Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Breakfast at Brennan's: Is It Worth It?

The very idea of waking up, getting gussied up, and settling in for a morning of indulgence is in my wheelhouse like the captain of the Titanic. Unending pitchers of Bloody Marys or brandy milk punches giving way to platters of unctuous runny eggs, crispy, salty pig parts, and soft, buttery biscuits sounds like a better way to spend Sunday morning in the weeks before football season than going to church. Off to Brennan's then.

Things started out well enough with a complementary virgin mimosa for Lindsay and a crispy gin and tonic. Then we were brought to our table. Let me rephrase: the absolute worst table in the city of New Orleans. Wedged in between a wall and the passageway between the bar, hostess stand, and dining room we became air traffic controllers.

I've purchased cars that induced less sticker shock than the menu at Brennan's. To wit, the standard breakfast at Brennan's is in the mid $30's and is offered as a Table d'Hote. But order the turtle soup and the signature Banana's Foster, and the price increases by almost 50%. So a three course breakfast of soup, eggs, and bananas flamed in rum will set you back $43.

The turtle soup is fantastic, a rust colored exploration of Creole flavors that shines both on the spoon and smeared with hot French bread. The oyster soup was overly vegetal and bitter on the edge lacking in any of the buttery richness or salty punch of Louisiana oysters.

Halfway through our breakfast, I made the switch to Ramos Gin Fizzes. Of the two I ordered, one arrived in a glass that still had the remnants of the previous tenant's Screwdriver. This is a little like kissing a girl who smells of  another man's cologne. I looked in vain for a waiter, server, or busboy to remedy the problem. Unfortunately one female manager was too busy letting everyone know that Ryan Phillippe was due in soon. The other manager had an issue with some of the waiters on the floor. Must have been urgent because he began dressing them down in the middle of the dining room. I found a straw and made do.

Soon enough came the entrees, which meant we were almost two thirds of the way done with this nightmare trainwreck on acid. Eggs Hussarde is a simple enough dish of poached eggs, hollandaise, Holland rusks, Canadian bacon, and Marchand de vin sauce. The Canadian bacon was flabby, the eggs cold, the Marchand de vin muddy, the hollandaise pasty, and the Holland rusk stale. After leaving, I swung by St. Louis Cathedral to make an offering to St. Jude for this dish.

Lindsay got the bargain of the century with her grillades and grits. A plate of instant grits milled personally by Mr. Quaker Oaks were gilded with some chopped parsley. To its right sat a watery gravy loaded with precisely two poorly braised fat slabs of veal. It was at least labeled as veal on the menu. We had our doubts. Just look below and tell me you can't resist this tempting offering at $43 a plate - a la carte. Someone get the President on line 1, the economy has rebounded, and good times are here again!

Bananas Foster are fine and well. But after the show of lighting bananas on fire, our pan sat off the heat for ten minutes as the sugars and fat congealed into a lukewarm mess. This delay may have been due to the arrival of the aforementioned Mr. Phillippe and his twenty year old consort. I hope they enjoyed their meal. We did not.

Breakfast at Brennan's: Is It Worth It? Absolutely Not.
417 Royal Street


Double Chin said...

I can't disagree with a word of this review. Most out-dated and over-priced scam in the city. Worse than Antoine's in that regard, which is really saying something.

Wang said...

Sounds like Gordon Ramsay would have been a far more entertaining celebrity guest than Mr. Phillippe.

Mike said...

Strongly agree

willifred said...

I have to go a time or two every year with someone who is "wired in" at this place. Even with good service, and me never having to pick up the bloated tab, it is one of the worst dining experiences I know of. Like the guy said above, beating out Antoine's is hard to do. But Brennan's wins that race by a mile.

Brian C said...

What's a Ryan Phillipe?

NOLAguy said...

Can't disagree with a word of this. Brennan's hollandaise approaches the texture of fondant, and everything else tastes like it was prepared in one batch a week ago and reheated. And the prices aren't just bloated; they're obscene.

Out-of-towners rave about it on TripAdvisor:

"The salad was unbelivable, and I'm not a big fan of salad. I also tried a Saranac Cocktail and it was very good."

"I prefer the "pre-fixed" four course meal priced at about $48 per person."

"We bought the $5 upgrade for Bananas Foster, the specialty dessert of Brennan's. We had the salmon choice and it was one of the best salmon dinners ever! Add $30 for the house Savignon Blanc and you have a great dining experience."

That's from three different "reviews." I'm not making fun of them; I'm glad they had such a great experience. But this is the crowd to which they're playing.

Celeste said...

It makes me sad to think of visitors paying $43 for such awfulness.

Rene said...


A Ryan Phillippe is a late nineties actor who starred in numerous teen dramas. Best known for his role in Cruel Intentions, he was previously married to your girlfriend, Reese Witherspoon.

To the rest, I can't believe for the first time in internet history there is unanimous agreement.

Leigh C. said...

I sure thought there'd be more contention amongst the commenting ranks, here. Yowza.

Fleurdelicious said...

One hundred percent agree.

Anonymous said...

the grand dames are what they are .

resturant museums.

locals and tourists alike who are in on the concept love it.

nostalgia and stories of generations of family events that have taken place in these grand dames.

i think the tourists sort of get their yayas off on that part too , how else can you explain the fact that the court of two sisters is still in bidness?

there are some good deals for locals, think tujaques thanksgiving and christmass dinners.

just go to arnaud's french 75 bar and have a kickass amazing hand crafted cocktail at a leisurely pace and chill.

antoines' hermes room may be the future of the old grand dames.

change comes slow in places that have been open this long .

that is why you and i love new orleans. our traditions.

i would ask you to mull on it and not dismiss the concept as a whole.

also if your in the 1/4 and just need a turtle soup fix ,i recomend arnaud's remoulade on bourbon.

same soup as arnaud's just at their bourbon street store. make sure you tell the server you want a shot of sherry in that cowan gumbo.

hope this rounds out your take on the grand dames.

Anonymous said...

SO SPOT ON... I cannot muster the strength to even look at a Brennan's restaurant. Add to that the fact that my friend (a filmmaker), was working on a project that featured a number of local chefs - he interviewed them in their kitchens and he said that the kitchen at Palace Cafe was one of the filthiest he had ever seen. I've heard that's a consistent situation at all their restaurants.

No thanks. Not interested in making the Brennan's any more ridiculously wealthy. I'm sure they're reading this and laughing all the way to the bank.

Bloggle said...

You call that livin?

Anonymous said...

i completely agree. why do so many people choose these restaurants for large dinners? and where would you host a dinner for 75+ people?

Rene said...

Anon #2,
For a 70 person seated dinner, I'd either arrange a buy out or go to Calcasieu above Cochon.

Kim Ranjbar said...

This is precisely the reason I have avoided reviewing the "old school" restaurants. I simply can't stomach (or afford) to eat a crappy, overpriced meal regardless of history and tradition. You'd think these restaurants would be looking to step it up, if anything just to maintain their integrity. It's kind of sad...

Anonymous said...

grammar nazi:

$30s, not $30's

...its plural, not possessive. likewise w/ decades: 1990s or '90s, not 1990's or 90's.

carry on.

Anonymous said...

I spent years as a sous chef and chef in the northeast where I worked for some of the big dawgs. I moved to New Orleans with high expectations of this incredible restaurant city. I took a job as sous chef at one of the "top" places in town working for one of its most famous chefs.
I have been consistently disappointed by the shocking lack of standards and inflated prices of this city's old guard restaurants. Prior to moving here I held these restaurants in high regard, hoping to one day spend some time in these kitchens. After EXTREMELY expensive yet poorly executed meals at CP, Antoine's, Galatoire's etc. I am amazed that people are still suckered in by these spots. Bad food is bad food, and I would have thought that the Food Networkification of America would have made the tourists at least sophisticated enough to realize that.

Henry Barber said...

I had to laugh at this. My terminal experience at Brennan's was well Pre-K when the wife decided that a part of her 50th birthday celebration would a include Brennan's brunch, which she admitted was an inexplicable choice.
We supposedly had res in the main dining room and arrived dressed nicely for the event, to be told of course that not only was the main room full but there would be a wait so bugger off to the bar. please.( Should have walked out, but then, they don't care on whit) Couldn't begin to get close to place a drink order so we made our way through the tank tops and big butts to the courtyard where we were set upon by a couple of groups to photograph them. This was June and it wasn't really pleasant out there. I guess our number came up and we were escorted to that awful sun room and a wobbly table wit ha lovely view of a cash register and the kitchen door.
By this point the whole thing was a joke and we decided to order enough drinks and wine to make light of it.
I also got the grillades and grits which were served on crockery that would have embarassed the old Tally-Ho. There was nothing in the dish identifiable othe than overpowering bell pepper.
A waste of a lot of money, but more importantly, meal like that waste an opportunity for a nice dining experience, that cannot be replaced.