Clancy's was one of the original contemporary Creole bistros. Twenty years later, it's matured into an Uptown answer to Galatoire’s. Its culinary bona fides are solidly enough established that it can lean back on some old, funky, but delicious Creole dishes that most hip places are afraid to serve. Likewise, the service staff can joke around and take certain unusual informalities with the mostly-regular clientele.
This is my favorite kind of menu. While the standards are really quite traditional in style, the specials are as adventuresome as any you’ll find elsewhere. Clancy’s also has more than a few signatures. It was the first local restaurant to smoke foods in house, and that’s still a good part of the menu.
Clancy’s has a great bar. The wine list is startlingly large and interesting for such a small restaurant, and the collection of Cognacs, Armagnacs, single-malt Scotches, and small-batch Bourbons is tremendous. They can even make you a great cocktail, something that is becoming a lost art.
Clancy's is the Uptown answer to Galatoire's, with a passionate local following and a menu of simple but very good New Orleans style cooking. Its kitchen leans largely on traditional Creole restaurant dishes of the kind that the newer, more vogue-conscious bistros hesitate to serve. The wait staff is chummy and efficient. And the wine cellar is surprisingly fine for a restaurant of this size. A table here has been a tough score, particularly since Katrina.
Clancy's was one of the original crop of bistros that redefined Creole cooking in the early 1980s. It opened on St. Patrick's Day, 1983, after its owners--none of whom were restaurateurs previously--gentrified an old neighborhood bar without changing it too much. Current owner Brad Hollingsworth, who earlier in his career was a waiter at Galatoire's and LeRuth's, has a good sense of what local people like. And a passion for wine that fills a terrific cellar.
Clancy's premises still has the feeling of the neighborhood cafe. There's nothing fancy about it. The long downstairs dining room is convivial and bright, with large windows lining one wall. The bar is always packed with people waiting for tables, as well as singles dining. The little room just past the bar is a pleasant place for a dozen or so diners, if you can stand the traffic heading upstairs, where a maze of small dining rooms completes the ensemble.
Reservations well in advance are essential. Going with a local regular is a good idea. The entree section always includes a pasta dish and a risotto that works well as an appetizer.