Saturday, February 14, 2009

Scramble for a birthday

A happy 23rd birthday at Antoine's

It is a sad fact that getting a reservation on Valentine's Day is always tough. It is the one night when most couples will dine out and it is especially busy should it fall on either a Friday or Saturday night. Other than those born on Christmas or New Year's Day, most people don't think about the other pittfalls of having a birthday on such a day. When most reservations are easily secured with just a day or two's advance notice, making sure that a Valentine's Day birthday can be enjoyed at the restaurant of one's choice can be problematic at best. Had I known 23 years ago how difficult it would be to get a reservation for my son's birthday, I might have asked to doctors to deliver him after the midnight hour. But no, we had him on February 14 and stuck with the date he was and we were ever since. Given the hardship I've alluded to in getting a Valentine's Day reservation, imagine the added drama one has while dealing with the numerous night parades that block traffic and congest the French Quarter during the weekends leading up to Carnival. Since all options for dining were, if you will pardon the phrase, off the table, last night we headed to Antoine's, the oldest restarurant in New Orleans to celebrate David's birthday. Finding a parking spot was somewhat challenging, but after a 20-minute delay due to the crowds and numbers of vehicles entering the area, we did manage to secure a place where Antoine's offered discounted parking. Even before we had walked in the doors of the establishment, I was happy. As usual, the meal was splendid and the wait staff was exceptional. The restaurant was so busy that nearly 1,000 diners were scheduled to enjoy meals there, a feat that most dining establishments would find nearly impossible. But again, the consistency is the reason that one goes to Antoine's and the fact that everyone was extremely busy didn't seem to matter. The outside world was filled with spillover from people headed to or coming from Carnival parades as well as the usual thrill seekers and heavy drinkers usually found on Bourbon Street. Antoine's, located on St. Louis Street between Bourbon and Royal Streets, is very close to the heart of the action in the Vieux Carre. It seems hard to believe that the vulnerable baby born as "my little heart" on Valentine's Day could be so tall and strong today. There is little doubt that his mother, who passed away just four days after his ninth birthday, would be very proud, indeed.

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