Nestled across from Lafayette cemetery on the corner of Washington and Coliseum streets, Commander’s Palace looks something like a bizarre white and teal castle. Known for its award-winning quality food and service, this New Orleans landmark has been a destination for travelers from around the world since the 1880’s.
Renowned chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, and now Tory McPhail have made Commander’s Palace the world-class restaurant it is today and its globally praised Creole cuisine evokes the best of New Orleans.
The sign out front beckons warmly as you walk under the striped awning and through the heavy glass door. The first thing you notice when you walk in is that all of the men are wearing blazers. The dress code is traditional: sport coats for men and dress pants, dresses, or skirts for women.
This is a “white glove service” kind of place, and you can almost feel the musk of antiquity and history in the air: it’s all a little overwhelming at first. The hostess greets you and you are escorted through rooms of chandeliers. An occasional flame rises from a bananas foster (one of their prized desserts) as the server flambés the dish tableside.
Once you are seated in the Garden Room upstairs, it’s like stepping into a painting. The enormous glass windows showcase the green from the oak trees that surround the restaurant and reflect from the equally huge mirrored walls on the opposite end.
You don’t think it can get any better—until you look at the menu. Commander’s offers the best of the best when it comes to traditional Creole cuisine, so it’s hard to go wrong when ordering.
There’s the veal tenderloin over truffle potatoes, roasted mushrooms and glade de viands with smoked sea salt and tomato jam, the pecan-crusted gulf fish with sweet corn-spiced pecans and Prosecco-poached Louisiana blue crab, and of course, the shrimp. It’s seared wild white shrimp with charred chilies, asparagus, grilled black kale, preserved lemon, shaved daikon radish, and mirlitons with poblano-blood orange butter—my personal favorite menu item.
There are also numerous sides and soups to chose from, including Commander’s globally recognized turtle soup.
By the time dessert comes around, you tell yourself that you just cannot eat one more thing. This is a lie.
From the creole bread pudding soufflé to the Ponchatoula strawberry shortcake, each item on the dessert menu tastes like a sweet, Cajun lullaby. If by some miracle you have not finished your food (and can still formulate sentences), the wait staff will beautifully package your leftovers in foil shaped like a swan. Food so heavenly deserves a vessel of equal beauty.
Dinner at Commander’s Palace is a truly special experience. It is not a place that most college students can afford during the semester, so occasions like parent’s weekend are a great time to make a reservation. No matter what kind of meals you’ve had in the city of New Orleans, nothing compares to the quality of food and service offered at Commander’s—just remember to make a reservation at least a week in advance.
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