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Sunday, February 28, 2016

#2441 - Napoleon House, New Orleans - 3/15/2014

Napoleon House, New Orleans
Try the: Pimm's Cup

"It may not be my very favorite muffuletta in the city, but it is my favorite place to eat a muffuletta in the city," said Jeff, New Orleans food expert -- usatoday

This basically captures my reaction to Napoleon House. Even the famous muffulettas, along with the equally famous Pimm's Cups here, are fine, but hardly worth a special trip in themselves. It is the place that is the attraction -- some say classic French Quarter, but it also feels as if you could be in Rome. The sun pours into the patio and through the open front door, Beethoven's Eroiqua, composed for Napoleon, wafts through the interior, and bare plaster spots on the walls alternate with spots of the paint that is said to have last been applied in 1814. The previously flaking ceiling was freshly painted only at the command of the city.

Napoleon House, New Orleans
It feels historic, and it is. The connection with Napoleon himself is tenuous -- in 1821 the first resident, French born Nicholas Girod, offered the residence to the erstwhile emperor in exile, with transportation from the island of St. Helena provided the banished general by associates of the famous pirate John Lafitte. Girod had been the fifth mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1812 to 1815, that is, up to and including the time General Andrew Jackson repelled the British in the Battle of New Orleans (neither side having yet received word of the treaty signed 15 days before). The plot to rescue the exiled emperor ended prematurely with Napoleon's death in May of that year.

Napoleon House, New Orleans
Nearly a century later, Sicilian immigrant Joseph Impastato started renting the building in 1914, and running a grocery downstairs. In 1920 he purchased the property, and in a side room opened a tavern. It was not an officially licensed tavern, as it was in January of that year that federal prohibition took effect, a measure that appears to have had only modest effects on the alcohol consumption habits of New Orleanians. Impastato ran the bar for 23 years, then passed it to his brother Peter Impastato in 1943. Joseph remained living upstairs in the building, and "holding court at a table on the patio" until he died at age 100. The Impastato family continued to operate the Napoleon House through the date of this visit, until selling it to Ralph Brennan (of Brennan's Restaurant fame) in May of 2015. Brennan has pledged not to change the place, and that is very welcome news indeed.

Napoleon House, New Orleans
Postscript: One final small personal memory: While sipping our Pimm's Cups at the bar, we fell into a friendly conversation with Michael and LSU alum Megan, and discovered that she was a mutual friend of my Seattle co-worker Jeff M. We would run into the same couple again the very next night at The Columns.


Bruschetta, Napoleon House, New Orleans
500 Chartres Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130 - 504-524-9752
Est. 1920 (as tavern, and during prohibition) - Building constructed: 1794 (expanded 1814)
Previous bars in this location: None
Web site: napoleonhouse.com - facebook
Reviews: nola.com (sale) - wwno.org - usatoday - wikipedia - neworleansadvocate - fleurty girl video - yelp - tripadvisor

#2440 - Kingfish, New Orleans - 3/15/2014

Kingfish Restaurant, New Orleans
New Orleans has, of course, many more than its share of famous chefs, and a number of top bartenders, and the Kingfish has had changes in both in this visit. On our stop we did not have time to sample the mix of Japanese street food, Cajun and French cuisines, but we did have a couple cocktails from legendary fourth-generation barman Chris McMillian. I've lost my notes on what we drank, but in any case McMillian has moved on to open his own place (Revel) in 2016, and both the kitchen and bar at Kingfish appear to remain in very good hands with new chef Nathan Richard and current bartenders.


Chris McMillian, Kingfish, New Orleans
As the name implies, the restaurant and bar are a paean to the era of prohibition and Huey Long, with bartenders and servers in white shirts and black braces. The cocktail menu is a mix of local classics and new inventions. There is a grand piano, pressed tin bar backing, 30s movies playing, and a large photo of Long. At dinner hours and evenings it is packed and lively.

337 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70125 - (504) 598-5005
Est. April 2013
Web site: kingfishneworleans.com - facebook
Reviews: nola.com - eater - countryroadsmagazine - bestofneworleans - yelp

Sunday, February 14, 2016

#2439 - Bombay Club, New Orleans - 3/15/2014

The Bombay Club, New Orleans, LA
The Bombay Club in the French Quarter's Prince Conti Hotel is a green and woody paean to the heydays of British colonialism, Cajun cooking, and the great American invention of the martini. This visit came shortly after long-time manager Richard Fiske passed away and his staff departed to open a bar in his name. The group that runs Broussard's and Kingfish took over, remodeled, and installed chef Nathan Richard and bar manager Blake Kaiser. Our group did not have time for dinner this evening, but enjoyed our cocktails and old standards on the piano from our friend Monty Banks.

Monty Banks at the Bombay Club, New Orleans, LA
830 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112 - (504) 577-2237
Web site: bombayclubneworleans.com - facebook
Reviews: neworleansadvocate - curbednola - yelp - tripadvisor