Out of sight, out of mind. That's a formula that has taken down many good New Orleans restaurants over the years. I keep worrying about Annadele's in that regard, but there seems to be no need. The last two visits I made there had full dining rooms all over the place. The kitchen is very much up to this growing business, and continues to improve its offerings on ever visit. Unlike La Provence and Dakota, who go after the same kind of business Annadele's does, the menu here is so retro as to seem genteel. It's perfect for the premises, which are stunning. The only challenge is finding it. "Turn off Causeway Blvd. a block past the Popeyes" is not a seemly direction, but is the most accurate.
A handsome mansion dating back to the 1830s, the setting of Annadele's is comparable to what you'd find in a River Road plantation house, complete with expansive, well-planted grounds. The pleasant surprise is that the food is some of the best on the North Shore.
Parts of the house (originally called Monrepos) predate the Civil War. The town of Claiborne grew up around it, but in the long run Covington became the center of things, and the main roads passed Monrepos by and left it isolated in an invisible corner of the Bogue Falaya River. In the late 1800s, it was the home of New Orleans Mayor Walter Flower. His daughter was Corinne Dunbar, who opened a famous restaurant on St. Charles Avenue. Under the name Annadele, it became a restaurant in the 1980s. It didn't work out, and remained closed for a long time in the 1990s. After a long-running controversy, it opened as a restaurant and bed-and-breakfast under the aegis of Pat Gallagher, a well-known name in North Shore cooking in those days. Gallagher didn't stay long-term. New investors came in just before the hurricane, and have improved the restaurant ever since.
The most scenic dining room by quite a bit is the brick-walled Garden Room which has windows giving out onto the grounds on three walls. The other rooms are pleasant enough in an antique way, but don't have the same allure. Annadele's is full of private rooms, including a very pleasant one for a small party in the wine cellar. The service staff is mostly young, but the presence of a couple of long-time pros lends smoothness.
It once was possible to walk into this restaurant and get a table, but no more. Reservations on weekends are essential.