Commander’s Palace ranks as perhaps the most famous restaurant in New Orleans. The restaurant, opened in 1880 and located in New Orleans’s upscale Garden District, has been a hallmark of the city’s rich and diverse culinary landscape. Over the years Commander’s has launched the careers of New Orleans chefs such as Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Its legendary service, beautiful interiors, and tradition of Creole food testify to the longevity of this venerable New Orleans culinary institution.
My wife and I dined at Commander’s on New Year’s Day. She had been there multiple times as a child for family dinners, while this was my first time. Again we decided to order the tasting menu with wine pairings. The meal featured some strong flavors although the portions were a bit too large for a traditional tasting menu. My wife did not finish most of her courses for a fear of getting too full.
1st Course: Wild Yellowfin Tuna Poké, #1 Yellowfin tuna, crispy plantain, petite herbs, Louisiana soy beans, and Hawaiian poké sauce
This was a flavorful dish with the plantains especially standing out, but it seemed like an odd choice. I expected a more traditional dish at the home of haute Creole cuisine.
2nd Course: Bone Marrow Roasted Gulf Fish, Crab boiled artichokes, eggplant, smoked tomatoes, and sliced olives with crispy capers & tarragon butter
I liked how the fish in this course played off the fish in the previous course. The roasted fish had a nice firm texture compared to the delicate texture in the poké.
3rd Course: Wild Game Bird Cassoulet, Game bird confit, heirloom legumes, smoked sausage, a “5 Hour Egg,” and gizzard jus
The 5 Hour Egg, cooked in an immersion circulator for 5 hours at 141 degrees created an egg whose whites and yolk had the same consistency and provided a rich sauce for the cassoulet. The cassoulet also featured black eyed peas, a southern tradition (that I was unaware of) meant to bring luck and prosperity in the new year.
4th Course: Chestnut Crusted Sweetbreads & Hand Carved Veal, a selection of wild winter mushrooms flambéed with caramelized garlic & Hennessey cognac over creamy goat cheese stone grits with black truffle jus
This was the first time I’ve eaten sweetbreads (traditional made of organs or other less desirable parts of the animal) and they were quite tasty. The flambéed mushrooms offered some nice earthiness to accompany the proteins.
5th Course: A selection of artisanal cheese, Pecan biscotti, seasonal fruit, and red wine syrup
The pecan biscotti served as a crunchy and firm base for the cheeses. This was another example of the traditional French rather than Creole nature of the tasting menu.
6th Course: A Tasting of Chocolate, Dark chocolate ice cream, chocolate tuile, and European dark, white, & gianduja chocolate with chocolate covered espresso beans
The dessert course was a lovely way to show off chocolate in a variety of ways. The chocolate tuile gave the course a salty element.
Bread Pudding Soufflé: Order it. No questions, no debate, just order it. And don’t skimp on the whiskey sauce.
Service and Décor: The service was superb; formal, but friendly and attentive. The menu was paced well and the servers were receptive to questions and knowledgeable about the food and the wine. The décor was welcoming and warm. Commander’s was definitely an experience and one well worth having.
Overall, Commander’s Palace offered wonderful service in a classic Creole atmosphere, while supremely delicious, the food seemed to meander away from the restaurant’s Creole roots to more tourist pleasing fare.