“Well, thanks for coming in” he murmurs as he drifts away.
The last time I ate at “Big” Antoine’s was back in the 80s when I was a teenager who had plenty money and nothing useful to spend it on. Herme’s Bar was carved out of Antoine’s in 2009 as a sort of low rent bar with foods that catered to tourists walking by on St Louis.
You may not have a couple hundred bucks to spend at Antoine’s but surely you have $20 to spend at the little sister?The lagniappe comes unbidden.
Although the dining room at Hermes Bar At Antoine’s is nearly deserted, the wait for a simple cheeseburger po boy has stretched to the half hour mark.
“We’re really sorry, there is a large group upstairs and the cooks are super busy”
I’m getting tag teamed by two different waitresses, each of whom is double sweet and attentive. On one pass by the table, an order of Antoine’s famous souffle potatoes is deposited. “Again, sorry” she offers.Finally, the cheeseburger po boy arrives and it’s a mess. The beef is old and musty tasting and the requested medium rare cook has gone into the charcoal territory of well done. The waitress notices the problem and whisks the plate away with yet another apology.
15 minutes pass and a fresh cheeseburger po boy appears. The menu trumpets Wagu (sic) beef but the closest this cow ever got to being Japanese was when a Toyota pickup drove by the farm where the animal was raised. It is properly cooked but is in no way true Wagyu, and certainly not at $12 for a generous sized portion.
The po boy is unseasoned but a healthy dose of salt helps to wake it up. Judicious application of the marchand de vin sauce also boosts the flavor.Antoine’s is one of the oldest restaurants in the United States having set up shop in 1840. In that long ago era our town boasted a population of 102,000 making it the largest city in the South. The flow of money into the Crescent City in those days would give pause to today’s restaurant operators with some financial historians claiming that New Orleans was then the richest city in the United States.
I’d love to know how many restaurants called New Orleans home in 1840.
I’d love to know what it was like to be at Antoine’s on opening day.
Herme’s Bar at Antoine’s
725 St Louis St
New Orleans, LA
Hours of operation
always call ahead