Strictly Business Omaha Visits New Orleans, 2009
Of all of the many destinations we’ve been to over the last few years, New Orleans has to rank near the top of our favorite vacation spots. Our first trip was shortly after Hurricane Katrina and we were humbled by the devastation there, as well as heartened by the friendliness and strength of the people. This positive experience prompted us to visit New Orleans again a couple of years later as we wanted to see how the city was rebuilding and show our support for their tourism industry. Again, we were so impressed by the residents and by the travelers who were continuing to flock to the city. In this, our third trip, we knew some of the things we wanted to do (Bourbon Street, of course, is something you can’t pass up), but we also wanted to try out plenty of new things. Here is a brief recap of our trip. If you’d like to read more and see additional pictures, please visit our website.
Le Pavillon | 833 Poydras Street | www.lepavillon.com
If you’re looking for a truly impressive hotel to stay in that combines old world charm with the service and attention to customer service you see in only the top hotels, you should consider Le Pavillon. Located in the heart of downtown New Orleans, the hotel sits adjacent to the French Quarter, only five short blocks to Bourbon Street and the restaurants and antique shops of Royal Street. We made the walk many times, and found it to be a good distance to get a little exercise, but certainly not too far to necessitate getting a cab. Built in 1907, Le Pavillon is a member of Historic Hotels of America and maintains membership in the Leading Hotels of the World. Some of the best features are the multitude of antiques that decorate the lobby, suites and dining areas. One notable example is an extremely rare and valuable pair of Louis XV D’Oré bronze cherubs with candelabras sitting on marble pedestals in the lobby. They were sculpted by Lecarriere Freres Delatour & Cie Paris, circa 1879. We were also impressed by the little touches, such as the concierge’s willingness and enthusiasm to tell us about the area and the many things to do and the complimentary late night snack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served with cold milk every night at 10 pm (there’s a great story behind this—but you’ll have to visit the hotel to hear it!). We couldn’t recommend Le Pavillon highly enough, whether you are planning a trip to eat at the many amazing restaurants downtown, want to visit some antique or art shops or are interested in experiencing Bourbon Street.
Brennan’s | 417 Royal Street | www.brennansneworleans.com
We made one exception on trying only new things on our trip when it came to Brennan’s. Our dining experience was so memorable there last time that we knew the two staff members who had not experienced it needed to this time. We knew they needed to see the place where the famous Bananas Foster was invented! They visited Brennan’s for an early lunch and ordered off the brunch menu, which includes favorites like Eggs Benedict. One tried the Eggs Hussarde (poached eggs atop Holland rusks, Canadian bacon and Marchand de Vin sauce, topped with Hollandaise), another dish that was invented at Brennan’s and the other had the Eggs Portuguese. Their meals were completed with appetizers (onion soup and a baked apple with cream) and dessert (Bananas Foster, of course and Crepes Fitzgerald, another Brennan’s original). Brennan’s pairs their delicious food with impeccable service and a historic atmosphere, making it a must for any visitor to New Orleans, whether it’s your first time or your twentieth.
Bubba Gump Shrimp, CO. | 429 Decatur Street | www.bubbagump.com
While they experienced Brennan’s, the rest of our party visited Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. for lunch. The first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market opened in 1996 on Cannery Row in Monterey, California and has since grown to include many notable locations throughout the United States and internationally. At the core, Bubba Gump’s is a small seafood chain committed to providing a casual environment where everyone can enjoy a great meal and have some fun, too. We definitely found this to be the case. The food, which included items like Bubba’s After the Storm “Bucket of Boat Trash” (deep fried shrimp, slipper lobster and mahi mahi served with fries) and Mama’s Cinnamon Bread Pudding, was wonderful, of course, but where the restaurant really stood out was the atmosphere and incredible friendliness of the staff. The atmosphere is funky and fun—you can’t help but have a good time here! Michelle, our contact at Bubba Gump’s, was amazing. She not only made sure we had everything we could possibly want for our meal, but she also gave us advice on other places to visit and made sure we knew that if we needed anything during our entire trip, to just give her a call. Now that’s service!
Arnaud’s | 813 Bienville St. | www.arnauds.com
If you’re looking for a picturesque dining experience with a wealth of history, Arnaud’s in the French Quarter is an excellent choice. We had the most amazing crab cakes and filet mignon here, as well as a delicious seafood gumbo and a wonderful rich appetizer, the Crabmeat Prentiss. The food is served with excellent crusty bread and the atmosphere as well as the service makes for a charming and upscale dining experience. However, no matter how good the food is, the best part about Arnaud’s is the history. We were fortunate off to be offered a tour of the establishment, which not only takes up nearly a city block in the French Quarter but also has an astonishing Mardi Gras museum that includes the original gowns of Germaine Wells, the daughter of the restaurant’s founder and queen of the Mardi Gras an amazing 22 times. The museum was opened by Arnaud’s former owner Archie Casbarian in 1983 and is free to the public during regular restaurant hours. Arnaud’s is truly a unique and special dining experience. Go to see the museum and, if your schedule permits, stay for an outstanding meal.
Cajun Encounters | www.cajunencounters.com
The last time we visited New Orleans, we took an amazing plantation tour, which we highly recommend. This time we wanted to do something a little different, so we coordinated with Cajun Encounters tours to take a tour of the Honey Island swamp. A shuttle bus picked us up to our hotel and we had a fascinating 40-minute drive to the swamp during which the driver told us about the devastation that had occurred in the 9th ward, which we were driving through. When we arrived at the swamp, we loaded into 24-passenger boats with our guide, who clearly had a vast knowledge and love for the swamp. The two-hour tour was incredibly educational (did you know that swamps don’t smell and have very few mosquitoes?) and we even got to see a few small alligators and other wildlife. This is a great, relaxing tour that you will remember for a lifetime. And you don’t even have to bring your bug spray!
Haunted French Quarter Walking Tour | www.tourneworleans.com
If you really want to get to know the French Quarter, a walking tour is definitely the way to go! We were fortunate to get an amazing guide, Kelley Edmiston, who was extremely knowledgeable about the area and a whole lot of fun! She took us on an amazing tour that included scary ghost stories, heartwarming ghost stories and a wealth of history and facts about the French Quarter in general. The tour visited the sites of some of the city’s most legendary haunting, such as the LaLaurie Mansion, the Sultan’s Retreat and Pere Dagobert of St. Louis Cathedral. This is a must-take tour, whether you’re interested in ghost stories or not. Thank you, Kelley, for such a great time!