Posts tagged ‘new orleans’

January 23, 2012

Archie Manning’s restaurant in New Orleans is a winner

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — Eli Manning is headed back to the Super Bowl and, thanks to his dad, his hometown will have a hot new place to watch the big game.

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The burgers at Archie Manning's restaurant feature his uniform number and those of his sons.

A restaurant in New Orleans bearing the Manning name was going to pack the house no matter what. Archie Manning’s a classy guy, though, so you could expect that he would deliver an establishment with style and sophistication. At Manning’s, you’ll find a big, airy sports bar that has plenty of hospitality and enough warmth to make it appeal to women too.

The newly opened restaurant in the Big Easy’s trendy Warehouse Arts District features a large patio, which will host live music, as well as a banquet hall and 300 televisions, including a dominating 13.5-foot-by-7-foot screen that will catch the eye of anyone passing by. The menu from chef Anthony Spizale includes well-known southern favourites like Shrimp Po Boy sandwiches and Gumbo, along with some eccentric choices (Pig Skin Sliders and Alligator Sliders) that might surprise tourists.

“I’m real excited about it,” Archie Manning told me on Thursday, a night after the 210-seat restaurant held a grand opening celebration at its 519 Fulton Street location. “I’ve been on the road a lot and this business will help me stay closer to home.”

Manning, the former quarterback for the Saints, lives in the city’s Garden District (his home is on the walking tour of the posh neighbourhood) and is one of the most popular figures in New Orleans. He was walking around the restaurant on Thursday taking photographs with all of the guests and smiling wide inside his new digs. He had the idea for the restaurant about five years ago and opened it in time for this weekend’s NFL playoff games, which included his youngest son, Eli, quarterbacking the New York Giants to victory over the San Francisco 49ers. They will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on February 5 in Indianapolis, on the field where Peyton Manning, Archie’s other quarterback son, has led the Colts.

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January 22, 2012

In New Orleans, meet ‘the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life’

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The All That Jazz is a thing of legend in New Orleans. (Julia Pelish photo)

NEW ORLEANS, LOUSIANA — Two days before I arrive in New Orleans, I receive an email urging me to go to a convenience store for “the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.” When you travel, words like that always grab your interest, even more so when you’re a travel writer and you sense the potential for a story. Still, you have to remain skeptical about such claims. The email was written from a contact who went to university in New Orleans and was now at Berkeley, so it’s more than possible he was a victim of a hallucination. So when I arrived, I asked around town.

“The All That Jazz — delicious,” said Nick Ruggiero, a waiter who moved from Washington, D.C. to the Big Easy about six years ago. “It’s awesome. Gooey, cheesy. You’ll love it.”

Ruggiero knows his stuff. He works at Arnaud’s, one of the city’s finer restaurants, and recommended particular dishes around town. He was the third person to verify that the All That Jazz sandwich at the Verti-Marte was, indeed, deserving of the hype.

“You’re getting the All That Jazz,” said a fourth endorser, who happened to be the nephew of former Raptors forward Sherell Ford. He was standing in line with me at the little 24-hour grocery store in the French Quarter and his eyes lit up when he spoke about the sandwich. “That’s delicious. It’s messy, but amazing.”

The Verti-Marte is across from the La Laurie Mansion, Nicolas Cage’s former home known for its gruesome 19th-century murders and mutilations, and its reputed ghosts. For all of the visitors who come to this town fascinated by its spooky history, the store’s location may be the only thing notable about it. Inside, it looks like your typical U.S. mini-market, with overpriced snack foods, a freezer full of ice cream, long refrigerators stocked with soft drinks, milk and beer, and a cash register that guards the liquor and cigarettes behind it. At the rear, though, is a deli that churns out dozens of items, ranging from rich desserts like bread pudding to entrees like Creole Chicken and, of course, its po-boy sandwiches, of which the $10.25 All That Jazz is the most popular.

“We’ll serve 20 of those a day, sometimes a hundred,” says Ken behind the counter after he takes my order at 11 p.m. “We normally get a lot of people coming in here at four in the morning after all of the drinking and they’re looking for that sandwich.”

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January 10, 2012

New Orleans is Rising

[Heading back to the Big Easy in a couple of days and thought I’d publish this story that first appeared last February in the Toronto Star.]

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Accordionist Dwayne Dopsie plays rock classics at Krazy Korner down on Bourbon Street. (Julia Pelish photo)



NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — Krista Schuster sits at a bar in Pirate’s Alley, her fiancé beside her, a well drink in her hand, the thump of a tuba in her ear and beignets on her mind.

“The best travel deal going is New Orleans,” she declares.

In December, Schuster, a Pittsburgh resident who has worked as a travel agent, made her fourth visit to the Big Easy since 2006. New Orleans has taken its punches, as everyone knows, but you can’t beat the spirit of this place, or its citizens. Mardi Gras starts March 8 here, but this is a rollicking city any time of year.

“People are so much fun, it’s cheap and the food and music are amazing,” she says.

The food and the music.

They are the hallmarks of this town, what keep people coming and what makes you entice others to visit once you’ve returned home.

Bourbon Street is a blast, but it’s not where you should spend most of your time. It’s a spot for tourists and college kids looking for debauchery. There are things to enjoy, for sure. Great music can be found in a number of places on the street and those looking to splurge should drop in on Arnaud’s for a meal. The historic restaurant, which has a small Mardi Gras museum on its second floor, is an icon of the food scene and deserves the laurels it has received through the years.

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