Dozen Best Dishes With Two Contrasting Sauces
The theme for this week’s Creme De La Creme list requires a little explanation. The dishes all have two or more sauces oozing over or under the same piece (or collection) of food. More such dishes exist than you might imagine, so I made up a set of guidelines.
First, the sauces must actually touch one another. (No twin tournedos each with its own sauce, or oysters 2-2-2.) Second, no shrimp with two remoulades–although you will see I made an exception for the original version. Third, no sushi rolls, most of which are squirted with two or three of the same five or six sauces. Fourth, a sauce made by blending two sauces together doesn’t count. Finally, for this article mayonnaise, mustard, barbecue sauce and ketchup are not considered sauces.
1. Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. Oysters Giovanni is the most famous dish here, and with good reason. They’re covered with cornmeal and fried quickly, left bulging. The oysters for a circle on plate spread with a unique brown sauce with sweet, gingery, savory, and peppery components. Across that sauce three colorful, fruit-flavored sauces swirl. It sounds like too much fooling around, but the final ensemble of flavors are memorable and unlike anything else.
2. Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Filet mignon Stanley sounds insane. Underneath the steak is marchand de vin sauce, a thick brown affair made with red wine and mushrooms. Over the top is a creamy horseradish sauce. Then, incomprehensibly, sauteed bananas wind up on the side. The net effect is so much better than it sounds that it remains the best steak-and-bananas dish in town.
3. Commander’s Palace. Garden District: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. Shrimp and tasso Henican is a must-get dish at Commander’s, even meeting the competition from the chef’s specials. Big shrimp, a hot sauce beurre blanc, and peppery jelly come together to give a textbook example of the allure of sweet heat.
4. Emeril’s. Warehouse District: 800 Tchoupitoulas. 504-528-9393. The double-cut pork chop has been a signature dish almost since Emeril’s opened. After a walk across the grill, two sauces get slathered and striped (respectively) over it in an arresting presentation. The slather is a pale green chile mole, thick and mildly spicy. The stripes are of a tamarind glaze (a.k.a.”steak sauce on the hoof).
5. Arnaud’s. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. Oysters Arnaud is five baked oysters on the half shell–the familiar Rockefeller and Bienville, plus the unique Ohan (eggplant), Suzette (tastes a little like pizza), and Kathryn (artichokes, garlic, and parmesan) versions. Most of them are topped with a spoonful of sauce mornay, which glazes a little in the oven. So each of the five kinds actually has two sauces each.
6. Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. The first two-sauce dish of my life appeared in my first dinner at Antoine’s. O’Neal the waiter said that if I liked sauces I’d really enjoy chicken Rochambeau. He was right, and I’ve had the dish many times since. The chicken sits on a thick slice of ham, and is topped with a brown sauce with a slight sweetness. The restaurants unusual (because it’s very lemony) bearnaise goes over the top. Even though they make it now with a chicken breast instead of a half-bird, every time I get it I marvel that the flavor has never changed.
7. Upperline. Uptown: 1413 Upperline. 504-891-9822. Shrimp remoulade served atop fried green tomatoes has become so common that a few poor boy shops even make a sandwich of it. But the dish was created by Chef Tom Cowman in the 1980s at the Upperline. These days, they use both kinds of remoulade sauce–red and white.
8. Dick & Jenny’s. Uptown: 4501 Tchoupitoulas. 504-894-9880. Tuna gets seared with the familiar encrustation of sesame seeds, and sent out with two sauces–one a reduction of the fish juices from the searing pan, the other a wasabi aioli.
9. Drago’s. Metairie: 3232 N Arnoult Rd. 504-888-9254. ||CBD: 2 Poydras. 504-584-3911. Oysters en brochette are usually oysters wrapped with bacon and fried, sometimes served with a butter or meuniere sauce. At Drago’s, they emerge with a Creole mustard-based aioli, and an intense, aromatic-spicy sauce made with Jack Daniel’s whisky.
10. Vincent’s. Riverbend: 7839 St Charles Ave. 504-866-9313. ||Metairie: 4411 Chastant St. 504-885-2984. Red sauce on the bottom, white sauce over the top. This is an idea picked up by many other Italian restaurants, with results never as good as at Vincent’s. Even though cannelloni is no big deal, here it’s so good that you wind up eating too much of it.
11. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. The tomato napoleon salad here is where we first learned that blue cheese and the red isotope of remoulade sauce go spectacularly well together.
12. Cafe East. Metairie: 4628 Rye. 504-888-0078. Two flavor shrimp is not only a meeting of two sauces (tomato and cream), but a commingling of two different worlds of cooking. Cream is not common in Chinese dishes. But that sort of thing is what sets this place apart.