Claim the Cool: 14 brunches worth venturing out for
Start your day with drama at Brennan’s with bananas Foster. The late chef Paul Blangé and the great Ella Brennan concocted this time-honored dessert on the fly back in 1951 to honor New Orleans’ incoming vice chairman, Richard Foster. The idea for the desert came from Ms. Brennan’s fondness for a dish her mother often made at home for her family – bananas sauteéd with butter and brown sugar.
Sara Essex Bradley
As cooler Autumn weather finally settles in, restaurants offering brunch, particularly those with outdoor seating, see their numbers climb as New Orleanians (always ready for a party) get a head start on holiday season celebrating. The weekend scene at area restaurants suggests that brunch is a meal best served with festive libations and consumed between peals of laughter. It is an indulgent, leisurely meal that tends to lean toward decadence with free-flowing champagne, mimosas, milk punches and bloody marys being the signature beverages consumed with rich, flavorful foods, usually by nattily attired participants.
It was in the early 1970s that Dick Brennan Sr. was struck with the idea to invite a lively jazz trio to play for the post-church crowd that visited the then fledgling Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave, 899-8221, CommandersPalace.com) on Sunday mornings. “Us kids in the family were sent to the French Quarter to hand out flyers to tourists advising them that they should take the streetcar to the Garden District for jazz brunch,” says Dickie Brennan Jr. “It was an instant success, I mean we were slammed, and from then on pretty much every kid in the neighborhood was pulled in to work at the restaurant on weekends.”
In bringing together the New Orleans trifecta – booze, food and music – Dick Brennan Sr., effectively created a new genre in New Orleans dining where it was perfectly acceptable to party hardy on Sunday morning à la Saturday night, and then return home for a nap. His winning formula has been replicated by many and evolved by others, even as the Commander’s Palace original continues to thrive on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
In addition to this time-honored brunch spot, the following destinations are well worth considering for a lavish late morning weekend repast.
There are far worse – and few finer – ways to usher in a new week.
••• Chais Delachaise •••
7708 Maple St. • 510-4509
Tucked away on Maple Street near the Riverbend area, the global menu here extends to brunch, which is available on both Saturdays and Sundays.
“I think our menu is an interesting twist on some classics,” says General Manager Trace Hayes. “The Nuoc Mau Benedict is an amazing take on Benedict with caramel ham served over sticky rice with a gentle red curry hollandaise and perfect six-minute eggs served whole with a runny yolk. We also have brunch special libations like $5 blood orange mimosas and bloody marys; a $6 Frozé (frozen Rosé, French peach liqueur and fresh lemon) as well as five $5 wines by the glass.”
New brunch additions include a mushroom and kale quiche and a selection of frittatas. Weekends also bring freshly baked muffins and scones.
Other options include Eggs Chais Delachaise (flash-fried Louisiana oysters, with a lemon-chili glaze, soft poached eggs, béarnaise sauce, a Carolina griddle cake and mirliton sweet-and-sour relish; Silpancho (thin cut New York strip steak, a sunny-side up egg, steamed rice, Aji Pico and frites); and Roti Telur (Balada bread, scrambled eggs and a dipping bowl with chicken curry).
••• Broussard’s Restaurant & Picturesque Patio •••
819 Conti St.
Brunch at Broussard’s means Sunday mornings at white cloth-covered tables either within or overlooking the restaurant’s verdant tropical courtyard to the strains of a strolling jazz trio. Bottomless mimosas for $12 are an easy choice, but chef Neal Swidler’s menu makes ordering an entrée a tough call. Raspberry-and-mascarpone-stuffed pain perdu? Seared filet mignon with three-cheese scalloped potatoes and sunny-side eggs with bacon marchand de vin sauce? Whatever your call, finish things off with a sweet ending of flaming bananas Foster prepared tableside via guerdon.
••• Arnaud’s •••
813 Bienville St. • 523-5433
Chef Tommy DiGiovanni limits the prix fixe, four-course brunch to Sundays, when he serves up an assortment of elegant egg dishes and Creole-inspired specialties. “Guests may choose from 35 menu items while reveling in the sounds of Dixieland Jazz,” says coproprietor Katy Casbarian. “Favorites include Creole cream cheese Evangeline, eggs Fauteux (poached eggs and house-smoked Gulf pompano on English muffins with dill-infused hollandaise sauce), eggs Sardou, savory crabmeat cheesecake, oysters en brochette and shrimp Clemenceau. And, of course, bananas Foster and crêpes Suzette, my personal favorites.”
A wildly popular dish on many brunch menus around New Orleans, Eggs Sardou is named for Victorien Sardou, a famous French dramatist of the 19th century, who was a guest in New Orleans when the dish was invented. The dish combines poached eggs over artichoke bottoms topped with creamed baby spinach with Hollandaise Sauce. By all accounts it is best served with peals of laughter and copious amounts of fine champagne at Arnaud’s.
••• Toups South •••
In the Southern Food & Beverage Museum
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
304-2147 • ToupsSouth.com
Superstar chef Isaac Toups’ new 2,000-square-foot restaurant blends rustic charm with modern touches, creating an unpretentious environment where the food shines and conversation flows. A 20 seat wrap-around exhibition kitchen made of reclaimed local cypress allows diners to take in the action while interacting with Toups and his talented team.
The menu pays tribute to the ingredients and techniques of the South as a region; from South Carolina Low country to Texas barbecue and everything in between. Located in arty and exciting Central City, the brunch items here will make for a perfect “Sunday Funday” with creative dishes, such as Farm Eggs in Purgatory (poached eggs with andouille sausage, jalapeño tomato braise and toasted ciabatta); seared fois gras pain perdu with seasonal fruit, local greens and honey gastrique; and a breakfast poor boy with baked eggs, Tabasco mashed chicken bologna and American cheese.
The historic Brunning’s bar, built in 1851, was salvaged from Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina. Helmed by Head Bartender Adrienne Miller, the cocktail program complements the menu and combines flavors with meticulous execution. Libations include Frida’s Brush (mezcal, lemon and Crème de Cassis topped with Prosecco); Toups Julep (Old Forrester, sweet tea honey syrup, fresh mint and persimmon bitters); and the Pork Chops and Applesauce (pork infused Old Forrester with apple and suze bitters, served on the rocks and garnished with an orange twist).
Superstar chef Isaac Toups' chic new Central City hotspot, Toups South, is among the city’s newest for a festive brunch. Kick off a “Sunday Funday” with Farm Eggs in Purgatory – poached eggs with andouille sausage, jalapeño tomato braise and toasted ciabatta.
••• Katie’s Restaurant •••
3701 Iberville St. • 488-6582
Kick your Sundays off at wild and crazy chef Scot Craig’s ultra-fun and lively Mid-City neighborhood restaurant.
Brunch-worthy cocktails include the Poinsettia, brandy milk punch, a classic Pimm’s Cup and Irish coffee. Bottomless bloody marys, mimosas and sangria are available for $15.
Chef Scottie isn’t one to fool around with the flavorless and it shows on this special, Sunday-only menu that includes eggs cochon (English muffins topped with house-smoked Cajun cochon de lait and poached eggs covered with a creamy hollandaise; a to-die-for crawfish beignet (filed with crawfish, mozzarella and Provel cheeses, peppers and onions, and topped with jalapeño aioli) and lemon ricotta pancakes (three large buttermilk pancakes stuffed with ricotta cheese and lemon zest and sprinkled with powdered sugar).
The chef’s namesake breakfast, Scottie’s Special Breakfast includes both scrambled and poached eggs, bacon, hash browns, cheese grits and a biscuit topped with grillades and debris gravy.
••• Café Henri •••
800 Louisa St.
This new-ish Bywater neighborhood gem is bright and sun-splashed, with walls of white subway tiles, Café Henri is uncomplicated and welcoming.
Brunch starters include a biscuit basket with hot buttermilk biscuits, cane butter and house-made preserves; beef carpaccio with fried oysters; brioche French toast; and Johnny Cake skillet.
Entrees include an eight-ounce flatiron steak, over-easy eggs and Ranchero sauce; and the Henri Burger with Russian dressing and house-made pickles.
••• Mr. B’s Bistro •••
201 Royal St. • 523-2078
Mr. B’s longtime chef Michelle McRaney embraces fall to create richer dishes, such as slow roasted Kobe beef brisket with creamy stone ground grits; crispy fried oyster and sautéed spinach omelet; and roasted duck and eggs with fall root vegetables.
Sunday brunch at Mr. B’s is lively and spirited. A vibrant jazz trio strolls around the restaurant playing traditional New Orleans jazz and creates a festive atmosphere. Multi-colored balloon bouquets around the dining room set the party mood.
Holiday specialty cocktails will soon make an appearance on the brunch menu, too. Look for the Poinsettia Royale with sparkling wine and a touch of Chambord; a cranberry margarita marries the traditional sweet-and-sour cocktail with cranberry juice, fresh cranberries and lime; and a White Christmas martini made with Godiva white chocolate liqueur, vanilla and white crème de cocoa shaken with cream.
At Mr. B’s your courtly server will get you in the mood for the holidays when he arrives with a tray of holiday cheer. Try the Poinsettia Royale, a cranberry margarita, or a White Christmas martini. Ho, Ho, Ho!
••• Tableau •••
616 Saint Peter St.
With both indoor and balcony seating right on Jackson Square and a brass band for entertainment, brunch at Tableaux on Saturdays and Sundays is a lively alternative to the traditional jazz brunch.
Exciting starters include a shrimp remoulade bloody mary loaded with Gulf shrimp and pickled vegetables; and crabmeat ravigote with chow chow, cucumber, lemon aioli and lavash.
Lighter selections include a chilled asparagus and seafood salad with grape tomatoes, watercress, crabmeat ravigote, shrimp, brioche and a lemon and herb vinaigrette.
Entrées include eggs Hussard with grilled medallions of beef tenderloin; duck confit hash with poached eggs and roasted vegetable tian; and New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp and grits.
••• Bourbon House •••
144 Bourbon St. • 522-0111
Every Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., Bourbon House offers a three-course prix fix “Boozy Bourbon Brunch” for $45 including cocktail pairings.
The experience begins with shrimp sautéed in a bourbon sauce served atop cheese grits and paired with a choice of a bourbon bloody mary or a classic mimosa. The second course is a bourbon-glazed petit filet with grilled tomatoes, asparagus and a poached egg with hollandaise sauce paired with a U.S. 75 cocktail.
A sweet ending comes with bourbon French toast made with bread pudding custard, bourbon butterscotch and bourbon whipped cream. Pair this with a bourbon milk punch and it’s nap time.
This will get your eyes wide open. Behold the starter course for Bourbon House’s three-course prix fix “Boozy Bourbon Brunch,” available for $45 including cocktail pairings. Plump Gulf shrimp are sautéed in Bourbon-laced sauce, served atop cheese grits and paired with either a choice of a Bourbon bloody mary or a classic mimosa.
••• Palace Cafe •••
605 Canal St. • 523-1661 • PalaceCafe.com
Palace Café offers jazz brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays with a “Build Your Own Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar” that gets things going with a wide selection of infused vodkas, pickled vegetables, hot sauces and garnishes galore for bloody marys and fresh juices for mimosas.
Starters include the famous Oyster Pan Roast with rosemary cream, and herb breadcrumbs; and crabmeat cheesecake with a pecan crust, mushroom sauté, Creole meunière sauce.
For lighter palates, a bright and bracing spinach salad combines grilled peaches, feta cheese, candied pecans and a warm bacon vinaigrette.
Entrées include Creole creations such as pain perdu made with Leidenheimer French bread, praline syrup, seasonal fruit and whipped cream. French classics include eggs Sardou with creamed spinach, artichoke-leek ragout, poached eggs and sauce Choron; and a croque madame with ham and Gruyère cheese on brioche.
••• Brennan’s Restaurant •••
417 Royal St. • 525-9711
Breakfast at Brennan’s is a beloved institution. It is a celebration, a tradition, an expression that trips off the tongue and the celebration of a meal originated at Brennan’s in 1948 in response to a challenge to the best-selling book, Dinner at Antoine’s. The publicity coup against the rival restaurant developed into the most popular meal time at Brennan’s. Seventy years later, items from the original brunch menu remain Breakfast at Brennan’s favorites. Bananas Foster, for example, and eggs Sardou. The experience is a long festive morning parade.
In addition to Brennan’s extensive breakfast/brunch menu, which is served every day, a three-course prix fixe menu is available for $31 and includes seafood gumbo; egg yolk carpaccio with grilled shrimp, crispy sweet potato and andouille vinaigrette; and braised pork grillades.
Festival autumn brunch dishes at Brennan’s include a baked apple with oatmeal pecan raisin crumble, a brown sugar glaze and sweetened crème fraiche; and turtle soup with brown butter spinach, grated egg and aged sherry.
Holiday season special events include “Over the Holidays” whereby Brennan’s will invite Santa to a special breakfast/brunch. Snow will be falling in the courtyard, and there will photo opportunities with Santa, a holiday cookie decorating station, “reindeer games” and a special takeaway treat. The three-course breakfast is $55 for adults and $35 for kids; check website for dates.
Brennan’s Executive Chef Slade Rushing puts his own stamp on a New Orleans classic. For his rendition of Eggs Sardou he serves the artichoke bottoms crisply fried, flavors his creamed spinach with Parmesan, and substitutes a tomato-kissed sauce Choron for the more commonplace Hollandaise
••• Kingfish •••
337 Charters St.
Chef Nathan Richard’s cleaver brunch offerings are a clear reflection of his unpretentious Thibodeaux upbringing.
Starters include pulled pork cracklin’ nachos with pimento cheese.
Entrées include molasses-cured duck breast with sweet potato-andouille hash; cochon Benedict with “pickled poached eggs”; and a Low Country “peel and eat” boil with shrimp and house-made smoked sausage.
A prix fixe menu is also available for $32. Bottomless mimosas make for a rumpus good time in the upscale, yet casual eatery.
••• Dante’s Kitchen •••
736 Dante St.
Expect to wait for a table for Saturday or Sunday brunch. With seating indoors as well outdoors on a patio with unobstructed views of the verdant Mississippi River levee, it’s worth the wait.
Starters include bacon praline cinnamon sticky buns and impossibly light buttermilk biscuits.
Entrées include a confit pork steak with hash browns and a fried egg; a Gulf fish sandwich dressed with herbed goat cheese, arugula, roasted tomatoes and pepper aioli; and Dante’s eggs Benedict with roasted rosemary rubbed pork loin.
Sweet selections are also offered.
••• Antoine’s •••
713 St. Louis St.
Brunch at Antoine’s is reﬁned but not stuffy, and formal but not pretentious; jackets for men are preferred, but not required.
Go for Sunday brunch and take in the ambience of light jazz from The Jimmy Maxwell Trio in the backdrop of the elegant, historic main dining room complemented by a menu of Creole-French classics. This is a quintessential New Orleans brunch experience.
Antoine’s offers a three-course brunch special for $33, as well as the à la carte menu with a free mimosa with each entrée, which includes Gulf fish amandine; grillades and grits; panéed veal topped with lump crabmeat; and fried oysters en brochette.
Always thrilling and impressive, baked Alaska is on the menu, too.