Mother's Day is one of the biggest dining-out holidays of the year, with people all over taking mom out for brunch or some other big restaurant meal. But what about dad? His holiday is decidedly lower-key in the restaurant marketing world, but a special meal out is still a great way to give pop some props. And, for you late planners, reservations are always easier to come by for Father's Day than Mother's Day. Here are four recommendations for different experiences around town.
Irish House: 1432 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-595-6755
Matt Murphy knows all about fatherhood. The Dublin-born chef has five kids (including quadruplets) and it's tempting to think maybe some of this multitasking dad perspective found its way into his Irish House. This place has the feel of a pub, but it remains both family-friendly and food-focused. You can take dad by for a pint and some oysters at the bar or for a gourmet meal. And if you're getting an early start on the day, remember that Irish House serves one of the city's great morning feasts, a traditional and hearty Irish breakfast heaped with meats and eggs.
Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse:716 Iberville St., New Orleans, 504-522-2467
This French Quarter restaurant is custom-cut for grand feasts and big-deal dinners. There is a baronial feel to its bar and its subterranean dining room, where deep leather banquettes make prime seating. Let dad go all out with the house filet, a modest cut of beef done up with creamed spinach and the ham- and garlic-spiked Pontalba potatoes, topped with fried oysters and finished with bearnaise. If you're taking a busy dad out for weekday lunch, instead of on Father's Day itself, remember that Friday is the one day when the steakhouse serves lunch. Its superlative burger is worth a visit alone.
Luke:333 Saint Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-378-2840
Luke has a masculine feel with dark wood paneling, brass rails, dish towel napkins and an imposing bar. The decor is a clear tribute to the Germanic eatery Kolb's (a downtown fixture that has long since closed) right down to details like its belt-driven ceiling fans. If dad has a nostalgic side, this may carry a special appeal. The cuisine's cultural starting point is Alsace, the border region between France and Germany, and it mixes traditional dishes from both nations with plenty of local Louisiana influence, especially with seafood. Luke is upscale, but it's also the kind of place where you could order a burger and a glass of beer for dinner and feel right at home.
Arnaud's Restaurant:813 Bienville St., New Orleans, 504-523-5433
Each of the French Creole grande dames has its own distinctive characteristics, and one of Arnaud's is its ability to insulate you from the rest of the world. Deep in its many dining rooms, behind opaque, amber-hued windows, in the hands of an Old World service style and in the middle of so much tradition, the worries of your work calendar and household honey-do list disappear, at least for the span of a meal. Souffle potatoes, oysters Bienville, steak covered with crabmeat and foie gras-stuffed quails are all essential parts of a visit. So is a postprandial at the attached French 75 Bar, where from a leather sofa you and dad can savor a cocktail before returning to the real world.