13 SEP 2019: With summer in mind – and glass in hand – we at Travel Industry Today, continue our seasonal series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues to enjoy during the (hopefully good) weather.  

When my son, upon a visit to New Orleans in August, wanted to try out one of the French Quarter’s famed outdoor second-story balconies, it wasn’t to show off his bare chest to revellers or partake in a typical bead-tossing ritual or the like. It was simply to relax after a busy day touring the Quarter (and, in particular, a gut-busting food tour). We found Tableau.

In truth, our food tour ended there with a delightful bowl of gumbo on the ground floor, but after our small group disbanded, the two us of stayed on and headed up the grand staircase for drinks. Conveniently, the establishment had already been recommended to us as quite possibly the best balcony location in the city for its sightlines – both into the Quarter and across central Jackson Square.

And to be sure, Tableau didn’t disappoint. Situated in a classic building with an ornate cast iron balcony, the 616 St. Peter St. location in the heart of the French Quarter (next to St. Louis Cathedral) had belonged to the Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré organization, boasting the city’s most historic playhouse. But funding issues led to the sale of part of the building in 2011 to the Brennan Restaurant Group, which in 2013 opened a creole restaurant, Tableau at Le Petit Théâtre, but also enabled the theatre group to renovate and maintain the stage. Today, the restaurant and theatre are intertwined, and many theatregoers dine at the restaurant, just steps from their evening destination.

Tableau can also claim to fill a space that was used to partially draft the Louisiana Purchase, which saw the United States obtain much of its western territory from France.

With such history literally dripping from the walls, Tableau also boasts more recent top 10 status in New Orleans for its food (a pretty high bar).

We, however, were content to linger in the welcome late afternoon shade, watching over the square and enjoying happy hour cocktails and half-price beer (offered Monday-Friday, 2 to 5 p.m.). And what better place to be above the French Quarter fray?

As evening approached and the Quarter began to buzz, the lights giving the area a new veneer, we were refreshed and ready to go and take on New Orleans at night – always an invigorating, and exhausting, experience.

Tableau is open Monday-Friday for lunch, Saturday and Sunday for a live brass band brunch, and dinner nightly.

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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