Hopefully you're aware that you'll be coming to town just before Mardi Gras, right? The two or so weeks ahead of Fat Tuesday can be pretty crowded down here, and traffic will be a mess at night, particularly on the weekends. Fat Tuesday this year is March 4th. The party kicks into high gear on the thursday evening prior, February 27th.
I mention this because, if you haven't already, you need to start making reservations at restaurants. Some will likely already be booked for that weekend and the weekend before.
Where are you staying, by the way? I can recommend restaurants by location if you like.
In the interim, here's a list of some of my favorite fine dining places in N.O.
Cuvee: Chef Richard "Bingo" Starr, bold and aggressive. Sort of the style of guys like Greg Sonnier (of Gabrielle) and Emeril Lagasse, but he doesn't tend to overdo it as much as Emeril. As you might expect from the name, a good wine list.
Gabrielle: Small restaurant near the Museum, that features really great food. Similar to Cuvee in results, but takes a more rustic approach to get there, if that makes sense.
Peristyle: Chef Anne Kearney's sophisticated take on continental and creole cuisine.
Bayona: Another Susan Spicer restaurant. Not as *adventurous* as Herbsaint is the way I'd put it I guess. Again, see the website: http://www.bayona.com/
Brigtsen's: One of the hardest places to get a reservation in the City, both because it's relatively small, and because Chef Frank Brigtsen is an awesome cook. Both sophisticated and down-home at the same time. Here's a link to a review by a local food critic: http://www.insideneworleans.com/rest...brigtsens.html
Clancy's: One restaurant that doesn't get much press, but which is fantastic if what you're looking for is a local take on fine dining. There are very few nods to world cuisine, or to the latest trends in cooking at Clancy's. Instead, you'll find things like a smoked sofshell crab, served with crabmeat and a meunierre sauce. It's uptown, and might be difficult to find, but it's worth a shot, especially if what you want is "New Orleans" style food.
Indigo: Chef Kevin Vizard's restaurant in the faubourg marigny (more or less) is attached to a bed and breakfast. Again, a local take on adventurous food. Website ahoy!: http://www.indigonola.com/index.html (check out the menu)
Commander's Palace: The grande dame of creole restaurants. This place has produced chefs like Emeril Lagasse and the late Jamie Shannon. They do the creole classics as well as or better than anyone, and they do a good bit more to boot. One nice thing about Commander's is that it's in the Garden District, and if you have time (and it's not too late in the evening) you can stroll around and look at some really amazing homes. I'd recommend Commander's for lunch, to be honest. It's a bargain, and you can feel comfortable walking around, even in the adjacent cemetary.
Galatoire's: Real Creole. Throwback menu, and lots of local types in for lunch, especially on friday. They've recently opened an upstairs dining room, and made a few other changes that actually had some bluebloods down here in an uproar. Don't let anyone tell you that the changes have ruined Galatoire's. I've been eating there for 20 years, (starting at the tender age of 13 and the food remains great, if not the best. The experience of sitting in that front dining room, with all the mirrors, is quintessential New Orleans.
Victor's (In the Ritz) Chef Frank Brunacci heads one of the finest restaurants in the city, and by extension, the world. The menu is not limited to any one locale or style of cooking. I've eaten there a few times, and only once have I been disappointed in a dish: I just don't like vanilla as a flavoring in savory dishes. That's a matter of taste, not execution. Most expensive restaurant on this list, but worth it, IMO.
The Grill Room (In the Windsor Court) A restaurant that has also produced its share of star chefs (Kevin Graham, Richard Starr, etc.) it's in competition now with Victor's, August, Cuvee, and a few other places. The Windsor Court is regularly rated the top hotel in the world, and this restaurant is a fitting complement. The service is unsurpassed, and the food is very good. The wine list is incredible.
There are a good many other restaurants I could recommend, but I'm actually supposed to be working. Feel free to browse around my website. I wish I could offer you a way to search for restaurant reviews I've done, but I don't have those kind of computer skills.
One final thing: Do not go to Antoine's. You will likely be treated poorly, and the food does not compare to other restaurants. I regret having to write that, since I've been going to Antoine's longer than Galatoire's (And proposed to my wife there, as a matter of fact), but that's the way I see it now.
I have a couple of minor disagreements with Mr. Grimes theme (that it's only recently N.O. cuisine has begun to evolve away from Bourbon street) but his discussions of the restaurants are pretty good. (I like Renee Bitsrot more than he does though).
I just reread the old posts.....it's time to revisit NO. Anne Kearney rebuilt Peristyle, Besh is at August now, Windsor is still awesome....muffs are still primative food....hmmm March in La is beautiful.