Anniversary Dinner at Brigtsen's
For our final dinner in New Orleans, Win wanted to go somewhere fabulous and special but non-touristy. He did some reading and decided that he had a good feeling about Brigtsen's. He thought it was the kind of place that real New Orleans residents would go for a special and delicious meal. I've got to hand it to him...he does have good restaurant instincts and Brigtsen's was a perfect way to celebrate our final night in New Orleans.
Brigtsen's is owned by Frank and Marna Brigtsen. Frank is the chef and Marna the maitre'd. Frank cooked at Commander's Palace under Paul Prudhomme and then went on to work at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. Frank opened Brigtsen's in 1986 and he and his restaurant have been winning awards, including the James Beard Best Chef Southeast Award, ever since.
Brigtsen's is an intimate place, with several small and welcoming dining rooms. The servers are extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and fun to talk to. When our server Sally heard we were in New Orleans to celebrate our anniversary, she seemed genuinely happy for us and sprinkled some confetti hearts on our table to celebrate. I made them into a little message for Win. I know, I know...depending on your temperament you'll either find this sweet and endearing or vomit-worthy and sappy. It's your call.
Now back to Brigtsen's and the food. Their menu is divine and selecting just a few dishes to try was tough. For an appetizer, I had the butternut shrimp bisque. This soup was pure heaven. Creamy, smooth and just the right combination of squash and shrimp flavors. Brigtsen's kindly features the recipe for this soup on their web site. I haven't tried to make it at home yet (and don't know if my version could ever compare to theirs) but I highly recommend this soup. It was so good and definitely worth a try at home if you can't get to New Orleans to experience theirs.
For his appetizer, Win chose pan-fried catfish with jalapeno cheese grits. He loved it.
For my entree, I was intrigued by the blackened tuna with smoked corn sauce, red bean salsa, and avocado sour cream. This combination of flavors with blackened fish sounded outstanding to me. The only problem was that I know tuna is considered best when served rare or medium rare and I just don't like rare tuna. I've had it at some of the best restaurants in the US, and each time I find it ok, but not great in its rare form. Sally, our server, was very helpful in this regard assuring me that they would cook the tuna however I liked or perhaps substitute another fish for me. She checked with the chef and they did the dish with blackened drum instead. It was delicious and had a really unique Southwestern slant to it.
For his entree, Win selected the grilled beef tournedos with tasso marchand du vin sauce and bleu cheese. These tournedos were so, so good and the sauce and bleu cheese with them just made them sing. Really, really outstanding (I took a bite too).
For dessert, we took Sally's recommendation and had the fresh berries in champagne vanilla sabayon. Normally I don't think a "fresh berry" dessert choice is terribly exciting, but this one was. The dessert began with a delicious crust on the bottom of the dish that was then filled with fresh strawberries and blueberries. On top of the berries was a champagne vanilla sabayon that had been lightly toasted. They served it to us with a celebratory candle. Wow. The sabayon was wonderful.
Brigtsen's was outstanding from the first moment we got there through to our last bite. Our meal lasted almost three hours and I had absolutely no idea we'd been there that long until we left. They let diners take their time, relax and enjoy the food. The food is delicious and creative, the service friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere warm and inviting. The restaurant was full of locals, not a tourist in sight (besides us). So Win's instincts were right again...this was a fabulous way to cap off our visit to New Orleans.
723 Dante Street
New Orleans, LA
Next time: Back to life in Chicago!
PS: No food photos on this one because I felt very conspicuous taking pictures of our food in their intimate little dining room. Any photos I took here were when no one was looking!