Court of Two Sisters
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Despite romantic impressions to the contrary, the French Quarter has few restaurants offering courtyard dining. Of them the most beautiful and famous is the Court of Two Sisters. Except when the weather is unbearable, they serve in the lushly-planted, expansive, brick-surrounded courtyard year round. The distinctly French Quarter environment and Creole food provide a unique taste of the city, and the service staff is welcoming and entertaining.
After Katrina, the Court of Two Sisters revolutionized its kitchen. It shifted from serving almost everything from a long steam table to cooking most of the menu to order, bistro-style. By keeping many of its oldest dishes, it came full circle to merge with what a lot of hip bistros are cooking. It’s still not the best food in town, but it’s much better than is widely believed and quite enjoyable. The jazz brunch buffet–offered seven days a week–has all the issues of a buffet, but is otherwise beyond reproach.
The building dates to the early 1830s. The story of the historic Two Sisters (there’s a brochure) is charming. The restaurant as we know it opened in the 1960s. The current owners are now into their third generation.
Unless the weather is intolerable, service takes place in a large, brick-floored, wisteria-covered courtyard. It is a lovely place, day or night. A trio of jazz musicians plays every day during brunch. The interior rooms are less appealing but pleasant enough. Most have large windows opening into the courtyard. Old photos show diners in jacket and tie, but these days casual. (As in shorts and T-shirts in summer.)
»Escargots, mushrooms, garlic-herb butter
Grilled alligator sausage, sherry-Creole mustard cream
Lump crabmeat cocktail
»Two Sisters Three (crawfish maison, shrimp remoulade, crabmeat cocktail)
Bacon-wrapped shrimp en brochette
Fried oysters, crisp andouille sausage meunière
Dinner salad, Creole french dressing, tasso, pecans
Baby spinach salad, goat cheese, bacon, red onions
»Turtle soup au sherry
»Creole seafood gumbo
Trout meunière or amandine
Cornmeal fried Des Allemands catfish, jumbo lump crabmeat, cayenne tartare sauce
»»Trout Picasso (broiled fillet, sautéed fresh seasonal fruit, pecans
Crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish pasta, tomatoes, green onion parmesan cream
Shrimp and grits
Crabmeat au gratin, tasso hollandaise
Jumbo shrimp and tasso, smothered okra, steamed rice
»Chicken or veal Oscar, asparagus, lump crabmeat, tasso hollandaise
»Fried oysters over baked Rockefeller spinach, bacon, béarnaise
»Duck breast a l’orange, dirty rice, sweet potatoes, candied pecans
Grilled filet mignon, new potato mash, asparagus, blue cheese compound butter, béarnaise
»Blackened pork tenderloin, bacon and green pea risotto, marchand de vin sauce
Eggplant napoleon, provolone, sautéed spinach, spicy Creole sauce (vegetarian)
Chef’s fish of the day
FOR BEST RESULTS
The daily brunch buffet ($30) beckons, and so does the $45 three-course dinner, but better food comes from the a la carte menu at dinner. Have a Sazerac at the bar before going to the table; it’s the city’s best.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The quality of the raw materials–especially among the seafood dishes–could be better. An air-conditioned dining room would be a nice option on hot days.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Local Color +3
- Live music at brunch
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Good for children
- Reservations recommended
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
During the holiday season, many locals like to visit the French Quarter for a measure of nostalgia. Not enough of them think of the Court of Two Sisters, which beckons the locals with, among other appeals, a very good Reveillon menu during most of December.
It’s a mistake to consign this finest of all patio-dining restaurants to the tourists. When you’re in the mood for some Tennessee Williams-style New Orleans atmosphere, few restaurants are more appealing. And you probably haven’t been there in a long time. The service staff is accommodating, but make sure they know you’re a local both when you make the reservation and meet the waiter.