I know my opinion diverges from the conventional wisdom regarding this restaurant, but hear me out. I'm still so angry about my experience that, having been accidentally reminded about it, I'm motivated to supply this review years after the experience occurred.
I have been to New Orleans twice. I have eaten at many of the finest restaurants there (at various price ranges), such as Commander’s Palace, Emeril’s, Irene’s Cuisine, K-Paul’s, and Bacco. Since I travel alone, I often eat alone. I have visited (and eaten in) Paris, Italy (from Venice in the north to Palermo in Sicily), London, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and many more places.
On my first (work) trip to New Orleans, I could not get a seat at Bayona, so I was delighted when I snagged one on my second (pleasure) trip. For a reason beyond my control, I thought I would be unable to keep my precise reservation, so I called and asked if I could move it by 30-45 minutes or so. I was told no. I made the necessary sacrifice and kept my original reservation time. I arrived six minutes late. I was ushered into a waiting area, where I was ignored for 25 minutes. About 15 minutes into my wait, others were ushered into the area. They were asked if they wanted any wine or a cocktail; I was ignored. I was told that I had to wait because I was to be seated in one of their tiniest tables, and none of these were free. The fact that there were numerous open tables did not seem to be relevant.
The food I ordered (seared scallops, salad, rabbit fillet & confit, a puff pastry desert with a filling, decorated with assorted berries) was quite good, with the dessert being fabulous, but good food is not unusual in New Orleans. There WERE some unusual things, though. The portions were tiny—much smaller than the norm in New Orleans. The sauces for the scallops were barely warm. The rabbit breast fillet was unsauced and under-flavored (it’s just not interesting enough a meat to serve bare). The wine steward, who seemed quite active in the dining room, ignored me completely. The waiter did recommend a wine (by the glass, since I was by myself), and the wine was good. It was also by far the most expensive single glass of wine I have ever had--ALL the wines by the glass at Bayona are way overpriced, even by restaurant standards. Finally, Bayona was the only very expensive restaurant I have ever eaten dinner at in New Orleans where I was not offered "a little something extra from the chef."
The dessert was great, though. Part of its greatness was visual: it looked crusty, and I was sure that when I put my fork through it the filling would pour out. Not so! The fork went through the pastry like air, and the filling was sublime. This is great presentation, as well as great blending of flavors.