Whether it’s more a tradition or a cliché to celebrate your birthday at Commander’s Palace, it’s definitely a pleasure. Many restaurants in New Orleans are closed on Mondays but Commander’s was open and filled with well dressed groups and couples, an attentive wait staff and 2 birthday celebrators with balloons tied to their chairs including me.
Commander’s Palace was established in the 1880’s and has been known since for award-winning food and elegant dining rooms. The Brennans (the city’s most renowned restaurant family) took the place over in 1974 and gave it the Tavern on the Green-like look it currently enjoys.
I like sitting in the room overlooking the courtyard but it was closed for renovations so we were escorted through the kitchen to a glass room near the courtyard. Our table was next to the glass-encased Live Oak tree trunk growing through the middle of the floor. I love that they kept the tree and built around it even if the condensation from the air conditioning created a terrarium effect.
The garlic bread started us off along with a special treat from the chef, something tasty in phyllo pastry sitting in a bright orange savory sauce. Next up was Seafood Gumbo and The Commander’s Salad, a salad best described as a wedge salad – chopped. It features hearts of romaine, parmesan, pressed eggs, house made bacon, French bread croutons, grated Gruyère and creamy black pepper dressing. Next was a wonderful piece of fish with spring vegetables, ripped herbs and 2 fabulous sauces drizzled in pretty green and orange and Soft Shell Crab with local crabmeat, corn, beans, soy beans, heirloom tomatoes and pickled avocado.
Dessert meant a plate of mango honey (and something else wonderful) sorbet scooped into a crispy chocolate almond lace basket and served with a candle and a silly chef hat to compliment the balloons. I also tried the fleur de lis decorated Creme Brulee. Everything was wonderful.
The service was, as always, outstanding. I always see some detail I’ve never seen in my fairly vast experience as a fine diner. This time, our water glasses were topped every few minutes (that, I’ve seen), then, halfway through the meal, the sweating glasses were removed entirely and replaced with fresh glasses. Is it socially conscious (green) to use so many glasses? No, but I felt like I was a queen being fussed over and that’s how all women should feel on their birthdays.
We walked home through the Garden District, me wearing heels, a cocktail dress, a silly chef’s hat and a bouquet of balloons. Yes, it was like wearing a high-end version of the paper crown Burger King would give me as a child, but I felt beautiful. Happy birthday to me.