New Orleans, Louisiana – Commander’s Palace – A La Carte Dinner Menu

Restaurant: Commander’s Palace
Cuisine: American/Creole/French
Last visited: May 25, 2012
Location: New Orleans, LA (Garden District)
Address: 1403 Washington Ave
Transit: St Charles at Washington
Where I stayed: Le Richelieu Hotel (Taxi recommended)
Price Range: $50+

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

Food: 5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Executive Chef Tory McPhail
  • 2012 Best Chef of the South Nominee (James Beard Award)
  • Award winning
  • Fine dining
  • Sophisticated/elegant
  • Local ingredients (100 Miles)
  • Business casual
  • Patio seating
  • 2-course lunches starting at $16 + 25¢ martinis
  • 3 or 6 course Tasting Menus
  • Extensive wine list
  • Wine/cocktails/beer/flights
  • Reservations recommended
  • Complimentary valet
  • Lunch Monday – Friday: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
  • Dinner Monday – Sunday: 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Jazz Brunch
    • Saturday: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
    • Sunday: 10:30 am – 1:30 pm

**Recommendations: The Chef’s Playground menu, Lobster & Creole Cream Cheese Gnocchi, Black Skillet Roasted Foie Fras, Turtle Soup, Gumbo, Truffled Stone Ground Grits, Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé. Cocktails: Ponchatoula Strawberry Flip, Saint 75, and $.25 martinis at lunch.

This is Part 2 of my Commander’s Palace post. I wrote about Commander’s Palace yesterday and featured the Chef’s Playground Menu which showcased a modern side to American-Creole cuisine. The other portion of the menu featured more traditional items with a few Commander’s Palace classics which have been on the menu since day 1. Personally I enjoyed Chef’s Playground Menu more, but the a la carte “classics” are considered classics for a reason, and I still recommend trying those dishes. To see part 1 and my full experience on Commander’s Palace – see my post here.

On the table:

Commander’s A La Carte Dinner Menu

**Ponchatoula Strawberry Flip6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • It’s strawberry season in Louisiana! The best strawberries in the country come from Ponchatoula, and we’re putting them into a cocktail. We combine a puree of Ponchatoula strawberries with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, bitters, sugar and egg white to make a drink you’ll ‘flip’ over! $10.25
  • *Flip*… what I would give to have this all year! This was amazing!
  • This was the best cocktail I had so far from my Follow Me Foodie to New Orleans food trip.
  • It was a pretty small cocktail, but I savoured every sip and I would definitely order it again.
  • It was chilled, but not a slushy or frozen drink.
  • It was frothy and light and almost like a smoothie with the little bit of whipped egg white, but it wasn’t too foamy.
  • I know the egg white thing might be a cocktail “trend” from last year, but it had purpose in this case and I personally like the egg white trend.
  • It was fruity without being too sweet and they shook the fresh strawberries with the ice so it was slightly pulpy with natural and fresh strawberry juice.
  • It was strained before serving, but I wonder what type of cocktail strainer he used because the thickness of the cocktail was perfect.
  • The drink just had so much texture and little bits of pulp and the Bourbon cut through the sweetness without being aggressive.
  • The Bourbon was subtle enough to not destroy the well balanced layers of the cocktail and it was a dangerous drink that went down too easily… but it wasn’t too “girly” either!
  • The ingredients were simple, but it was the execution of the drink that made it stand out.
Southern Festival Sangria4/6 (Very good)
  • It’s festival season in New Orleans! Time for great music, lots of fun in the sun, and refreshing drinks! Seasonal fruits, orange curacao, and red wine make up our thirst-quenching red wine Sangria. $8.50
  • This was a very good Sangria, but perhaps not as special since Sangrias are all so common.
  • It was a good dry red wine and it was light and flavourful from the wine more so than the fruit.
  • I could taste a bit of orange and it seemed like blueberries in the background too.
  • There wasn’t much acidity from lime or lemon, but I prefer a bit more fresh fruit flavour and I thought it would be more creative.

**Le Coup de Milieu – Saint 75 - 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • St. Germaine Elderflower liquor, Bombay Sapphire Gin, crushed citrus and basil syrup
  • This was the palate cleanser from the Chef’s Playground Menu, but you can order it a la carte from the cocktail menu.
  • And when I thought it couldn’t get any better than my Ponchatoula Strawberry Flip… it did!
  • This was something else and I was tempted to order a full size version.
  • It was perfect timing for a palate cleanser especially after that extremely rich and decadent gnocchi.
  • I’m a fan of gin so I already liked the sound of this drink.
  • It was so refreshing and clean and aromatic without being herbal or herby.
  • The St. Germaine is a sweet Elderflower infused liqueur and it matches so nicely with gin.
  • It was a bit carbonated, not too sweet and the citrus gave it a nice balance and acidity.
  • There were bright and vibrant notes of lemon and lime and the basil was sweet and fragrant and it was citrusy, but not sour.
  • The ingredients were just so fresh and intense and the infusions and flavours were so pure and obvious in quality.
  • It reminded me of the Elderflower Mojito from La Petite Grocery, and although I loved that one, this one was ever better!
  • It was a version of a classic French 75 cocktail which I also enjoyed at The American Sector, but I’ll take a Saint 75 any day.

Complimentary Bread & Butter

  • I wonder if all Brennan’s restaurants have a signature complimentary bread and butter unique to each restaurant.
  • At Brennan’s they featured a delicious cinnamon and sugar French bread to start (see here) and at Commander’s Palace it was this house made garlic bread.
  • It was a very crisp and light French bread covered intensely with good butter, fresh garlic, a bit of dill and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • It was naturally a bit oily and it was more garlic bread than cheese bread. It was hard not to fill up on!

Amuse Bouche – Canapé

  • House made duck bacon, chèvre goat cheese, tomato caviar
  • The duck bacon already showed more creativity for the amuse bouche especially since duck doesn’t show up often on a New Orleans menu.
  • The chèvre was quite strong and gamey, but it was nice with the salty crisp bite of bacon and sweet and spicy chili mayo.
  • The tomato brought a nice acidity and there was a hint of black pepper to finish.
I had to take the photo from my phone because the one on my camera was really blurry, so please excuse the quality.
**Black Skillet Roasted Foie Gras6/6 (FMF Must Try!)
  • Hudson Valley foie fras over spiced blueberry beignet with a foie gras brandy milk punch, candied pecans, and Popular Grove honeycomb $18
  • This is one of their classic items and the fruit sauce will change according to season.
  • This was seriously amazing and I would highly recommend trying this even if it sounds odd to you.
  • It sounded amazing to me and it just jumped off the menu.
  • It was a very rich and substantial appetizer as foie gras normally is, but I loved it!
  • It was so creative and it didn’t bastardize the beautiful foie gras. It wasn’t a novelty or too experimental.
  • The Brandy Milk Punch was once a café au lait, but I much rather have the Brandy Milk Punch which is a signature drink at Brennan’s restaurants.
  • The Foie Gras Brandy Milk Punch cocktail was like a frothy warm milkshake.
  • I’m not a fan of warm milkshakes, but in this case it was okay.
  • It did what it needed to do to complement the warm beignets and hot foie gras.
  • It was a bit like egg nog and it was still sweet rather than savoury, but also not too sweet.
  • I could taste the brandy although not strong, but the foie gras was almost undetectable so it kind of lost its appeal as a “Foie Gras Brandy Milk Punch”.
  • It wasn’t like drinking pure fat or butter like it may sound, but it was still rich being a milk based drink.
  • Compared to the original, this Foie Gras Brandy Milk version was creamier and more custard based and milkshake like in texture.
  • The Brandy Milk Punch served as a cocktail without the foie gras is also amazing. I tried it at their associated restaurant Brennan’s – see here.
  • It was a beautiful foie gras pairing and it would be the perfect dessert for people who don’t really like desserts.
  • It was still savoury enough to be an appetizer, but I could see some ordering it for dessert.
  • There was a nice piece of seared Hudson Valley foie gras sitting on top of the beignets.
  • The foie gras was skillet roasted (or just pan seared?) on both sides and I liked that they showcased the foie gras as is.
  • Although I can appreciate creativity like foie gras cotton candy, foie gras parfaitfoie gras walnuts, and foie gras marshmallows, there is nothing like the exquisite texture and flavour of a simply pan seared foie gras.
  • They topped the foie gras with a Popular Grove honeycomb and it was the real deal!
  • It wasn’t just a drizzle of fresh honey, but the actual honeycomb! I felt like I was at a honey bee farm!
  • The honeycomb was a bit chewy and sticky and each hole was still filled with real, pure and fresh granular honey! I couldn’t believe it.
  • In addition to the honey there was also confit blueberry sauce, but overall it still wasn’t too sweet.
  • The blueberry sauce was a perfect complement to the foie gras and beignets.
  • Strawberries and foie gras are a classic pairing and the sweetness of the fruit just enhances the richness of the foie gras.
  • It also gave it a nice sweet and savoury contrast and in this case they used blueberries which were also in season.
  • The blueberry sauce and fresh whole blueberries were confit (sautéed in duck fat), so they were incredibly rich and buttery blueberries.
  • The blueberries were almost meaty and the sauce was naturally sweet with the umami of foie.
  • It came with 3 Blueberry Beignets that were quite regular and I guess it was almost like replacing an expected crostini or brioche.
  • They actually would have been fantastic as brioche doughnuts!
  • I think I expected them to have a foie gras custard or some foie gras aspect to them, but they were just mini blueberry doughnuts.
  • They reminded me of Tim Horton’s mini blueberry Timbits, and they were really soft and tender and not heavily spiced.
  • They were nice and moist doughnuts, but I think I was expecting the texture of the famous puffy and light beignets at Cafe du Monde.
  • The beignets were still great dipped in the confit blueberry sauce though, and they made a good pairing with the Brandy Milk Punch.
  • Another interesting beignet I tried were the Blue Crab Beignets at La Petite Grocery.
**Soups 1-1-15/6 (Excellent)
  • A demi serving of three soups: Gumbo, Turtle & Soup du Jour $8.50
  • This was my kind of appetizer! I loved that they offered a sample of each soup because I like to try everything (as you would know if you know this blog).
  • There was about 1/2 a cup to 3/4 of a cup of soup in each mini mug.
  • They almost looked the same and they were all roux based (fat + flour + stock) so they carried a similar texture and flavour profile, but I still had my favourites.
  • A lot of classic Creole restaurants in New Orleans start off with soup and the city is famous for them.
Soup du Jour (Shrimp Soup)3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
  • ($8 a la carte full serving)
  • There was a strong shrimp flavour and it was a good house made shrimp stock used in the base which is most important.
  • It was creamy and smooth and I think there was some tomato and maybe red pepper in the base.
  • There were little bits of shrimp in it, but I prefer seeing whole baby shrimps.
  • Baby shrimps are traditionally and typically used in New Orleans soups, so I didn’t expect medium sized ones, even for this level of restaurant.
  • There was a bit of heat and spice from some cayenne or paprika, but it wasn’t spicy.
  • I wouldn’t order a bowl of it, but it was very enjoyable as a teacup size like this.
**Turtle Soup - 5/6 (Excellent)

  • A Commander’s classic. Finished tableside with a splash of sherry. ($8.50 a la carte full serving)
  • I tried this at Brennan’s and I’m not sure if it was made differently here, but I enjoyed it more here.
  • The turtle just tasted like ground veal and there wasn’t a whole lot in it, but the flavour of the soup was still good and complex.
  • The soup is earthy, a bit sweet, smoky and has a bit of acidity.
  • It was a very flavourful soup with some bay leaf flavour and a bit of hard boiled egg whites.
  • I think I was able to appreciate it more as a sample than as a big bowl.
  • I would order this full size here though.
  • To see my full Turtle soup description see here.
**Gumbo du Jour (Chicken and Andouille)6/6 (FMF Must Try!)
  • Rich stock slow cooked with fresh regional ingredients ($8 a la carte full serving)
  • The gumbo was even more fantastic than the Turtle soup and it had even more flavour!
  • It was very thick and hearty and the roux was well developed and cooked.
  • It was rich and creamy with spicy and smoky flavours from cayenne and paprika.
  • The Andouille sausage was tender and spicy and there was also some shredded chicken throughout.
  • The soup wasn’t gluey or slimy nor did it have an oil slick.
  • It had the basic aromatics of celery, onions and carrots and had good depth in flavour.
  • The heat lingers and I could taste that the base was made with real chicken stock.
  • The only thing is that it didn’t have any rice and green onions as a topping. I think they either forgot it or only serve it that way with a full order.
Complimentary freshly baked French bread served with soups.
Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish4/6 (Very good)
  • Champagne-poached Louisiana blue crabmeat, crushed corn sauce, and spices New Roads pecans $34
  • It was a very rich and substantial dish and if the fish was not mushy it would have been easily 5/6!
  • The portion was huge and although I’m not crazy about Gulf Fish, it is the local “go-to” fish in New Orleans.
  • Gulf fish is almost like sole or cod, which I like, but all of them don’t have much flavour so they rely on sauces and seasoning.
  • The fish was heavily crusted, but only on one side.
  • It had a breadcrumb and pecan crust, but I wish there were more pecans to breadcrumbs.
  • I wasn’t keen on the actual fish because I found it very mushy and the crust wasn’t very crispy either.
  • The fish was almost creamy and kind of falling apart instead of being flaky as it usually is.
  • It was topped with tender well seasoned juicy crab and although I love crab, it seemed a bit random and lost on this plate.
  • The best part for me was the ultra rich, velvety, creamy and thick crushed corn sauce.
  • The sauce tasted like a sweet bechamel sauce and was also a bit cheesy and had a good amount of savoury to balance the sweet corn.
  • The spicy and sweet glazed pecans gave the dish texture and crunch and it really helped the fish, but I wanted the fish to be crusted with those instead.
  • I had tried the Andouille Crusted Drum with glazed pecans at Emeril’s which was also quite nice, but I’d still be curious to explore this dish more.
**Truffled Stone Ground Grits5/6 (Excellent)
  • $7
  • I had the last serving of grits for the night so I felt like I got a huge portion, although this could be the normal serving size too.
  • For grits, these were amazing gourmet grits.
  • Grits are basically like mashed potatoes in New Orleans and people don’t obsess about them. In the West Coast many of us do because nobody really makes them.
  • These grits were creamy, rich, buttery and delicious!
  • It had the texture of rice pudding or whipped oatmeal and I think they melted goat’s cheese or mascarpone in it.
  • It wasn’t strong with goat’s cheese flavour, but there was an undeniable cheesiness about them.
  • I could smell and taste the truffle and white truffle oil right away and it actually had shaved truffle in it.
  • The other grits I really enjoyed were served with the Local Shrimp & Grits at La Petite Grocery.

French Market Coffee - This is the classic New Orleans coffee and I just couldn’t do it so late at night. I’m sensitive to caffeine and I had a sip of this and it was just really strong. I knew I had to stop after that. The chicory is aggressive so it’s very bitter. Chicory is the root of an endive plant and it was added to coffee back when coffee was scarce. They serve it at Cafe Du Monde too – see my post here.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake4/6 (Very good)

  • First of the season sweet strawberries layered in a warm buttermilk biscuit with whipped Chantilly cream and a dusting of powdered sugar. About $8.
  • It was a huge portion and kind of a “steakhouse dessert”, so it was a bit typical and traditional but still good!
  • In terms of a classic strawberry shortcake, it looked perfect and had a generous amount of strawberries.
  • The shortcake was nice and caramelized with a crispy and crunchy top which is the best part.
  • I think the biscuit was made with maybe cake flour, but I wouldn’t have minded it more buttery and moist.
  • The whipped Chantilly cream was perfectly whipped and very lightly sweetened, but it was missing some actual vanilla bean seeds. I would expect the seeds from a fine dining restaurant.
  • The strawberries were actually a bit tart and that was more than half the dessert. I’m not sure if it was just because they were first of the season?
  • If the strawberries were sweet this would have been excellent!
  • I did really enjoy it, but it also seemed like something you could more or less prepare at home.
Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake3.5/6 (Good-Very good)
  • House made Creole cream cheesecake with a honey graham crust, chocolate lattice and sticky caramel sauce. $8.50 (Additional for a complete meal 3.00)
  • It was another classic “steakhouse dessert”, but traditional works and it was basic, but still good.
  • I’m not even a huge cheesecake person, but this one was really good!
  • It wasn’t a dense New York style cheesecake (which I’m not a fan of), but instead it was a very fluffy and creamy cheesecake and the cheese was nicely whipped.
  • It was a baked cheesecake and it was very rich and decadent and also not too sweet.
  • My favourite is actually the crust, so I personally prefer more crust especially to balance the amount of cheesecake.
  • The crust was a soft graham crust and the caramel was house made and buttery.
  • I actually enjoyed this more with the strawberries from my shortcake.

**Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé - 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)

  • “The Queen of Creole Desserts” with warm whiskey sauce added tableside $8.50 (Additional for a complete meal 3.00)
  • o;fha;sdklfj;djbklfa!!!!! Seriously. I want to marry this dessert.
  • It was created in 1980 and it’s famous here. Many people come here just for this dessert.
  • Lots of restaurants offer a bread pudding, but only classic fine dining French ones offer soufflés. It takes time and skill to make so I appreciate them.
  • I would actually ask them to go easy on the warm whiskey sauce next time because it’s quite strong and can be a bit boozy.
  • It was the love child of a bread pudding and soufflé and I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the Top 10 Best Desserts I have internationally this year.
  • I hate saying “best _____ ever”, but honestly this was probably the best bread pudding and soufflés I’ve had to date.
  • It was light as air and not dense at all!
  • It was a bit foamy and pudding-y at the same time and texturally amazing.
  • It was like eating warm clouds and the top was a bit crispy like a marshmallow meringue topping.
  • The bread pudding was almost folded into the soufflé or vice versa and it was so moist and spongy.
  • It was the perfect balance of half soufflé and half bread pudding and there was some cinnamon and/or nutmeg in it.
  • There was some moist raisins but they were almost melted so I barely noticed them. I kind of missed them, but everything else was so good I didn’t mind.
  • It was more like a soufflé, but it had the flavours of a classic bread pudding and every spoonful was truly a bite of heaven.
  • The whole thing was melting in my mouth and this isn’t something you could easily make at home so I loved it!
  • I honestly want to cry just thinking about this. It was so perfect I wanted to order some to go and bring back home to Vancouver.
  • I would absolutely come back for this alone.
  • I actually want to book tickets back to New Orleans right now just looking at the photo.
I couldn’t finish the grits and cheesecake, so they wrapped it up impressively and it was breakfast for tomorrow!

See my post on Chef’s Playground Menu (Tasting Menu).

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