If it seems to you that a lot of new restaurants have been opening in hotels in recent years, you're right. Here's the equation: a hotel doesn't really want to run its own restaurant, because it's well known that hotel restaurants are almost always boring. But if a hotel cuts a deal with a well-known restaurant, they avoid this stigma. And, with luck, you and I get a beautiful, good restaurant where there might otherwise be none. Cafe Adelaide is a fine example of this. The tastemakers are Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, whose main restaurant is Commander's Palace--a very powerful connection. Cafe Adelaide, like most Brennan restaurants, took a long time to figure out its personality. Now that it has, we have a terrific bistro kitchen with a menu comfortably far back of the cutting edge. Its menu pricing is extraordinarily attractive--particularly in the table d'hote lunches and dinners.
The dining room of the Loews Hotel is a kicky, casual branch of Commander's Palace, with the service standards of the mother ship and an accessible, interesting menu. A visit here begins with one of the best bars town, with an imaginative program of creating new and old cocktails with fresh juices, house-made mixers, and great care. The food is more rustic than at Commander's, with ingredients and techniques that have a homestyle quality. Cafe Adelaide does a brisk lunch business, but at dinner it's a good place to remember, because it usually has tables available.
Cafe Adelaide opened in 2004. It's named for Adelaide Brennan, she of the first generation of the Brennan restaurant family. She was legendary for her celebratory approach to life, and her familiarity with everybody of importance in New Orleans. The perfect host. Among its quotidian functions, Cafe Adelade also serves as a stepping stone for personnel whose next move is often to Commander's.
An expansive pair of rooms off the hotels' lobby, with big windows and banquettes along one wall. The big bar isn't quite big enough to hold all its after-work fans on a busy evening. The restaurant backs up into the Italian Piazza, which can be booked as a private-party venue.
The dinner menu has two attractively-priced (high $30s-mid $40s), three-course table d'hote packages that include the restaurant's better dishes. The bar has an excellent assortment of appetizers, from which one can easily extract a satisfying meal to go with the first-class cocktails.