New Orleans, Louisiana – Brennan’s Restaurant (Breakfast/Brunch)

by Mijune on May 31, 2012 · 12 comments

in $20-30,American,Cajun/Creole,desserts,Food 3.5,Food 4,Louisiana,New Orleans,Southern/Soul

Post image for New Orleans, Louisiana – Brennan’s Restaurant (Breakfast/Brunch)

Restaurant: Brennan’s Restaurant
Cuisine: Southern/Soul, Cajun/Creole, American/Brunch
Last visited: May 23, 2012
Location: New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
Address: 417 Royal Street
Transit: St Charles at St Joseph
Where I stayed: Le Richelieu Hotel (Walking distance)
Price Range: $30-50+ ($15-25 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4 (based on brunch and what I tried)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Since 1946
  • Casual fine dining
  • Classic New Orleans restaurant
  • Popular with tourists
  • Family owned restaurant group
  • Numerous dining rooms
  • Offers some NOLA specialities
  • Original Bananas Foster
  • Turtle Soup
  • Gift shop
  • Extensive wine list
  • Mon. – Fri. 9 am – 1 pm, Dinner from 6 pm – 9 pm
  • Sat. and Sun. 8 am – 2:30 pm, Dinner 6 pm – 9 pm

**Recommendations: Brandy Milk Punch, Turtle Soup, Bananas Foster, Eggs Nouvelle Orléans, Eggs Portuguese

The itinerary read “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” eer I mean Brennan’s! It wasn’t on my original Follow Me Foodie to New Orleans itinerary, but it was recommended. Apparently dining in New Orleans is not complete without a visit to the world famous Brennan’s Restaurant. The restaurant is “A New Orleans Tradition since 1946″ so the menu and recipes haven’t really changed – if at all. It’s an old fashioned restaurant with a late 40′s feel and some of the staff have been working there for 40+ years. It’s considered a New Orleans classic and established itself in its earlier days.

It’s a family owned restaurant, but this family is huge and they own several restaurants in New Orleans. One of their restaurants is the highly acclaimed Commander’s Palace, which is the iconic fine dining restaurant in NOLA that I ended up trying later on in my trip – see here. Almost all of their restaurants are considered “classics” in New Orleans, but at the same time they are a bit touristy. I wouldn’t say it was a “tourist trap” because it was still family owned and the brunch items I tried were actually pretty good, but it just felt a bit cookie cutter and pricey.

I had reliable guidance with the ordering so my breakfast was pleasant, but there was a hotel or cruise ship like feel to everything. Almost everything was roux based with lots of butter and flour, so a lot of the sauces and soups carried the same texture and at times flavour profile. This is kind of the style of old fashioned Creole food though.

It’s likely reliable food that tastes the same every time you go, but the prices are a bit higher and you do pay for the brand, white tablecloth experience and formal service. The Table d’hôte menus are moderately priced, but after you upgrade to try their “Brennan’s specialities” it does add up. The breakfast is a 3 course price fixe menu for $36 and the dinner is a 4 course menu for $48, so without the upgrades it’s reasonable.

I was invited to breakfast and to tour the restaurant’s 12 dining rooms which was pretty neat. Each room is themed and if you plan ahead you can make reservations at the room of your choice. There was an outdoor pond with a bunch of turtles, but they weren’t the ones that showed up in my soup later. I asked.

Brennan’s offers rather extensive breakfast and dinner menus. It’s old world and Southern inspired French bistro food with some New Orleans specialities. Some of the specialities were even created at Brennan’s like the Bananas Foster. Many of the items are described as “world famous” or “Brennan’s ____” so it really caters to people who are foreign to the restaurant brand and New Orleans cuisine.

It’s a good place to try if you want to imagine dining in the Antebellum days. It would also be appropriate for group dining with varied tastes because there’s likely something for everyone. Although I probably wouldn’t have come on my own, some dishes are unique to Brennan’s and it had a charm that was worth experiencing once.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • See! It was little things like this that I wasn’t going to get at any other restaurant. It’s what makes Brennan’s Brennan’s.
  • It was fresh from the oven buttered and toasted French bread sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon!
  • It was almost like having Churros for breakfast!
  • It reminded me of Cinnamon French Toast cereal, but in bread form.
  • The French bread was warm, crusty and crunchy and I could have easily gotten full off of these alone.

**Brandy Milk Punch6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • About $6
  • It’s a classic New Orleans brunch drink which supposedly started at Brennan’s.
  • It’s the adult version of ice cold milk and it tasted like a lightly sweetened and vanilla scented milk with a hint of Brandy.
  • The Brandy was noticeable, but not strong and neutralized by the milk.
  • I think it was half and half milk so it wasn’t thick and very creamy or milkshake like.
  • There was a hint of freshly ground nutmeg on top and it wasn’t dessert like or too sweet.
  • It was a nice and fragrant drink and reminded me of eggnog without the egg and custard base and it was the perfect brunch cocktail.
  • Although it’s comparing apples to oranges, or in this case oranges to milk, I prefer this over a mimosa.

Maude’s Seafood Okra Gumbo3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $14 a la carte
  • It seems a bit pricey for a bowl of gumbo, but there was plenty of seafood in it which makes it more reasonable.
  • I was surprised that the one dish that is traditionally all about the roux, had no roux.
  • Traditionally gumbos are roux based, but this one had no flour.
  • Instead of flour it was thickened with okra and I was surprised the soup wasn’t very slimy because naturally okra is slimy.
  • It had lots of tender baby shrimp, flaky and moist chunks of crab and some little pieces of okra.
  • It was a tomato based soup with celery, onions and green pepper (holy trinity for Cajun food) as well as some white rice.
  • It was almost like a tomato seafood chowder without the cream and I was most impressed with the amount of seafood given.
  • The style of gumbo was more African and Creole than French or Cajun, but it was also just their own style and not really authentic to any of the above.
  • Personally I prefer the roux based gumbos, but this was still enjoyable.
  • If you’re gluten-free and want to try a gumbo, then this is likely your only option.

**New Orleans Turtle Soup5/6 (Excellent)

  • A Brennan speciality. $12.50 a la carte
  • The Brennan’s restaurants are most famous for their Turtle Soup which is another New Orleans speciality.
  • They pour half a shot of sherry in the soup upon serving.
  • I have nothing to compare to because it was my first time trying Turtle Soup, but on the scale of soups I thought it was very good and I did enjoy it.
  • I wasn’t sure what part was the turtle and I felt like I was eating hard boiled egg whites, it turns out those were actually hard boiled egg whites (the white piece in the photo is hard boiled egg white).
  • The turtle was the brown specs of very finely ground meat in the soup.
  • Turtle is expensive and considered a delicacy and they use all turtle meat here, but there just isn’t much of it.
  • Some places will add ground beef or veal to mimic the turtle, and you might not be able to tell because they taste almost the same.
  • This tasted similar to the gumbo and it was tomato based again, except this one was thicker, smokier and carried some heat, but it wasn’t spicy.
  • It had the holy trinity of green peppers, onions, and celery again and I could taste a hint of lemon, some bay leaf and a bit of spice from paprika.
  • It was a buttery roux based broth and the flavours were complex and the soup had good aromatics.
  • I didn’t see Turtle Soup on many other menus and it is first to come to mind when I asked locals for a recommendation to try it.

Oyster Soup Brennan3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $9.25 a la carte
  • It was another signature roux based soup with butter and flour and I didn’t see many Oyster Soups offered anywhere else.
  • It was almost like an oyster chowder and it had a strong seafood flavour that was stronger than the gumbo.
  • It wasn’t thick, rich or creamy like a bisque and there was actually no cream in it. It was just butter and flour.
  • The soup had a good amount of chopped tender oysters and silky, flaky and moist lumps of crab meat and that was the highlight.
  • The oysters weren’t mushy, gutsy or overcooked which was a bit surprising since I imagined a giant pot bubbling in the back.
  • It was quite herby in flavour with thyme and bay leaf and there was some celery in the soup base for aromatics.
  • It wasn’t a spicy soup and it wasn’t bland, but you have to really like the flavour of cooked oysters because it is made with intense oyster stock.
  • Most of the time I like raw oysters, but as a cooked oyster soup, I found this one good and enjoyable.

Creole Onion Soup2/6 (Okay)

  • $8.75 a la carte
  • I ended up trying all their soups and this was another roux based (flour and butter) soup. Roux based soups are typical of New Orleans cuisine.
  • It was my first time trying Creole Onion Soup and you sprinkle parmesan cheese on top before eating it.
  • It was a super thick, creamy and rich onion soup and I was surprised there was no cream.
  • It was made with beef stock just like a French Onion Soup, but I couldn’t really taste the beefiness.
  • It was the thickest of all the soups and it was a bit too viscous and gravy like for me.
  • It was topped with croutons and it was sweet from the caramelized onion, but overall I found it too roux based with the flour and butter and I just wanted more beef and onion flavour.
  • This is a Creole Onion Soup and not a French Onion Soup, so they’re different, but I do prefer the traditional French Onion Soup.
  • I don’t have anything to compare to so I’m not sure if this is what Creole Onion Soup should taste like, but on the scale of soups, I found it okay.

All the soups were served with fresh from the oven French bread. Complimentary French bread is standard at all the restaurants and I really liked the one here. It had a crisp and thin crust and the inside was soft, fluffy and a bit chewy. It wasn’t chewy like a baguette, but more tender and it was perfect bread to dip in soup. It soaked up everything!

Eggs Hussard & Eggs Nouvelle Orléans - 4/6 (Very good)

  • (A Brennan’s Original) One of the dishes that put “Breakfast at Brennan’s” on the map. Poached eggs atop Holland rusks, Canadian bacon and Marchand de Vin sauce. Topped with Hollandaise sauce.
  • 3 course price fixe menu is $36
  • One of the things I liked most was that you can order two menu items and they’ll give you half of each order as your main. It’s a rare offering and I loved it! I get to try more things!
  • The Eggs Hussard is the most popular breakfast/brunch item and part of the “Traditional Brennan’s Breakfast”.

Photo for my Egg Yolk Series.

Eggs Hussard4/6 (Very good)
  • Poached eggs atop Holland rusks, Canadian bacon and Marchand de Vin sauce. Topped with Hollandaise sauce.
  • It was basically a richer eggs benedict with an additional red sauce and instead of an English muffin it was on a Holland Rusk.
  • A Holland Rusk is a very light and crisp toast resembling and tasting like a giant round and flat crouton. It’s hard, crunchy and dry and toasted all the way through.
  • The egg was perfectly poached and runny and the hollandaise sauce was rich and buttery and quite traditional.
  • The hollandaise had a bit less acidity and instead of lemon it was red wine vinegar which made it almost like a Béarnaise sauce, but without the tarragon.
  • Underneath the poached egg was Canadian bacon, similar to the ham in an English Egg McMuffin, and that was topped off with a Marchand de Vin sauce.
  • The Marchand de Vin sauce is a New Orleans sauce and it’s another roux based sauce with flour, butter, red wine, beef stock and some herbs and spices.
  • It was a buttery red wine sauce with what seemed like ground pork, onions and mushrooms mixed into it.
  • It was creamy and a bit tangy and it was a sauce I could pour over pasta.
  • The Eggs Hussard was very good, but it just seemed like another version of an eggs benedict with more sauce.
  • Everything was super saucy and buttery with the hollandaise, egg yolk and Marchand de Vin sauce, but that helped to soften up the Holland Rusk too.

Photo for my Egg Yolk Series.

**Eggs Nouvelle Orléans - 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Poached eggs served on a bed of lump crabmeat topped with a brandy-cream sauce.
  • 3 course price fixe menu is $36
  • Again, they let you order two menu items and give you half of each for your main.
  • I actually liked this one more than the Eggs Hussard.
  • It was so simple, but with the amount of crab they give you, I don’t think you can easily find it anywhere else.
  • The poached egg was sitting on top of at least 1 cup of crab meat. It was generous!
  • The crab was cleaned and de-shelled so I was just eating spoonfuls of crab meat.
  • It was succulent pieces of sweet, delicate, flaky, silky smooth and juicy crab lumps sprinkled with a bit of paprika.
  • The crab was so silky I couldn’t tell the difference between the crab and the poached egg white.
  • The brandy-cream sauce was nothing to rave about and it tasted like a simple milk, flour and butter cream sauce, but I didn’t even need it.
  • The egg yolk oozing from the perfectly poached egg was a natural sauce for the crab and I forgot about everything else.
  • If I can get that much crab in a $36 3 course menu, I would call that a bargain.
  • The crab was the highlight of my whole meal and I would order this again.
  • It was pure bliss not having to work away at shells to get to the meat.
  • It was very basic, but with good crab meat and a perfectly poached egg, you don’t need anything else.
**Eggs Portuguese – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
  • Flaky pastry shells filled with freshly chopped tomatoes sautéed in butter with parsley and shallots. Topped with poached eggs and covered with Hollandaise sauce.
  • 3 course price fixe menu is $36
  • Again, they let you order two menu items and they’ll give you half of each order as your main.
  • It was almost a gourmet version of “eggs in a basket” and instead of toast it was puff pastry.
  • It tasted similar to the Eggs Hussard, but packaged differently and I liked this one better.
  • Inside the puff pastry was a poached egg sandwiched between two sauces so it was a very saucy dish.
  • The hollandaise sauce was rich and buttery and quite typical, but instead of lemon it used red wine vinegar, but it was still more buttery with minimal tang.
  • The “chopped tomatoes sautéed in butter” ended up being a Creole-like sauce. It was almost like a pasta sauce, meets a gumbo meets a ratatouille.
  • The sauce had onions, celery, green peppers, beef stock and tomato juice and it was a bit smoky, but not spicy.
  • It was a really decadent breakfast and one Eggs Portuguese was enough.
  • I would order this and the Eggs Nouvelle Orléans and that would be a perfect split.
Veal - 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
  • Sauteed baby veal topped with Creole sauce and served with grits.
  • 3 course price fixe menu is $36
  • Again, they let you order two menu items and they’ll give you half of each order as your main.
  • The veal is supposed to be a house favourite, but this one was slightly dry.
  • It was pounded flat and still tender, but just on the drier side.
  • It was smothered in that classic roux based “Creole sauce” which seemed to be used for many dishes.
  • It tasted almost the same as the sauce in the Eggs Portuguese and Eggs Hussard.
  • The sauce was smoky, a bit spicy and creamy.
  • It was flour and butter based with added beef stock, onions, green peppers, celery, and I think some ground veal or ground beef.
  • The grits were creamy and buttery and standard, but the Creole sauce and egg yolks flowed right into it which was nice.

Dessert

Dessert is a must at Brennan’s unless you’re a diabetic. This is the place that invented the Bananas Fosters! Although you can get Bananas Fosters at some other restaurants, it’s likely it won’t be prepared at tableside, and it just won’t be from the place that created it. Coming here just for the Bananas Foster isn’t a bad idea either and it’s just something you should try once whether you’re a “foodie” or not.

Flamblé! *Clap hands* This is a bit of my “food snobbery” coming out, but I do prefer anything traditionally done flamblé like Crepes Suzette or Bananas Foster to be prepared at tableside. I find it part of the experience and enjoyment of the desserts. Brennan’s goes through 350olbs of bananas a year making this dessert.

Crepes Fitzgerald – 3/6 (Good)

  • A Brennan Creation. Crepes filled with a delicate filling of cream cheese and sour cream served with a topping of strawberries flamed in Maraschino. Scrumptious!
  • 3 course price fixe menu is $36
  • It’s an additional $5 to get this with your 3 course $36 price fixe menu. It was a pricey add on even if it was to cover tableside labour.
  • I wouldn’t say this was a highlight, but it was good.
  • They used Maraschino which I think is better than brandy, Grand Marnier or cognac for this dessert.

  • They were thin crepes, but it was pre-prepared so they were a bit chewy and served room temperature rather than hot.
  • The inside was filled with rich, creamy and thick cream cheese whipped with sour cream. It was nice and tart and lightly sweetened.
  • The combination reminded me of a strawberry cheesecake in crepe form and it wasn’t too sweet which I liked.
  • The strawberries were local too and I don’t think they added any sugar to make the sauce… just butter.

**Bananas Foster6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • A Brennan Creation and now World-Famous. Bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur, then flamed in rum. Served over vanilla ice cream. Scandalously Delicious!
  • Again, you had to add $5 to get this with your 3 course $36 price fixe menu and it seemed like an unnecessary cost… even for tableside service.
  • The Bananas Foster is the dessert to order here so it should be part of the $36.
  • Although other places could make it better, it will never be the original so it almost has to be a 6/6. It’s the original Bananas Foster!
  • They used Bols banana liqueur which apparently makes the difference and serving it with Blue Bell Ice Cream just topped things off!
  • It wasn’t too boozy although there was also rum in it. I could taste the liqueurs subtly.
  • It was hot and cold and the soft bananas were creamy and sweet and cut in big strips, so they weren’t mushy and still held their shape.
  • The caramel was very sweet with lots of brown sugar, some butter, a big dash of cinnamon and infused banana liqueur flavour. It was delicious!
  • Personally I found it a bit much sauce, but that’s what makes it a Bananas Foster and I can’t argue with the original.
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream is famous in Texas and it’s a great brand of ice cream.
  • Their ice cream is hard and creamy, but it melted so fast from the hot syrup which meant I just had to eat it faster. No problem there!
  • As amazing as this dessert is, I also highly recommend trying the famous Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé at Commander’s Palace (associated restaurant).

Brennan’s Famous Bananas Foster Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Bol’s banana liqueur
  • 4 bananas, cut in half
    lengthwise, then halved
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Directions:

1. Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.

2. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

3. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.

4. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.

5. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bow May 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Brennan’s is an institution, the brunch is legendary and most people feel it’s a Must place to go in N.O. Did you find the food too rich ? Where you totally stuffed ? Their turtle soup seems very Creole as opposed to Lady Curzon turtle soup(made with green sea turtle, which now is a total no-no), I made from a can and finished w. sherry; my soup was creamy one as opposed to a chunky one. Love it(here’s a link: http://www.soupsong.com/scurzon.html). I guess the service was very good and was the atmosphere VERY Antebellum(put on that hoop skirt and carry a frilly parasol to feel in character).

2 Linda June 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

there’s a lot of things i would eat but i can’t bear to eat turtle soup only because i watched this one episode of triple d and they showed how it was made, shell and all! i’m glad you had the guts to try it though and that it was quite good! :)

the breakfast items look amazing! i love it when you capture the yolk oozing from the egg :)

3 Mijune June 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

@Linda – I can’t do the dog thing and turtle I used to be hesitant about as a kid… but I guess that’s all kind of changed :) I wanted to try a piece of it though because this was all ground up. I love eggs!!

4 Matt June 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Too bad you didn’t get more turtle. I’m curious what that’d taste like.

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