#5 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries
4 Fleur
EntreePrice-32
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Mr. B’s Bistro

French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078. Map.
Nice Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
In 1979, the Brennans revolutionized the the New Orleans dining scene around by opening Mr. B’sthis, the archetype of the casual, contemporary Creole bistro. Now restaurants like Mr. B’s dominate the scene. Its kitchen creates innovative and excellent Creole dishes from top-rung fresh ingredients, but serves them in an easy, informal way. Hickory-grilled fish, now common, was pioneered here; so was pasta as a non-Italian main course. Although a scan of the menu suggests that red meats are the main specialty, the seafood dishes are almost without exception the best versions anywhere of numerous contemporary Creole classic dishes.

MrBs-Bread

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Mr. B’s is the archetype of the gourmet Creole bistro as we know it. If food is almost everything to you in a restaurant, this is the place for you. It’s a comfortable, conveniently situated meeting place; even the parking is easy and cheap. The menu offers definitive versions of many essential New Orleans dishes: chicken-andouille gumbo, barbecue shrimp, wood-grilled fish, crab cakes, and bread pudding. The rest of the menu is filled with top-notch contemporary Creole cooking. The place always seems as if it will detonate into a party any minute.

Mr. B's Gumbo Ya-Ya, the best gumbo in all of New Orleans.

Mr. B’s Gumbo Ya-Ya, the best gumbo in all of New Orleans.

WHAT’S GOOD
First-class food without complexity or formality is the formula behind Mr. B’s. No dish will make you wonder what it is. The wood-burning grill (the first such something they pioneered in modern times here) turns out first-class fish, poultry, and steaks. The remainder of the menu has a distinctly local style, and employs first-class fresh ingredients. An almost-all-California wine list (the first such locally) is perfect for the food, and the bar makes generous drinks.

Hickory-grilled Gulf fish.

Hickory-grilled Gulf fish.

BACKSTORY
After closing restaurants for years following the 1973 family split, the Commander’s Palace side of the Brennan family opened Mr. B’s in 1979. It was the perfect restaurant for the time: the Baby Boom generation wanted good New Orleans food, but didn’t like the pomp of the grand restaurants. Mr. B’s became the most widely-copied restaurant in town, serving as the prototype for dozens of gourmet Creole bistros. It launched the restaurant careers of siblings Ralph, Cindy and Lally Brennan, who with their cousins now run the empire. Cindy Brennan Davis is the managing partner of Mr. B’s now. Deep backstory: for most of the 1900s, this was the famous Solari’s Italian food emporium, the center of what was once the New Orleans gourmet district.

MrBs-DR3

DINING ROOM
The wide, long, dark-wood-paneled dining room always has a buzz. Full of local people (especially at lunch), the restaurant offers the opportunity to run into friends without trying. Live piano at night adds to the liveliness. It’s one big, somewhat dark, moderately noisy room with a semi-open kitchen. It’s so engaging a scene that the place is usually filled up to the bar, where you might well wait for a table. (The reservation system leaves lots of space for walk-ins.) The service staff and the wine list are both better than they need to be.

FULL ONLINE MENU

BEST DISHES
Appetizers
Crab cake, ravigote sauce
Fried oysters on the half shell, bacon-horseradish hollandaise
Panko-crusted fried shrimp, tasso, spinach, hot sauce beurre blanc
Jumbo sea scallops, pan-seared, spicy watercress, white truffle oil
Garlic truffle French fries
Gumbo ya ya (chicken, andouille sausage, strong chicken stock, dark roux)
Seafood gumbo (shrimp, oysters, crabmeat and okra)
Poached pear salad, baby greens, cranberries, blue cheese, pecans, port wine vinaigrette

Entrees
Bacon-wrapped shrimp & yellow grits, red-eye gravy
Truffle-butter filet mignon, garlic potato rounds, sauteed spinach
Garlic chicken half, roasted garlic, oven-dried tomatoes, rosemary chicken reduction sauce
Barbecue shrimp (whole large Gulf shrimp, peppery butter sauce)
Wood-grilled fish, lemon butter sauce
Brandy & cider-braised rabbit, bacon, shiitake mushrooms, roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Honey & ginger-glazed, wood-grilled double pork chop, jasmine rice, julienne vegetables
Wood-grilled lamb chops, creamy hash browns, lamb and mint reduction sauce
American red snapper & crawfish tails, garlic spinach, fried green tomatoes, roasted red pepper butter sauce
Alaskan halibut, blue crab claws, lemon butter

Desserts
Bread pudding, Irish whiskey sauce
Chocolate molten cup cake
Bananas Foster cake, banana-caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
Hot buttered pecan pie, vanilla bean ice cream

FOR BEST RESULTS
Mr. B’s has a strange reservation system. They accept reservations for a limited number of tables, but for most of them it’s first-come, first served. Be sure when you call that you tell them you’re local, and don’t ask for 7:30 or 8 p.m. reservations unless they know you well.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The service staff is snappy and fun to deal with–unless the place is really busy, in which case you may need to fill gaps with conversation. People who have trouble getting around may not find Mr. B’s easy to navigate.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +2
  • Service+2
  • Value
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar +2
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Live music every night
  • Romantic
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Historic
  • Good for children
  • Validated parking
  • Reservations accepted

 

4 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Walter Yrle III on July 6, 2015

    Hi Tom,
    I dined at Mr. B’s this past Fri. night 7/3 had the crab cakes and wood grilled fish, both were excellent!! It was the first time being there. Can you give me any back history on the bath rooms there it is unique because you have to go through iron gates near the bar then down to what seems like a below ground basement.

    Walter Yrle III

  2. Ken McAlister Sr on August 3, 2015

    I am having an argument with my children. We went to Mr. B’s today and they had the lunch special bloody mary and martini for $1.50. The last time we were there (about 2-3 years ago), I somehow remember those cocktails being 50 cents. Have I gone crazy? My grown children say so. Please, Tom, save my honor!

    • Tom Fitzmorris on August 8, 2015

      It’s an even better deal than you aver. Mr.B’s and all the other Brennan restaurants run a 25-cent martini at lunchtime, for quite a long time.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  3. Brian Federico on September 15, 2017

    Your review is spot on. Excellent food, crackling atmosphere and dashingly romantic. I brought the love of my life there for our first date. She wore a little black dress and looked every inch like Audrey Hepburn in a movie and Mr. B’s was the perfect backdrop! Miss it and the entire “new” scene” of eating places, as I am a government mule out in Virginia where they keep opening New Orleans type cafes–from the locals who try to insistently persuade me to go always enthuse: “It’s authentic, and the chef is from NO–and as always I am sorely disappointed as they try to Food Network my old favorites and always burn the roux.

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?