We leave the kitchen, pass the men's room, head back into the Front dining room, then over to the President's Room. It's called that because this dining room (which overlooks Rue St. Louis) is where Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter all dined when visiting New Orleans. In all, a total of 9 Presidents of the US have dined at Antoine's: the aforementioned three, plus Coolidge, Hoover, Taft, and both Roosevelts (who all dined in the Back room, curiously enough), as well as then-governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton. The brass piece on the mantle of the fireplace on the left is a beautiful model of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
There's a hidden door on the far wall of the President's Room that opens onto a smaller, red-walled dining room that is called the Mystery Room. The 'mystery' has to do with Prohibtion. A restaurant like Antoine's was well-known as a place to celebrate and have a good time, and imbibing in 'adult beverages' has long been part of the celebratory tradition. When consumption of alcohol was banned in the '20s, the bar in the front dining room was emptied of liquor. That doesn't mean Antoine's stopped serving alcohol, however. In those days, the red-walled room you see in the rear of the photo was where you could go to get something a bit stronger (and a lot less legal). There were only two ways to get into that room back then--through the ladies' restroom on one end, and through the hidden doorway connecting it to the President's room. The presence of inebriated patrons would often pique the curiosity of other diners, who would inquire as to how they came about the booze. Not wishing to get the proprieters of the restaurant in trouble with the law, the tipsy folks would just wisper, "It's a mystery!"
Prohibition is long gone, but the Mystery Room still remains. It's used both as a private dining room and as an extension of the Back room. The decor is similar to that of the Back room, with photos and sketches of famous diners lining the walls. Among these photos is a fascinating original print of a painting entitled "All Is Vanity," shown above.
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