It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve been to Commander’s Palace. The last meal was so disappointing I haven’t wanted to go back but enter Chef Megan “Meg” Bickford, who has worked in the kitchen since 2008 but in Oct. 2020 became Executive Chef, following the 18 year reign of Tory McPhail. She has livened it up and tonight’s meal was the best I’ve ever had at Commander’s. It has been in the Garden District since 1893 and is still owned by members of the Brennan family. Chefs such as Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse have worked there to present leading-edge haute creole cuisine. The large building has a patio/bar area in back which is overlooked by the upstairs Garden Room. Downstairs is a more traditionally elegant room. Service was great, attentive and friendly – something its struggled with in my past visits.
Our table was not ready when we arrived and so we got to walk through the kitchen and look around the pretty patio adjacent to the bar. When seated they started off with a nice touch of bringing a black napkin to replace the white one on the table if you had on dark pants. Then comes their famous garlic bread to munch on while you look over the menu. It was hot and totally coated with chopped garlic and butter. It was great.
The Crawfish Boil Corzetti contained Breaux Bridge crawfish tails, hand stamped herbed pasta, crawfish boiled vegetables and grilled artichoke hearts in a spiced vichyssoise with sweet potato crisps. It had a bit of spice with tasty fresh corn. The fried crisps added a fun texture and taste component to the yummy dish.
A fresh loaf of New Orleans style bread and whipped butter came with it. This is good alone but even more important to use to mop up the rich, flavorful sauces on the dishes. Another part of what made the evening so special was the visit with Manager LaVita Bryant who made it her mission to stop by and visit with every table and check and see if all was going well. It’s little touches like this that make the evening special.
The Pecan Crusted Fish was sheepshead that evening. It came with prosecco poached jumbo lump crab over spiced pecan crusted fish, roasted corn, asparagus, grilled kale and melted leeks with whiskey spiked crushed corn cream. The perfectly cooked fish came with lots of wonderful crab meat, some radish slices, kale, corn and delicious pecans. This had tons of flavor and texture and was an incredible dish. The fish used changes regularly.
Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé has all the richness of Creole bread pudding whipped up into a light soufflé and finished tableside with warm whiskey cream. This has always been my favorite dessert here and this one didn’t dissappoint. It’s yummy goodness is pushed to another level when the rich creamy sauce is added to the hot souffle. It’s sticky sweet and not to be missed. (It must be ordered 20 minutes ahead, which our wonderful server took care of).
Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake featured Johndales Farm strawberries dusted in cane sugar over a warm buttermilk biscuit with Chantilly cream. The very flavorful strawberries were on the bottom and topped with the Chantilly cream and then the luscious biscuit. All parts were excellent. This was an amazing version of strawberry shortcake. Simple, yet done exceptionaly well. It too must be ordered ahead as the biscuit is baked to order. Yum x2.