Antoine’s: Great food and great people!

When you’re in New Orleans, there are certain restaurants you have to visit. Antoine’s is one of them. They have been in existence since 1840. The history of this restaurant is amazing. Make sure you visit their website and read about them. We decided stop in their bar, the Hermes Bar, for a few drinks and snacks. It was one of the best decisions we made on this trip.

The Hermes Bar is beautiful. There are glass cases throughout with past Mardi Gras memorabilia. They also have a fireplace! There are plenty of seats at the bar and quite a few tables in the room as well. I’m glad we got there when we did. Within 30 minutes, the place was almost packed.

Our bartender, Stephen, was so nice. Even when it got really busy, he always had time to answer any questions we had about the menu. We decided to start with a couple of cocktails. Eric ordered the French 75 with brandy. They use the original recipe from Maxim’s of Paris. It’s made with brandy or gin, triple sec, fresh lemon juice, and champagne. It’s one of his favorite cocktails, and it was fantastic. I ordered the St. Germaine cocktail, which is made with St. Germaine elderflower liqueur from France, champagne, a splash of soda, and a twist. This was just what I wanted. Stephen knows how to make great drinks! We had a feeling that we would be here for quite a while.

As luck would have it, today was National Oysters Rockefeller Day! Antoine’s was having a special on their oysters so we decided to try them all. They were without question, some of the best oysters we have ever tasted. We got a half dozen of the Oysters Rockefeller, which are baked on the half shell, and served with the original Rockefeller sauce created by Antoine’s in 1889. They were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was simply delicious.

Antoine’s special was the “Oysters 2-2-2”. It was a sampler of their other oysters which included Oysters Thermidor, Oysters Bienville, and Charbroiled Oysters. Oysters Thermidor are baked on the half shell with a bacon and tomato sauce. Oysters Bienville are baked on the half shell with a white wine sauce, seasoned with onions, pimento, and fresh pepper. The Charbroiled Oysters were seasoned with garlic, herbs, butter, olive oil, and topped with Romano cheese. We were in oyster heaven! Oh, and all their oysters are from Louisiana and super fresh. They were all amazing. As luck wold have it, the chef that makes all the sauces for the restaurant came out and we got to meet him! Executive Saucier Chef Ernest Jack is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He’s worked at Antoine’s for over 40 years! He loves his job and it certainly shows.

We were having such a wonderful time, so we decided to stay longer and order more cocktails. Our first cocktails were so good that we just decided to stick with them. Eric tried the French 75 with gin this time instead of brandy. It was really good, and it was a tough decision, but he gave a slight nod to the brandy version of the French 75. I stuck with my St. Germain cocktail.

So we had been in New Orleans for over two days, and I had yet to try a proper Po Boy. It was time, and I was in the perfect restaurant to try the iconic sandwich. A Po Boy is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat or fried seafood, often shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters or crab. There were a couple to choose from but I knew right away that I wanted to try the Wagyu Beef Po Boy. It came with lettuce and tomato, and had a wonderful Marchand de Vin sauce for dipping. Marchand de Vin is a French classic red wine reduction sauce. My Po Boy was out of this world. The beef just melted in your mouth, and the bread was perfect. It wasn’t too thick or thin, and the crust had a perfect crunch to it. The dipping sauce was so good that I could have eaten a bowl of it alone.

During our trip, Eric had been trying quite a few New Orleans classic cuisines, and he didn’t stop here. He ordered a cup of alligator soup with sherry. Yes, alligator soup. It was delicious. It had a wonderful smokey flavor, and the sherry smoothed everything out. The food and drinks at Antoine’s were some of the best we have had so far in the French Quarter.

As were were sitting at the bar and making new friends, we didn’t realize that two of the people that we were talking with were employees of the restaurant. Derrick was their private dining manager, and Wendy was their marketing manager. They were so nice! They saw how much fun we were having, so Wendy volunteered to take us on a private tour and show us parts of the restaurant that the public usually don’t see. She showed us several private dining rooms used for VIP’s, or for carnival VIP dinners. In a glass case in one of the rooms, they had one of Thomas Edison’s original light bulbs. How cool is that!

We saw their incredible wine cellar that houses 25,000 bottles daily. Yes, 25,000! Eric said being in-charge of that would be a dream job. I totally agree. Wendy was so nice to show us around. It was incredible to see the history of the restaurant up close. I’ve said on previous posts how friendly everyone in New Orleans had been so far on our trip. The entire staff at Antoine’s treated us like family. They love what they do and are proud to be working here.

As we were getting ready to head out to our last stop for the evening, Derrick and Wendy introduced us to Antoine’s CFO/COO, Charles Daroca. He was so nice and such a pleasure to talk with, even if it was just for a few minutes. I admired a wonderful pin he was wearing on his lapel, and he saw how much I liked it, he gave it to me. When I say the people of New Orleans are friendly, I’m not kidding! We were really sad to leave, but we wanted to try one more famous restaurant on our last night.

I have to give a special shout out to everyone at Antoine’s. You made us feel so welcome and treated us so well. We loved everything about the restaurant, the decor, history, drinks, and the food. We will be back. Promise!

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