Aug 3, 200912:00 AM
Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene
Hot Lunch (and Dinner, too)
Good Summer Meal Deals
Shrimp and fennel at Iris.
Photo courtesy of Jay Forman
If you can muster enough energy to slog around in the August heat during lunchtime, you can find plenty of great lunch specials right now. To combat this typically slow time of year, restaurateurs plate up some awesome deals. Once good bet is Iris, which offers a $20 three-course special that is particularly flexible, at least on the savory side: All of the appetizers and entrees are fair game. Dessert, however, is a firm scoop of sorbet. No substitutions.
Iris’ menu shifts constantly, but if you happen to see a seared scallop appetizer with grapefruit butter, I’d grab it with both hands. The rub on the shellfish benefits from a light caramelization from the sear, and the grapefruit butter essentially locks a citrusy bite into an emulsion, pairing well with the natural sweetness of the scallop. Another appetizer of shrimp with shaved fennel fell a bit short in comparison, lacking the former’s complexity of flavor.
For main courses, the duck confit salad was substantial. The duck leg was pleasantly warm through and through, and the meat raked off easily with a pass of the fork. There was plenty of salad to round the dish out. Another salad, this one beefed up with flank steak, was comparably good; both dishes are light enough to not put you in post-lunch nap mode but offer enough quality protein that a diner does not feel slighted.
Note: Regarding the sorbet, ours was peach, Chilton County iterations were in season, and they were delicious. Also, bear in mind that Iris’ lunch is served only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Other good deals around town right now include a $40 tasting menu dinner at August, featuring a salad of pied du veau; corn “Rix en Boule” with pecan-smoked bacon, cipollini onions and chanterelle mushrooms; spaghettini with clams, mussels and crabmeat in a spicy, basil-infused tomato broth; and a full-fledged dessert: napoleon of nougatine made with Valrhona chocolate and salted toffee ice cream.
7 on Fulton is also offering a three-course lunch with a glass of wine for just $21 though the end of August.
Splitting the difference for the hours between lunch and dinner, Palace Café has fine-tuned its small plates menu to offer up a “$5 after 5 p.m.” special. This contemporary Creole take on tapas-style dining offers up such dishes as the Alligator Sausage Pistolette, which is served on Leidenheimer’s bread with slaw and pepper jelly. Head on over on weeknights between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to take advantage.
Also, be sure to plan ahead for the 18th Annual WYES Season of Good Tastes, a series of wine- and coffee-pairing dinners that raise money along with spirits. Participating restaurants include Ralph’s on the Park, Gautreau’s and Andrea’s. Visit wyes.org for reservations and more information.
321 N. Peters St.
301 Tchopitoulas St.
7 on Fulton
701 Convention Center Blvd.
605 Canal St.