Posted by: Waheeda Harris | September 17, 2012

The elegance of New Orleans

Gracious southern hospitality – its easily found in New Orleans. The core of the city seems to be rooted in this tradition, but paired with a wild party side.

Experiencing the elegance of this city is as easy as walking into a French Quarter hotel or seeing some of the gracious mansions of the Garden District.

But to really understand the old school traditions – its all about dining. For those who want to see how the other half lives in New Orleans, a meal at Galatoire’s is one way to experience a high level of style and service.

Behind the lace curtains and linen draped tables, the main floor dining room is a coveted space. Its mirrored walls and numerous staff are the key to why everyone wants to sit in this room – because you want to be seen, see who’s there and be treated like kings and queens.

Every table is asked if they have a preferred server – and the service is impeccable. There’s rarely an empty glass or lack of tabletop accessories – everything seems possible.

Yet there are certain traditions, and I could tell that everyone knew the rules – but that they weren’t as austere as an old restaurant in New York City or a trendy dining establishment in Los Angeles.

Warm bread and butter is just the start, and while there are numerous options for meals, my choice of shrimp etouffee seemed the right one – spicy and served on perfectly cooked rice.

As I looked around the dining room, I could hear snippets of conversation and see everyone going through the rituals of the meal, sipping, tasting and laughing.

There wasn’t one person who seemed out of place or was too serious for too long (even if there were a lot of business being done by the hoi polloi of the city).

The elegance and level of service was high, but snooty – not in New Orleans. There’s still a lot of laughter and smiles, as long as everyone understands the traditions.

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