Ok, so it was brunch, but I couldn’t resist the pun. I’m going to be sprinkling in a few reviews from New Orleans as I was lucky enough to visit over Thanksgiving weekend. My first foray into fine NOLA dining was the famous Brennan’s. The birthplace of the bananas foster, site of a murder, and voted restaurant most likely to burn itself down.
When you come in, you are greeted by two to three maitre dees at the front in a lovely New Orleans mansion renovated into a restaurant. While waiting for our table as we were a few minute early, I got a good look at the bar; it was well stocked with some great scotch whiskey. I almost wish I wasn’t trying to get the whole experience of the restaurant or I might have delved into having my own tasting.
We were sat in the Rex room, a room where the coordinators of the Mardi Gras Parade dine every year. The room was adorned with signed memorabilia from many years of Mardi Gras, crowned with the crown and scepter used by the Grand Marshall of the parade in 1916 also known as the Rex. The room is extremely colorful and anywhere but NOLA it would be considered over the top, but it fit nicely here. The next room over was the Red Room, our waiter was glad to point out the original owner of the home killed his wife and son in that room, then hung himself there; to this day the room is considered haunted. There are pictures of all of them still hanging on the walls.
I decided to go with the Traditional Brennan’s Breakfast and paired my own wines with the courses. Brennan’s menu suggests a bottle of wine to go with every single course, as this was my first day in New Orleans; I decided to go a little lighter. The first course (which was supposed to be the second) was the eggs hussarde, a play on eggs benedict that adds a marchand de vin sauce. This was my favorite course of the entire meal, with the next course being a close second. It was a complex mix of flavors that just hit every note perfectly. It was at this point that my wife and I agreed that ordering the same thing for once was a good thing as we didn’t have to share.
The eggs were followed with a turtle soup. It was a simple, dark, and hearty soup. It had a very creole flavor to it that let you know where you were eating. I would come back time and again just for a bowl of this soup. My wife complained of the grizzle you find in a lot of fish stews, but I had no problem spooning mouthful after mouthful of this southern delicacy without pause. This was followed by a 14oz. ribeye steak smothered in garlic butter and two mushrooms. It was a perfectly good steak, but nothing to blow anyone away. I admit I ate the whole thing and helped my wife finish off hers, but who doesn’t love a good steak?
For the piece de resistance, they prepare their bananas foster tableside. Don’t come to Brennan’s without trying the turtle soup and this desert, you won’t be disappointed with anything else, but you will be disappointed because I told you to be. In a pan, they have a simple presentation of a mound of brown sugar and butter surrounded by banana slices. The waiter pats down the brown sugar and then adds the banana liquor; it turns into a wonderful brown sauce that coats the bananas and the bottom of the pan. Just before it’s done, he adds about three shots of rum and lets the whole thing flare up in front of you before pushing the bananas into the fire to caramelize the whole dish. As he is doing this, the other waiter is stealthily bringing out vanilla ice cream that the bananas are arranged around. After this and the 3-5 cocktails or glasses of wine you’ve imbibed during the meal, you can stumble back to your room for a well earned nap before preparing for NOLA nightlife.