Sunday, February 21, 2010

Service with a Smile

Just about everyone I know who has ever been to New Orleans told me that I absolutely, positively had to go to Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. So I did. My initial impression? How on earth has this place stayed in business since 1862?

Of course, I should mention that the day I visited I waited 15 minutes to sit inside because it was freezing cold. I then waited some more for the waitress to show and clean off my table. And then I waited some more for her to come back and take my order. And then I waited some more for her to bring my order. And then, since she somehow got my order wrong (even though this is basically the entire content of the place's menu: beignets, cafe au lait, regular coffee, milk, orange juice), I waited some more while she brought me the right thing.

In fairness (and also because the nearest Starbucks, in The Shops at Canal Place, wasn't exactly among the chain's top-notch locales), I decided to give Cafe du Monde another shot, this time trying the take-out window. The service was faster and my order was actually right. But ... I had a hard time not thinking that cafe au lait, despite its fancy name, is nothing more than coffee with milk in it, and beignets are nothing more than fried dough (with far too much powdered sugar on them).

Before passing final judgement on the place (and also because the nearest Starbucks basically sucked), I decided to give Cafe du Monde one more shot, this time back in the dining area. A nice older guy was my waiter. The service was quick and correct and even came with a heaping side order of southern hospitality. Funny how that sort of thing can make coffee and fried dough taste better. But it might just have made a convert out of me. Or at least I returned every subsequent day I was in New Orleans. Some days more than once.

So, now I just have one question. When is a Cafe du Monde location going to open in my neighborhood? I mean, how on earth has this place not already gone global?

1 comment:

bazza said...

When I was in New Orleans some years ago the places to go were Brennans for Breakfast (New York Jewish Deli style waiters), Rosie O'Grady's for (responsible) boozing and a little Creole French place called The Court of Two Sisters which we loved.