Instead of our typical trip to Vegas to celebrate our delayed Anniversary, Mother Dear gave us the chance to explore a long dreamed of locale, NOLA. We had an almost perfect trip and New Orleans is all it’s purported to be. All of the downsides to any large city exist, but are clearly outmatched by the upsides. And then there is the food, my GOD, the food. We ate ourselves stupid, and regretted it a couple of times immediately afterward. But looking back, I wouldn’t have skipped anything.

It was our first trip, so it was a touristy trip. We tried the things you see on tv over and over instead of trying to find hidden gems. Especially shocking was how good SO MANY of the classics turned out to be. Only twice was I disappointed, and by disappointed I mean the place was only good. Much more often I was surprised by how much better the place was than expected, a rare treat repeated and repeated in the Crescent City. If you are from our neck of the wood, or anywhere else than NOLA, it is a completely different world, and one worth experiencing for multitudinous reasons. Vegas is a different world but it is a calculated and manufactured experience, New Orleans has evolved in a storied and historic manner into what it is, you can feel it everywhere you go. Nothing like it.      True Dat.

Our last day in the Crescent City, we labeled fancy-dancy day. We were going to hit three venerable institutions of culinary tradition, Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace, and Antoine’s. They are all dressier, and having eaten so much we were trying to keep the wardrobe changes to a minimum (less thinking about how differently these clothes used to fit just a couple of days ago). Lunch was at Commander’s Palace.

Commander's Palace
 New Orleans, Louisiana        Date of Visit  12/16/15    

This place is also fancy but where Brennan’s is staid and calm, Commander’s Palace seems a flurry of activity. We are met at the door with an energetic welcome from one of the owner’s. She seems to be reveling in her element, I wish our server had been the same, would have changed the whole experience.

Our waitress was short (both in stature and attitude) and had difficulty hiding her contempt (either for the whole world or just us?) and since we sat towards the end of lunch, she clearly wanted to be somewhere else. Too bad.



We sat with a view of the long string of what I was assuming to be James Beard Award medals going up the steps and were serenaded by carolers while our server scowled at us perusing the menu.

Serious Accolades On The Walls

And Holiday Cheer In The Air




We were delivered strips of seriously garlicky bread (made from Leidenheimers?) just before we were brought a loaf of Leidenheimers bread. It’s ubiquitous for good reason.

To start we tried the Butcher Plate. A fantastic charcuterie platter with duck rillette, whiskey jelly and chicken liver mousse, smoky foie gras ribbons, surprise sausage (not on the menu and surprised the server), chicken roulade, some kind of terrine (can’t remember), pickled shimeji mushrooms, mustard seeds, a swipe of sweet jam (cranberry?) and grilled ciabatta. Everything was delicious in its own right and combinations aplenty were thoroughly enjoyed.

We also tried the Soups 1-1-1, demi servings of their turtle soup, gumbo, and soup du jour. All three are good. The turtle soup is their hallmark, taking three days to make and is finished tableside with aged sherry, bringing a little sweetness and depth to a multilayered stew. The gumbo is dusky and spicy with chunks of chicken and sausage. The daily was a shrimp tomato bisque with a blast of spice. I’m used to mild and creamy tomato bisques but I think they will now bore me, this was fantastic.

Serious Garlic, Very Serious. I Loved It. I Might Have Been Alone.



They Look Similar But Couldn't Be More Disparate, All Tasty Tho

There is a, not so secret, secret at Commander’s Palace. If you order an entrée, you can get up to three 25¢ Martinis. The menu says “Limit three (3) per person ‘cause that’s enough”. Trust me, 3 is enough…goodness (Boopee doupee doupee doup). The come in five different iterations, Classic vodka, Classic gin, Commander’s with I’m assuming blue Curacao, a Cosmopolitan, and Ray’s Melon with Midori. We should have given one to our server.




Specialty...All 25¢

Mom had a Fall Harvest Salad with shaved petite roots, crisp radishes, clementines, toasted pumpkin seeds, black peppered chèvre and a light white truffle vinaigrette. The tangy cheese, the salty seeds, sweet fruit and cold crisp was a welcome derivation from the past couple of days. Sometimes a salad is just a welcome relief.

Steph had the French white truffle and winter mushroom Risotto. Shitake and oyster mushrooms, Parmesan Chantilly cream, and white truffle oil with superfino Arborio rice. This was every bit as rich and heavy as my shrimp and grits from Lüke, delicious but George Soros/Koch Brother rich. We were definitely taking some back to the hotel, tasty but almost impossible to finish in a sitting.

The risotto also came with a fresh salad with a light vinaigrette and salty additions.

Excellent & Refreshing Salad


Salad With The Risotto

Scrooge McDuck Rich Risotto...Mmmmmmm

I ordered the New Orleans barbecued gulf shrimp, sure it would be definitively different than Deanie’s. It was. Less messy, and certainly less poopy, it was also more refined in the flavor department, which was a bit of a disappointment. If they could have captured the layers of flavor from the Creole butter in the dirty dish, it would have been spectacular instead of good. Brie grits, and a splash of barbeque butter finished the attempt.

It was every bit as rich as the risotto, we were definitely taking doggy bags.

Fancy BBQ Shrimp...Come With Less S^%#.


Then came desserts. We ate more of them than we should have but after three martinis, inhibition and self-control is hard to come by. I will note, I do not care for any soufflés. Hey here’s something delicious (chocolate/cheese) let’s whip a bunch of egg whites into it so it tastes less like whatever makes it delicious. That said, the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé is the best I’ve ever had by far. Like Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace bread pudding is unique. The soufflé is actually two layered with a darker bottom and lighter middle. It’s the only soufflé I’ve ever seen not deflate when cracked tableside and doused with a warm whiskey cream sauce. It tasted like stuff, mostly because I think the meringue is separate from the custard mix. It had nuggets of tasty stuff in it, nuts/raisins I think. What’s not to like?

It is the beginning of strawberry season in New Orleans and we ordered the shortcake with macerated tiny berries, whipped cream and I think a freshly baked biscuit, it required 20 minutes notice like the soufflé. My favorite of the three was the silky and flavorful creole cream cheese cheesecake with a honey graham crust, chocolate lattice and a sticky caramel sauce. Oh, so good. I just wish the service had been better.

The Bread Pudding Soufflé, Best Soufflé Yet

Layers Might Be The Secret To Fluffy Flavor

Superb Strawberries And Biscuit

Haven't Had Cheesecake This Good For A Long Time



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