Thursday, November 3, 2011

Velvet Cacti Review

Photo by renee b. photography.
In this month's offBEAT Magazine, Peter and I recount two very different experiences at Velvet Cactus. Peter found the fare and experience less than ideal, while I had a rather enjoyable lunch. You can read about our experiences here.  The different dining diaries we compiled on our trips to Velvet Cactus reveal a very interesting point. With almost every review we have ever written someone has agreed completely or disagreed completely.

Restaurant criticism, like any criticism, is a very subjective task. When Brett Anderson reviews a restaurant, the comments bear this point out. You are guaranteed to find someone who hates the restaurant, a strongly held belief that Anderson short changed the restaurant because it isn't owned by one of his chef cronies, someone is certain Brett must have paid under the table, a commentator knows Brett is a secretive vegan,  and finally, a guy named DynAM90icXXX who wants to sell you a gold backed penis enhancer. 

In many ways, restaurants in New Orleans create allegiances not unlike politics. You may not be able to understand why your friend likes Restaurant X, and she thinks you are crazy for liking Restaurant Y. We all make judgments on each and every meal we eat, be it at home or in a restaurant. This is just something human's do. Most likely it is an evolutionary holdover from days when people routinely died from food borne pathogens or poisons. Picture Neolithic man warning his fellow hunter and gatherer to "Stay away from the fruit of the tree at the base of the mountain, it was so bad it killed Ack Tshuntai."

So today's discussion question is "What is the most polarizing restaurant in New Orleans?" Is there a restaurant that you can not abide? Or one that you can't understand why other people don't love? If so, tell us about it in the comments. 


Vasu said...

I've brought this up on Twitter before, but I can't understand why people go to La Thai

Celeste said...

I submit Jacques-Imos as the single most polarizing restaurant in NOLA. People either love it or hate it, no?

RE: La Thai, the $9 lunch specials are better than passable, large enough to share, and always fresh. Can't speak to dinner, though.

Anonymous said...


All are polarizing in some fashion. For example, I can't stand Antoine's. The food sucks, especially for being the most expensive restaurant in the city. The building is shabby, the staff surly, and the atmosphere elderly. The fish is overcooked. The meat is tough. The hot appetizers come out cold and the cold appetizers come out warm.

However, some people (ahem the Dean) love it and continually make excuses for all its shortcomings.

jshushan said...

To me the "polarizing" comes in two forms. One is straightforward between us in NOLA. Domilise's is to me the perfect example. Love it and worship it or essentially refuse to eat there. I've been once in 15 years at least.

Second part is when the national press jump on and hype a place to death. There's a level on which you might think Cochon is actually the only restaurant in New Orleans. I think that polarizes things also. I personally think Cochon is the most overrated restaurant in NOLA. That said, I love the "Butcher" right behind it, more for take out ingredients than meals but I do go there.

Sorry to run on. What do you all think?


Kimberly Ranjbar said...

Definitely Jacques-Imos...I've never heard so much back and forth before. Personally, I don't know what it is that everyone loves about Katie's...memories? Same with Mandina's.

Emily said...

I'm still amazed that Rum House is packed all the time. And I'm going to have to agree that Antoine's is a bit overrated. Last time I went my meuniere sauce tasted and smelled like lemon-lime Gatorade and the waitstaff actually looked like they hadn't bathed in a week.

Jimmy said...

Port of Call? I personally think there's at least five places in town that do a better burger and I've heard other people say the same. But then you hear other people say it's the best burger on the entire planet.

Anonymous said...

Jacques-Imo's pre-K was less polarizing in my opinion. However, nowadays, any Emeril's restaurant would fit the bill. I can't stand them, yet my wife loves them all.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Agreed with Jimmy about Port-0-Let, errah I mean Call. They're vaunted steaks don't measure up either. While across the street, Buffa's (much less sung but just as hung ;) rocks Big Daddio on something as "cheap" as Corned Beef Sandwich.
There are so many killa restaurants in the shadows of the Big Deals, the Valley of the Un-Sungs:
Elizabeths- Boudin Balls w/Creole Mustard
Alpine in da Quarters - BBQ Shrimps (that's right!)
Jeez Louie, I'm not going to list em all.

-My date loved Muriels, I was like WTF?
-Bayona (one solo dinner) really non-plussed my skinny ass. I just don't get it...yet. Maybe it's the Treme Creme.
-If you could ever get inside the place, Coup should be taken out and flogged

Kevin said...

Pho Tau Bay. With all the excellent Vietnamese restaurants in town, why this place is seen as a lodestar for good food is a mystery to me. I think it's the same people who think Five Happiness is great Chinese.

Anonymous said...

eh, Port of Call grinds their premium meat fresh daily. shreds the cheese too, and due to insane volume has super fresh condiments. the same cannot be said for the other burger bar joints that typically come up -- Yo Mama's, Buffa's, etc...they all use stock components. as for steak, the filet there isn't too bad. huge, plus good bread and salad (house made dressing) and of course the giant potato, all for $28.