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Commander’s Palace

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1403 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

December 27, 2011

This was our first meal in NOLA. We dressed our 14 month old up in a little black dress, put on some fancy clothes that would remain in the hotel closet for the rest of the trip, and took a cab to the garden district for lunch in the turquoise and white building.

It’s no surprise that 130 years provides ample time to learn most of what there is to know about how to make delicious food and how to treat a guest. We’d put on our best clothes, and it seemed like Commander’s leaped up to meet us as we were greeted by a phalanx of waiters, towel over an arm, and taken to our table. On the way, we walked through the kitchen area which was bustling with lunch preparations. I don’t know if that visit to the kitchen is a standard feature of every Commander’s visit, but my wife and I agreed later that it was one of the cooler non-food elements of the visit.

The glass-clad dining room we were seated in was elegant and showed its age in all the right ways. All of the restaurants we planned to visit on the trip had said that our little one would be welcome, but I’d wondered how true that was. Commander’s set a high bar: the wait staff played, flirted, and even brought a balloon for her. She’s already very good at taking social cues about behavior, and put on her best for this meal. The only thing that made me more proud of her was all of the compliments from the wait staff.

The food was outstanding. We split a gumbo and turtle soup. The turtle soup was my first introduction to the dish and the deep, complex flavors would have outshined nearly any soup had the gumbo not been there. Short of the gumbo at Stanley, it was my favorite of the trip.

The cochon de lait and lacquered quail were both delicious. I’d been told that we would roll out of the restaurant absolutely stuffed, but I didn’t find the portions to be overly large at all. By the time we reached dessert, I had plenty of room. We ordered the bread pudding souffle and a strawberry shortcake. Both were good, though I preferred the shortcake. I’m not a huge fan of souffle and, while it was tasty enough, it didn’t sway me over to the eggy side of dessert.

There are many restaurants that I’d like to visit in New Orleans. We barely put a dent in my list during this trip, in fact. So it’s high praise, given the limits of time and stomach space, that I don’t think I’d be able to make a next trip without visiting Commander’s.

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