New Orleans Dining: Commander’s Palace
For baby boomer travelers, one of the most iconic eateries in New Orleans is Commander’s Palace which has enjoyed a steady parade of renowned chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, and now Tory McPhail.
Housed in an eye-catching turquoise and white Victorian building, nestled in the middle of New Orleans’ tree-lined Garden District, the famous restaurant offers travelers a flashback into the city’s antebellum past.
Founded in 1880, and originally built by Emile Commander as a wedding gift for a daughter who never married, Commander’s Palace has evolved into a culinary legend which continues with the area’s Brennan restaurateur clan even today.
Further, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the restaurant was closed for 13 months while a $6.5 million renovation brought the restaurant to its current shining glory.
Our evening began in their famous Garden Room (highly recommended) where Carol began the evening with a glass of bubbly while I greatly enjoyed a New Orleans Sazerac, a combination of rye whiskey, Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
Sazerac is prepared with Peychaud’s Bitters and two chilled glasses. One is swirled with a light wash of absinthe or Herbsaint, for the the slight taste and strong scent, while the second chilled glass is used to mix the other ingredients. Then, the contents are poured into the first glass. If you enjoy an occasional glass of scotch, then this drink is a must!
Commander’s Palace Appetizers
As we began our gastronomical journey, we started off with a cup of Commander’s Palace’s classic Turtle Soup (finished table-side with aged Spanish Sherry), Shrimp & Tasso Henican (wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions, 5 pepper jelly, and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc), and Foie Newton (pan-roasted foie gras over fig & foie gras beignets with sticky molasses fig jam, candied pecans, and fig-bounced milk punch).
The turtle soup was absolutely delicious, as was the foie gras, but the shrimp and tasso ham completely stole the show. Even though the orangish beurre blanc sauce didn’t photograph very well, don’t let that fool you. It is a absolute must, and will greatly tempt you to order another sample and forgo the rest of the meal.
Commander’s Palace Entrées
While tempted to make a meal out of our shrimp and tasso ham, we fortunately resisted and enjoyed Louisiana Soft Shell Crab (crispy Louisiana blue crab with a salad of pickled vegetable, tiny tomatoes, local greens, ravigote sauce, and roasted red pepper paint), and Cracklin’ Crusted Breast of Duck (hand carved Covey Rise Farm duck over warm “dirty” grain salad with drunken figs and Tabasco infused duck fond).
If you’ve never tried soft shell crab, and you find them in season when you visit, then you simply must give them a try. Being from the midwest, the idea of eating the crab, shell and all, was a bit unnerving, but oh how glad we are that we tried them out. Absolutely divine!
And, for you duck lovers in the crowd, the crispy duck was a real treat.
Commander’s Palace Desserts
Now, your Creole dining journey would not be complete without a sampling of some of New Orleans’ famous desserts.
We shared The Famous Bread Pudding Soufflé (Creole bread pudding whipped into a light soufflé, finished table-side), and Key Lime Custard Tart (Satsuma segments, white chocolate graham cracker crumble, and ginger & Louisiana peach sorbet).
Holy Sweet Tooth Batman! That was good!
As we love the combination of bitter and sweet, Carol enjoyed a pipping-hot cup of decaf, while I opted for my usual double-decaf espresso, followed by a shared glass of sweet dessert wine.
What a glorious experience. The beautiful setting, the attentive staff, and the wondrous cuisine all combined for a very memorable evening.
We highly recommend a visit to Commander’s Palace when you make your way to New Orleans!
Link: Commander’s Palace
Disclosure: our wonderful dining experience was provided by the kind folks at Commander’s Palace. Thanks!