A Restaurant Guide for the Season
Fall and winter are two of the busiest seasons for the New Orleans restaurant industry, and with the variety of seasonal meats, seafood and vegetables available during these months, it’s no wonder diners flock to their favorite locales for farm fresh flavor. As usual, it’s time to check in with some area favorites and find out what’s new and on the menu in November and what to expect for the holidays. According to General Manager Christopher Ycaza, “Broussard’s (819 Conti St., 581-3866, Broussards.com) is the youngest and most adventurous of New Orleans’ four ‘Grande Dames’ of the Vieux Carré,” due to chef Neal Swidler’s contemporary interpretation of classic New Orleans Creole cuisine. Currently celebrating its 95th year, Broussard’s mixes the old world charm of historic French Quarter dining with a new approach towards its food.
Last month marked the launch of both Friday lunches (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) and chef Neal’s new fall menu. Highlights of the menu include Cane Syrup Candied Pork Belly (Steen’s cane syrup, red bean pancakes and horseradish crème fraiche), Tuna Remoulade Sushi Stack Salad (blackened sushi-grade yellowfin tuna, avocado salsa, sesame cucumbers, scallions, sticky rice and pickled okra) and Pecan-Crusted Pork Chop (grilled pork loin chop, candied pecans, Creole honey mustard, ginger whipped sweet potatoes and chicory salad).
“In addition to our fall à la carte menu, we’ll offer a nightly three-course $45 Fall Prix Fixe menu,” says Ycaza.
Uptown, Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221, CommandersPalace.com) celebrates more than just the season – the restaurant wishes Ella Brennan a happy 90th birthday throughout November with a special Chef’s Playground tasting menu featuring chef Tory McPhail’s take on the famous restaurateur’s favorite dishes, as well as a special cocktail made just for Miss Ella.
Commander's Palace: Blackened Redfish with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Crab Boiled Vegetables
“We’ll have a giant birthday card for guests to sign and ask our guests to share their favorite Ella stories on our Facebook page,” says Darla Fisackerly, Marketing Manager.
Previously thought to be 135 years old, the restaurant recently announced their founding was actually in 1893, making the restaurant 122 years old. The mistake was lightheartedly commemorated with recent “OOPS” go cups.
Looking forward to December, Commander’s Palace will offer a Reveillon menu at dinner, Jingle Bells during lunch Monday through Friday, Christmas carolers and special menus for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Another of the city’s most historical restaurants, Antoine’s (713 St. Louis St., 581-4422, Antoines.com) has updated their popular $20.15 Lunch Special with fall specialties. The three-course special offers lunch-goers their choice of Chargrilled Oysters, Sweet Potato Bisque with Andouille Sausage or an Autumn Salad to start their meal.
Antoine's: Creole Shrimp and Grits and Autumn Salad
Entrées include Creole Shrimp and Grits (Louisiana shrimp with mushroom Creole sauce over creamy garlic cheese grits), a Bordeaux Petit Filet (served over Yukon mashed potatoes and topped with mushroom and onion cabernet sauce) and Veal Royale (with roasted tomato sauce served over onion and pecan rice). The lunch naturally ends on a sweet note with a choice of three desserts: Lemon Delight, Pecan Bread Pudding or Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Sundae.
With 14 separate dining rooms, Antoine’s emphasizes their versatile private dining and events options. As the holidays near, now is a good time to book your event if you’re looking for a historic, French Quarter locale.
Originally opened in 1946, Brennan’s (417 Royal St., 525-9711, BrennansNewOrleans.com) is making waves again after its extensive renovation about a year ago. According to Christina Persand, Marketing & Promotions Manager, breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner, and acclaimed chef Slade Rushing’s menus, while rooted in Creole traditions, are bolstered by contemporary New Orleans influences.
“Marrying classic and modern techniques yields a decidedly innovative approach and enhances our local, seasonal offerings,” she says.
A new champagne-centered happy hour, Bubbles at Brennan’s, runs Tuesday through Friday from 2-7 p.m., and features $7 specialty champagne cocktails and discounted bottles of champagne. Enhance your seasonal sipping with a seat in Brennan’s perfect-for-fall courtyard.
As it nears its 100th birthday, Arnaud’s (813 Bienville St., 523-5433, ArnaudsRestaurant.com) rounds out our updates from historic family restaurants, and this fall guests can expect usual traditions such as its four-course Thanksgiving holiday menu (November 26, 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.) and a Reveillon menu in celebration of the Christmas holiday available December 1-23 for $49. Also in December, the typically dinner-only restaurant will open for special lunch offerings on December 11, 14-18 and 21-24.
“As fresh cranberries arrive to the restaurant, we make a cranberry cordial that pairs nicely with gin, grapefruit juice, and Aperol as a refreshing aperitif cocktail,” says Proprieter Katy Casberian. She is describing The Contessa, the restaurant’s most popular new fall cocktail. Another new favorite is the Pickford Cider, a tall cocktail with Cachaça as the base.
“We juice a pineapple and cook with mulled spices and cinnamon to make our pineapple cider, which is then shaken with pomegranate honey syrup,” she says.
Breathing new life into the New Orleans dining scene is the young yet highly touted team behind Sac-A-Lait (1051 Annunciation St., 324-3658, Sac-A-LaitRestaurant.com). Fresh off a trip to cook at the James Beard House, chef team Cody and Sam Carroll, along with Chef de Cuisine Brad Andries, are turning heads with their bayou-inspired cuisine.
According to Andries, the menu continues to change “almost daily but not quite” as fall vegetables and proteins become available. The offerings will highlight “the hunt – everything we grew up hunting and fishing,” he says. Examples include a duck and wild mushroom gumbo and scale-on crispy snapper with roasted leeks.
Now open for lunch on Fridays (11-2 p.m.), Sac-A-Lait hosts diners eager to try the popular Alligator & Mirliton (sweet fried alligator with white remoulade and hand mashed mirliton) or the flavor-packed Chargrilled Oysters.
After hosting its Tour of the Mediterranean series earlier this year, Vega Tapas Café (2051 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2007, VegaTapasCafe.com) is updating its menu this fall with tour goers’ favorite Mediterranean dishes.
Vega Tapas: Vieiras de Buceador Chamuscados: Seared Diver Scallops over Butternut Squash Puree
The Dolmades Griego – stuffed grape leaves with lamb, rice and mint served over lemon aioli – have been added to the list of cold tapas while the Albóndigas con Cuscús Tunecino – tunisian beef meatballs served over raisin couscous – have been added to the hot tapas. The menu offers both small and entrée-sized portions of their selections, giving diners the option to share and sample or stick to one dish. Another popular addition is the Ensalada de Lyonnaise, arugula and lardon bacon tossed in a warm vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg.
The new menu at Vega Tapas is rounded out with an updated beer list that highlights Europeans brews from Spain, Greece and Turkey, as well as local craft brews from NOLA, Great Raft, Tin Roof and Abita.
Aptly named for its location on the popular Riverbend Street, Oak (8118 Oak St., 302-1485, OakNola.com) offers a sophisticated and comfortable spot for quality wines, craft cocktails, creative food, and live music. The food menu of chefs Via Fortier and Stew Freeman has been updated for fall and features a few likely and welcomed suspects that locals crave this time of year. Highlights include: Butternut Squash Bruschetta with goat cheese and country ham, Spinach Ravioli with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pecorino, Brussels Sprouts with queso fresco, pancetta and grapefruit, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with cauliflower and spaetzle and Warm Apple Cobbler with whipped Chantilly cream.
Oak: Fried Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Grapefruit and Queso Fresco and the Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Country Ham.
Well known as a chic watering hole for wine-lovers, Oak offers half-off wine on Wednesdays, free wine tastings every Thursday in November, 6-8 p.m., and $5 martinis for happy hour on Fridays. Visit on a cold day and enjoy the heated patio shared by Oak and Ale.
Yes, the cold days are finally upon us, and cozying up to a bowl of soup or a seasonal dish is not only expected, it’s encouraged. Fall is here, and it’s time to give thanks, for fall is delicious.