Chateau Sonesta, New Orleans - and Supper at HerbsaintThursday, December 22, 2005
This was our first stay at the Chateau Sonesta - it was pretty nice; due to the shortage of help, though, there's no valet, no bell service, no room service, no concierge, etc.....at this or most of the other hotels in the Quarter.
Since it's the low season, the rates are back to bargain-level (I think the rates in all the hotels that first opened after the storm went sky-high (thanks, LePav) since FEMA and other government agencies were paying the bill - but now that the agency people are settled in and other hotels are opening, there's a natural increase of supply which is bringing rates back to where they should be for this time of year).
Av and I always-always-always go to New Orleans for a few days in late December - sometimes just three or four days, like this year, and sometimes a week or so. We try to eat at some great restaurants, go to Celebration in the Oaks, walk and talk and shop...and genuinely get to enjoy New Orleans. On Christmas Day, we either go to a kosher restaurant in the Quarter, or one of the great Chinese places around (we're Jewish - eating Chinese food that day is...tradition) and take in a movie (uh, also...tradition).
We usually stay at the Ritz-Carlton - they always have a special Papa Noel rate and give the guests little presents, but they're closed for several more months doing renovations. The Chateau Sonesta is adjacent to the back of the R-C on Iberville, and I thought it might be nice to stay there. It wasn't the Ritz, but it was fine and we had a great time anyway. Here are some pics of our room:
We had a great time, and one of the better suppers we had - due to the amazing entrees - was at Herbsaint on St. Charles, not far from Lee Circle. It was opened by Susan Spicer (one of my friends is a huge Susan Spicer fan - she used to have this wonderful, wonderful little shop in the warehouse district with gourmet food that was available for take-out, but it closed a few years ago), and the chef is Donald Link.
I started with the tomato shrimp bisque (disappointment) and Av had the gumbo (okay). For our entrees, I had the "Muscovy Duck Leg Confit with Dirty Rice and Citrus Gastrique" which was sooooo amazing - the best duck, ever. Av had the "Pan Roasted Farm Chicken with Crawfish Risotto, Mustard Greens and Lobster Broth" which was also just amazing. For dessert, I had the "Banana Brown Butter Tart" which was very, very good but would have been better with either more banana or no banana at all. The flavored crème fraîche on top was just weird, though. Av had the "Warm Chocolate Beignets" which he said were just okay. For cocktails, we had a Sazerac (with a name like Herbsaint...), and a Pimm's Cup.
Where I wanted to get to but didn't: Cuvee, Ralph's on the Park, and Lilette.