Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The French Quarter’s great steakhouse, with first-class beef prepared in an unusually large variety of styles. All the set pieces of a traditional American steakhouse are here–but with a distinctly New Orleans touch. It’s a masculine, civilized, romantic environment–unless there’s a big convention in town of, say, metallurgists. In which case the place fills with female-free tables of guys in golf shirts.
All the set pieces of a traditional American steakhouse are here–but with a distinctly New Orleans touch. The beef is mostly USDA Prime–although I note on recent menus that this claim is not made for the filets. The sirloin strip is seared in a black iron skillet, using an idea from Commander’s Palace that later gave birth to blackened redfish. The house filet mignon is surrounded by fried oysters and the Pontalba-style potatoes. Despite the goodness of the ingredients, the steaks here only rarely blow me away. The menu goes on to include enough non-red-meat fare to cover the needs of those who prefer not to indulge, but no more than that. If you order something other than a steak you’re missing the best of what this place has to offer.
No sooner had the Brennans of Commander’s Palace split their restaurant holdings among the members of the third generation than Dick Brennan Jr. announced he was going to build an idea his father had for years: a first-class steakhouse. This is the concept that caused the split in the Brennan family in the 1970s: a simple menu of very classy groceries, with great service. When it finally opened here, it was a runaway success, and remains so.
This is the only below-street-level restaurant in New Orleans. And a handsome place, with tile floors, rich wood paneling, banquette seating, and unusual displays of antique weapons in the private dining rooms. Just inside the entrance, the bar has a life of its own particularly at lunchtime.
Escargots with bacon, fennel, mushrooms garlic butter
Mcilhenny oysters (chilpotle cream sauce)
Boiled shrimp with fried green tomatoes and remoulade
Tomato and blue cheese napoleon
House filet (with fried oysters, Pontalba potatoes, and bearnaise)
Cast-iron seared sirloin strip
Grilled fish with corn macquechoux
Pork porterhouse with andouille
Steamed Maine lobster
Potatoes au gratin
Pontalba potatoes (with ham, onions, and mushrooms)
Bananas Foster bread pudding
FOR BEST RESULTS
When you reserve the table, if there is even a small amount of romance in the dinner, ask to have one of the rounded banquettes. They have a collection of small-plate appetizers, cocktails and wines–each for $5–from 4-7 weekday afternoons.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The sizzling butter sauce–a hallmark of New Orleans steak cookery–is not to be had here, but it should be. The service staff is cordial enough, but doesn’t show the kind of fine tuning I see in other Brennan restaurants.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Consistency +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +2
- Local Color +2
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open Monday dinner
- Unusually large servings
- Good for children
- Free valet parking
- Reservations accepted