One Meal at a Time
COOLinary brings opportunities to discover new favorites
Each August in New Orleans, time slows down. The physics behind the phenomenon may not be proved anytime soon and naysayers might argue our imaginations lengthen the afternoons, but those in tune with the season will feel the stretch in each hour. It’s the heat that does it.
Thankfully, there is a sure way to maintain our temperature and beat the heat in August. COOLinary New
Orleans is an annual month-long restaurant event organized by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB). This year promises at least 85 participating restaurants, each representing an aspect of the thrilling cuisine available in NOLA today.
COOLinary is built on a “restaurant week” model, where restaurants offer discounted prix fixe menus and special menu items to draw diners in during what tends to be a slower month for dining out in general, but especially for tourism in New Orleans.
“As families prepare to start the school year, August has traditionally been the slowest month of the year for tourism,” explained Kim Priez, senior vice president of tourism at NOCVB. “COOLinary New Orleans is a great program because it is a wonderful opportunity for locals to try some of New Orleans’ best restaurants, plus it is an economic boost to our favorite restaurants in New Orleans, helping them and their employees until conventions and an increased volume of visitors return.”
For locals and tourists alike, COOL-inary provides some rare dining opportunities at more budget-friendly prices. Because the demand for restaurants is lower, reserving coveted time slots and tables at popular restaurants is easier. Multi-course selections are priced to encourage guests to order a signature dish or two from the regular menu, or perhaps choose the entire bottle of vouvray instead of just a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Classic New Orleans restaurants like Arnaud’s and Galatoire’s participate, as well as new stand outs like Josephine Estelle and Public Service. The restaurants use COOLinary as a way to get diners in the door and wow them with both experimental recipes and traditional favorites.
“COOLinary Restaurant Month is the ultimate program,” said Priez, “offering an amazing dining experience for a greater value than other times of year.”
During COOLinary 2016 more than 20,000 meals were served, and it’s anticipated that will increase this year. Most restaurants offer lunch and dinner, though some only offer dinner. In 2015, many restaurants added a brunch course on the weekend as well.
One of the best aspects of COOL-inary is the website, which allows users to search for restaurants in a variety of ways. Search results can be sorted by cuisine, neighborhood or meal offered. Results can then be viewed with beautiful photographs in a grid, a simple list or even a map option to better gauge the location for those unfamiliar with the restaurant or neighborhood. The website also includes special links to book hotel rooms and exclusive deals called Lagniappe Offers.
For the uninitiated, in Southeastern Louisiana, “lagniappe” means a little something extra. Think a baker’s dozen or an amuse bouche. This is where deals like happy hours, discounted valet parking, raffle prizes and more will be announced.
“From some of the most prestigious and historic restaurants in the country to trendy newcomers making waves in the industry,” said Priez, “COOLinary New Orleans offers a true taste of all New Orleans has to offer.”
For more information and to make reservations at participating restaurants, visit coolinaryneworleans.com.
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.