Last Updated on Monday, 28 November 2011 16:39
Crescent City Brewhouse
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
The pedestrian stream along the French Quarter riverfront almost rivals that of Bourbon Street, and I love to see those people. I love to see New Orleans visitors wander in here. The Brewhouse has a jazz band playing nightly right at the front door. At the other end of the bar is a guy shucking oysters. Behind the bar are copper tanks where the place brews its own beers. And the food is credible, with a non-cliche New Orleans flavor.
The beers are good and fresh, even though the variety is neither large (usually just five kinds) nor especially innovative. It goes well with the food, which is more adventuresome than you might expect from such a casual place. They serve many burgers and sandwiches, but the menu is wide-ranging, original, and local. The raw oysters or the sausage plate make a good starting point. The entree department explores many categories, but the most promising is the seafood.
Wolfram Koehler, a German guy descended from several generations of brewmasters, opened the Brewhouse in 1991. An adopted Orleanian who developed a taste for the local color, he fills his big restaurant with New Orleans food, music, and art.
The whole place looks very touristy, with its open front doors and the neon signs in the windows above. But the building is an old one, and although it's very casual it is comfortable enough for an extended lunch or dinner. It's bigger than it looks at first, with tables on two floors. The upper deck as a sort of mezzanine overlooking the ground floor and the big, polished beer tanks.
Deli meat, pate, and cheese board.
German sausage platter.
Baked oysters three ways.
Seafood and andouille gumbo.
Oyster club sandwich.
Corned beef and ham Cuban sandwich.
Grilled tuna or crabcake salad.
Soft shell crab with artichokes and crawfish in vermouth butter.
Redfish St. Louis (with oysters and New Orleans barbecue sauce).
Pepper jelly duck with cornbread dressing.
Barbecue pork ribs.
Weissbeer (white beer--great with desserts).
FOR BEST RESULTS
Get a table near the front of the restaurant so you can listen to the live music, which is always quite good. Get a beer assortment for the table.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Keeping the front door open in the summer makes the dining areas warmer and more humid than is comfortable.
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 +1
- Consistency +1
- Service +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +3
- Live music every night
- Good view
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open after 10 p.m.
- Open all afternoon
- Oyster bar
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Reservations accepted
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Wolfram Koehler, a German guy decended from several generations of brewmasters, runs this big, lively restaurant overlooking the river. The center of the action is the polished-copper microbrewery, which produces a half-dozen lagers. There's not as much variety as a custom-brew fanatic might want, but for most of us the beers are quite satisfying in their flavor and freshness. It also goes well with the food, which is more adventuresome than you might expect. The kitchen serves its share of burgers and sandwiches, but you’d be better off taking at face value their promises to produce more ambitious food. The menu is wide-ranging, original, and distinctly Louisiana in its tastes. The perfect start is to have some raw oysters at the bar with beer. They’re from good sources and well-shucked. The kitchen takes some of them for a trio of baked oysters. The sausage platter is a personal favorite; it includes an herbal bratwurst Koehler has made for him according to a family recipe. If you’re going to have a sandwich, the one to get is the offbeat oyster club, in which oat-coated fried oysters go onto wheat bread with a host of unusual dressings (avocado, spinach, sauerkraut, Canadian bacon, and Herbsaint aioli). The entree department leaves no category untouched, with good essays in steak, lamb, duck, barbecue ribs, and pasta. But the most promising is the seafood. Grilled or seared tuna, mahi mahi, and salmon are always around, but they also do soft-chell crabs and shrimp well. The dessert selection includes a very odd variation on tirami su, made with Bavarian cream in two flavors. And there are all the other usual desserts. There's even a dessert beer: a double-bock weissbeer that actually has a white-chocolate undertone. Most of the time, the Crescent City Brewhouse is a very busy place, with the casual service you expect in such an establishment. With live jazz in the house every night, the best approach to the placeis to figure on hanging out for awhile, perhaps with that five-beer assortment they offer taking you through a relaxed repast.
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