If you’ve read anything about Galatoire’s or dined there in the last 50 or so years, it’s safe to say you have a good understanding of the restaurant. The early line outside for the rambunctious Friday lunch, presided over by posh and exuberantly tipsy table-hopping regulars. The linen-topped tables and bentwood chairs in a room wrapped in vintage tile floors, mirrored walls and low wooden ceiling fans. The legacy of consummate, clever waiters who proffer solid advice on the soft-shell crabs, drum, pompano and other standards on the seafood-rich French-Creole menu. The quintessential dishes like soufflé potatoes with bernaise, fried eggplant dusted with powdered sugar, and crabmeat maison. Ending every meal with a flaming bowl of café brulot.
This is Galatoire’s – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
This is not to suggest that the 110-year-old grande dame is dated or merely getting by on her reputation. Only that the landmark restaurant has done a mighty job of holding on to her charms, and few places do a better job of capturing the city’s unique joie de vivre – to the point that regulars still feel indulged and tourists still feel welcome.
Some things have changed. Following a massive renovation more than 10 years ago, Galatoire’s started taking reservations for the second floor dining room, which is less lively and coveted. Jackets are no longer required at lunch, although many still believe that just because you can go jacket-less doesn’t mean you should. These may seem like minor tweaks in a restaurant with such a grand history, yet plenty of people groused about the changes. Galatoire’s remains a fixture for the simple reason that it has remained true to the food and the style of entertaining that make this city so unique. As over-the-top or cliché as it can seem to the uninitiated, the restaurant is authentic New Orleans.
UPDATE: In August 2012, Galatoire’s announced the purchase of the vacant, three-story building next door to the restaurant. The new building will house more private dining space upstairs and add two galleries overlooking Bourbon. Plans for the first floor of the building are not complete, but Melvin Rodrigue, Galatoire’s president and chief operating officer, has hinted that the it will house a new dining concept for the restaurant.
Combining classic French Creole cuisine with the city's laissez les bon temps rouler! attitude, Galatoire's is still one of New Orleans' most historic dining destinations.