Every year since I started writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine, I’ve been invited to a luncheon held for the press at Brennan’s. Apparently I am a member of the fourth estate, or at least close enough that I pass. I always enjoyed the restaurant on those occasions, but other than those lunches, my experience wasn’t so great. I found the food mediocre and expensive.
I know that there’s a story to be told about the change in the restaurant’s ownership, but it doesn’t interest me and it’s really not my beat. What does interest me is whether the new folks – Ralph Brennan and Terry White – can make it a place I want to go.
I have been back now, at their invitation, and while there’s some work ongoing, the renovation to the physical space is remarkable. The dining room on the first floor, facing Royal St. has a Spanish theme, and the long, narrow dining area adjacent to the courtyard is now decorated to give the impression of sitting under a trellis. Upstairs dining rooms include one each for Rex and his queen.
The breakfast menu is most similar to the prior incarnation, but Slade Rushing has given the dinner menu a complete overhaul. Rushing, who was most recently running things with his wife Allison Vines-Rushing at MiLa, the restaurant in the Renaissance Pere Marquette hotel, has a history of interpreting southern and New Orleans cuisine. Several of his recipes make appearances at Brennan’s, including his deconstructed oysters Rockefeller.
Roasted gulf oysters with a manchego crust and smoked chile butter were excellent, as was the egg yolk “carpaccio,” so called for the sous-vide yolk that coats the plate, topped with grilled shrimp, thin slices of fried sweet potato and an Andouille-vinaigrette. You can see the full menus, at least as they exist at the moment, at Brennan’s website.
I’ll be returning to Brennan’s soon, without doubt, because the food I tasted was excellent, and I’m anxious to see the place when all of the renovations are complete. Brennan’s is located at 417 Royal Street, and serves breakfast and lunch from 8 to 2, and dinner from 6 to 10, daily. You can check out the restaurant’s holiday hours at the website, and you can make a reservation by calling 525-9711.