Bring on the Burgers and Booze
The first item I came across about the restaurant, Port of Call, was that it was known for having “The Best Burger in the City.” I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s impressive! They must be doing a great job.” Then, I decided to take a closer look and found that the “burger” wasn’t served with French fries – but a baked potato. I thought to myself, “Who in the world serves a burger (the original one we’ve all been eating forever) with a baked potato?”
HERE’S THE HILARIOUS BACK STORY
Port of Call is located at 838 Esplanade Avenue (just 4 blocks from Rathbone Mansions) and was founded in 1963 as a steakhouse. Over the years this casual spot (no reservations) has moved on and now specializes in burgers as well as steaks.
Its big, juicy “gourmet” burger, as they like to call it, starts with charbroiled, freshly ground beef that is topped with grated cheddar. It’s served with a baked potato – plus lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on the side. What happened to the French fries that go with burgers everywhere else on the planet?
“Well,” says Mike Mollere, “Our kitchen is the size of a walk-in closet.” That’s a good beginning. Then he adds, “We used to have a deep-fryer for French fries, but one day it broke. So we started putting a baked potato with the burger instead.” That’s the whole story: a busted fryer resulted in all this fame and customer loyalty! Port of Call is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Every member of the family is welcome.
SHENANIGANS AT GALATOIRE’S ON FRIDAYS
Jean Galatoire founded his restaurant on Bourbon Street in 1905. It is now in its fifth generation of the Galatoire family -- all have carried on the tradition of fine dining and serving authentic French Creole cuisine. It’s often said that the beauty of Galatoire’s is that things never change.
Tennessee Williams had a regular table in the front corner of Galatoire’s, Was he ever there for one of their famous (infamous may be a better word) Friday lunches? Who knows? I went digging for as much detailed information as I could find about this tradition and lo and behold! I found a gold mine when I read a piece on the web by Rachel Sigur who was determined to get a reservation for a celebratory Friday lunch at Galatoire’s.
Her goal was to sit in the downstairs dining room where all the action takes place. But you can’t make a reservation. Or, as Rachel says, “The only way to get a table is by waiting in line on Bourbon Street.” The restaurant opens at 11:30 am so she arrived at 8:00 and saw a few disheveled-looking guys on milk crates and camping chairs already there. Hello? What’s this?
Apparently the affluent people of New Orleans (attorneys, politicians, doctors and so on) pay these friendly guys to hold a spot for them. The wait ended when the maître d’ at Galatoire’s came out and jotted down the names of those in the line. Guess what? Rachel got her table in the downstairs dining room!
When her father arrived to celebrate his birthday, the dining room was packed and full of energy. And, everyone, it seemed, was there for a special occasion. Shannon, their charming waitress, who has worked at Galatoire’s for a number of years, asked if they were there for the long haul. “Of course, I said we were,” relates Rachel.
They started with drinks and delicious appetizers (the Galatoire Goute is one). Then a gentleman stood up and said, “I’m the owner of the Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley and, to celebrate my daughter’s engagement and my son’s wedding, I’m treating everyone to a glass of wine. My chardonnay!”
Suddenly passengers in a 747 flying overhead heard wild shouting, clapping and cheering. The captain came on and said, “Don’t be alarmed folks, it’s just Friday lunch at Galatoire’s.”
Rachel’s dad says it’s the best birthday he’s ever had.
I received my subscription copy of AFAR magazine today. Guess what? The first thing I spotted was an ad for Mardi Gras, March 2-4, 2019. Already you say? Yep! It’s time to start thinking about the Rathbone Mansions as a place to rest your weary bones!