I’ve made it back from my vacation in New Orleans and I have a ton to post about. Rather than trying to get it all out in one post, I’ve decided to write throughout the week on different aspects of the trip. From beignets at Cafe Du Monde, to Oyster shucking competitions at Bourbon House and to the local Muffaletta shop claiming theirs served warm is better than Central Grocery’s original, I managed to eat my way through the city and probably don’t need to eat for days. But first I’ll describe what goes down as one of the best dining experiences I have ever had…
At Restaurant August, it seems as though the employees have been sheltered from all the praise they and their Executive Chef John Besh have been getting. Look up any of the rankings for New Orleans Restaurants and you’ll see August is at or near the top. But rather than feeling like your just one of the many flocking to see what all the fuss is about, Restaurant August is as warm and welcoming as the rest of the wonderful city.
My girlfriend and I were celebrating my birthday and wanted to get a nice bottle of wine. The Sommelier not only knew her stuff but she also knew how to be friendly. It seems so simple but for whatever reason so many “fancy” restaurants and “fancy” Sommeliers lack this essential quality (see future post on Restaurant Stella). Our waiter was equally nice and knowledgable and they made for a perfect dining experience. But what is good service without good food…
For our first course we ordered the Beet and Crab Salad and Crawfish Agnolotti (little ravioli). The beet salad was like nothing I have had before. Perfectly roasted beets served with succulent crab meat and quail eggs over a bed of arugula was accented with black eyed pea croutons (each dish has just enough of the southern and creole/cajun flavors that reminded us we were in New Orleans). The Agnolotti were rich and delicious and were served with chunks of bacon and roasted vegetables which made for a complete dish giving us just enough for an appetizer that I could have easily eaten buckets of.
For our second course we ordered dishes that would hopefully be balanced with the rich and light flavors we had in the appetizers. The first dish was a Red Fish cooked perfectly and matched with Jumbo Shrimp and Oysters. The sauce, poured table-side, was rich in flavor and texture so common in the roux based dishes from the area but just enough was added to not overpower the subtleties of the fish. The other dish was a Roulade of Rabbit which was wrapped in bacon and roasted and served with unbelievable morel mushrooms and braised artichokes. I can’t decide which one I liked more but that in itself suggests how well everything was prepared.
We were full enough but what is a birthday without some dessert. If the rest of the dishes we had throughout the night left me satisfied, the dessert left me ecstatic. The dessert is listed as “Napoleon of Nougatine with Valhrona chocolate bavarois and salted toffee ice-cream” and based off of the endorsement of our waiter we felt pretty good about our selection. The ice cream was unbelievably creamy and the saltiness was not subtle but worked tremendously with the sweetness of the rest. The chocolate portion tasted and had the texture of the best chocolate brownies purposefully prepared undercooked. These two portions sandwich a crispy nougate that added a crunch and really rounded out the whole dessert.
Throughout the night we discussed how flawless the dinner service seemed and how perfect the decor of this old mansion turned restaurant truly was. August deserves all the praise it gets and I will always be thankful for the birthday dinner I had. There are so many places in New Orleans worth eating at and it may seem a bit pricey for the area but trust me when I say, when visiting the big easy, August is a must try…just make sure you save some room for the Po’boys, fried chicken, muffalettas, oysters, crawfish, jambalaya, gumbo, beignets, and hurricanes that are also must haves (posts to follow soon).
Restaurant August 10/10
301 Tchoupitoulas St.,
New Orleans, LA 70130