The Room in the back of Antoine’s
Re: “Paul McIlhenny and the Back of Antoine’s,” Streetcar column by Errol Laborde. April 2013 issue. (Reference to the origin of the name for the room next to the wine cellar in the back of Antoine’s restaurant.)
I wanted you to know the details of Chez Team Tabasco. My tennis group, which consists of the Reverend Jesse Adams, Bill Banta, George Griswold, Hans Jonassen and me, calls itself “Team Tabasco.” There are at least two theories for the name, one involving a peppery game once played on a wet court in the rain, and another our use of the eponymous red sauce on tuna salad sandwiches. In fact, our tennis club once had on its sandwich menu, “Tuna Team Tabasco,” whose ingredients are easily guessed.
The Team Tabasco members have for many years celebrated birthdays and the holidays over lunch at Antoine’s, in the room once called The Last. Our holiday lunch is punctuated with gifts, many of which have a Tabasco theme. One year one of us brought, as a humorous gift, the red sign that now adorns the door. Another of us summoned a hammer and nails and installed the sign. We were always pleased and surprised when we returned to The Last and our sign was still there. Emboldened, we then began to hang pictures of Team Tabasco. We were pleased and surprised when they remained undisturbed. At some point, someone, we know not who, used U-shaped tacks to affix two golf clubs to the frame of the large window that occupies one wall. Each time we visited we removed the golf clubs and left them on the table, and each time we returned they had been reinstalled in the same location. We no longer remove them, but only one still survives – and the shaft has been severely shortened. We are still unaware of the source of the golf clubs.
We learned at some point that Paul McIlhenny, a good friend of many in our group, had surveyed The Last and enthusiastically approved it being called the Tabasco Room. As a memento of his approval, Paul presented each of us with a biography of The McIlhenny Company that he autographed “To: Team Tabasco …” The Antoine’s website now officially calls the room the Tabasco Room. Team Tabasco refers to it simply as “The Room,” and you can find one or more of us there several times each year, including our mid-December holiday lunch, Christmas Eve lunch and frequently New Year’s Eve dinner.
In January of last year, I saw Dan Aykroyd dining in the Tabasco Room. He was extremely friendly. Rumors abound that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt favor the privacy the Tabasco Room affords. It is my favorite room at what is, to me, the best restaurant in the entire world. Now you know “the rest of the story.”
Ed. Note: That room also has a special meaning for us. In April 1966, three men had dinner there. As described in the premier issue of this magazine, which was published the following October, “… toward midnight, in a small room next to the wine cellar at Antoine’s, New Orleans got its first breath of life, and none of our lives have been the same.” This magazine, as described by James L. Townsend, its first publisher, was founded in that room. We respect the room now being named in honor of Tabasco, but to us it will always be the New Orleans Magazine room.
FISHING IN LOUISIANA
Re: “Dropping a Line” by John Felsher, part of the “Toast to the Coast” feature. March 2013 issue.
My husband and I have been annual visitors to New Orleans since 1972 and greatly enjoy your magazine. In your March 2013 Issue the “Dropping a Line” article praised the fishing along the Gulf coast of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and omitted the Gulf Coast of Louisiana itself. Since a fishing license for the Gulf Coast of Louisiana costs $93 for one day we understand the omission.
Ed. Reply: Your point is well taken though the article was specifically about the Gulf coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Louisiana’s Gulf Coast isn’t as much about the beaches but more about the bounty from the sea and the estuary system. As in many ways, Louisiana is in a category of its own.