New Orleans

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Our trip to New Orleans to stay (and eat!) at Royal Sonesta New Orleans was easily one of the travel highlights of 2017. We got to experience the magical Lighting of the Balconies to kick off the holiday season, and I have so much more food and fun to share on the blog in the coming weeks.

One of the absolute highlights of our visit was an evening at The Jazz Playhouse, located right at Royal Sonesta, making dinner at Restaurant R’evolution or Desire Oyster Bar, followed by a show, the perfect way to spend a New Orleans night.

We were spoiled with stage-side seats, but it looked like there wasn’t a bad seat in the room, and the acoustics were fantastic. The cocktails at The Jazz Playhouse, like everywhere else at the hotel, were amazing.

The Jazz Playhouse

We got lucky as the famous Brass-A-Holics were playing while we were in New Orleans, and they were incredible. We can’t stop talking about them, looking for show dates, and watching videos on YouTube.

A bit about the Brass-A-Holics

Since 2010, the Brass-a-Holics have been taking their unique sound around the world. Steeped in the deep musical culture of New Orleans, the band brings a heavy dose of go-go funk to the New Orleans brass sound. In a blending of musical cultures stemming from cities separated by more than a thousand miles, a Brass-a-Holics live show takes the New Orleans brass band culture and infuses it with the electricity of Washington D.C.’s go-go. The resulting sound is both captivating and unique. The band consists of core New Orleans brass elements- trumpet, trombone, saxophone- and adds a full drum set, percussion, keyboard, bass and electric guitar, giving the band limitless options to explore new sonic territory. Whether performing their original music or using the framework of hit pop songs as springboards for fiery improvisations, there is something in the set to appeal to every music fan. Once the music starts, the demographics blend and a brand new experience is created- one that leaves one-of-a-kind memories that live on long after the last note.

New Orleans music

By the end of the night, everyone in the room was dancing to their music, a mix of original tunes and covers of popular songs that had everyone singing along. We didn’t want the night to end, but when it did, we got to go back up to our cozy room right upstairs, a huge perk to having the club in our hotel!

You can check out a couple of my videos on my YouTube Channel. . . which I definitely need to be more active on!

New Orleans is known for its great music and food, and we found both at Royal Sonesta New Orleans, gravitating back to the hotel even when meals weren’t planned for us. This Creole Trio at Desire Oyster Bar had a bit of everything, including gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and smoked sausage. Washed down with a French 75 and surrounded by warm and friendly service (and those NOLA accents!), this was one of my best meals of 2017. We also devoured breakfast at Desire on our last day. I can vouch for the biscuits and gravy. . . and another French 75, which became another New Orleans go-to.

Desire Oyster

While New Orleans has a ton to offer all over the city, it was also nice to have so much of our trip centered around our hotel, giving us the option to stay in or venture out. It felt like an oasis in the middle of the busy city, and we absolutely loved everything about it!

Experience Mardi Gras from a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street at Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Royal Sonesta New Orleans hosted our evening at The Jazz Playhouse and breakfast at Desire Oyster Bar. As mentioned above, we loved the food at Royal Sonesta and opted to come back a few times on our own for drinks and meals.

All opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, Food, hotels, music, New Orleans, Travel, travel blog

When planning our recent visit to Royal Sonesta New Orleans, we asked for and received TONS of recommendations on where to eat and things to do in the city. We were appreciative and a bit overwhelmed! One of the best pieces of advice we got was to just get a feel for the city and to go with it, and armed with plenty of recommendations and our own research, we set off to explore new Orleans.

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I tend to obsess over reading menus and looking places up on Google Maps prior to travel, and Café Amelie was actually one of my own finds and the place we chose for our first meal in New Orleans.

We had a rough night before we traveled, with our cat in the vet emergency room until 2:30 am and an Uber to the airport scheduled for 6:45 am. Café Amelie turned out to be the perfect spot to take a breath and exhale deeply while enjoying the quiet of their tucked-away courtyard and the glorious New Orleans heat.

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The vibe was so relaxed, and my shoulders started to drop a little, especially after my first “Sparring with Bubbles” cocktail, a new favorite cocktail, a blend of Ford’s Gin, Averna, grapefruit and pink bubbly. It was so delicious and absolutely perfect for the setting.

Ahhh. . .

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Café Amelie specializes in Louisiana fare, which is just what we were looking for, and we shared a few plates for lunch.

We of course had to try the local baked oysters, which were in a yummy spinach and artichoke sauce with a heaping side of crunchy crostini. We learned we are not huge fans of Southern oysters (Give me tiny, briny New England oysters everyday!) but we were huge fans of the addictive bread and sauce.

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Whenever we travel and know that decadent dining and drinking are on the cards, we sit down at a meal and both say “We need a vegetable”. At this lunch, it was a scrumptious, huge beet salad. I felt a bit healthier after eating it!

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Our third dish is one you must get if you visit Café Amelie. Chef Jerry’s Shrimp and Grits had the perfect bit of spice and the creamiest most devour-able grits. Good grits are pure heaven, and these were beyond.

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The pace of our meal was so lovely, as was the pace of everyone around us. We got chatting to another couple, locals, who call Café Amelie one of their favorite New Orleans restaurants, which we loved to hear.

I grabbed another cocktail to-go, because they were delicious and because I could. As frigid temps set in, I am craving New Orleans sunshine and humidity and some of the incredible food and warm hospitality we enjoyed on this trip.

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Tags: cocktail, cocktails, dining, Food, food blog, gin, New Orleans, NOLA, Travel, travel blog

Drop everything, and book a ticket to New Orleans, right now!

If only that was possible, I would do it in a heartbeat. We’ve just returned from a visit to Royal Sonesta New Orleans for my Sonesta Hotels blogging and social media work, and we want to go back ASAP.

As part of our stay, we were treated to a tour of the hotel’s fine dining establishment, Restaurant R’Evolution, followed by a delicious dinner at the restaurant’s bar, always our first option when dining out.

New Orleans fine dining

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Restaurant R’evolution celebrates five years this year, and its creative approach to Cajun and Creole cuisine has made it a New Orleans favorite, in a city that is absolutely teeming with great restaurants. Our behind-the-scenes tour was an incredible glimpse into some of the restaurant’s amazing spaces, including this custom-built wine cellar. Walls of wine went on-and-on, holding 10,000 bottles, 10,000 reasons for Wine Enthusiast  to name the restaurant as one of their top 100 wine restaurants.

Restaurant R’evolution

The entirety of Restaurant R’Evolution is truly special, but they offer some extra special dining areas, including the chef’s table, where all of the seats face the action.

Restaurant R’evolution

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Several private dining areas are available, and we’ve heard they attract some pretty A-list guests. We certainly felt like VIPs the entire time we were at Restaurant R’Evolution, and by taking in everything around us, noticed that every guest was treated that way.

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When it came to our own dining, we were brought to comfy seats at the romantic, dimly lit bar, which was once a carriage way; the floor tiles still match those of the sidewalk outside.

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I loved how special this bar felt, upscale yet super comfortable and relaxed at the same time. Excellent bar staff made us craft cocktails (I love my wine, but when in New Orleans, we were all about trying cocktails.)

We also absolutely had to try the restaurant’s famous “Death by Gumbo” which is made up of Roasted Quail, Andouille, Oysters, Filé Rice and presented beautifully with the broth poured over.

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This was absolutely to-die-for. So rich and flavorful. Note that we shared an order, and they kindly split it for us.

We also shared Beer Battered Crab Beignets and an order of fries, because good fries are my favorite food. These did not disappoint! The beignets were heavenly bites of seafood presented with remoulades.

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We could have easily relaxed at that bar for the whole night, but we had big plans at The Jazz Playhouse right next door. More to come on that, but if you get to New Orleans, I recommend doing exactly what we did and making a night of it at Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

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We were hosted by Royal Sonesta New Orleans, however, I was not required to write about the experience for my own blog. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, fine dining, Food, food blog, New Orleans, Restaurants, travel blog, wine

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