Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Year's Eve

Foreword - Most advice is free because no one takes it. Shoot, I rarely take my own advice. Therefore, feel free to completely ignore this post.

Do not go out to eat in a restaurant on New Year's Eve. While this may seem to be a Draconian rule, I can defend it. First off, consider the crowds, but more specifically who will be eating out in New Orleans on New Year's Eve. The Sugar Bowl teams are in town so likely there will be people with Walmart money running free and looking for "real New Orleans food." Restaurants know this. Many restaurant will play to this strength. They have been in touch with tour operators, athletic departments, and Cam Newton's dad and have reserved a party of 100 at 8:30 pm. Which just so happens to be when you and your charming date and her friend and her date want to dine as well. If you like dining in crowded restaurants (and occasionally I do as well), then pay no attention to this point.

Secondly, it is an oft-repeated phrase in the restaurant world that nights like New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day are "Amateur Nights." I think this statement has two meanings. One is that the people who choose to dine out on New Year's Eve are not regulars or even routine diners. This coupled with point one means a restaurant can be fairly certain they will not see many of these people again. I will let you draw your own conclusions as to what that means.

But perhaps most important, if you are a great waiter then chances are you do not want to work New Year's Eve. Now maybe I am wrong (it happens, often), but the prospect of serving rude drunks as they shout for more gravy would probably scare most away. So the front of the house staff on these nights is often made up of the B team. See also why you shy away from brunch. Now if you like dining in crowded restaurants surrounded by people who love the buffet at Panda King and enjoy being served by a person who is normally a bus boy, you may keep reading.

Now, we come to the food. Most likely it is going to be a set menu. The fancy term is prix fixe which is French for, "Give them choices and it seems like a good value." Soup, Salad, Appetizer, Choice of entree ("Get the Lobstuhhhh, why not, its free"), dessert and COFFEE for $49.99. What a deal, your friends will say. Let me ask you this, when have you ever gotten a 5 course meal for under $50 and found it tasty? There are places where this works and they are called cafeterias. So if you enjoy noisy restaurants filled with amateurs and eating steam table fare, please make your reservations now.

Wouldn't you rather find between four and ten friends, go to someone's house, pick up a bunch of wine, some snacks, maybe a dozen steaks, sit around a table, lounge, graze, talk, laugh, and then hold an impromptu dance party featuring the lyrical stylings of such diverse musical talents as Frank Sinatra and Trey Songz? 

As I noted above, you aren't going to take my advice. So when you are ignoring my advice, keep this in mind: if the set menu price doesn't seem at least a tad expensive, don't go there. A restaurant that does New Year's Eve well (Herbsaint comes to mind) knows they do it well. But also knows that in order to do it well, they need to price out the amateurs, make sure the A team staff has an economic incentive to work, and be able to have some fun with the menu. This means they can throw truffles or foie gras or caviar around like candy and cook festively. If you are going to go out to dinner on New Year's Eve, splurge. It is the only way to enjoy the evening.


k jane c said...

I'd prefer a 90's dance party where the prize is a bottle of 90210 perfume.ha.
No but for real, enjoying the fireworks and steaks from somebody's house party sounds much more exciting than prix fixe and B teams.

Nora said...

I lived with a professional waitress at a high end place for several years and she always worked New Years Eve, because although it is horrible, the money is AWESOME. Highest paying night of the year.

That said, I never go out on New Years Eve.

Shedd said...

I had a really enjoyable New Years Eve dinner at Cafe Degas last year and I don't remember it being terribly expensive. I understand the need for this post, but I think legit and (somewhat) affordable New Years Eve dinners can be had.

Rene said...


You are correct. Let me amend in general by saying going out to eat in the downtown/french quarter area is not advised on NYE.

jshushan said...

I agree entirely about the FQ/Downtown avoidance. I also agree with Shedd about other parts of town. That said, I'd rather be at someone's house or at a larger non-restaurant party.


Snakebite said...

New Year's Eve = Most Overrated Holiday of the Year

Snakebite said...

Check that, sorry. I meant:
New Year's Eve = Most Disappointing Holiday of the Year
Running a fever, it must be the meds, but hey, it's definitely overrated as well.

Becky said...

Last year we had a retro apps night - ham pinwheels figured in, as did the sausage balls with Jimmy Dean bulk sausage and bisquick. Wait maybe it was white trash apps night. Anyway, at midnight we took several bottles of champagne down to Jackson Square and enjoyed the festivities for awhile, then went back to the apt and played Rock Band all night. I highly recommend this approach, if you know someone with a place in the Quarter.

Becky said...

I've never been to any of these places on NYE, but I would think that maybe the following restaurants would be acceptable:

Bistro Daisy


Rene said...

We do now, Becky. And yes I would think all of those choices of restaurants on NYE would do a very good job. And they are close to F&M's.

Anonymous said...

Nice pot shot at Cecil Newton. Guess you forgot he will be in Phoenix instead of Dallas on December 7th. War Eagle

Fleurdelicious said...

Following your advice. Homemade dinner and dance party USA in the living room. Don't worry, liquid courage will be involved. Happy New Year!