Brennan’s has been an institution (since 1946) in New Orlean’s French Quarter but it has recently undergone a major renovation and re-opened in the fall of 2014. The large restaurant has many different public and private dining areas, extensive wine cellar and bar area serving breakfast breakfast/lunch and dinner. It was filled with many tourists as well as local folks, some celebrating the holiday or just having a good meal. Their menu is a la carte but does feature daily specials, combination meals and the off-the-menu Steak Diane. While the front of the restaurant has elegantly appointed dining rooms, I really preferred the ‘garden room’ in the back where we had lunch.
It has walls filled with new murals, lovely linens and one wall of windows looking out to the gardens outside. In the fountain out there you can find a large number of turtles living, some apparently as old as 40 years. Service is by team with a Captain taking your order and then numerous waitstaff bringing plates, clearing tables and bringing fresh bread or whatever you request. Our first captain was less than friendly but then Sarah arrived and the meal took a decidedly upward turn. She helped us plan a wonderful meal and then took us on a tour of their wine cellar and some of the other rooms as well as snapping terrific photos of the Sous Chef, Patrick Brennan and all the kitchen personnel.
Warm bread arrived as we sat down to study the menu over the drink special for December, French 75 (cognac, lemon and sparkling wine). The drink was good but the bread a tad over warmed. They were happy to bring another loaf and it was airy, crusty and a perfect taste of New Orleans.
We started by splitting a number of the appetizers and all had a great depth of flavor and were perfectly prepared. First was the Roasted Gulf Oysters made with smoked chili butter and crusted with Manchego cheese. The mild sweet oyster mixed well with the cheese and crumbs and the chili gave it just a nice amount of spiciness. All combined it yielded an excellent product. We didn’t leave a crumb.
The New Orleans BBQ Lobster is a dish they are known for, made with smoked chili butter, lemon confit, thyme and toasted baguette. This was a yum x3! The lobster is cooked perfectly and the sauce is so good you will be tempted to lick the bowl as the levels of flavor are out of this world.
The Crab and Green Papaya Remoulade is made with Louisiana jumbo lump crab, New Orleans grown green papaya and satsuma dressing. The papaya is in long shreds that look just like a bundle of pasta but it is a much better mixer with the sweet, fresh crab. The sauce surrounding it all is another delicious one.
For a main course we had a December special, Tournedos Royal with Sweetbreads that was grilled tournedos of beef, wilted spinach, sweetbread stuffed artichoke and bearnaise sauce. The steak was cooked a perfect rare and as it was tenderloin the bearnaise was essential to bringing out the flavor of this lean cut. The meat had also been enhanced by browning it on both sides and then cutting it in half with the rare sides up for serving. Some truffle slices were on the sweetbreads but added more odor than taste. The sweetbreads were in nice small pieces and accented with some capers. They were tasty and a great combination with the artichoke heart below them. Overall a very fine plate.
For dessert they are known for Bananas Foster and I did see it being fixed table-side at many other tables however the Praline Leidenheimer Bread Pudding sounded better to me and I’m so glad we chose it. It is delicious, creamy bread pudding covered with rye whiskey anglaise and chantilly cream. After adorning it at the table they kindly leave the extra sauce and cream. This is seriously great stuff so be sure to save room. It’s a yum x3.