The Charm that Only a Restaurant Founded in 1840 Can Bring:
Antoine's Restaurant was established in 1840 in the French Quarter and is one of the most elegant restaurants in the country. With 15 dining rooms all decorated differently, it serves as great place for hosting parties as well as having a quite meal. Antoine's is as much about history as it is about food. Antoine Alciatore set out to create a dining establishment that would endue through the ages and be a tribute to his family. He has certainly done that. Antoine's began the fine dining experience that now epitomizes New Orleans cuisine. It's French-Creole origins have been lovingly kept throughout the last 160 years by Antoine's family.
Originally the restaurant was one block away on St. Louis Street. Antoine started a pension (boarding house and restaurant). But the wonderful aromas wafting from Antoine's kitchen onto St. Louis Street brought many New Orleanian in just for the food. So, in 1868, Antoine moved to a larger at 713 Rue St. Louis Street, were it remains to this day.
The Many Elegant Rooms:
What makes Antoine's such a unique dining experience are the 15 different dining rooms. All of the rooms have high ceilings, large windows and all the character and charm that was built into fine homes in the early 1800s. At Antoine's each room has a name and a different character. Four of the private rooms bear the names of 4 of our Carnival krewes -- Rex, Proteus, and 12th Night Revelers. Rex is the King of Mardi Gras and the room dedicated to Rex is adorned with photos of royalty and memorabilia, including crowns and scepters of many years long past.
I think the most interesting room is the Japanese Room. The design includes Oriental motifs popular at the turn of the 20th century. All of the decorations, down to the hand-painted walls and ceilings, spoke of things Japanese. Many large banquets were held there. But on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to usher the United States into World War II, the room was closed and locked for 43 years. It was reopened in 1984 and brought back to its original splendor with beautiful handpainted wallpaper in the design of a rose trellis.
The Mystery Room also has a fasinating history. It was the anti-prohibition room. It's now at the of a long corridor. But during prohibition (1919-1933) guests would go through the Ladies' room and a secret door to in the back to get to the Mystery Room. The phrase to use was "It's a mystery to me." That would get you a coffee cup filled with booze. That's how the Mystery Room got it's name.
Let's Get to the Food:
The Chateaubriand is excellent. What I like about Antoine's is that everything is a la carte. So you can not only pick what you want to eat, you can pick the sauce you want on it and the side dishes that sound good to you. I love the soft shell crabs with butter. For dessert you must have the special baked alaska. But, remember that has to be ordered in advance. So order it when you make your reservations.
Antoine's is not on my cheap eats list, but for what you get, the prices are right. It's well worth a visit the next time you're in town.