Birthday at Commander’s Palace

It’s become a tradition to celebrate my birthday at the magnificent Commander’s Palace, one of the oldest and best restaurants in New Orleans. Don’t take my word for it being the best, Chef Tory McPhail just won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: South. Not surprisingly, 4 of the 5 nominees were from NOLA. For the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed showing off my favorite Trashy Diva dresses while dining. This time, I changed things up with a casual gown I found at Naaz on Magazine Street.

We were escorted through the kitchen to the garden room near the courtyard with the glass-encased Live Oak tree trunk growing through the middle of the floor. Our favorite server, Daniel, promised us a great evening and delivered at every turn. One notable change – no more helium for the balloons. By the end of 2014, helium balloons will become something we tell our children about, something only the very wealthy can afford. Look it up. I’m not kidding. Of course, Commander’s handled the change artfully, creating the illusion of floating balloons with slender plastic stems.

The food was insanely good. I particularly loved the Burrata (with lemon) and Heirloom Tomato. Many old New Orleans restaurants carry forward their time-honored traditions of personable yet elegant service and some serve dishes that have been on their menus since the 1800’s. As a food capitol, New Orleans has also fostered or attracted many chefs with modern techniques and ideas like molecular gastronomy and calculated balances between  proteins and acids. Commander’s offers the best of both worlds with old world ballet service and staples like Turtle Soup along with forward-thinking flavor combinations, textures and platings.

As always, dessert was served with a candle and the super-tall chef’s hat. There are lots of things that are pretty great about having a birthday (consider the alternative). In New Orleans, a birthday means you can pin a dollar to your shirt and expect to get birthday wishes and dollars from friends and strangers all day. At Commander’s, it means eating an amazing meal with great service and wearing a silly hat.


Filed under Culture, Local Cuisine

6 responses to “Birthday at Commander’s Palace

  1. U look adorable in the hat. Great dress too! I can taste that fab shortcake but ours was with those amazing strawberries! Xx

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Patricia Edmonds

    I meant to say, Hope your Birthday was the best yet and Happy Birthday to a beautiful lady…

  3. Patricia Edmonds

    Laura, Sitting here today, re reading some posts that you have written in the past. Makes me sad that I did not come up to you and talk at the last reunion. I had the chance and lost it. We were in a hurry to get to the hospital to see Marcella. Now Mary Edna is gone and I guess it just makes me be reminded of the family and fond memories of the past. I miss Jim & Doris too. I love how you have evolved into more about good food and I always love to read about New Orleans. You write so well… I can taste the food and see the places and people you describe. I took my granddaughter on a cruise a few weeks ago. Rault went to Cafe Du Monde at 6:00 that morning before going to the cruise terminal to pick us up. He said it was so quiet and beautiful and all washed looking from the morning rain.. Of course we had to ride back through and see once again all of his favorite places before heading back to Mobile. Keep writing this wonderful blog.

    • Thank you so much. Though I rarely see it, I love the Quarter in the morning as well. One of my favorite memories is the French Quarter at 8 am on a Sunday. No Bourbon Street revelers or ghost tours, just locals heading to work or church or enjoying a bite in their favorite cafe.
      I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to visit. Maybe next year we can make it work.

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