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Bar Dining in the French Quarter

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Mr. B’s Bistro and Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse.

“The BBQ shrimp is our most popular entrée. Other favorites at the bar are Gumbo Ya Ya, Crab Cakes and Duck Spring Rolls,” said manager Larry Sherman on a recent Saturday afternoon. The lunch crowd fueled by $3 Bloody Marys and martini specials filled the entire dining room and every seat at the long bar. Food at the bar is best enjoyed on days and times when the restaurant isn’t packed.

Anything on the full menu is also available at the Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse bar around the corner from Mr. B’s Bistro. Every place at the bar and all the bar tables were completely set for dining early one recent Thursday night. In fact, I hear dining at their lively bar there is more popular than their subterranean dining room.

Touche Bar at the Omni Royal Orleans.

“Honey, here is our bar menu, but you can have anything you want from inside, too. You want prime rib, I go and get you prime rib. You need a Rib Room menu, too? I got one here, but let me check on the specials,” said Donna Seyer who has held court at the Touché for the past 14 years and is easily the Royal Street grand dame of bar dining.

“Everybody figures I’m from Chalmette when they hear me talk. I do live in Chalmette, but I’m from here. I made my first communion at the Cathedral and attended the St. Louis school on Dauphine Street.”

The bar is Seyer’s stage and the customers are supporting actors – not audience. The Touché is lunch day headquarters for several French Quarter business owners and shopkeepers. On busy days, they even call Seyer to order food to go. The bar still has house accounts for the long-term regulars. A federal judge and his buddies show up for lunch followed by a card game in an adjoining lower level room one day a week. Several “regulars” are out of town guests who check into the hotel and immediately report to Touché for their waking hours, enjoying Seyer, other customers, ambiance, food, drink and a changing street scene as the world turns.

“It is a hotel bar, but at least 50 percent local. Last night it was 90 percent local. My favorite is the debris roast beef poor boy. My wife loves the potato skins stuffed with cheese and prime rib debris. We eat here at least three or four times a week,” said a retired physician who requested anonymity, as I suspect his children have no idea how much time their retired parents spend in a bar.

On the doctor’s suggestion I ordered the famed prime beef debris poor boy. It was served on Leidenheimer bread annointed with a generous portion of horseradish mayonnaise and extra gravy on the side. It was obvious what all the adulation was about. I had no idea there was a debris poor boy this good outside of Mother’s. An attorney from Mississippi sitting nearby and watching all the commotion had a hungry look in his eye. He asked Donna if he could get a half-sized order. This was my salvation, as there was no way I could consume a whole one, so Donna brought out another setup and we shared.

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