Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Orleans Restaurant Review: Luke

My beloved Food and Wine magazine gushed about New Orleans chef, John Besh, so I couldn't resist trying one of his restaurants while I was in New Orleans. August is arguably the jewel of his local restaurant empire, but I chose Luke because of it's laid back atmosphere and reasonable prices. Luke specializes in German and French brasserie fare, a unique departure from much of what you find in New Orleans.Fortunately those reasonable prices didn't come with a discount in quality, and the entire experience was top notch. The atmosphere is a bit more conducive to business lunches than romantic dates - a bit too bright without any luxe or funky touches, although the pressed tin ceilings at least kept things feeling bistro-like. But with such great food, a somewhat bland atmosphere doesn't phase me.
Since the boyfriend and I were trying to expand our waistlines as much as humanly possible while in NO, we started with rillete of Berkshire pork with marmalade and grilled country bread. I wasn't quite sure what rillete was, and our waitress told us, it was better not to know. I now realize it was a pate of pork covered with lard. Sounds gross, but it was in fact quite tasty, in an ultra rich, literally eating lard sort of way. I'd already had enough fried oysters to kill a person, so I only tried a bite of my cousin's fried oyster, bacon, romaine and avocado salad. Mmm...the oysters were spectacular, and I wish I'd had room for more!
For an entree, I opted for the Sunday special, blanquette of veal cheeks and wild mushrooms with housemade pasta. The veal cheeks were oh so tender and flavorful, and everyone at the table agreed, I'd ordered the best dish. The other entrees in competition were steak frites with bernaise (so juicy and delectable!), vanilla scented duck (smelled divine, but duck rarely excites me) and Louisiana redfish almandine (the weakest link, good but just tasted like any old fish). All were great, but my veal trumped all. Alas, at about this time my stomach hit capacity
(probably something to do with the 1.5 beignets and a Pat O'Brian's Hurricane that I had earlier that afternoon, so I wasn't able to finish my dish. Sadly, when eaten cold, with my hands no less, the next morning, it just wasn't nearly as compelling.

Although I was stuffed to the gills, I had to find room for dessert because it was included in my 3-course menu. Amazingly, the boyfriend for the first and probably last time was too full to indulge, so I was left on my own to eat the delectable bread pudding with pralines. It was rich and gooey and ultra sweet. Aw hell yeah!
Not only was everything delicious, but our server was hilarious. Granted we were having one of those crazy dinner conversations that the waiter can't help but overhear and laugh at, but she played along to perfection and actually had us cracking up even more. That's my kind of service.

I left happy and bursting at the seams, and I only wish I could try all of the yummy sounding things on Luke's menu!

Central Business District
333 Saint Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

Luke on Urbanspoon



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