Antoine’s is so iconic, it’s the oldest family-run restaurant in New Orleans. It has a built-in museum of all of their history and artifacts. It’s got many rooms, some of which are so special that you have to reserve months in advance. My favorite was the escargot room, a place for men to have their little dinner clubs events. Of course, you have to order their very famous escargot if your eating in that room.
My lovely guide Ricky, who is a great-great-great grandson of the original owner, was so enlightening, he took me on a tour before my dining experience. He showed me the many rooms, paintings, wine cellar and ashtray collection, everything super spectacular to feast my eyes on. I felt so special that I was given this tour and be able to understand the whole history of Antoine’s and what makes it so special. So many famous dishes were created under their roof; I got to try quite a few.
Here’s What I Tried:
Huîtres Bienville, Fresh Louisiana gulf oysters baked on the half shell, with white wine, cheese, onions, pimento, and fresh peppers sauce.
Huîtres en coquille à la Rockefeller, Louisiana gulf oysters baked on the half shell with the original Rockefeller sauce created by Antoine’s in the late 1890s.
Huîtres Thermidor, Fresh Louisiana gulf oysters baked on the half shell with bacon and cocktail sauce. They gave me a sampler platter of threes darling oysters my favorite was the Huitres Bienville. The oysters Rockefeller were delicious, and they created this popular oyster dish here.
Soup and Salads:
Gumbo Créole, A classic preparation of rich Louisiana gumbo with blue crabs, oysters, and gulf shrimp. This is an amazing Gumbo, with just the perfect amount of spice and flavor.
Soupe a l’oignon Gratinée, A classic onion soup baked and topped with a combination of cheeses. Not the usual soup you would expect, but it’s so differed and wonderful that you forget any others that you have tried.
Salade Combinaison, Mixed greens tossed with artichokes, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and cranberries topped with feta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. This is a nice simple salad that mixes the freshest ingredients with a nice subtle dressing.
Cotelettes d’Agneau Grillées, Prime center-cut lamb chops grilled and served with mint jelly. These chops are right up there with any I have tasted in the past. Grilled with a crispy outside and super tender inside, and the mint jelly is one of my favorite combinations on the planet.
Filet de Gulf Poisson aux Ecrevisses Cardinal, Grilled or fried gulf fish with gulf crawfish tails in Antoine’s signature white wine tomato sauce – our creation! This was drum fish, super thick with a great sauce and the crawfish just added the best part of the gulf.
Broccoli Sauce Hollandaise, Steamed broccoli with hollandaise sauce. Just what you would expect, but these broccoli florets were cooked al dent, so they kept their integrity and were just scrumptious.
Epinards Sauce Crème, Spinach in a light cream sauce with onion, garlic and Romano cheese baked in a casserole. I loved this spinach with the lamb, just the right accompaniment.
Tarte au Citron Vert, Authentic key lime mousse in a graham cracker tart shell topped with whipped cream. A very delectable way to end my glorious meal.
Established in 1840, the main dining room at Antoine’s as it appeared in 1951. Even at that late date, the gas chandeliers provided the only heat for the room during the winter months!
It was spring in 1840, when New Orleans was queen city of the Mississippi River, when cotton was king and French gentlemen settled their differences under the oaks with pistols for two and coffee for one. “Dixie” had not yet been written, destined to become the marching anthem for Confederate forces in the Civil War. This was the city young Antoine Alciatore adopted, after stopping in New York, to establish a restaurant that would endure under his family’s direction for more than 179 years and set the standard that has made New Orleans one of the great dining centers of the world.
It was on St. Louis Street, just one block from the spot the famed restaurant occupies today, that the 18-year old Alciatore started what was to become simply “Antoine’s” as a synonym for fine food. He felt at home in the French-speaking city of lordly aristocrats and their extravagances, an ideal audience for his culinary artistry, a synonym for fine food. He felt at home in the French-speaking city of lordly aristocrats and their extravagances, an ideal audience for his culinary artistry.
The main dining room at Antoine’s as it appeared in 1951. Even at that late date, the gas chandeliers provided the only heat for the room during the winter months! After a brief period in the kitchen of the grand St. Charles Hotel, Antoine opened a pension, a boarding house and a restaurant. It was then that he made arrangements for his fiancée’ to join him from New York. She came to New Orleans with her sister and she and Antoine were married. Together they worked to build up their pension with culinary emphasis. New Orleans’ gentility was so taken with the restaurant that it soon outgrew its small quarters and Antoine’s moved down the block and eventually, in 1868, to the spot on St. Louis Street where the restaurant stands today.
In 1874, Antoine being in ill-heath took leave of his family, with the management of the restaurant in his wife’s hands. Jules married Althea Roy, daughter of a planter in Youngsville in southwest Louisiana. Jules and Althea had three children: Roy, Jules and Mary Louise. Roy followed in his father’s footsteps and headed the restaurant for almost 40 years until his death in 1972. He felt he had not much longer to live and wished to die and be buried in his birthplace in France. He told his wife he did not want her to watch him deteriorate and said as he left; “As I take the boat for Marseilles, we will not meet again on earth.” He died within the year. After Antoine’s death, his son Jules served as an apprentice under his mother’s tutelage for six years before she sent him to France where he served in the great kitchens of Paris, Strassburg and Marseilles. He returned to New Orleans and became a chef of the famous Pickwick Club in 1887 before his mother summoned him to head the house of Antoine. His genius was in the kitchen where he invented Oysters Rockefeller, so named for the richness of the sauce. They remain one of the great culinary creations of all time and that recipe remains a closely-guarded Antoine’s secret, though it has been imitated countless times.
The kitchen at Antoine’s as it appeared in 1951. The restaurant’s chefs were still using ancient coal-burning stoves to prepare meals for their many patrons. Note the oyster shells ready and waiting to be transformed into Oysters Rockefeller and the row of little baskets, soon to be filled with the delectable soufflé potatoes. Photograph by R. E. Covey.
Roy Alciatore managed the restaurant through some of the nation’s most difficult times, including the Prohibition era and World War II. His contributions still remain vibrant today. The 1840 Room, a replica of a fashionable private dining room, still contains the great silver duck press and is a museum of curios treasures including a cookbook published in Paris in 1659.
Marie Louise married William Guste; and their sons, William Jr., the former attorney general of Louisiana, and Roy Sr., became the fourth generation of the family to head the restaurant. In 1975, Roy’s son, Roy Jr., became proprietor and served until 1984. He was followed by William’s son, Bernard “Randy” Guste who managed Antoine’s until 2004. In 2005, Rick Blount, Roy Alciatore’s grandson became proprietor and CEO.
The long line of the Alciatore family members and descendants has guided Antoine’s to continued greatness, through the Civil War, two World Wars, Prohibition, the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina.
Countless celebrities have dined in Antoine’s dining rooms. Lining the walls are photographs of the rich and famous who have feasted amid the splendor … musicians, politicians, military personnel, sports figures, and royalty … the list is endless. It includes George Bush, Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Kate Hudson, Jimmy Buffet, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby to name just a few!
There is so much history here, you just have to come in and taste their wonderful food and take in all of the rooms and artifacts, it’s a must-see when you are in New Orleans.
713 St Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
* Note some content was taken off of their press release.