I have on occasion met people, ninth-generation Louisianans among them, who do not quite see the point of Galatoire’s, whose old-fashioned Creole plainness stands in austere rebuke to the everything-all-of-the-time food culture that has become associated with the city. The speckled trout amandine? Fried fish with slivered nuts on it. The famous shrimp rémoulade? Just a mustardy shrimp cocktail. The brabant potatoes? Nothing more than fancy hash browns. The pressed-tin ceilings? The ink-dark coffee poured from battered silver pots? The three-Sazerac Friday lunch? Antique affectation, all of it.
Actually, I sometimes consider Galatoire’s to be less a restaurant than a state of grace, a few hours of unhurried perfection, of things done the way they always have been done and, barring incident, always will be. It is almost incidental that the kitchen broils pompano as suavely as Ellis Marsalis rolls through an Ellington tune, that the bacony magnificence of the oysters en brochette resounds as deeply as a bass note, that you can get almost anything topped with crabmeat Yvonne, or even that the waiters will let you eat what they want you to eat and not one smidgen more. 209 Bourbon Street (504-525-2021).