Sunday, July 22, 2012
Montrel's Bistro (AVOID!)
"This is some prime real estate wasted," my wife Diane observed. "They are obviously geared toward tourists, 'cause they can't be getting any repeat business."
We had entered the French Quarter via its southeastern corner and passed by all sorts of wonderful looking food stands in the open-air market, where I should have given into the temptation to grab something. We wanted our first meal in New Orleans to be something a little bit special, however, and so held out for a sit-down place.
We were, in fact, seated immediately at Montrel's, and even noticed how many more greeters were lurking about than were servers. After that, it took at least 20 minutes to even put in a drink order, and probably about that long again before we could order our food. We both asked for the breakfast special, the simplest thing on the menu and an item recommended on the board in front of the establishment.
I am sure there are those would defend the way Montrel's is run on the basis of the laid-back New Orleans attitude, that visitors just need to relax, etc., and that is fine as far as it goes. Where it breaks down, however, is when the quality of the food starts to suffer as a result. My grits and eggs were warm but not hot -- and the latter had a chunk of shell in them -- and the sausage was almost cold, which means my breakfast sat for awhile before anyone bothered to bring it out.
Pros were that the Bloody Mary's were good -- although we had to struggle to get them -- and that the wait staff was friendly. Our waiter even promised to find out how people could access the Internet so that he would be able to help the next customer that needed this information. As touching as this was, I also suspect that it was not true -- and is certainly not enough to offset a disappointing culinary first experience in New Orleans.