The best words to describe the temperment of the room are jovial and energized. With patrons dressed in their Sunday best, multiple tables with large birthday balloons floating above, and a large table of rowdy groomsmen helping send off an expectant groom, everyone in the dining room appeared to be celebrating something. Throughout the meal, servers would clang glasses to get the restaurant’s attention so that everyone could participate in celebratory birthday toasts and singing "Happy Birthday." The entire dining room participated with the same enthusiasm for each toast as if it were for one of their tablemates. People were up and about tablehopping, drink in tow, saying hello and catching up with friends who serendipitously happened to be at Galatoire’s as well as visiting with strangers.
It was impressive to watch the staff navigate through the chaos. They had an unbelievable knack of appearing when needed then disappearing to let you enjoy your meal. Plates were cleared as soon as the last bites were finished, and new drink orders were taken as soon as glass bottoms were raised for the last sip.
With tables placed closely together, you cannot help but interact with the neighboring tables. We quickly learned that the table next to us consisted of a middle-aged couple treating their college age daughter and her boyfriend to lunch to commemorate the boyfriend’s first trip to the Crescent City. They were regulars at Galatoire’s and wanted their daughter’s boyfriend to have a quintessential New Orleans experience. When they asked what we were celebrating, I told them about my bucket list and not getting to cross it off during my time living here. They welcomed me back to the city and informed us that we were in for a treat. My wife mentioned that she was here for a conference and that, if we had to celebrate something, she had celebrated a birthday last week. After discovering we were from out of town, they proceeded to inquire about all the places we had eaten and the sights we'd taken in during the week. We also traded suggestions of books to read, places to eat around town and made friendly conversation. The only breaks in the conversation were the birthday toasts and eating as the food arrived. However, the conversation would pick back up between courses. At one point during the meal, the wife snuck off to tell our waitress about my wife's recent birthday so that she could also get her own birthday toast. They were our de facto tour guides for the duration of the meal and definitely enhanced our dining experience. We ended the meal by exchanging emails and well wishes.
While my wife and I enjoy a good meal, neither of us are very familiar with traditional French Creole cuisine. However, we are generally adventurous eaters and enjoy sharing so we get to try everything on the table. Luckily, the table next to us told us close our menus and let our waitress guide us through the meal. Our server, Martine, quickly appeared and took our first drink order. When she returned, she recommended we start off with the soufflé potatoes and the Galatoire Goute (pronounced goo-tay), which consisted of shrimp remoulade, Crabmeat Maison and a crawfish salad. She instructed us to either dip the potatoes in hollandaise sauce or to stuff the potatoes with the Goute.
Next, we ordered our second round of cocktails and proceeded with the duck and andouille (pronounced an-doo-ee) gumbo and the iceberg wedge salad with apple smoked bacon that was sweet enough to have been candied.
After letting our food digest and enjoying our cocktails, our server returned to take our order for the main entrees. After telling Martine that we wanted both a fish and a meat entrée, she suggested that we order the redfish with the crabmeat Yvonne garnish and the petite filet cooked medium rare with béarnaise garnish. For sides, she recommended the cream spinach and asparagus hollandaise. We ordered our third cocktail and eagerly awaited out meal. When our entrees arrived, Martine had noticed that we had been trading plates mid-course and had the entrees split in half before arriving at the table.