WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
A fine-dining pioneer in the Marigny, Feelings serves a unique menu that blends French and Creole cooking in a style reminiscent of three or four decades ago–although lately many new dishes have been added. The premises have an antique New Orleans style that’s more often seen in movies than reality, but that’s one of the attractions of the place. The food is good but never brilliant, but nevertheless this is a very pleasant place to dine.
The recent, long overdue reworking of the menu has improved the dining here quite a bit in the past year. The new offerings are more contemporary, fresher, and lighter. Meanwhile, old, rich favorites like Anything Florentine remain–but somebody has to serve those dishes. The scaled-down entree portions and prices make having a multi-course meal a good idea.
Feelings started its life in 1979 as an experiment in casual gourmet dining. It was ahead of its time, and could be called the first modern restaurant routinely to offer tasting menus. In this it was reminiscent of old-style, country French bistros, but with food that clearly had a New Orleans flavor. Feelings really took off when it moved in 1980 to its present location, with its ancient slave quarters and courtyard.
The main building was built on a subdivided plantation in the early 1800s. But the slave quarters and the courtyard next to it are original, dating back to the late 1700s. The main dining rooms have small nooks with high ceilings to lend spaciousness. The small courtyard is pleasant for a drink.
Mushroom boudin in a corn husk
Vegetable terrine with smoked tomato sauce
Mirliton and roasted corn salad with pesto
Beet salad, pecan vinaigrette
Soft shell crawfish with avocado butter
Brochette of marinated tofu with pecan rice and asparagus
Shrimp etouffée spread
Oysters en brochette
Marinated, fried artichoke hearts
Fried eggplant with Creole mustard sauce
Crab and crawfish cakes
Pate maison (chicken livers and mushrooms)
Salad with mandarins and poppyseed vinaigrette
Gulf fish Nicholas (grilled, with shrimp and creamed spinach)
Baked eggplant stuffed with seafood
Chicken, veal, or fish florentine (creamed spinach and hollandaise)
Chicken or shrimp Clemenceau (garlic butter, peas, mushrooms, potatoes)
Tournedos au poivre
Filet mignon with blue cheese
Veal d’Aunoy (herb butter, mushrooms, hollandaise)
Duck bigarade (orange sauce, pecan rice)
Peanut butter pie
French silk pie (chocolate mousse)
FOR BEST RESULTS
Accept the option of getting a four- or give-course dinner, available with a price supplement. The cooking here was designed with that kind of meal in mind, and it won’t fill you as much as you’d think.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Some diners may find the style of the cooking so retro as to be corny. A few dishes still on the menu (because they’re popular) really should be slated for extinction, but we put up with them to keep the good ones. The four-day schedule seems less ambitious than it should be.
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 +1
- Consistency +2
- Value +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness -2
- Local Color +3
- Live music some nights
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations honored promptly
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
“Feelings” such a bad name that a former owner of the 31-year-old bistro tried to fade it out. But his customers just kept calling it “Feelings,” brushing past the name quickly to avoid embarrassment. It’s a lovely and distinctly New Orleans property, dating back to the early 1800s. The main house, the slave quarters, a balcony, and a covered brick courtyard are all used for dining; all are intimate and quiet.
The restaurant takes its general style from that of the surrounding Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, which also supplies most of its regular customers. People do converge here from all over the city, though; the style of the place and its food are very likable. There’s really nothing quite like Feelings… nothing more than…Feelings… ba ba doo doo da da…