Excerpted from the pamphlet "Souvenir du Restaurant Antoine", available free of charge to patrons of Antoine's Restaurant.
Founders and proprietors:
- Antoine Alciatore, Founder, 1840-1855.
- Founder of the house of Antoine, who seeking his fortune in America came to New Orleans, and founded in the year 1840 the Restaurant Antoine. Beginning in a small way, it was not long before Antoine's was a byword for all that stands highest in the culinary line. His talents won for him an enviable reputation and the little restaurant flourished. Antoine went back to France, his native land, to die, and he left the business in the hands of his son, Jules.
- Jules Alciatore, Proprietor, 1885-1930.
- Jules, a fit successor to his illustrious father, took charge of "Les Affaires" and since he too made his studies in the land of his father, the house of Antoine again prospered under his guiding hand, and today, it enjoys an international reputation wherever people gather to discuss the gentle art of eating in its many and diverse forms. Jules, before his death, placed the active management of the restaurant in the hands of his son Roy.
- Roy Alciatore, Proprietor, 1930-1972.
- William J. Guste, Jr., Roy Guste, Proprietors.
- Roy F. Guste, Jr., Bernard R. Guste, Co-Proprietors, Fifth Generation.
The home of good cheer.
Antoine's is to New Orleans what Delmonico's as to New York, or The Cafe Anglais to Paris.
The home of fine cooking.
The place par excellence for the gourmet, because there is always something new for the refined senses.
New dishes, new seasoning, new presentation of eatables.
What you can get elsewhere you can get at Antoine's.
But some things you can get at Antoine's you cannot get elsewhere, because they are special concoctions of the culinary art, prepared under the master's eye.
Eating at Antoine's is like getting a new start in life. You go in with the blues and leave with rosy impressions.
Those who have never partaken of a meal at Antoine's invariably picture the place gorgeously decorated with all the bright colors of the rainbow; with gold, silver and bronze leaf plastered in the very recesses of the ceiling; with a select band playing popular music of excerpts of the operatic masterpieces; with footmen in prince livery opening the carriage doors, and grooms to take care of the cloaks. None of all that.
Antoine's is today what it was at its inception -- an immaculately clean place with tableware and linen of the severe solid home-like type and attentive noiseless waiters, who speak many tongues because they have learned their avocation on both continents.
No deafening brass bands between courses. When you go to Antoine's it is to give your palate an undisturbed treat.
That is why the place is unique and in a class of its own.
Had Brillat-Savarin lived a century later, he would undoubtedly have referred to Antoine's in his Physiologie du Gout because it is that particular atmosphere of the place which enhances the artistically prepared dishes and develops to the highest degree the gastric fluids.
Not to have eaten at Antoine's is almost saying that you have never been to New Orleans.
Did You Know This About The Restaurant Antoine?
- That in 1940 Antoine's celebrated its 100th year of uninterrupted service to the gourmets of the world under three successiver generations of the Alciatore family, Founder Antoine Alciatore, Son Jules Alciatore and Grandson Roy Alciatore.
- That Antoine's gallery of celebrities contains over 2,000 autographs and pictures of the distinguished visitors who have dined at Antoine's.
- That besides the main dining room, Antoine's has 15 other dining rooms available for banquets and private parties of two to two hundred guests.
- That the huge plate glass mirrors in the main dining room were formerly in the Grand Ball Room of the famous old St. Louis Hotel, and were imported from France.
- That many years ago, sand covered the floor in the main dining room, and that sawdust still covers the floor in Antoine's famous Mystery Room.
- That the 1840 Room is a reproduction of an original early Antoine's private dining room and contains oil paintings of Antoine and Mrs. Antoine Alciatore, old menus dating back to the early 1880s and old theatre programs containing Antoine's advertisements as far back as 1852 besides the original pair of baby shoes worn by the founder of Antoine's.
- That the Chef, waiters and other employees have been with Antoine's for many years, many of them having begun their career there and ended it there after a lifetime of faithful service.
- That the bus boys must serve an apprenticeship of 10 years before they are eligible to become waiters, that the present headwaiter has been with Antoine's for 40 years, and that his predecessor served the house for 50 years.
- That the same menu has been in use at Antoine's for the past 50 years, being used summer and winter, for luncheon and for dinner, day in and day out, year in and year out. It is the only menu used at Antoine's and is printed entirely in French. [Note: English translation now provided]
- That the customer's orders are taken without the aid of paper and pencil, and entirely by memory, and it is seldom that omissions or errors occur.
- That when serving our famous Café Brulôt Diabolique and Crepes Suzette the lights are dimmed so that our guests may feast their eyes on the beautiful blue flames of the burning brandy.
- That the Oysters á la Rockefeller at Antoine's were so named because of the extreme richness of the sauce, because at the time the elder Rockefeller was then the richest man in the world.
- That Pompano en Papillotte was especially created in honor of a distinguished French balloonist who was entertained at Antoine's, the paper bag being fashioned to resemble the inflated gas bag of the balloon. Its main purpose, however, is to retain the seductive flavors of the fish while it is cooking.
- That over 1,080,000 orders of Oysters á la Rockefeller have been served at Antoine's since 1899 when this dish was invented by Jules Alciatore, and since there are 6 oysters to an order the total number of oysters is over 6,480,000.
- That most of the cooking is done with coal over a French range, which range was purchased a few years ago to replace its predecessor which had been in continuous use in Antoine's kitchen for over 40 years.
- That the original Marble Mortar, hollowed out from a gigantic piece of stone is still in use at Antoine's since the founding of the restaurant, and that over a dozen pestles made of lignum Vitae, the hardest known wood, have been completely worn down in all those years, in this same mortar.
- That the Dungeon, a private dining room at Antoine's, was so named because it was actually used as such during the Spanish occupation of New Orleans.
- That the private library at Antoine's contains over 400 cookbooks, books on wine, and other related subjects, some of which are over 200 years old, and one old tome dates back to the year 1659.
- That Antoine's boasts of having one of the finest cellars in the country, containing rare wines from many different countries and nationalities, the stock carried at all times numbering 35,000 bottles, the oldest dating back to 1884. The oldest brandy dates back to 1811.
- That the success of Antoine's is due to the fact that greater stress is placed on the food and cuisine than on decorations, and that there are no disturbing influences such as music or dancing to interfere with the enjoyment of dining and wining.
- That Antoine's believes that food and wines are inseparable and for this reason will not serve wines and liquors to people who do not care to eat. For this reason Antoine's does not have a bar or a cocktail lounge. It is the people who drink without eating who become paralyzed by alcohol.
- That a restaurant is made, not born, and while it takes a hundred years to acquire a reputation, it only takes six months to lose it.
- That if you are in a hurry, it is useless to waste your time in a first class restaurant. Time is a necessary element in the proper preparation of food, and if you cannot spare the time, you are better off at the corner drug store, where they will dish you out an already prepared sandwich in short order, and it will probably taste better than a complicated culinary concoction thrown together in less than the required time. Hurry enters not into the mind of the gastrophile.
- That good food is a restaurant's only worthwhile ad, and all the gold leaf, dim lights and soft music in the world cannot compete with a refined palate.
- That cheap prices and good cuisine do not go together. Cheap prices mean cheap materials. A humble hen has never yet been known to lay an egg that hatched out into a pheasant, and neither will a sandwich ever take the place of a skillfully prepared dish.
- That when Antoine's was established in 1840, there were no electric lights, no automobiles, no movies, no radio, no airplanes, no telephones, no televisions and no elevators.
- That if you visited Antoine's in the early days, you probably dressed by the light of an oil lamp, you sent a messenger by foot to make a reservation for you, you probably arrived in a carriage, you probably asked a waiter with a long mustache what dish was special for the day, as there were no printed menus then.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)