A Galatoire's waiter deftly removes a cork, late December 1983.
Shrimp Remoulade, French bread, a bottle of French Muscadet, Crabmeat Ravigote, and perhaps a dessert — that is one of the superlative meals of a lifetime, and it is available at Galatoire's, 209 Bourbon Street, New Orleans. The one-room restaurant looks stark, with its ceiling fans, mirrors, and hat racks, but the quality of the food here bears no relation to the sparse decor.
David Gooch, the thirty-year-old chef and grandnephew of the late proprietor Justin Galatoire, prepares the old family recipes, using high-quality local ingredients. The Shrimp Remoulade here is well-seasoned with Creole mustard, horseradish, and oregano. Large shrimp are served, rather than the cocktail-size shrimp frequently used in appetizers. The Crabmeat Ravigote is one of the most delicious seafood entrees served anywhere, yet this delectable dish is emphasized neither by the restaurant nor by local restaurant critics. Crabmeat Ravigote is served in a casserole and consists of lump crabmeat in a hollandaise sauce with chopped chives. The taste is rich but not heavy. The texture is creamy smooth with pieces of fresh crabmeat throughout.
A pint-sized client receives professional service, December 1983.
Galatoire's is also rightfully famous for its Trout Marguery, Trout Meuniere Amandine, and its gumbo. Your waiter will advise you, if you are fortunate enough to get a helpful waiter. Most of the waiters at Galatoire's are well-trained and pleasant, but once some friends and I had such an unpleasant dining experience at Galatoire's that we did not return for two years. The food was fine, but that waiter was ungracious and sloppy. (Maybe he was having a bad evening, or maybe he thought that we were just passing through and would not leave a big tip.…) I can recommend one especially proficient waiter at Galatoire's, Robert Wong (see below).
Inhabitants of the French Quarter arrive at Galatoire's at odd hours in order to avoid standing in line. No reservations are accepted. Once inside the door, one can indicate to the maitre d' which waiter one prefers. Waiters here have one day a week off, and this day rotates weekly. If a particular waiter is desired, call to make sure that he is working. (The restaurant is closed on Monday.)
Galatoire's uses arm service rather than tray service, mainly because trays would add to the confusion in an already crowded room. Waiters here agree that it takes much more skill and energy to convey dishes to the table by hand than on trays. At one time there was talk of opening a second-floor dining room at Galatoire's, but the waiters could not visualize carrying food up and down all those stairs, especially without the use of trays.
Men are asked to wear a coat and tie. The average price of a meal at Galatoire's is $15.00 per person, including wine and tip.
Galatoire's waiter Robert Wong.
Galatoire's accepts no reservations, so you cannot call to request a table with a particular waiter. However, when you step inside the doors of the restaurant, you can tell the maitre d' which waiter you prefer. A good choice is Robert Wong.
Congenial Robert will do his best to make your dining experience an enjoyable one. He will recommend what dishes are especially good and will steer you away from poor choices. (Not every item listed on the menu is a gourmet delight. For example, do you really want to order a chocolate nut sundae in a fine Creole restaurant?)
Robert Wong is in his early thirties and has spent half his life learning the fine art of correctly serving food and wine. Robert's father, Gee Joe Wong, is a waiter at Brennan's. Robert got his start at Brennan's too. In fact, he worked there ten years before joining the Galatoire's staff in 1972.
Since cuisine is such an important aspect of Robert's life, one of his joys is dining in various New Orleans eateries. Two of his favorites are Gin's Mee Hong Restaurant at 739 Conti Street and the Canton Restaurant at 4826 Rye Street in Metairie. And, of course, he enjoys the food at Galatoire's!
Long-time Galatoire's waiter Lee McDaniel pauses during dessert for a photo with Sarah Mitchell, author Patricia Mitchell, and David Mitchell (July 6, 1984).
Available directly from the publisher, and at many museum bookstores.
An Affair of the Heart: America's Romance with Louisiana Food
A Dover book available from Mitchells Publications.
The Picayune's Creole Cook Book
Copyright © 1974–2006 Patricia B. Mitchell.