The Camelot era was in full swing, John Glenn was a new American hero and New Orleans dressed for dinner. The year was 1960 and the chic destination for dining was The Rib Room in New Orleans’ most fashionable hotel completed in October of that year, The Royal Orleans.
The Rib Room and The Royal Orleans Hotel were both the brainchild of a group of prominent New Orleans businessmen. The location previously served as the site of the landmark St. Louis Hotel, where the phrase “free lunch” was inaugurated, a custom established in the hotel’s bar to help provide nourishment to noontime drinkers. Rather than going head-to-head with the established Creole restaurants nearby, the Rib Room was originally founded on the basis of red meat on the menu, catering to a predominantly male clientele. As evidence, one will notice the men’s room is inside the restaurant while the ladies’ room is in the hotel’s lobby, since in the early years, ladies were only allowed to dine for dinner.
Although menu trends have changed over the years, prime rib has remained the Rib Room’s preferred dish among loyal patrons representing the city’s business, social and political elite as well as a host of celebrities who have dined at this famous New Orleans eatery including The Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, and Nicholas Cage, just to name a few.
The Rib Room’s beloved former maitre d’ Dalton Milton worked his way to that post under the watchful eye of his original boss Ernst Fisher, one of the most famous maitre d’s in the city. During his tenure, the restaurant had the nickname of “Fisher’s Country Club,” due to the daily patronage of local executives who made the Rib Room their lunch room – lured by the terrific prime rib and “The Washbucket Martinis” (huge martinis served in a brandy snifter from a cart by a sexy female server who made the oversized cocktails tableside).