Wednesday, January 28, 2009

August (New Orleans) 09

Clearly one of N.O.'s very best restaurants, in the top ranking for decor, food and service we went with high expectations and were not disappointed. The restaurant occupies one large front room with magnificent chandeliers
and two more connecting rooms with bare brick walls and dark wood panelling,

each with about five tables seating about 18 customers, They have a al carte menu, a five course degustation and a 10 course degustation menu. We, naturally, went for the 10 courses, one with and one without the matched wines. Chef John Besh is noted for creativity and imagination. These important qualities are fine but what really sets his food apart is the wonderful sauces and the good balance of dishes. We began with a chef's offering
- an egg custard with truffle sabayon and Balkan caviar. For once everything could be tasted in this great start. The first course was a local vegetable 'chop salad' with champagne herb vinaigrette,
served with a Marquis de Palade, Pierre Sparr, Brut, Alsace, Sparkling, NV , a very appropriate match. Next was a warm salad of 'pieds du cochon.
veal sweetbreads, hearts of palm and black truffles. this was a little bland after the previous dish but again was well matched with the light Pinot Gris, Domaine King Estate, Willamette Valley, 2006. Acorn squash "mezze luna" with chestnuts, local satsuma and fennel were small ravioli filled with cheese. This produced a combination of light flavours and interesting textures. The Bourgogne "Laforet" Joseph Drouhin, 2006 was rather dry. The fourth dish was a large plate full of crawfish,
described as a French craw fish boil,

"Facon chez bruno" ( in
honour of its' original creator) in a fabulous sauce - brandy, truffle and Smith's cream. The Macon-Chardonnay, Domaine Talmard, 2006 was typical of an Australian wooded chardonnay. Next came a pan roast turbot, truffled potato, fine herbs and winter vegetables
with another chardonnay - Lincourt, Santa Barbara County, 2005. Sixth was a whole roast rabbit "cassoulet, white beans and Jacob's andouille, no photo!, with a lovely Pinot Noir, Acacia "A" California 2005. I eat a lot of rabbit and this was prepared perfectly, there was no element of dryness in the dish and the taste was excellent with just a hint of gaminess. The petit filet with oyster dressing, lady apple and baby root vegetables served medium rare
was a very fine piece of extremely tender beef. This came with another shiraz like red. Actually a cab/sav, Ehlers Estate, St. Helens, Napa Valley, 2005 Light and smooth. The Vache Sante "grilled cheese sandwich served with a cherry chutney and local honey was delicious. It came with an absolutely luscious Sainte-Croix-du -Mont, Chateau La Rame, 2003. The ninth dish was a Ponchataoula strawberry "shortcake", with warm citrus scone and buttermilk ice cream. This ice cream has a coarse texture which is unusual and reminded me of Kulfi - the Indian clotted milk ice cream.
The Nivole, Muscato D'Asti, 2007 had distinct strawberry tones and was a perfect match. Finally a Spielweger chocolate torte with blood orange sorbet completed the meal. I must say my palate was a little jaded by now but I found the sorbet much to sweet and it also suffered from having crystals of ice.
The service was impeccable. Being a server short the room captain Christopher Alexander provided us with exemplary care and courtesy going to considerable length to keep us fully informed about the food and wine. My only concern was the very cool temperature which necessitated my wife wearing a jacket through most of the meal.

The only thing I found a little strange was the continual use of chevril as decoration. Perhaps it might have been better fried! This would rate as an outstanding restaurant anywhere in the world.
Score 18.5/20

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