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Aug 3, 200912:00 AM
Haute Plates

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.




Palace Café

605 Canal St.





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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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