With the weather change last week, it's beginning to actually feel a lot like Christmas, and just in time for the start of the reveillon menu season. According to history the reveillon meal is taken on early Christmas morning after midnight mass, but our local restaurants have extended the tradition to encompass basically the entire month of December. Leave it to our fair city to take the most extravagant meal of the year and duplicate it over and over again for 30 days.
This year, 42 restaurants are serving reveillon menus in conjunction with the Christmas New Orleans Style campaign. Prices range from $38 for the classic 4 course dinner at Tujague's to a decadent 5 course repast at Restaurant August featuring foie gras and burgundy truffles.
Last week The Pope, The Folk Singer, and I found ourselves in the Quarter with no agenda for dinner, and so we decided to duck into the Rib Room to see what Chef Rene Bajeux was cooking up on his reveillon menu. Overall the reveillon menu is a great value at $45 for 4 courses, with winners and losers in each course. TFS started with a delicious savory pumpkin soup, which avoided the pitfall of tasting like a dessert. For me, an offbeat combination of shrimp remoulade and ahi tuna carpaccio - the former a fair rendition of the classic; the latter was actually seared and lacked the intrinsic vibrancy without which raw tuna just tastes flat. There is no choice in the second course: the classic Rib Room chopped salad with blue cheese, which is delicious in simplicity. In the entree section, the sauteed drum was one of the best pieces of fish that I have eaten all year. The filet was moist with a khaki exterior and a wonderful perfume of garlic; the hash of diced sweet potato and thin coins of andouille underneath paired marvelously well; and the lemon caper vinaigrette tied it all together. TFS had buttery BBQ shrimp over grits; not exciting but nonetheless good. The Pope tried to order the sirloin, but the kitchen was sold out. (Personally, I thought they should have swapped out a different cut.) Instead, he opted for the roasted duck, which I sampled and found to be quite tough. Desserts were unnecessary, especially the stale profiteroles, but a thin slice of the classic yule log was a nice touch for the season.
The high back chairs, dark woods, and vaulted ceiling at the Rib Room create a grandiose atmosphere, all the more appropriate during the holiday season. I am so fond of the ambience that I can't say that I have ever had a bad meal there, regardless of the quality of the food. This night was no exception.
Reveillon at the Rib Room - Par/Birdie
621 St. Louis Street
Lunch & Dinner Daily