Dec 13, 2011

Monday means Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue

When we first checked into our hotel, my mysterious and exotic Gypsy co-pilot and travel companion got a tip from the concierge about a great bead shop on Magazine Street.  Apparently, she had made an impression with the jewelry she was wearing, and the concierge was rightfully impressed.  These sorts of things have been known to happen.  So, on our first full day in the Big Easy, we decided to get passes for the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and head toward the Garden District and other points Uptown. 

Based on our tip from the concierge, we got off the streetcar at Napoleon Avenue to walk down to Magazine Street, and as fate would have it (fate often plays a key role when traveling with a Gypsy), we passed St. Elizabeth’s Asylum, which was an orphanage back in the day but more recently famous for having been purchased by novelist Anne Rice as a private residence. 
See, the plaque shows I'm not kidding.
Notice the Gypsy in the corner checking out the entrance.

Soon, we reached Magazine Street, and our meandering walking tour began.  For those who are unfamiliar with Magazine Street, it’s well known for its specialty boutique shops, antiques, art galleries and some of the more interesting bars and restaurants (both upscale and dive-ish) outside of the French Quarter tourist trap.  As you can imagine, Gypsy was quite pleased.   More so than me.  In fact, she even bought a bracelet at a shop called Jezebel’s, which was a great fit for her style. 
And Jezebel’s happened to be right next door to the long-awaited bead shop called, appropriately, The Bead Shop.   Another perfect match.  She stocked up like she hit the motherlode. 
My reward for bead and jewelry shopping?  A drink stop at what may be one of the greatest dive bars of all time – The Club Ms. Mae’s. 
I knew I'd love this place the second I saw the Dixie Beer sign on the wall.
Ms. Mae’s is another place in New Orleans where you never know who you’re going to see in there.  People go for the incredibly inexpensive drinks and the gritty but funky atmosphere.  Plus, they never close, and they offer happy hour specials from 1 to 5 a.m.   Yes, that’s a.m.  And where else can in New Orleans can you get a Miller High Life for $1.50?  Or a PBR for the same price?  We bought an Abita draft, a vodka tonic and a High Life while we were there, and the total was $7.50.  The full price list is on the wall, although with my poor vision and the dank lighting, I did have to squint a couple times to read it.  The bar entertainment consisted of some neighbors playing pool, the soccer game on TV and the bartender’s conversation with some homeless looking guy with a cane and a dog.     
It was approaching nighttime by the time we walked out of Ms. Mae’s, reeking of cigarette smoke of course, so we started walking back to the St. Charles streetcar.   Being a good sport that I am, I decided our next stop on the way back should be at someplace a little more upscale.   We had noticed the Delachaise wine bar a few streetcar stops earlier and made a point of checking it out.  We got there about 10 minutes before their 5 p.m. opening time, but the staff let us right in. 
Delachaise appears to be well known for their variety of wines, particularly by the glass, and I didn’t need to be prodded to take advantage of their $5 specials.  I don’t remember what Gypsy tried, but I had a delicious $5 glass of rosé followed by a $7 glass of their house Madeira. 

They also had a limited but tempting menu, so having developed an appetite while walking, we decided to try their smoked pork tenderloin paté.  I liked the presentation; I loved the food.  The Creole mustard was a good selection to go with the bread, figs and onions.  All in all, this commoner’s brief review gives Delachaise a hearty thumbs up.  Next time, I’m trying either the frog legs or the smoked salmon. 
A little tipsier, we made our way back onto the streetcar and eventually a stop at the St. Charles Tavern for another drink.  But I was running out of gas, and we had other plans for a late dinner in the Quarter, so I neglected to take any pictures.  I do recall thinking, “Why don’t we just eat here?”  But there are too many choices for fine food and drink in New Orleans that you just can’t ever hit them all. 

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