Sunday, March 7, 2010

Restaurant August – New Orleans (part 2)

It was cold, lengthy, and a once in a lifetime event, but the Lombardi Gras parade was over. Unfortunately, I was exhausted and frozen from 6 hours standing in one place. Even worse, the change in parade route meant I was cut off from the hotel and even worse, cut off from my dinner reservations at Stella. Thankfully, John Besh and his Restaurant August came to the rescue. With a minute or two wait, I was able to slide into a chair and see the aftermath of the parade.

Like before the amuse bouche was a seafood custard.

Not much has changed here; it’s still a little salty and delicious. From here on, things took a decidedly un-Besh-like turn.

Judging from its description as a truffle larded sweetbread “picatta” with romaine lettuce and herbed cream, this appetizer should be off the charts.

With the first bite, I was surprised at how breaded and dense the sweetbread picatta was. This process really lost all of the creaminess I love about sweetbreads. Thin and only slightly cream with a slight tartness, even the sauce seemed a little off.

As is the case with every Besh owned restaurant, I had a hard time deciding on an entrée, but I eventually settled on a dish from the degustation menu. La provence Berkshire pork and wild boar en crepinette, porcini mushrooms, baby root vegetables, and pork cheek maultaschen.

I can already hear the comments from anonymous blackberry readers: “You don’t know what a maultaschen is? Everyone knows that one.” I’ll freely admit, I asked the waiter what maultaschen meant, but back to the actual dish. The pork and wild boar en crepinette didn’t work as well I hoped. I know that wild boar and domestic pigs are essentially the same animal, but with the Berkshire tender and really great, the board was a little on the chewy side. This seemed like two different meats that just didn’t quite mesh. However the maultaschen was a different story. Each bite was full of tender, well spiced pork with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

I’m not here to say the food was bad, quite the opposite. I’ve just come to expect an almost ethereal quality from a Besh restaurant, an expectation I should probably scale down just a bit. Even the best chefs in New Orleans have an off night or two. Needless to say, I’ll still hold Restaurant August in high regard and it will continue to be one of my first recommendations.

For Restaurant August part 1, please click here

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