Dining out for the holidays
Photo by Cheryl Gerber
While we don’t usually need an extra excuse to dine out at any of the exceptional restaurants we have at our disposal, local restaurants and chefs are always devising new ways to get us through their doors and exploring their menus and cuisine. Fall and winter holidays present another opportunity to welcome guests who look forward to celebrating the season with family, friends and food. November and December are rife with celebrations, and as you’d imagine, local stalwarts of the restaurant industry are inviting you to join in the fun with special menus, seasonal cocktails, parties and more.
Thanksgiving is synonymous with family feasts, and Arnaud’s opens its doors for the occasion from 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., on Thanksgiving Day, November 23. The restaurant will feature a four-course table d’hote menu from Executive Chef Tommy DiGiovanni. Highlights of the menu will include a traditional roasted turkey, herb crusted Gulf fish and roasted pork Loin entrées; as well as shrimp Arnaud and wild mushrooms bisque appetizers; a Little Gem Salad; and pumpkin roulade or pecan pie for dessert.
In December, Arnaud’s will celebrate the season in a number of ways, including a traditional Reveillon dinner menu (December 1-23), special lunch offerings (December 11-15 and 18-22), seasonal cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar and the 12 Days of Moët, beginning December 10. During the 12 days leading to Christmas, Moët & Chandon Champagnes will be offered through a variety of daily specials, such as a Bubble Bar on Sundays, Mini-Moët Mondays and Double the Bubbles on Tuesdays. For details, visit Arnaud’s website or call the restaurant.
|Ruth’s Chris Turkey Carving||Smoked and Roasted Duck Breast from Brennan’s Restaurant|
Old Fashion Braised Beef Lengua Tamale and Kumquat BBQ Lamb Steam bun from SoBou
Thanksgiving is also a special occasion at The Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue. Last year’s Thanksgiving menu featured a number of traditional items, such as oven roasted turkey, maple and cranberry glazed ham, The Column’s popular oyster dressing and pumpkin crème brulée. The menu is celebrated at the hotel on Thanksgiving from noon to 5 p.m.
On November 29, The Columns Hotel will introduce its Reveillon menu, which concludes at brunch on Christmas Day. Served nightly Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m., the meal features four courses and includes coffee and tea service for $59 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity). Reservations are recommended.
According to Adam Miller, Director of Catering & Events, The Columns Hotel is distinguished by its expansive holiday décor, including a live 14-foot-tall tree, wreaths, garlands, figurines and a centuries-old, hand-carved crèche.
“But the best attraction is our live fireplace inside the Victorian Lounge, lit daily when cold to take off the chill and warm the weary traveler or guest,” says Miller.
SoBou’s chef Juan Carlos fondly remembers Thanksgivings spent celebrating with his large family in Puerto Rico. As a 5-year-old, Carlos thought his mother was crazy when he’d help her inject the turkey with champagne and Cointreau days before the family gathering. As a chef, Carlos now realizes it was a brilliant take on the drunken bird, and today he honors her ingenuity every Thanksgiving at SoBou with his take on the holiday meal. Offered as part of a three-course meal, the dish can be enjoyed with decadent sides at the restaurant for lunch or dinner on Thanksgiving.
In December, SoBou will also offer a Reveillon Menu (December 1-23) for dinner, in addition to special menus offered on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The four-course Reveillon menu includes a lagniappe shot of house-made coquito, a Puerto Rican-style egg nog. For a special lunch, visit SoBou December 20-24 and enjoy the sounds of the season with carolers in the restaurant. Pick up your signature Commander’s Family of Restaurants jingle bells during lunch, weekdays in December through the 22nd.
For families who enjoy dining out on holidays, there are a handful of restaurants that accommodate with multiple courses and festive fun. While several local restaurants are open for Thanksgiving, fewer are open on Christmas Day. A Metairie favorite, Andrea’s accommodates discerning diners on both holidays with menus that feature chef Andrea Appuzzo’s signature style of cooking influenced by his native Northern Italy.
Last year’s Thanksgiving menu included homemade pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sage yam sauce, roast turkey with giblet gravy and double cut pork chop with an apple bourbon sauce; while the Christmas dinner menu delighted holiday feasters with dishes such as American roast leg of lamb, white veal scaloppine, pork shank osso buco Abruzzi, and Louisiana crabmeat ravioli Andrea.
The Caribbean Room
An iconic New Orleans locale, The Caribbean Room as restored by John Besh and Executive Chef Chris Lusk, is said to evoke the nostalgia of the original restaurant while infusing a fresh, contemporary energy to the menu. The same energy is infused with the holidays as the restaurant introduces its Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. On Thanksgiving, the four-course menu offered 11 a.m.-8 p.m. features a variety of choices for each course that include, among many others, foie gras torchon, short rib ravioli, satsuma salad, butternut squash bisque, roasted breast of turkey with oyster dressing, pompano en papillote with blue crab, and desserts such as pecan pie and silver whistle blueberry muffin bread pudding.
Multi-course Reveillon menus are common throughout New Orleans, and Dickie Brennan’s Tableau is bringing the traditional holiday meal to Jackson Square this year. December 1 through 24, Tableau will offer a four-course menu for guests to enjoy from one of the restaurant’s three floors of dining spaces. General Manager Chris Esteve calls the cuisine “sophisticated, yet true to tradition.”
Tableau’s 2017 Reveillon menu includes your choice of Gulf oyster stew or turtle soup; maison or bleu cheese salad; an entrée of grilled pompano, paradise spiced lamb loin or housemade fettucine with roasted duck; and either shoofly pie or gingerbread pudding.
The Reveillon on the Rocks cocktail will be the Bonne Nuit, featuring Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth and Cynar.
More highlights of the season at Tableau include the “largest mistletoe in the city” hung from Tableau’s balcony at Chartres and St. Peter streets and brunch with Santa on December 10.
The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group welcomes families for a number of holiday-themed events in December. The family-friendly fun begins at Red Fish Grill on Saturdays, December 2 and 9, with the annual Red Fish Grill Gingerbread House Workshop; 10 a.m.-noon, Executive Pastry Chef Brett Gauthier offers a step-by-step guide for children, who bring the fairy tale icon from Hansel and Gretel to life. Called a “Scrumptious Swamp Romp,” the charitable event will draw some design inspiration from scenic Cajun country. For details on the Gingerbread House Workshops or to reserve your spot, call 598-1200.
On Thursday, December 21 Brennan’s Restaurant brings some holiday cheer by transforming its famous courtyard into a winter wonderland perhaps worthy of a Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye “White Christmas” performance. For the first time, young ladies and gentleman – and naughty and nice parents – are invited to enjoy a very merry white Christmas with snow at Brennan’s. As Brennan’s “lets it snow” in the courtyard, Santa will join guests in enjoying the rare, white precipitation in New Orleans.
Every family in New Orleans has their own holiday tradition, and while some love the seasonal, Reveillon experience, many people love returning to a generations old staple for family celebrations: the steakhouse. A New Orleans original with a decades-old, tried and true recipe, Ruth’s Chris Steak House continues doing what it does best throughout the holiday season with a couple of extra twists of excitement.
On Thanksgiving Day, many guests choose to treat themselves to a steak dinner, but if you’re looking for a more traditional meal, you can enjoy a turkey dinner with your favorite sides, such as Ruth’s Chris crowd-pleasing mashed potatoes. Later in the year, Ruth’s Chris will introduce a Surf & Turf special for those looking to really indulge. Choose your own size of filet, and enjoy it alongside two twin lobster tails for $49.95.
Arnaud’s, 813 Bienville St., 523-5433, ArnaudsRestaurant.com | The Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308, TheColumns.com | SoBou, 310 Chartres St., 552-4095, SoBouNOLA.com | Andrea’s, 3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583, AndreasRestaurant.com | The Caribbean Room, 2031 St. Charles Ave., 323-1500, TheCaribbeanRoom.com | Dickie Brennan’s Tableau, 616 St. Peter St., 934-3463, TableauFrenchQuarter.com | Red Fish Grill, 115 Bourbon St., 598-1200, RedFishGrill.com | Brennan’s Restaurant, 417 Royal St., 525-9711, BrennansNewOrleans.com | Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 525 Fulton St. (inside Harrah’s Hotel), 587-7099, 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600, RuthsChris.com