Marigny Brasserie (640 Frenchmen St.) is a great place to catch Krewe du Vieux, which parades Jan. 19, and a great place to have dinner as well. Chef Alan Gilbert’s menu hits the high points of Nouvelle Creole cooking, with items such as Fried Green Tomatoes with Lump Crabmeat Remoulade, “Bronzed” Gulf Ahi Tuna with a Red Bell Pepper Butter and Soft Shell Crab “Pecandine,” which comes with haricots vert, crispy onions and a pecan-lemon buerre noisette. He’s also got a few less typical items on the menu: Crispy Duck Leg Confit over Gouda Grits with Onion Marmalade and Wilted Spinach; Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Lamb Sirloin on Scalloped Potatoes with a demi glace; and Escargot Vol au Vent, featuring snails with wild mushrooms in a Mouverdre Bordelaise served in puff pastry. The restaurant features a healthy number of specials as well – always a foie gras, fish and soup special, and a frequently interesting tamale as well.

Years ago I had a standing date with friends to have dinner on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras at Mike’s On the Avenue (600 St. Charles Ave.) in the Lafayette Hotel. Mike’s is long gone but the restaurant that’s taken over that space, Anatole, would also be a good place to catch parades. Aside from a very nicely decorated space for dinner and crowd watching, you’re within shouting distance of Mayor Nagin and other City dignitaries at Gallier Hall. The menu at Anatole is heavy on prime beef in the form of ribeyes, strips and filet mignon but there are a few seafood preparations as well.

Chef Donald Link’s Herbsaint (across St. Charles Avenue and on the opposite corner from Anatole) is another great joint with a prime location for parade watching. Link was the recent recipient of a James Beard Foundation award for best chef South and fully deserved the honor. Herbsaint’s menu is more ambitious, but during Carnival, Link tends to downscale the menu for day parades.

Crescent City Steak House (1001 North Broad St.) goes a step further than most places during Carnival. The restaurant is open from 2 until at least 8 p.m. on Fat Tuesday. In the event you need a beef fix after watching the Truck Parades, that’s got to be the best place in the city to get it. Of course, if you’re after anything but beef, you’re out of luck. Ribeyes, filets, strips and porterhouse are what you’ll find at Crescent City and they come to the table sizzling in butter, New Orleans style. 
My pal Celeste Uzee is teaching a class at Tulane University in Louisiana Studies. LOUS 303 is titled “Food & Culture in Louisiana” and it’s a three-credit class that will meet on Tuesday evenings from 5:45-8:25 p.m. The class is offered through the School of Continuing Studies and is open to anyone who pays the $25 application fee as a continuing studies student. Tuition is $789 for the course and there will be no formal exams or tests but rather a series of food-related exercises and writing assignments. Rumors that beatings will be administered for tardiness were unconfirmed as of press time.

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