Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 10:43
Where To Dine, What To Cook
Easter used to keep us at home with family dinners and Easter egg hunts. But in the last twenty years or so it's become a big day for dining out. Even those who cook at home on Easter are using the day as an occasion for some serious cooking--although it usually remains a buffet well supplied with kidfood.
Or, with the warm weather finally here, they're grilling. Or having a crawfish boil, because crawfish begin getting good around this time of year.
I'll get back to the cooking side of this later on. (To go straight to it, click here.) But let's start with Easter Brunch, because those plans are needed immediately.
Easter Sunday Brunches
Demand for Easter brunch restaurant reservations oustrips the supply. Especially this year, with so many restaurants closed on Sunday.
The demand is such that the bad dog of popular dining days is on the loose again. That's the "special holiday menu." It offers a limited selection of dishes (so the kitchen can get it out more easily to more people) at a higher price (so the high demand can be taken full advantage of). Neither of these motivations is evil, but the result is diminished enjoyment for the diner.
If you can find a good Easter brunch, or even a good Easter dinner, it can be very pleasant indeed. The weather tends to be very nice, so if you're in the French Quarter a stroll around is inviting. Even the most ambitious restaurants make themselves friendly to families and their children, so that's not a problem.
The worst development in the Easter dining market is that some of the major players are taking full advantage of the crowds to raise their prices to unheard-of levels. The luxury hotels are asking for prices between $75 and $89 a person, with a kid's price higher than most venues are charging for adults. (And since when did one stop being a kid at age ten? That's the cutoff for more restaurants every year.)
Below is a list of restaurants open for Easter that have a good track record from past holidays. Most--but not all--will be serving a brunch menu (not necessarily a buffet, though) at midday. Most will also be open for dinner.
It's impossible to determine which of these are fully booked, but I'm sure a few of them will be by the time you read this. Which brings up an important point: You should make reservations now. As in right now.
Restaurants whose names are underlined have a full, detailed review on this website. Click on the symbol to go to the review.
This list doesn't include every restaurant open on Easter Sunday--just the ones that seem appropriate for a special Easter dinner. For all Sunday openings, go here.
Commander's Palace. Garden District. 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. Contemporary Creole.
Le Foret. CBD. 129 Camp. 504-553-6738. French.
MiLa. CBD. 817 Common. 504-412-2580 . Eclectic.
Restaurant August. CBD. 301 Tchoupitoulas. 504-299-9777. Eclectic.
Antoine's. French Quarter. 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. Creole French.
Arnaud's. French Quarter. 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. Creole French.
Atchafalaya. Uptown. 901 Louisiana Ave. 504-891-9626. Contemporary Creole.
Borgne. CBD. 601 Loyola Ave (Hyatt Regency Hotel). 504-613-3860. Seafood.
Brennan's. French Quarter. 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Creole French.
Cafe Adelaide. CBD. 300 Poydras Street. 504-595-3305. Contemporary Creole.
Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter. 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. Creole Italian.
Cafe Lynn. Mandeville. 3051 East Causeway Approach. 985-624-9007. Contemporary Creole.
Carmelo. Mandeville: 1901 US Hwy 190. 985-624-4844.
Coquette. Garden District. 2800 Magazine . 504-265-0421. Creole French.
Dante's Kitchen. Riverbend. 736 Dante. 504-861-3121. Contemporary Creole.
Delmonico. Lee Circle Area. 1300 St Charles Ave. 504-525-4937. Contemporary Creole.
Domenica. CBD. 123 Baronne (Roosevelt Hotel). 504-648-6020. Italian.
Galatoire's. French Quarter. 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. Creole French.
Gallagher's Grill. Covington. 509 S Tyler. 985-892-9992. Contemporary Creole.
GW Fins. French Quarter. 808 Bienville. 504-581-3467. Seafood.
Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses). Gretna. 1100 Stephens. 504-366-7665. Vietnamese.
La Provence. Lacombe. 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. French.
La Thai Cuisine. Uptown. 4938 Prytania. 504-899-8886 . Thai.
Latil's Landing. River Parishes. In Houmas House Plantation. 225-473-9380. Contemporary Creole.
Mr. B's Bistro. French Quarter. 201 Royal. 504-523-2078. Contemporary Creole.
Muriel's. French Quarter. 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. Contemporary Creole.
Nathan's. Slidell. 36440 Old Bayou Liberty Rd . 985-643-0443. Contemporary Creole.
Nola. French Quarter. 534 St Louis. 504-522-6652. Contemporary Creole.
One. Riverbend. 8132 Hampson. 504-301-9061. Contemporary Creole.
Patois. Uptown. 6078 Laurel. 504-895-9441. Creole French.
Ralph's On The Park. City Park Area. 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. Contemporary Creole.
R'evolution. French Quarter. 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. Creole French.
Ruth's Chris Steak House. Metairie. 3633 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-3600. Steak.
Sal and Judy's. Lacombe. 27491 Highway 190. 985-882-9443. Italian.
Shogun. Metairie. 2325 Veterans Blvd. 504-833-7477. Japanese.
Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District. 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Creole French.
Windsor Court Grill Room. CBD. 300 Gravier. 504-522-1994. American.
Albertine's Tea Room (Columns Hotel). Uptown. 3811 St Charles Ave. 504-899-9308. Creole.
Andrea's. Metairie. 3100 19th St. 504-834-8583. Italian.
Annadele Plantation. Covington. 71518 Chestnut. 985-809-7669. Contemporary Creole.
Blue Room. CBD. 123 Baronne, Roosevelt Hotel. 504-648-1200. American.
Bosco's. Mandeville. 2040 La Hwy 59. 985-624-5066. Creole Italian.
Bourbon House. French Quarter. 144 Bourbon. 504-522-0111. Seafood.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel. French Quarter: 717 Orleans St. (504) 571-4604. Traditional Creole Buffet.
Cafe Degas. Mid-City. 3127 Esplanade Ave. 504-945-5635. French.
Cafe East. Metairie. 4628 Rye. 504-888-0078. Pan-Asian.
Cafe Equator. Metairie. 2920 Severn Ave. 504-888-4772 . Thai.
Chad's Bistro. Metairie. 3216 W Esplanade Ave. 504-838-9935. Seafood.
Court of Two Sisters. French Quarter. 613 Royal. 504-522-7273. Creole French.
Crescent City Steak House. Mid-City. 1001 N Broad. 504-821-3271. Steak.
Crystal Room. CBD. Le Pavillon Hotel, 901 Poydras. 504-581-3111. Creole.
Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. French Quarter. 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. Steak.
Feelings. Marigny. 2600 Chartres. 504-945-2222. Creole French.
Five Happiness. Mid-City. 3605 S Carrollton. 504-482-3935. Chinese.
Flaming Torch. Uptown. 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900. French.
Galvez. French Quarter. 912 N Peters. 504-585-1400. Spanish.
Grand Isle. Warehouse District. 575 Convention Center Blvd. 504-520-8530. Seafood.
Katie's. Mid-City. 3701 Iberville. 504-488-6582. Neighborhood Cafe.
Lüke. CBD. 333 St Charles Ave. 504-378-2840. French.
Mandina's. Mid-City. 3800 Canal. 504-482-9179. Seafood, Italian.
Maple Street Cafe. Riverbend. 7623 Maple. 504-314-9003. Creole Italian.
Martinique. Uptown. 5908 Magazine. 504-891-8495. French.
Mayas. Garden District. 2027 Magazine. 504-309-3401. Central American.
Middendorf's. River Parishes. Exit 15 off I-55, Manchac. 985-386-6666. Seafood.
Palace Cafe. French Quarter. 605 Canal. 504-523-1661. Contemporary Creole.
Peppermill. Metairie. 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266. Creole, Italian.
Praline Connection. Marigny. 542 Frenchmen. 504-943-3934. Creole.
Red Fish Grill. French Quarter. 115 Bourbon. 504-598-1200. Seafood.
Rene Bistro. Warehouse District. 700 Tchoupitoulas. 504-613-2350. Creole French.
Restaurant des Familles. Lafitte. 7163 Barataria Blvd. 504-689-7834. Seafood.
Rib Room. French Quarter. 621 St Louis St. 504-529-7045. American.
Ruth's Chris Steak House. CBD. 228 Poydras (Harrah's Hotel). 504-587-7099. Steak.
Sesame Inn. Mandeville. 408 N Causeway Blvd. 985-951-8888. Chinese.
Thai Spice. Covington. 1531 US 190. 985-809-6483. Thai.
Trey Yuen. Mandeville. 600 Causeway Blvd. 985-626-4476. Chinese.
Tujague's. French Quarter. 823 Decatur. 504-525-8676. Creole.
Vera's. Slidell. 2020 Gause Blvd W. 985-690-9814 . Seafood.
Veranda. CBD. 444 St Charles Ave. 504-585-4383. American.
Wasabi. Marigny. 900 Frenchmen. 504-943-9433. Japanese.
Wasabi. West End. 8550 Pontchartrain Blvd . 504-267-3263. Japanese.
Water Street Bistro. Madisonville. 804 Water. 985-845-3855. Contemporary Creole.
Zea. Harahan. 1655 Hickory Ave. 504-738-0799. American.
Zea. Kenner. 1325 West Esplanade Ave. 504-468-7733. American.
Zea. Lee Circle/Lower Garden District. 1525 St Charles Ave. 504-520-8100. American.
Zea. Metairie. 4450 Veterans Blvd (Clearview Mall). 504-780-9090. American.
Zea. Covington. 110 Lake Dr. 985-327-0520. American.
Zea. Harvey. 1121 Manhattan Blvd. 504-361-8293. American.
Zea. Slidell. 173 Northshore Blvd. 985-273-0500. American.
5Fifty5. CBD: Marriott Hotel, 555 Canal. 504-553-5638. Brunch buffet, $45.
7 On Fulton. Warehouse District. 700 Fulton (Wyndham Riverfront Hotel). 504-681-1034. Contemporary Creole.
8 Block Kitchen & Bar. CBD: 601 Loyola Ave. (Hyatt Regency Hotel). 504-613-3850. Buffet.
Angels on Horseback
This is such a simple dish it almost doesn't require a recipe, but enough people ask me about it that here it is. This is the perfect time of year to make this little pass-around appetizer, because the oysters are exceptionally meaty right now. In the days of Dickens, grand feasts would end with what was called the "savory"—a single bite of something smoky and salty. This dish is the classic savory course--especially when the meal began with oysters.
- 6 slices smoky bacon
- 12 large oysters
1. Stretch the bacon slices out on a rack atop a baking pan and put it about four inches under the broiler at 550 degrees. Broil for about two minutes, until the fat in the bacon begins to turn opaque and some of the fat has been rendered out. Remove and drain the bacon. Leave the broiler on.
2. Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each oyster, and attach with a toothpick. Place the oysters on the rack under the broiler and broil for about two minutes, turning once, until the edges of the bacon begin to crisp.
Serves four to six appetizers or twelve savories.
Asparagus and Crawfish
With Glazed Hollandaise
The perfect time to make this dish is springtime, when both crawfish and asparagus are excellent and inexpensive. The flavor blend, enriched by the hollandaise, is remarkable. What makes it especially appealing is glazing the hollandaise, a simple old technique not often enough employed.
- 1 lb. asparagus, bottom inch or two cut off
- 1/2 cup cooked crawfish tails
- 2 Tbs. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup hollandaise sauce (see recipe below)
- Cayenne pepper
1. The best way to cook the asparagus is in a steamer, but it can also be done in a large skillet. For the latter, bring a half-inch of water to a slow boil and drop the asparagus in it. Let the asparagus cook about two minutes. Remove, being careful not to break them. Run cold water over the asparagus to stop the cooking, and drain.
2. Heat the broiler. Arrange the asparagus in one row, all parallel to one another, on a broiling pan. Sprinkle the crawfish and the Parmesan cheese around the center of the asparagus. Pour the hollandaise over the center of the asparagus row, leaving the tips clean.
3. Broil the asparagus until the hollandaise begins to glaze light brown on the top. Remove from the oven. Remove six to ten at a time with the topping intact, using a long metal spatula. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne.
Hollandaise is one of the "mother sauces" of classical French cooking, and widely used around New Orleans, where it usually contains an extra pinch of cayenne. It's not hard to make if you can keep it from breaking, which will happen if the sauce gets too hot once the butter goes in. I avoid this by whisking in the butter in softened, not melted form.
Hollandaise should be made right before it's needed. If you try to keep it warm, it might break. If that happens, you can sometimes bring it back by adding a little warm water. If that doesn't work, start with a fresh bowl with one egg yolk, and slowly whisk the broken sauce into it.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 stick plus 3 Tbs. butter, softened
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Pinch cayenne
1. Whisk the egg yolks and the vinegar briskly in a metal bowl set over a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water at the bottom. If you see even a hint of curdling in the eggs, take the bowl off the heat, but keep whisking. Keep going back and forth from the heat until the mixture turns thick and lightens in color. Whisk in a tablespoon of warm water.
2. Begin adding the softened butter, a pat at a time. After about a fourth of the butter is in there, you'll begin to see a change in the texture of the sauce. At that point, you can step up the addition of the butter a bit, and keep going till all the butter is incorporated.
3. Whisk in the cayenne and the lemon juice and serve right away.
Makes about 3/4 cup.
Lamb Loin Roast "Maison d'Or"
For many years, this was the premier lamb dish at Antoine's. They changed the dish in the late 1970s--a good idea, since the sauce was an impossibly old-fashioned concoction riddled with sweetbreads, turkey chunks, and mushrooms.
My recipe is really different from Antoine's dish. Aside from being richly delicious, it keeps alive the memory of my first Golden Retriever. Her name on her certificate was "Nouisette d'Agneau Maison d'Or"--which is what Antoine's called it when its whole menu was in French.--a wonderful dog, now gone--after it.
- 1 rack of American lamb
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp. tarragon vinegar
- 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice, strained
- 2 Tbs. red wine
- 1 tsp. dried chives
- 1/2 cup thinly-sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 tsp. chopped truffles (optional but highly desirable)
- 1/2 tsp. green Tabasco
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 stick butter, softened
1. Trim the lean central part of the lamb away from the bones and fat. Season it with salt and pepper.
2. In a large ovenproof skillet or roasting pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil with the garlic cloves until the garlic browns a little and becomes fragrant. Brown the lamb all over, then put the pan into the preheated oven.
3. While the lamb is roasting, make the sauce. Combine all the sauce ingredients except the eggs and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until almost all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. Set aside.
4. In a metal bowl set in a saucepan of gently boiling water, whisk the egg yolks until they change to a pale yellow color. Add the butter to the eggs, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When the sauce is fluffy, add the mushroom mixture to the sauce. Keep warm.
5. When the lamb is done to your liking remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. When ready to serve, slice the noisettes about 3/4 inch thick. Serve two slices per person with the sauce spooned generously over the top.
Spinach Pie a la Jennifer
Spinach pie, made with a phyllo crust, is popular in Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants. With good reason: it's light, deliicous, and goes well with everything else in those cuisines. It's easier to make then you might suppose.
Jennifer Donner is my wife's niece, and she was our favorite babysitter until she got married and left town. She also was the person who gave my family total hospitality in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina. But before she did any of that, she made this great spinach pie.
- 2 10-oz. bags fresh spinach, picked and washed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 Tbs. dill
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 8 oz. feta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 stick butter, melted
- Phyllo pastry
1. Leaving the water that clings to the spinach after washing, cooked the spinach over medium-low heat in a large saucepan until it wilts down completely. Remove, allow to cool, and chop finely.
2. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan. Saute the onion until it turns clear. Add the dill, parsley, and green onions, and cook until the green onions get limp. Add the spinach. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the beaten egg and feta cheese quickly until well blended. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and set aside.
3. Cut the phyllo pastry into strips about five inches wide. Keep covered with a damp cloth to avoid drying. Using two thicknesses of phyllo at a time, drop about a teaspoonful of the spinach mixture onto the phyllo, and fold the phyllo into a triangle around it. Fold over four times to completely enclose filling. Brush with butter on both sides. When you have enough pies to fill a cookie sheet or pizza pan, put them into the oven to bake. It is not necessary to turn.
The mixture can also be put into small vol-au-vents ("patty shells," as they are known in New Orleans) for baking.
Peachy Grilled Pork Loin
Pork loins lend themselves to sauces with a little sweet fruitiness. That quality can come from many places, but this recipe (which I must admit was inspired by a press release I got from the National Pork Board, although I made a number of changes in it) uses peaches. Peaches? Why not? You can use fresh peaches instead of the canned I use here, but add a little peach nectar to get the necessary liquid for the marinade.
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons chili sauce
- 2 tsp. Tabasco garlic marinade
- 2 16-oz. cans peach slices in juice (not syrup), undrained
- 1 boneless double pork loin (about 2 lbs.)
1. Combine all the ingredients except the pork in a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
2. Place pork loin in a heavy plastic food-storage bag. Pour half the peach puree into the bag. Marinate overnight. Refrigerate remaining peach sauce.
3. When ready to cook, set a drip pan in the charcoal bed of the grill, with about two cups of water in the pan. Arrange coals around the pan, and add wood chunks atop the coals.
4. Place pork loin on the grill right over the drip pan, avoiding any direct convection from the coals. Baste and turn every fifteen minutes with the excess marinade that was with the meat. Cook until internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees, about 60 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
5. Heat the reserved peach sauce (not the batch that marinated the pork!) until it comes to a light simmer. Adjust with salt and pepper. Slice the pork about the thickness of two quarters and serve with the reserved peach sauce.
Serves about eight.
Pat Gallagher's Smothered Quail
I'm not nuts about quail. As cute as the little birds are, I find their flavor not sufficiently interesting to justify the amount of work involved in eating them. So it's saying something when I tell you that I would never turn away from any quail dish prepared by Pat Gallagher. Gallagher has operated a number of restaurants over the years on the North Shore. (The current one is Gallagher's Grill.) Quail was always a great specialty. None were pretentious dishes. Just fresh, prepared simply and very, very well. Now that quail are relatively easy to buy fresh, consider trying this one night.
- 8 quails, partially deboned and split
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 8 large mushrooms, sliced
- 2 oz. brandy
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the quail front and back with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and bring it to bubbling. Sauté the quails for about two minutes.
3. Add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until the onions are clear. Carefully pour on the brandy and touch a flame to it. (Skip the flaming if you have even a shred of doubt about safety.)
4. When the flames die out, add the stock, thyme and red wine and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for seven to ten minutes, until the quail are tender.
5. Serve two quail per person with plenty of the sauce and dirty rice. (Or not-so-dirty rice, for that matter.)
A clafoutis uses a runny version of Belgian waffle batter as a matrix for fruit--classically, cherries. But you can make it with anything sweet, and few fruits would make this more appealing than ripe pears. When you make this recipe, use more pear than you think you'll need. And although the pan will seem to contain too much batter, go with it--it won't run over.
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 3-4 ripe pears, cut into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until the grittiness of the sugar is gone and the mixture is noticeably lighter in color. Then beat in the buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract, and cinnamon.
2. Add the flour and whisk lightly, but leave small lumps of flour in the batter.
3. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar into a soft-peaking froth. With a rubber spatula, mix this into the batter, but don't overmix--streaks are okay.
4. Generously butter a 10-inch cake pan. Distribute the pear chunks on the bottom, and pour the batter over it.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for eight minutes, then lower the oven to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 20 minutes. The clafoutis is ready when barely browned on the top.
It can be refrigerated for a great breakfast.