WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
One of the great old Creole dining institutions in the French Quarter, Broussard's serves polished, imaginative versions of the traditional Creole dishes. They also offer a smattering of old-style Continental cooking of a kind we don't see much anymore. To make the place more attractive to locals, a three-course table d'hote dinner for around $40 has become a mainstay of the menu. All this is in one of the handsomest restaurants in the city, with a large, beautiful old courtyard. It's most beautiful right now, when the big wisteria that wraps around the courtyard is in bloom.
WHY IT'S GOOD
The mainstays of big-deal New Orleans French-Creole cooking are handled very well here, with just enough innovation to make it seem fresh without diluting the familiar flavors. Chef Gunter Preuss brought twenty years of classical French cooking with him when he took over, and it shows in the details. The menu is sprinkled with pompano, veal sirloin, and other rare groceries. Presentations of even homely old warhorses is always a cut above. Some months ago a brunch served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays was a welcome addition to the schedule.
Broussard's was founded in 1920. During the blossoming of tourism following World War II, it became one of the four grande dames of French-Creole dining. (The others are Antoine's, Galatoire's, and Arnaud's.) Because it went through more changes of ownership and management than the others, it never attracted quite the following that the others did. A major renovation in 1975 by Charles Gresham, a legend among local restaurant designers, rebuilt the 1840s mansion into one of the city's most beautiful restaurants. Chef Gunter Preuss--a Berlin native who came to New Orleans to create the Fairmont's Sazerac restaurant in 1965, then operated the Versaillesfor two decades--bought Broussard's in the mid-1980s. His son Marc Preuss now runs the day-to-day operation.
The three dining rooms have different styles. Surrounding three sides of the courtyard, they seem to be separate restaurants. The main dining room is spacious and elegant in what has become an antique way. The room past the bar, formerly the stables for the house, offers the best view into the courtyard and a more rustic style. The third room with its wood-plank floor is used mostly for parties. The tiled vestibule just inside the entrance sports a demonstration kitchen where the flaming desserts are made.
ESSENTIAL MENU [*=Recommended]
The table d'hote menu of three courses for about $40 is a good bet.
Trio of shrimp remoulade, crabmeat ravigote, and house-cured salmon gravlax.
Crabmeat Broussard's (baked with artichoke bechamel and Herbsaint spinach).
Baked oyster trio.
Fried calamari with olive salad and lemon oil.
Sweet potato, corn and shrimp bisque.
Salad of spinach, bacon, pecans, mushrooms, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Marinated crabmeat salad (starter or entree).
New Orleans-style bouillabaisse.
Pompano Napoleon (grilled, with scallops and shrimp).
Veal Broussard's (veal tenderloin with crawfish and dill).
Roast duck Andreas (cherry Cognac sauce).
Pesto-coated rack of lamb.
Double pork chop with apple chutney and port chili sauce.
Game plate (grilled venison, quail, and boar sausage).
Crepes Broussard (with pecans and strawberries).
Creole cream cheese cheesecake with almonds.
Sarotti Chocolate Fudge Torte
Laced with Brandied Cherries and Raspberry Sauce
FOR BEST RESULTS
The three-course daily table d'hote dinner for $40 uses less-expensive ingredients, yet is one of the best possible dining strategies here. Don't be spooked if the restaurant is sparsely populated. It's too big for the local regulars, and when no big convention is in town it may not fill.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
One of these days, they will have to figure out a parking arrangement that is more convenient. Having to walk three blocks keeps many locals from coming.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Consistency +2
- Service +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar +1
- Local Color +3
- Live music some nights
- Outdoor tables, drinks only
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Small private room
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open Monday dinner
- Reservations honored promptly
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Broussard's may at last be catching on with local people, at least judging from the comments I hear from readers and listeners. The high menu prices and formality that always marked the restaurant have eased. The food has become less fussy and more lusty. The kitchen isn't afraid to put something as quotidian as a seafood-stuffed mirliton on the menu, and it has the skill to make it one of the best dishes on the menu. During the past year or so, Gennifer Flowers--yes, that Gennifer Flowers--has been singing and telling funny, bawdy tales in the bar. She's actually a terrific performer, and well worth hanging in the bar before or after dinner to enjoy. In December, the chef reaches back to his roots with an imaginative and popular German Reveillon menu, always one of the best of the season.
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