I’m not one for fine dining; it just seemed so alien and odd to me that I never could imagine myself doing anything of the sort. I’m also very price-conscious, so the high-price stigma also helped guide me away. While on our honeymoon, my wife picked out a nice restaurant where we could do a Chef’s menu, and that place was the famous Commander’s Palace.
Fine Dining: Fixed Menu
If you get a Chef’s menu, you get a few small courses that the chef picks out for the evening. You place your trust in the hands of skilled professionals and let them go to town. My wife got the wine pairings (which she shared with me; a sip here, a sip there) but I stuck with Sazeracs for the evening. The restaurant’s policy also prohibited the taking of food pictures, so you’ll have to use your imaginations. Here’s a brief breakdown of everything I was able to eat. Warning: Do not read on an empty stomach!
Course 1: Flounder
Kaffir lime chimichurri, citrus supremes, Ponchatoula strawberries, habanero seal salt and cajun caviar
I’m not a huge fish person, but the little slices of fruit and sauces that were sprinkled about made the fish quite tasty! I never knew flounder would taste so good with orange slices and strawberries. The cajun caviar was very salty and tasted like the sea.
Course 2: Shellfish
Wild shrimp, blue crab & oysters ~ French press of shellfish broth
I’ve never had a French-pressed broth before, but it was pretty mild and tasty! They were very generous by giving two big oysters right there in the broth. Oysters are a bit too seafood for me but the shrimp and crab were delightful!
Course 3: Escargot
Melty Gruyere Croque madame, hen’s egg, French escargot and red wine demi glace
I didn’t anticipate my first foray into fine dining would include snails, but there I was. And you know what? Not that bad! It had a super rich flavor and the texture wasn’t slimy or gross like some might imagine. The hen’s egg is what really sealed the deal, though. Everything about this was so savory and creamy. Definitely top-two of the evening!
Course 4: Blood and Sand
~le coup de Milieu~
Chivas Regal Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth, and orange juice
Half-way through most of these menus, you’ll have a cocktail, and this was ours. I was worried the sweet vermouth wouldn’t settle well with me, but it was a refreshing mid-meal break!
Course 5: Redfish
Cast iron seared, artichokes, braised leeks, parsley and Meyer lemon curd.
Redfish are apparently gaining in popularity and appeal in fancier restaurants. As I’m not a huge fish person, this one really didn’t leave any memorable impressions. I think I was still swimming from the Blood and Sand, so that may have played a role in things.
Course 6: Rabbit
Stuffed Mississippi rabbit with spicy tasso, crab boiled mozzarella and basil
I’ve never had rabbit before this night either; truly a night for many firsts! I must say, it was amazing. It was excellently cooked and the savory flavor was nothing like I’ve had before. Everything just melded so well together. The other dish that made my top-two for the evening!
Course 7: Maker’s Mark Buttermilk & Eggnog Parfait
Hand-crafted ice cream layered with Chantilly cream, chopped white chocolate and butterscotch
Desert really brought it home: It was sweet but lightly so. I can’t do desserts that are too sweet anymore, but this one hit the right balance of sweetness and varied sweet flavors. The ice cream was really something else! A fantastic end to the meal.
Overall, the service was exceptional as well! Our waiters were attentive, relaxed, and knowledgeable about our meal. It was much more relaxed than what I had imagined it would be (that being stuffy, judgemental, and persnickety). If you get the chance, I highly recommend the Chef’s menu at Commander’s Palace. If you don’t think that’ll be your thing, then try any of the food there and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!