January 23, 2006

The French Quarter Restaurant, New York, NY

I read about The French Quarter restaurant (located on E 25th & Park Ave. S) opening in my Time Out New York magazine sometime in the past year, and although skeptical, I was also really looking forward to trying it out. My family used to live in New Orleans before I was born and, as a result, I grew up visiting the city every year to the point that I consider New Orleans my second home. And if you read my introduction, you would know that my family's idea of visiting a city is not exploring the sights but instead going from restaurant to restaurant! So for being a non-native of New Orleans, I do feel that I have a relatively good idea of what Creole food should taste like. For starters, The French Quarter is NOT even close to what New Orleans food should taste like, and the atmosphere and service make it even worse.

Before I get to the food, let's discuss the oh-so-not southern hospitality. I was meeting a friend who was running late so I sat myself at the bar in front of a bartender who possessed every quality that gives blondes a bimbo image. She messed up the dinner order of a gentleman sitting next to me, and for the next 15 minutes (and probably longer but this was the extent of my time at the bar) she repeatedly kept asking the man in a cutesy voice, "Oh, please don't get mad at me! Are you mad? Oh, please don't be mad!" Now I will admit that this annoying bartender was hot, so in the true nature of the average male he kept saying it was okay, but I was about the smack her!

Shortly after another young guy walks in to pick-up his order to take home, and he is abruptly told that he has to wait another twenty minutes. On top of that when the customer exclaims his annoyance with this unexpected wait, the host rudely retorts that his order is only one out of "like seven take-out orders" they had. Not really the best way to respond to a customer, folks.

Meanwhile, I am observing all this in a restaurant that is two thirds empty on a Saturday night in Manhattan at 9pm with an atmosphere that leaves much to be desired.

Shortly after the host rudely asks me, "So, when is your friend getting here?" (mind you, there were plenty of tables so he was not trying to save me one--he was just being impatient for no good reason), Julia arrives and we are seated (well, actually we sat ourselves since no one was around). We finally receive our menus and begin the process of choosing our Creole dishes for the evening. I order the blackened catfish ($17) and Julia orders the chicken ettouffe ($16). My fish was dry and tasted a bit too fishy. It was blackened but with no unique or even flavorful seasonings. Julia's chicken ettouffe sauce is bland and lacks the correct consistency. She ends up scraping it off the chicken.

When the waiter asked if we wanted desert, we promptly responded, "No!" We then headed down the street to the W Hotel's swanky Olives bar and had a couple of martinis knowing that we would never have to go back to The French Quarter again.

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