Thursday, April 14, 2011

Madame, It is Time for Your Closeup

We try to cover a lot of ground. Recently Peter and I noticed we don't really review some of the places that have been around longer than the internet. The Grand Dames have always been some of New Orleans' most press worthy restaurants. We are talking of course about the Super Six: Antoine's, Galatoire's, Brennan's, Arnaud's, Broussard's, and Commander's Palace. It's time to put these restaurants under the microscope.


New Orleans sometimes forces you to make promises you won't keep. Swing into a place like Three Muses or Blue Nile and you walk out vowing to learn to play the trumpet. Walk through the French Quarter on a quiet Spring day, and soon you will find yourself crunching numbers to figure out if an apartment in the French Quarter is doable. Which is how on Saturday afternoon, Lindsay ended up saying, "We really should get dressed up and go to dinner at places like Galatoire's more often. You know, for a change of pace."

What a great idea. I can only recall one other time eating at Galatoire's for dinner. Lunch sure, but lunch at Galatoire's is a cocktail party with food. Dinner? What is dinner at Galatoire's like?

The French Quarter was pulsing last Saturday evening. As French Quarter Fest wound down and a band of educators were turned loose for the evening, the Quarter seemed to expand to hold the mass of humanity filling it. A quick walk from the lot and soon we had entered that tile and wood clad vestibule where so many have waited for so few tables. In a few minutes, a table in the way back near the clock was ready.

The martini at Galatoire's is a stunning example of why no one should really drink these things. They are just too goddamn good to be good for you. A thin, glacial sheet of gin rested on top of the martini. Pressing one's lips to the glass takes your breath away. Then, you get that delightful blend of smooth gin and punchy vermouth. A big bowl of olives, lemon rinds, and onions gives you the opportunity to have either a snack or a martini bar. Remember martinis are like boobs and toy trains - they are meant for little kids, but only dad gets to play with them.

Souffle potatoes and fried eggplant come next with bernaise and powdered sugar with hot sauce, irrespectively. Sometimes they are both perfect, oftentimes one is better than the other. On this visit, the eggplant was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, whereas the potatoes were flaccid. Win goes to the eggplant.

Then came a visit from Dr. Brobson Lutz, decked out in what can only be called an ensemble of tapestry- a patterned red sportscoat and red bowling shoes. Segue: Brobson needs, more than chickens, or zoo cobras, a Twitter account. Then came something unordered from the kitchen, a bubbling, casserole studded with big, garlicky snails. The snails are fine and well, but the real star of most cooked mollusk dishes is the sauce. A crust of bread dragged through the parsley sauce is the perfect bite of food. Lutz says, "Hey, you know they get those from a can," in a drawl so long it wraps halfway around the block.

Since all snails come from a can one is left wondering what Lutz means by this, but he leaves to finish his white wine, salad, and soup. Next up is a cup of turtle soup as we figure we wont be able to eat soup for another 7 months or so. The soup is thicker, spicier, and better than I remember.

Now, comes the most troubling part of eating at Galatoire's, ordering an entree. In all honesty, one is usually full or drunk by the time the entrees come around. Plus, the appetizers have always been better. But with 3/4 of a bottle of Tattinger Champagne left, this seems like as good of a time as any to try the fried chicken. For around $18 bucks, you get a three piece order of mahogany colored bird.

The crust is the best part of any fried chicken, and this is some of the best crust anywhere. But the inside meat lacked a depth of flavoring and one piece was a little bit rare near the bone. With the fried chicken we asked for just a simple green salad with their garlicky, pungent dressing. This turned out to be a perfect food match like peanut butter and jelly.

People who either love or hate Galatoire's always describe the food as "simple and basic", but sometimes simple and basic works. As we sat their, eating fried chicken with our hands, I hoped this would be a New Orleans promise we'd keep.


Double Chin said...

Excellent move with the Fried Chicken. Next time you are considering a casual/awesome entree there, go with that ribeye, bacon, cheese and onion poboy I told you about a while ago.

robert said...

Actually, Matt Murphy told me recently about a guy in Tangipahoa who is raising snails. I don't know if they're available in restaurants yet, but I imagine we'll see "locally sourced" escargot at August, Stella, or another high-end joint shortly.

RBPoBoy said...

"A man named Brobson Lutz recounted his unsuccessful attempt at returning to the restaurant, post-Gilberto: "As the evening approached, I just couldn't go. I was afraid I would start crying." His colleagues went without him, and he "ended up eating alone" at another restaurant, "crying into a couple of Martinis.""

Rene said...


The best thing about Lutz, is that whenever anything happens at Galatoire's he proclaims to all that he will never go again.

However, the gun incident last summer has reaffirmed his faith in the place. But he is upset they covered the hole.