Noisy bistro gets decor, some dishes right

Map to Galatoire's Bistro
Map to Galatoire's Bistro

Great expectations were in order for the opening of the new Galatoire’s Bistro on the corner of Acadian and Perkins. Does it meet up to the time-honored traditions of the New Orleans icon founded in 1905 by a family from France? In some ways yes; in others not quite.

Admittedly, it’s almost impossible in a few months to create the exquisite experience for which the Bourbon Street café is known. The showy new restaurant contains many attractive features — shimmering chandeliers, mirrors, retro-tiled floors, starched white tablecloths and straight bentwood bistro chairs. Ahh! How French! Yet the large main dining room with high ceilings fails to create the clubby conviviality of the New Orleans restaurant. Instead, the bistro is incredibly loud. It’s definitely not the place for a quiet, intimate dining experience.

We started with the oysters en brochette ($11) featuring a half-dozen of the mollusks wrapped in bacon and fried to doneness. Moist and flavorful, a dip in the simple but pleasing meuniere sauce added to the deliciousness of this dish, easily enough for three. A second appetizer, the soufflé potatoes ($6), were underwhelming, not very puffy and overdone.

The stuffed eggplant ($23) offered thin slices of roasted eggplant covered with a stuffing of small shrimp and crabmeat, accented with green onions, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, mixed in a light bechamel sauce and topped with bread crumbs. A parsley garnish made for a pleasing plate presentation. The nicely cooked dish had a slight crunch on its exterior, but was ultra-moist on the interior, each bite a perfect blend of all the flavors.

The 14-ounce ribeye ($28) was cooked medium as ordered, and quite tender and juicy. Full of robust flavor on its own, the sautéed portabello mushrooms and featured sauce of the night, sauce Yvonne, took this steak to the next level, with strips of artichoke and lump crabmeat adding to the mix of flavors here.

Especially appealing, the roasted duck ($22), a succulent 1/2 duck, was tender and enhanced with a sauce of balsamic Steen’s cane syrup juice. It was served with dirty rice that was too salty.

The Gulf Crabmeat Yvonne ($27), one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, came with a lightly sautéed drum along with the same topping as mentioned in the steak dish. Very fresh and moist, both the fish and the crab were exceptional.

Galatoire’s three-course lunch menu ($19.05) features a choice of French onion soup or salad Maison, one of five entrees and either bread pudding or caramel cup custard for dessert.

Our lunch guest chose the chicken Clemenceau. The satisfying meal included a 1/2 roasted chicken topped with mushrooms, English peas and diced Brabant potatoes sautéed in a natural, slightly garlic-flavored chicken au jus. The bistro burger ($11) featured a flavorful ground beef patty cooked medium-well and styled with caramelized onion, tomato and lettuce on a soft Kaiser roll. It was served with a large bowl of excellent salted French fries with skins on. Completing the meal was a bowl of aromatic French onion soup ($5) enhanced with a hint of wine, and topped with melted gruyere cheese and a crouton.

For a cold meal, we recommend the Godchaux Salad ($13), a delicious mix of sweet jumbo crab, boiled shrimp, iceberg lettuce, hardboiled egg and cherry tomatoes accented with anchovy fillets and the restaurant’s classic and tangy Creole mustard vinaigrette.

The bistro doesn’t offer particularly exciting desserts. The bread pudding ($6) was not nearly as good as many we’ve had in south Louisiana. It could have been more moist and the caramelized sauce was rather average. Somewhat more interesting, the chocolate pecan pie ($6) was dominated by a dark-chocolate flavor with a sprinkling of pecans.

There’s an excellent wine list and featured cocktails from the bar to enhance your experience. Make reservations and take your time to enjoy a true Louisiana dining experience.