With the fact that New Orleans is 300 years old this year, there are quite a few restaurants that have survived through many years of history and are still around today. I got the chance to experience fine dining at Antoine’s, Commander’s Palace, and Brennan’s during my stay in New Orleans.
Antoine’s is America’s oldest family-run restaurant. This French-Creole cuisine restaurant was established in 1840 and is best known for its Oyster Rockefeller. To work as an employee here is a tremendous honor. There is a rigorous process you go through in order to become an employee. You work under someone as an apprentice for a long time and learn the ways of the restaurant before being able to work on your own.
I went to Antoine’s for their lunch special, which is a three-
course meal for $20.18. They also serve martinis during the lunch hour for 25-cents each, with a limit of three. On weekends and for dinner times it is a good idea to make a reservation in order to ensure you’ll have a table. However, on weekdays, there should usually be a spot open if you pop in for lunch.
When at Antoine’s, you get treated like royalty; chairs get pulled out for you and napkins unfolded for you. You have a main waiter/waitress and then another waiter/waitress who brings out drinks and bread. For the lunch special, you are given a menu with about three options to choose from for each course. For the first course I had charbroiled oysters. For the second course I had French chicken breast. And for the third course I had pecan bread pudding for dessert. Each course was absolutely delicious.
Our waiter was fabulous. Always making sure we had everything we wanted/need and such quick service. He let us keep the menus as they had the story of the restaurant on the back and he told us that while we were here we must take a walk around. Antoine’s, though it may look small on the outside, has twelve rooms on the inside. There are Mardi Gras balls held here, you can reserve a room for any type of event, and there’s even a room that is known as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s favorite room to eat in when they were together.
Two rooms that are unique to Antoine’s is the room called the Mystery Room and the
other is the wine cellar. The Mystery Room is where alcohol was stored during the prohibition period. Ladies or gentlemen would say they have to use the bathroom and would then excuse themselves to this room, grab a drink, mingle with the others, and then return to the dinner table to carry on with their meal as though nothing had occurred. The other room is their above-ground wine cellar. It is 165 feet long, 7 feet wide and can hold up to 25,000 bottles of wine.
Antoine’s is a must for both history and fine cuisine when in New Orleans. For more information about this venue, visit the website here.
Commander’s Palace is a hard place to miss, with it’s bright blue and white stripes that paint the outside of the building. Located in the Garden District, this restaurant has been around since 1893 and serves authentic Creole cuisine.
The restaurant is so much more up-scale then the outside of the building gives away. On the outside it looks like nothing too special, except that it is such a fun colored building. But don’t let that fool you! There is a valet service and you must have a reservation. There is a dress code as well that you must keep in mind if you plan on dining here.
When I dined here, we got the delight of being VIP guests since one of our friends had dined there many time before and knew the owner’s son. We got taken upstairs to a room with glass walls that overlooked a garden. Men were dressed in tuxes and suits, and ladies in dresses and hats. Since we were VIP guests, we had a blue sash draped across our table to distinguish us as special guests. The owner of the restaurant also made an appearance at our table to welcome us and thank us for dining there. One of the girls at our table was celebrating her birthday, so there were balloons sitting in the center of the table and at the end of the lunch they brought her out a birthday hat.
Since we were there as VIP guests, we got the best of service. We had multiple waiters bringing us our drinks and food and making sure we were always satisfied.
Lunch here was also a three-course meal with martinis that were 25-cents each (also with a 3-drink limit). They are well-known for their turtle soup, so of course I got turtle soup for my first course. For the second course I had duck. And then for desert we all split creole bread pudding.
After lunch, we took a walk through the kitchen and out through the gardens. Commander’s Palace is a beautiful venue for an afternoon lunch. For more information, watch the documentary Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table or check out their website here.
Opened in 1946 by Owen Brennan, Brennan’s quickly became a popular destination for dining and known for its breakfast choices. Inside the bright pink walls, banana foster was created here and is a must to try.
When my friend came to visit, who has the same love for breakfast food as I do, this is where we went. Once again, you will want to make a reservation for your breakfast or dinner. We made the mistake of not making reservations, so when we went there starving, we had to make a reservation for the next available time which was in an hour and a half. Brennan’s hours are 9am – 2pm and then 6pm – 10pm, so make sure you are aware of the afternoon closure.
When we came back for our reservation, we were taken to the main dining room. There is also a courtyard where you can sit, and an upstairs with special rooms which you can reserve for parties. The main dining room was decorated with pink painted walls and golden chandeliers. There is a dress code, though not as strict as the other two restaurants; they just want you to look nicely dressed and not be in athletic clothing.
Banana foster is one of the signature items at Brennan’s, they even light it up right in front of you. However, since I have tried banana foster before I did not get this, but we did get to see several of them lit up during out time there. I went with the artisanal eggs benedict which was my first time trying eggs benedict. It definitely exceeded any expectation I had.