As I mentioned yesterday, Betsy did quite a nice job of detailing the meal-to-end-all-meals that we had at the fabulous Commander’s Palace in Las Vegas. The original Commander’s in New Orleans has been voted time and time again the best restaurant in NOLA, and the Las Vegas branch has continued the amazing food and service.
But you knew that.
I just wanted to take a moment and talk about the actual food we had, and the preparation and tastes involved. We had a combination of three appetizers:
Crab Batons: a new menu item, comprised of lump crab inside a crispy oriental wrap. There were hints of ginger, and it was served with a really light wasabi cream sauce and a homemade warmed thickened soy dipping sauce. The soy had a slight sweetness, but served warm it was the scent that hit first…an earthiness that completely grounded the sweetness of the crab and the spice of the wasabi. A perfectly balanced asian taste sensation.
Louisiana Alligator “Cordon Bleu”: a healthy fillet of alligator, stuffed with a housemade mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma. Unlike the delicate flavor combinations of the Crab Batons, this is more of a big item for the mouth…it was flash fried, so the texture was very crisp on the outside, while the cheesy interior allowed for a creamy finish that wasn’t entirely expected. Combine that with the sharp salt bite of the prosciutto, and it was an appetizer that could hold its own as an entree.
Foie Gras Gumbo: a gumbo with foie gras, a variety of wild mushrooms, and andouille sausage. This was nearly the most perfect thing I’ve ever eaten…thick and rich, with the creamy flavor of foie gras in every bite, but with the spice of the sausage as an afterthought. The serving was small, but it would be difficult to eat any large amount of this due to its density. It was like melted foie gras with a kick of creole spice…perfect. The sous chef told us that this was prepared in a secret corner of the kitchen so that no one knew how it was made, and I believe it. The preparation must take hours to meld all of the ingredients to the perfection that we consumed.
My entree was a Creole spiced Buffalo chop, which was an absolutely immense. It had to be an inch thick, and 7 or so inches in diameter…I requested that the cook prepare it as he would eat it, expecting to get it roughly medium rare. It was perfectly cooked, juicy and pink all the way through. Tender, with a ton of flavor, it was just a great piece of meat. It was accompanied by steak fries that had been tossed in a buttermilk blue cheese and spices, and served with a housemade creole ketchup. My only regret was that I was unable to finish it. With the meal I had a glass of red wine that complimented the buffalo without competing with it, smooth and crisp with nearly no sweetness.
And speaking of sweet…the desserts. Ah…the desserts. We were presented with 5 different selections, but if it were up to me there could have been 5 Bread Pudding SoufflÃ©s. This was a dessert that made me question my atheism. It was the normally dense, flavorful dessert reimagined into an edible cloud. Combine the flavor with the sweetness of the bourbon cream sauce that accompanied the soufflÃ©, and you’ve got perhaps my favorite all time dessert. Don’t get me wrong, the white/dark chocolate stuffed beignets were heavenly, and the creole opera cake was a treat, but when you set them down next to the bread pudding soufflÃ©, I don’t even know they are there.
In all, it was definitely one of the two best meals of my life. The only place that comes close is the Fearrington House in NC, and I’m not sure I could rank the two against each other. Combine all that food with a bottle of great French champange, a couple of cups of chicory coffee with dessert, and you’ve got an event that is hard to beat. The entire process was just over 3 hours, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.