Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Besh Restaurants in NoLa: Luke and August

We wanted to hit the John Besh restaurants in New Orleans during our visit -- the upscale August for sure, and the lower key Luke if we had time. Both restaurants were pretty great, but August was (unsurprisingly) much more polished, both in the service and the dishes we tried. Besh Steak in Harrah's can wait 'til next time.

Dinner at Luke, the French brasserie, started with a long-ish wait at the bar, even though the place was only about half full. Luckily we got to sit in the back, right against the open kitchen so we could watch the progress of our food. I'm not sure if that was good or not considering how hungry we were. Three of us had: a bacon-swiss burger, duck breast with a subtle blueberry demi glace and grilled gulf fish with bacon and corn. The bacon in my gulf fish was actually more like heavily smoked strips of pork belly -- so good. The same stuff also made an appearance in a soup at August. No complaints here.

For dessert -- a pot de creme of the most amazing chocolate mousse I've ever tasted, and a more forgettable vanilla cake with orange and creme fraiche.

We were lucky enough to have the time to visit August at lunchtime, when they offer a $20 three-course prix fixe meal. It's gotta be the best deal in town.

The amuse was a truffled egg custard with cavier, served in an egg shell. It sounds over the top, but it was actually REALLY good. Creamy and salty with tiny hints of crunch. It might have been my favorite of the meal.

For an appetizer, I had the sunchoke soup, poured tableside over carmelized apple and the bacon from the night before (they call it "crispy lardon" now). He had the pate with pickled mushrooms. It was gigantic!

My entree was a cod ravioli topped with saffron foam. Much saltier than the tuna belly ravioli I had at Convivio, which I think was the only other time I've had fish-stuffed ravioli. It was good, but not as good as the seared sheepshead fish with corn and succotash (which sounded too much like my dinner the night before, only it was lots better).

I usually prefer cheese over chocolate for dessert (is that really strange?) so I had the manchego "eclair" with caramel and apples. I could have done with about half as much melted cheese, but the pairing with the poached apples and caramel was nice and autumny. He had the milk chocolate peanut butter croquant with caramel and buttered popcorn-flavored ice cream. Both desserts were pretty heavy. I guess they want to make sure you don't leave hungry.

Then, finally, some pralines and chocolate truffles that we couldn't even finish. We could barely move afterwards. And now we understand why people in Louisiana walk so slow.

33 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA

301 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA

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