Delmonico changed my erroneously-informed impression of Emeril Lagasse and of New Orleans cooking in general. I’ve never been a fan of the man but I realized later, while attending a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking, how much he has contributed to the food and culture of the city. Throughout our stay in New Orleans, we had a lot of rich and fatty foods. It was at Delmonico’s where we had the right balance of good food, drinks and ambiance.
I was in the city crashing the Dr.’s appointed time at the annual anesthesiology conference. Wherever we went, we would run across some of his colleagues. At Delmonico, there was a big table of them, so even though we had reserved seats, we opted to stay at the bar for dinner because it was more casual sitting by the piano man in the middle of the room than being surrounded by other doctors. (Can you blame me? I can only take a few of them at a time!)
After a round of sparkling wine and cocktails, we started with the sausage served with shiitake mushrooms. Delmonico has a whole menu of house-made charcuterie and artisanal cheeses but we controlled ourselves to leave room for the rabbit, the crab and the pork cheeks. The rabbit itself was pretty bland like chicken, but the broth surrounding it was well-seasoned. I couldn’t stop myself from clearing everything off with the freshly baked bread that kept coming in from the kitchen. The soft-shell crab was great with our drinks. The tartar sauce was thick, but light in taste and did not overwhelm the crispiness of the fried crab.
Dirty rice has never tasted this good. True to its Creole roots, the rice was cooked in the juices of the meat it was served with and it shared the rich brown color of the crispy pork cheeks. The golden beets salad was awesome in data molasses, pine nuts and homemade yogurt underneath, but we still needed a side of green beans tossed in garlic and some lemon juice to cut through the richness of our entire meal. Now if only they weren’t cooked in butter…
The dessert choices were not afterthoughts. We ended up going for the earl grey panna cotta with poached Seckel pear sprinkled with pine nut streusel. For my first visit at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant, I have to say that Bam!, I’m now a fan.
Emeril’s Delmonico Restaurant and Bar is at 1300 St. Charles Avenue. Reservations are essential, but walk-ins are accommodated. Call 504/525.4937 anyway so you know how long the wait is. Drink and eat at the bar–it’s perfect.
Emeril’s Delmonico Restaurant and Bar photos on Flickr