The Business of Pleasure in the Crescent City
BY Loann Halden
January 05 2009 1:00 AM ET
When the bayou humidity transforms business attire into a personal purgatory, it's time to shed some layers at The Country Club (634 Louisa St.; 504-945-0742), a gay complex in the Bywater neighborhood with multiple bars, an indoor-outdoor restaurant that serves surprisingly good food, and a heated clothing-optional pool.
Seek out Anais St. John , a Creole singer-model-actress and native New Orleanian, for the kind of ear- and eye-candy that can make lesbians and gay men go weak. If she's crooning in the Polo Club Lounge at the Windsor Court (504-523-6000), even better.
Gay historian Roberts Batson (504-945-6789; [email protected] ) runs 2.5-hour gay heritage walking tours through the French Quarter on Wednesdays and Saturdays (based on demand), expounding on the colorful personalities -- from Truman Capote to Ellen DeGeneres -- who have left their mark on the city. The theatrical Batson is also a guide with Historic New Orleans Tours, which delves into the city's African roots on its cemetery voodoo tour to NOLA's oldest burial ground, the beautifully decaying St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
Meal Plan These tasty restaurant recommendations are ideal for business meetings or when you can't possibly stomach another bite of hotel rubber chicken. Chef Scott Boswell composes the exquisitely inventive global-NOLA fusion dishes -- and Tennessee Williams inspired the name -- at gay-beloved Stella! (1032 Chartres St.; 504-587-0091), where the service is white-glove yet unpretentious. Don't miss the Georges Bank scallops!
Subtly named Eat (900 Dumaine St.; 504-522-7222) is easy to overlook, but not to forget. The modern, gay-popular BYOB restaurant eradicates all divey-diner associations with its menu of French Quarter staples like grilled shrimp over red beans and rice, gumbo, and crawfish pie.
Sample New Orleans's signature beignets, the powdered sugar-coated French bread doughnuts, at Café du Monde (1039 Decatur St.; 800-772-2927) or on the quiet patio of breakfast nook Café Beignet (334-B Royal St.; 504-524-5530).
Reader's Tip: Best place to meet locals"A longtime New Orleans bartender opened the new 700 Club in the French Quarter, so it's had a loyal gay following from the start. The couches in the lounge are a great place to chill out. There's still just as much excitement in New Orleans as there ever was; sometimes you just have to look a little bit harder to find it during the week."-- Brian Rush, New Orleans