Nothing lasts forever. The polar ice caps are melting, the West is in decline, and there will eventually come a time when Commander’s Palace is no longer the definitive New Orleans restaurant, if only because New Orleans itself has sunk beneath the waves.
But happily for us, we’ll probably all be dead by then.
Commander’s Palace has been serving fine food since 1893. It has won seven James Beard Foundation Awards, and the list of some of its other awards and critical appreciations goes on for screen after screen on its website.
After being greeted by what seemed like most of the restaurant’s staff, I was given this little amuse-bouche. It’s a miniature king cake, filled with caramelized onion and pepper jack cheese and decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colours of green, yellow, and purple. Two delightful bites.
Gumbo has an infinite number of variations. The server said that this one was called “The Three Little Piggies” because it contained three different forms of pork. (Bacon, sausage, and pulled pork, if I remember correctly.)
Satsuma Glazed Duck
Love me my duck confit, so when I saw it on the menu, I didn’t bother to read further. The dish was described as “Crispy duck leg confit over Camellia white bean, andouille, and Cajun ham cassoulet with brown butter, turnips, spicy greens, and Louisiana citrus.” I had to see what Commander’s Palace would do with this classic. Would it be the best duck confit I’d ever tasted?
Well, no. It wasn’t.
The problem with setting expectations so high is that anything less than perfection is a disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the dish, but nothing to remind me that I was dining in one of the most celebrated restaurants in America, either.
Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake
While the main didn’t live up to my very high expectations, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake dessert wildly exceded them. I mean, just look at it!
Those are first of the season Louisiana strawberries macerated with a touch of cane sugar, served on a warm buttermilk biscuit.
And I am beginning to wonder why I don’t spend all winter in New Orleans every year.
The 25¢ Martini
I think the last time I tasted hard liquor was before I was old enough to drink it legally, which was, eh, some months ago. A glass of wine, once or twice a week, is about my speed these days. Nevertheless, when in New Orleans…. I had to try the famous Commander’s Palace 25¢ Martini special. (“Limit three (3) per person ’cause that’s enough. Available with the purchase of any Entrée.”)
But what to order? I glazed over when the server recited the list of possibilities, because being ignorant of what the names meant, that didn’t help me at all. I knew that I didn’t want a Cosmopolitan, because that was what people drank on Sex in the City, and at the time it slipped my mind what Patsy and Edina would drink. (Answer: Almost anything.} So I asked the server to surprise me.
It seems that cocktails are an acquired taste, and it’s a taste I’m unlikely to acquire. I don’t remember the name of the drink in the picture, but I only drank half of it.
Looks like Windex, doesn’t it?