Napoleon House. (Food is for sustenance as I explore other aspects of my location.) But, as you can see with Cuvee, there are occasions when I splurge and enjoy a truly fine meal.