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After a year's hiatus, the holiday
theme dinners are better than ever
Click here for recipes!
December - especially its second half - is slow for restaurants and hotels
that serve visitors. Eighteen years ago, the French Quarter Festival organ-
ization came up with an idea that would help that situation, particularly for
restaurants in the French Quarter. They revived and promoted an old
French-New Orleans holiday feast called the Réveillon.
The modern Réveillon has restaurants serving
special menus of four or
five courses, and including dishes that fit with the
season. Not only do
you find such Christmasy items like
roast goose and
logs, but also
lends itself to cool-weather eating.
To make it even more appealing, these Réveillon
dinners are served at
prices below - often well below - what such dinners would ordinarily cost.
Unfortunately, restaurateurs report that the Réveillon
promotion is only
mildly successful in bringing visitors in. It has, however, been enough
a hit with local diners that restaurants all around town - including
who are not part of the official Réveillon
promotion - are now
This is a wonderful development, and it needs to grow even more, into something
in which every white-tablecloth restaurant in town participates.
If that were to happen, December could conceivably turn into a legendary
time to visit New Orleans. Among avid restaurant-goers, the Réveillon
already a tradition, both among locals and people who visit town often.
And the rest of the population is getting interested.
After a complete bust last year (of course), the Réveillon
year with at least as many restaurants participating as ever before. Those
officially in the program are scattered all over the city, although the main
concentration is still in the Quarter. Quite a few major restaurants are in-volved
for the first time:
Café Adelaide, and
the Marigny Brasserie among them.
Looking over the menus, I note two evolutions. First, the menus are
ambitious and more appetizing than at any time in the past. Second,
prices have risen considerably at some restaurants. A couple of years
only one restaurant went over $50; this year, several have. Even at
it's a good deal.
As I write this, it's still a couple of days before the Réveillon
begins on December 1. (It runs nightly until Christmas Eve at most restaurants;
few keep it till the end of the month.) So the recommendations that
follow are based on past Réveillons, plus
current experience with the
For years, the most appetizing and varied Réveillon
menu is at the Pelican Club (615
Bienville, 523-1504). It starts with a choice of turtle-alligator
soup or a cream soup with oysters, shrimp and mirliton with herbsaint.
Then comes one of these: crab and shrimp cake, baked oysters, a goat
cheese salad, romaine and watercress salad, quail with cornbread and
foie gras, seafood martini, or terrine of foie gras, pork, and duck.
The entrees are these: braised short ribs with three-cheese polenta, duck
three ways, Louisiana cioppino, the most elegant jambalaya you will ever
eat, seafood fricassee, walnut-and-honey mustard-crusted rack of lamb, or
panéed fish with crabmeat and jalapeno hollandaise. The dinner ends with
a choice of five desserts. The whole thing ranges between $39 and $48, depending
on the entree. The Pelican Club is a five-star in my ratings,
and there's no backing away from that standard during this dinner.
Another consistently good Réveillon comes
from across the street, at
the Monteleone Hotel's little-known restaurant, the
Hunt Room Grill
(214 Royal, 523-3341). While it's a little inconsistent - I wouldn't come
on a Monday or Tuesday - the food has a high Yuletide quotient and
is usually excellent.
Starters are a smoked quail with a salad of celeriac, apple and walnut salad
and a mousse of salmon and scallops with shrimp and artichokes and sorrel sauce.
Then you get a soup or a salad. The entrees are great: a mixed grill
of veal with chanterelles, duck with red currants, and lamb with mint sauce;
Salmon en croute, with creamed spinach, chanterelles, and white truffle
sauce; Roast goose with braised red cabbage and apples and caraway
sauce. Or a petit filet mignon with foie gras, caramelized cipollini onions,
and perigourdine sauce. Three desserts, including a Yule log made with tiramisu.
The four-course dinner ranges from $47 to $53.
This is the first Réveillon for
Café Adelaide, the sister restaurant
Palace (which is also holding its first Réveillon).
seem to have the spirit of the thing. They start with a truffled butternut and
foie gras soup or the classic turtle soup with sherry. Then comes shrimp
and crispy sweetbreads with foraged mushrooms and five-onion salad, or
a satsuma salad with winter greens, toasted pecan bread, Atchafalaya
basin honeycomb, and and fleur de lis vinaigrette (whatever that is).
Café Adelaide's entrees are citrus-glazed duck with dirty rice, corn fried
oysters, baby mustard greens and "old fashioned" duck sauce, or panéed flounder
and crab and cauliflower cream - all made with local produce.
They slip you a hit of the homemade cherry bounce from their vaunted
bar, and follow it with either of two desserts. The price is $55. 300
And once again, as in year's past, the best Réveillon
bargain of them all
is the $24, five-course, casual feast at the
Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter,
525-1486). It starts with a choice of oyster and artichoke soup, chicken
andouille gumbo, or turtle soup. Then the signature salad with toasted
pecan vinaigrette. Entrees include roasted chicken with oyster-andouille
stuffing (my favorite), crawfish étouffée, crab cakes with green pepper-
corn and crawfish sauce, penne pasta with wild mushroom cream, and
a roasted half duck with rum and citrus sauce. They have three desserts
to choose among, and they end the meal with café brûlot
- the perfect
Enjoy the holidays with the distinctive New Orleans style of holiday
feasting! All the Réveillon menus can be seen
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen Reopens!
Chef Paul Prudhomme looks on, right, while a couple
left, to the 'Storyville Stompers Brass Band' playing outside
'K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen', Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Photo by Mel Evans, courtesy of
(from Bon Appetit November 2006)
Appétit American Food & Entertaining Awards 2006
Chef Paul Prudhomme
"After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, people across the nation
out to help the stricken area. But few were as early or an ardent as
own Chef Paul Prudhomme. In the storm's wake, Prudhomme - the man behind
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen and Magic Seasoning Blends - rushed into action
from Arkansas, where he was staying temporarily. He went to the nearest
Wal-Mart and packed six trailers full of supplies, including generators,
and medical equipment, much at his own expense. Once back in New Orleans,
Prudhomme and Shawn McBride, Magic Seasoning Blends' president and
CEO, got to work, feeding more than 35,000 troops. Many of their employees
were left homeless, but Prudhomme reopened the businesses quickly, ensuring
that the staff had a place to earn a paycheck, eat three meals a day, and
sleep. 'He did what he thought was the right thing to do,' says McBride.
is the most positive pill you can take.' "
We salute you, Chef Prudhomme!
K. Pauls Restaurant in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
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Chef Paul's Infamous Blacked Redfish
Do you know what it means
to miss New Orleans?
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