Monday, January 26, 2009

Commanders Palace (New Orleans) 09

Sunday brunch is a three course meal sered from about 10.00am to 2.30 pm. It is in just about the dead centre of New Orleans - directly opposite the Lafayette Cemetery,
where, incidentally, almost all the occupants are interred above ground level because of the floods.
The price of the main course ($34 to $38) sets the price of the meal i.e. appetizer, entree and dessert. Apart from its' general reputation as among the best NO restaurants there are several dishes for which they are particularly noted. I started with one - Turtle Soup finished at the table with a splash of sherry.
They use the meat of Alligator snapping turtles farmed specially for them, and veal to make a rich, heavy, herby soup which was too salty for my taste. An interesting dish but by no means exquisite. My wife chose the Oyster and Absynthe Dome
which turned out to be five lush and meaty local oysters poached with bacon, artichokes, absynthe and a splash of double cream under a puff pastry dome. Although the sauce was rich and tasty it was very over seasoned and heavy making the process of eating the combination of contents, sauce and pastry challenging. The Tournedos of black Angus beef with whisky, smoked onions, roasted mushrooms, French potato puree and glace de viande.
This was a very rich meat sauce and combined poorly with the over salted potato puree and the strongly flavoured onions. Excess seasoning and very strong flavours were too dominant for the meat. The tornado's were tender and tasty but had been cut in half making them too thin. They were served rare, not warm blue as requested but the whole dish quickly became cold as the plate had not been adequately warmed. A request for a more appropriate sauce resulted in the prompt delivery of a bowl of excellent Hollandaise. The Pecan crusted gulf fish (Black Drum) with champagne poached jumbo crab, spiced pecans and crushed corn sauce was very good This local white fish, despite the name, has a moist but firm textured tasty flesh and combined excellently with the sauce
but again it was a little to thick and heavy. There was a tiny amount of crab in amongst a very small salad atop the fish. We tried another signature dish - Creole bread pudding souffle($3 supplement). Served with a side bowl of cream this fruity bread pudding had a covering of meringue which did not rise above the dish. It was served as shown without the ramekin being cleaned before being presented at the table. Quite a nice dessert but not one on which to rest your reputation. The truly superior dessert was the French creme brulee scorched with local Dixie Crystals sugar.

The texture of the custard was perfect. There is no other word for it. After a Pino Colada that had enough rum for two we drank an extremely potent local specialty - sazerac, one of the earliest cocktails, originating in New Orleans in 1859. This is a potent mixture of bourbon with bitters, sugar and herbs which I enjoyed, followed by a French Hermitage. Coffee had to be espresso, capuchino or community which is combined with chicory so we had tea. Twining Earl Grey. It was easy to tell because even before the hot water arrived we were presented with a tea bag!

There was a Jazz trio circulating among the tables playing popular stuff like When the Saints come Marching In

and the garden setting was lovely . I did find it a little odd to see a chandelier hanging from a tent
and a substantial tree growing up from the middle of the room. The service was exemplary. As a general comment I would say the food lacked finesse both in its' preparation and presentation. Portions were a good size and you certainly get a hearty meal for a very reasonable price. Wines are not expensive either. I ended up paying $130 which included about a 20% tip.

Score 14.5/20

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