Irene’s was a wonderful little find from a local who suggested it after I said I had had my fill of Cajun and Creole food. Tucked away on a back street, it quickly became clear that this was a local’s favorite. Even though they take reservations, you’ll still have to wait, in fact the joke seems to be how long did you have to wait?

Set in an old paper warehouse, it has an odd assortment of dining rooms from a dark, intimate room with stained glass ceilings, to the room lined with wine bottles to the bright, airy front dining room with its eclectic décor. Wherever you sit, the service is great and the small of garlic and herbs intoxicating.

I had a wonderful escargot in mushroom caps and garlic butter as an appetizer (haven’t seen this on a menu in a long time), a chicken rosemarino, a fantastic half chicken roasted with garlic and rosemary as an entrée and one of the best Tiramisu I’ve had for dessert. Other notable items; lamb Provencal and cioppino.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much, but lively and fun.

Garlic lovers are “unable to pass” by the “delicious” scent “wafting” from this “very special” French Quarter spot without stopping in for some truly “terrific”, “authentic” Italian fare complemented by “world-class” wines; “everyone becomes friends after a few cocktails” in the piano bar, which is an “enjoyable” place to wait for a table (a common occurrence, even with reservations) in the “charming”, “romantic” dining room patrolled by a “wonderful” staff.  ZAGAT