My Birthday. Broussard's Too.
Tom Fitzmorris February 10, 2020 10:08 Dining Diary
My wife Mary Ann is an exceptionally lovely person, especially when she has an opportunity to orchestrate an evening. She had not one but two such opportunities last week. Thursday, with the appearance of my birthday, she scheduled not just one, but a second one. Both were my kind of dining, with white tablecloths, careful elegant cocktail service, menus that include some interesting appetizers filled with the likes of foie gras, freshly carved meats, and even essays in raw beef.
Good enough, but plenty more impressive was further up my preference in service. If what one likes is having the waiters and other members of the cooking staff spending a good bit of their attention in our service. A place where all this comes together quite nicely is Broussard's.
So it was easy for me to yield my birthday festivities to Broussard’s. I always go to Antoine’s but this year I got two celebrations. The Broussard’s Centennial Celebration kickoff party was the same night. We knew this would be a great party and didn’t want to miss it. We were not disappointed. It certainly was a great party.
There was a red carpet out in front of the restaurant. The front doors were enclosed in a white curtain, hinting at the elegance to come. And it was indeed very elegant. There was a wall inside framed by white feathers that resembled the backdrop for red carpet pictures. Except here there were curtained windows where white-gloved ladies handed out first champagne and later creme brulee in demitasse cups to anyone who passed and took one. This was fun.
There was plenty more fun. Trixie Minx sat in a large champagne glass pouring Moet to anyone who held a glass for her. Also in that room were a few stations with unusual options. Roasted duck breast on a carving station served alongside foie gras jambalaya. MA always complains about pink duck breast but it was nicely done. And the foie gras jambalaya was quite creative. And very good. Too often you can get one or the other of these two traits, but here you got both. There were crispy fried oysters next to fried fish with an amandine Beurre blanc sauce. And some delicious turtle soup rounded out the food offerings in the main dining room. The oysters were too crispy for my taste, and the fish was good enough for ML to eat, and that is a very high bar.
Walking toward the patio, we passed through the Garden Room where we had an Eat Club last year to celebrate thirty years of the radio show. The far wall in this aptly-named room had a beautiful charcuterie table with pates and cheeses and prosciutto and salumi, headlined by Jambon Iberico.
Outside on the courtyard patio, which is one of the most beautiful and probably the largest in the French Quarter, there was a great band playing not my kind of music at all, and a seafood station with very much my kind of seafood. Cold raw oysters, boiled shrimp and crab claws with sauces were a popular attraction. MA, the crab claw queen, was unimpressed with the crab claws and missed the shrimp. I wish I had seen this earlier.
The bar out there may have been the best one of many. Besides more bartenders mixing drinks, here's where the bottled beers and soft drinks and water stood alongside wines and champagne. Inside in the carriageway bar, which to my mind is the best part of the place, there was also the most popular food station. Beef tenderloin on the carving station and Lyonnaise potatoes.
Throughout the evening passed appetizers kept coming. A housemade ruffled potato chip underneath steak tartare on some and tuna tartare on others. Smoked salmon on crostini, all of these off MA's non-gourmet radar. But there was something for her too. Gougéres with andouille and crab beignets. Later there were tiny beignets with a sauce in an interesting presentation.
The Marys spent the night rhapsodizing at how beautiful everything was. Sitting at a table with not only a white tablecloth but a white sequined one, they fixated on the pots of different white flowers, including orchids and special white raggedy tulips on each table.
On the way out, after a fantastic night of seeing old friends like Tommy Andrade, we made our way to the door past another bar where Rita the bartender and I reconnected. We go back a long way, and it was nice to see her too.
Mary Ann had mentioned to one of the brothers that own Creole Cuisine, the group of which Broussard’s is the high-end restaurant, that it was my birthday. It was also the birthday of their PR lady. They had already sung to her, but when I went toward the door the chef came out with a slice of king cake and a group of people sang happy birthday.
It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful night and a great beginning to a year-long celebration of something very special. A hundred years in business should be heralded. Broussard’s plans to do just that, with five special menus throughout the year, each highlighting a particular Louisiana ingredient. The first one is coffee, which of course is not grown here, but the roasting business is at least as old as the restaurant.
We want t get in on this celebration. It sounds like a great excuse to stop talking about Eat Clubs and start doing them again, as we are constantly asked. Keep your eyes open for details.
819 Conti St New Orleans
Brunch Seven Days 10-3
Dinner Seven Days 5:30-10