Wednesday, September 10, 2008


A good friend from college has recently moved to New Orleans, lets call him the Social Chair. He is staying with Lindsay and I for a few days and graciously offered to take us to any restaurant we wanted. Lindsay chose Gautreau's.

Gautreau's has always been a great Uptown, swanky joint. The lushness of the exterior is matched by the old world warmth of the interior. One feels like they are part of a secret club and with good reason. This spot will become one of your favorites; however, I suspect it already is.

Walking in we spotted in the corner Le Bucket and The Zanimal, who were celebrating the latter's birthday. Chef Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's recently became the latest New Orleans Chef to be on the cover of Food and Wine Magazine as a F&W Best New Chef. Congratulations to her, and kudos to Gautreau's for bringing in and cultivating such great young talent.

A few drinks and a toast to New Orleans gaining another young, professional couple (as the Social Chair's fiancee will move soon) later the appetizers arrived. Gazpacho with crabmeat and shrimp pleased the Social Chair, who leaving landlocked Nashville longed for seafood.

Scallops with truffled fettucine for Lindsay. A word about those scallops. One side was seared perfectly, the other side not at all. This was on purpose and provided an amazing contrast as one moved from the crunchy exterior to an almost molten interior. The truffled fettucine brought the familiar pungency of truffle oil in a complimentary fashion, rather than an overwhleming one. Lindsay did want me to mention one of the scallops was a little gritty.

I, being wise beyond my years, ordered the Pork Belly with soft polenta, peaches, and veal jus. The scoring on the pork belly let the fat crisp up nicely. The peaches, jus, and polenta completed what was overwhelmingly the best appetizer. The Duck Confit would also be a great choice.

Two salads arrived. The first a Bibb Lettuce salad with walnuts and strawberries. The other a salad of baby romaine and olives. Both were good and after eating mine, I thought "Why don't I eat more salads when I am out to eat?"

All of the above and all of the below was enhanced by a beautifully fragrant Sancerre Rose. Social Chair continued his quest for a seafood fixed with a crispy snapper. Lindsay got a roast chicken on mashed potatoes. Cause let's face it, roast chicken done properly is about as good as it gets. I got the duck over spinach with squash and potatoes. Plates were quickly and quietly cleaned.

If there is one thing I think Gautreau's does perfectly, it is crisping the fatty skin of animals. Sure they do other things very well, but the mastery of that skill makes Gautreau's very special. At the end of the day, a crispy duck confit, cracklin pork belly, or crunchy roast chicken all the while perserving a flavorful, moist interior would be good enough on its own to make this spot great.

The Social Chair had a terrific idea. We grabbed three flourless chocolate cakes with Grand Marnier sauce, sat on the couch, and watched the Raiders get beat.


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