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Posts Tagged ‘Commander’s Palace

Cochon Butcher

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930 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130

December 27, 2011

The first evening after our arrival in NOLA we went on a long walk to find Cochon Butcher. I’d been warned that Commander’s Palace would probably slay my appetite for the rest of the day, but as five rolled around, I was ravenous. Butcher, as it turns out, is a great place to spend time when you’re very, very hungry.

My introduction to boudin started the meal. Of all the boudin we tried during our trip, this was by far my favorite, even over the devilishly conceived fried boudin balls we encountered in a few places. The boudin at Butcher is creamy and the accompaniments are perfect. We followed it up with a delicious duck prosciutto slider and some pancetta mac and cheese. It was at this point in the meal that I remembered to check my notes and discovered that part of the reason we’d come were the bacon pralines. I went up the counter and asked and got the very bad news that they’d sold out of them for the day around lunchtime.

I moped back to the table and drowned my sorrows with the croque monsieur with country ham and melted leeks. I love pork in all its many forms, but this was my first introduction to the lovely, almost buttery kind that is country ham. We then tore into the pork belly sandwich which was tasty, though it could have been rendered a bit more for my tastes.

As we prepared to end the meal with a PB & J cookie, the manager wandered our direction. As it turned out, a catering order was over an hour late picking up and, as a result, she said with a grin, I can let you have these. And she presented me with an entire box of pralines. “How many would you like?” I thought I was being grateful when I said we’d take the entire box.

As it turned out, I was the one who was being treated. It’s a horse race between these and the rum pralines at Southern Candymakers for my favorite pralines of all time. Not only are they buttery, sweet, and have beautiful whole pecans in them, but I suspect that the porky additions to the standard form of praline isn’t all that’s going on. Given how long they stayed soft and the extra unctuous mouth feel, I’m pretty sure they substitute some bacon fat for some of the butter that normally makes up a praline. I wholeheartedly approve.

I’ll be posting a review of Cochon at some point and we had a pretty bad customer experience there. Despite that, I would return to Butcher without hesitation. They went out of their way to take care of us and the food was second to none.

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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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