Family owned Commander’s Palace has been wowing palates with inventive Haute Creole cuisine and utterly genteel service since 1880, making it the third oldest restaurant in New Orleans. With chefs such as Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon, and now Tory McPhail among its kitchen alumni, this revered Garden District restaurant dripping with awards and accolades is arguably the city’s most popular and historically significant place to eat.
Whet your appetite? Come with me for this most gracious of meals in my series about New Orleans in 18 Eats.
Nestled in an otherwise quiet residential area, this proudly painted “Commander blue” and white candy striped mansion with glowing light bulb signage and taxi rank is a landmark not only for its fabulous food and famous service but also for its sheer and vivid physical presence. Inside its more subdued (if only in comparison to the building’s exterior) though still rather ornate dining room, what’s brought to the table is what’s most gorgeous and worthy of esteem.
For me, dinner started on a high with Soups 1-1-1, a demi serving of three soups: gumbo, turtle and the soup du jour. Yes! Yes! And OMG yes! Each was divine, especially the du jour – a rich and creamy blue crab bisque with cauliflower and Brie. A starter course of house specialty, Shrimp & Tasso Henican – with its wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso, pickled okra, sweet onions, five pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc – found gleeful affirmation with my taste buds too. The dish also seemed to summarise the best of Louisiana cooking in one small plate.
A main course of pecan crusted Gulf fish (Sheepshead on the night I visited) with crushed corn cream, spiced pecans, petite herbs and Prosecco poached Louisiana blue crab was a mouthful, and a delectable one at that! Only able to manage a couple of bites of dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed the small dent I made in my Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé served with warm whiskey cream.
There’s so much more I could rave about: the cocktails … the wine list … the sample courses between ordered dishes … But I think discovered the distinctive wonders of this institution was what made my meal so memorable and that such would be the same for anyone planning to visit. But let me wind down this write up by saying that the food at Commander’s Palace represented an ideal for me: fine dining finesse with big flavour. Kind hospitality and deference from the moment I entered the restaurant to the second I stepped into my cab to head back to my hotel had me feeling like the very commander the restaurant was named after. I doubt I’m alone in feeling that way after dining there.
Reservations are recommended. Dress code is business attire (jackets are preferred for men).
Commander’s Palace is located at 1403 Washington Avenue, 70130. Find out more at commanderspalace.com.
Save room for the next post! I’ll be back soon with more in my series about New Orleans in 18 Eats.