Sugar Bowl dining options were extensive in 1956
Ride the bus or streetcar to the game, come back to the French Quarter for fine dining.
Enjoying Sugar Bowl Dining
With fans from Baylor University and the University of Tennessee in town for the Sugar Bowl game on New Year’s Day, even the established, “old line” restaurants took out ads in the Times-Picayune.
Beakfast at Brenna’s, all day.
Brennan’s French Restaurant served “Breakfast At Brennan’s,” with Eggs Hussarde or Eggs St. Denis, all day long. They also recommended Lamb Chops Mirabeau, as well as the rest of a very popular menu of French cuisine. Brennan’s, Still There More at 417 Royal Street, across from the Louisiana Supreme Court building.
“the gourmet’s choice…The House of Antoine for 117 years…National polls have placed Antoine’s top on their list of fine restaurants of America and the world. Antoine’s Restaurant, 713 St. Louis Street in the French Quarter. Roy L. Alciatore, Proprieter.
Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter.
Germaine Cazenave Wells, Owner and Manager of Restaurant Arnaud’s, and daughter of Count Arnaud, the founder, welcomed Sugar Bowl visitors. “The Paris of the South,” Arnaud’s, still at 813 Bienville Street.
Commander’s Palace in the Garden District
“a command performance for generations, the toast of Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras, Commander’s Palace where each meal is a command performance–delicious french cuisine expertly prepared and graciously served.”
Since 1880, Commander’s Palace – “Dining in the Grand Manner,” Washington Avenue at Coliseum.
Lenfant’s, Poydras and S. Claiborne and Canal Blvd.
Lenfant’s operated two locations in 1956, 537 S. Claiborne and Poydras, and 5236 Canal Blvd. The Special Turkey New Year’s Dinner served to 4 P. M., a la carte after 4pm. “Plenty of Parking Space Available at Both Locations.” Lenfant’s, particularly the Canal Blvd. location, attracted locals not looking to mingle with football visitors.
T. Pittari’s, 31-December-1956
“The Famous T. Pittari’s – Directly on your route–to and from The Sugar Bowl Game” at 4200 So. Claiborne. Pittari’s aggressive marketing via downtown hotels attracted visitors. While they came for the lobster and other exotic dishes, locals went to Pittari’s for their popular Creole-Italian dishes.
Happy New Year!
Brennan’s Autumn 1966 meant interesting meals all day.
Brennan’s Autumn 1966
“Autumn is delicious at Brennan’s” is the theme of this ad in the Times-Picayune, 9-November-1966. Brennan’s was known primarily for their variations on Eggs Benedict and other breakfast dishes. After breakfast/brunch, business tapered off. The restaurant promoted lunch and dinner service. With New Orleans entering Autumn (finally, in November), Brennan’s enticed diners in to enjoy “entrees with Brennan’s own French-accented sauces…”
“new Autumn Breakfasts”
Ever had hot grilled grapefruit
with a touch of Kirsch? Then, Brennan’s Eggs Por-
tuguese … chopped tomatos in a tender flaky
pastry shell, topped with poached eggs and
covered with a rich Hollandaise sauce.
Wrap it up with delectable Crepes
Suzette and a hearty cup of
cafe au lait
Crepes Suzette offered the diner some flaming excitement at Breakfast time.
new Autumn Luncheons
Beautiful way to break your day … exotic
Chicken A L’Orange … tender boned chicken
sauteed in a spicy orange sauce and served
with parsley rice. This is only one of many new
entrees on the luncheon menu at Brennan’s
… guaranteed to present you with the most
pleasant decision you’ll make all day.
Locals and tourists alike eschew a big lunch in New Orleans. They opted for “business” or “working man” lunch places. Brennan’s created dishes appealing, but not designed to spoil your dinner.
new Autumn Dinners
First, Brennan’s “from Paris” Onion
Soup au Gratin. Follow this with Beef Dore’ …
skillfully seasoned chopped sirloin steak, em-
bellished with cheese and cooked in a pastry puff
with a Perigord red wine sauce. A tossed
green salad with Chapon dressing
and luscious cheesecake
complete your meal.
Unlike other “old-line” restaurants, like Antoine’s and Arnaud’s, Brennan’s dated back to the late 1940s. Antoine’s was a century old by the time Owen Brennan opened his place on Bourbon Street. So, Brennan’s didn’t have that base of diners who came in for that One Specific Thing. That gave the restaurant a lot more flexibility on the menu. Still, that One Specific Thing applied to Brennan’s. That’s why they now serve Breakfast all day.
Brennan’s French Restaurant, 417 Royal Street, across from the Louisiana Supreme Court.
T. Pittari’s Restaurant started uptown before moving to Broadmoor.
T. Pattari’s Restaurant
Pittari’s Restaurant was originally located on Magazine and Washington. Tom Pittari took over from his uncle, Anthony, and moved the place to the 4200 S. Claiborne in the 1940s. While it was best known for its exotic dishes, such as Maine lobster and wild game, Pittari’s solid Creole cooking attracted a regular clientele. Fitzmorris offers a detailed profile of the restaurant. I came away from his story thinking the place was more a clip joint than a neighborhood restaurant. The restaurant closed after the one-two punch of the big street flooding in 1978 and 1980.
French Quarter food in Broadmoor
Fitzmorris describes Tom Pittari’s marketing in detail. I like the part about giving cab drivers an extra tip when they enticed tourists out of the Vieux Carre out to S. Claiborne. The place was huge, taking up the entire 4200 block. The activity, on what was already a very busy street, stuck in the heads of passers-by. Pittari combined that neighborhood action with tourists and stayed busy.
What made Pittari’s Restaurant popular was their basic menu. Fitzmorris writes:
The Creole dishes were better still. The dish I remember most fondly was crab bisque, made with a medium roux, a good bit of claw crabmeat, and a crab boulette that the waiter would bring in a separate dish and plop into the soup right in front of you.
Tom Pittari no doubt saw the crowds waiting to eat barbecue shrimp at Pascal’s Manale (a near neighbor). He developed his own excellent version. They baked very fine oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, broiled fish and meats with interesting sauces, and fried seafood well. Really, Pittari’s was a respectable all-around Creole restaurant. But nobody seems to remember that.
Good Creole-French food attracted tourists to Pittari’s Restaurant. You can just hear a cab driver in the 1950s telling a tourist couple as they pulled away from the hotel, “I’ve got a great place for you, and you don’t need a reservation!” Add to that solid Creole-Italian dishes, and the locals walked or drove over.
The “exotic” food that attracted locals was live Maine Lobster. Pittari’s was the first restaurant in New Orleans to offer live lobster. The tank stood right in the dining room. The restaurant also cooked a stuffed lobster. The signature lobster dish was “Lobster Kadobster.” They broiled the lobster, serving it with a spicy sauce. Fitzmorris recalls that the dish was quite expensive. His other comments on the menu’s pricing are, well, not flattering.
Maylie’s Restaurant served the Poydras Market area for over a century.
Franck Studios captured Maylie’s Restaurant, in the 1000 block of Poydras, in the 1950s. The Hibernia Bank Building looms over the old Poydras Market. Maylie’s opened as a bar in 1876, adding sandwiches and a full dinner menu as business grew. The restaurant closed in 1986. The location is now a Walk-Ons sports bar.
The Bernard Maylie and Hypolite Esparbe opened a bar at 1000 Poydras Street, in 1876. This location stood across the street from the Poydras Market. The city licensed and supervised a series of public markets. Thpse markets lasted into the 1940s, when privately-owned supermarkets replaced them. The public markets ensured sanitary conditions, particularly for sale of meat and seafood. By the 1930s, air-conditioning enabled grocers to expand beyond dry goods.
Maylie and Esparbe originally catered to the workers and stall-owners at the market. They offered a place where those men could stop for a drink or beer after the market closed. They recognized an opportunity to open earlier in the day, and gave away sandwiches to bar patrons. Eventually, customers suggested they stay open for dinner. The bar became a full restaurant. Maylie’s served a table d’hôte menu. Diners appreciated the regular fare and inexpensive prices.
The restaurant’s reputation allowed it to survive the changes in the neighborhood, after the closing of Poydras Market. Generations of men (women were not admitted until 1925) returned after work for dinner. Bernard Maylie’s grandson, Willie, operated the restaurant into the 1980s. Willie lived on the second floor of the building. He closed the restaurant in 1986.
While the Maylie’s building now houses the sports bar, another restaurant, Copper Vine, stands next to it. its name comes from that big vine growing out from Maylie’s, up onto the wall. So, the memories continue.
(thanks to Todd Price for his profile of Maylie’s from 2018)