Dickie Brennan’s Tableau in New Orleans

There is no better way to celebrate a friends arrival (and birthday) than at an epic cocktail sloshed feast. Mike’s flight had arrived on time but his cab got stuck in the thick of New Orleans downtown traffic, Friday rush hour. After loitering in the hotel lobby I popped out on the street and saw him jump out of a taxi and power-walk towards me. “I’m starving,” he moaned. I had big plans for the birthday boy that night  so we quickly dropped off his luggage and raced out to the French Quarter in search of satiation.

Located on picturesque Jackson Square at Le Petit Theatre, Tableau is acclaimed Chef Dickie Brennan’s newest offering to New Orleans. A grand staircase spans three stories of the restaurant, connecting private dining rooms, a wrap around balcony with views over Jackson Square and courtyard seating. Tableau and Le Petit Theatre share the courtyard so on performance nights one can find an enthusiastic theatre crowd enjoying sips at the restaurants bar.

Upon arrival  we were whisked to front row seats beside the open kitchen. I could hear what seemed like an orchestra outside, buskers belting live jazz to packed crowds.  Tableau’s menu, developed by Chef Ben Thibodeaux, showcases regional ingredients and classic French Creole dishes with a unique twist. Over the course of the next few hours Mike and I marched through the restaurants bar menu which offers a selection of sippers with cute titles such as “Just As Well” and “How to Stay Young Forever” (which I ordered for Mike out of necessity).

My memories of Tableau are nothing but a delight and would be the finest dining experience of my trip to New Orleans. I was elated. Perhaps it was the fact that my friend had just arrived to join me for the weekend or that it was his birthday worth getting excited for? The vibe screamed NOLA authenticity with staff that spread wide smiles and with much gusto rambled on about each of their favourite dishes. Highlights from the savoury side of things included a seafood centric Grand Royale, Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Eggs Benedict with Masa Fried Oysters (when’s the last time you saw benedict celebrated on anything but a brunch menu?) and BBQ shrimp n Grits. 

I was delighted to have Dickie himself join us at the table to say hello, arriving just as we prepared to indulge in the restaurants sweeter offerings. As we whisked our fingers down the dessert menu I couldn’t help but laugh as what seemed like a choir formed around us, eager staff keen to pitch their favourite offering from the restaurants famed pastry chef. Word spread that Mike was celebrating his birthday and so my humming and hawing over what dishes to order became a pointless pursuit as six plates in homage to sucre were whisked under our noses. A chef’s hat was propped on Mike head for a photo op before we armed ourselves with spoons.

And so it was that we waddled out the door bound for Frenchmen Street while debating our favourites, “that Praline Monkey Bread Pudding was unforgettable, but the Frozen Lemon Meringue Parfait offered such a light air to such a memorable TGIF…”

The Feast:

Teatro Lirico

milagro reposado, st germain, guava, lime, guava, bitterman’s habanero shrub

Jackson Square

oryza vodka, solerno, cranberry, boston bittahs, blood orange, soda

How to Stay Young Forever

tuaca, aperol, grapefruit, sparkling wine, angostura bitters

Bon Ton

hendricks gin, thyme syrup, grapefruit, lime

Just As Well

woodford, rosemary syrup, lemon, cranberry bitters

One More Star

oryza vodka, domaine de canton ginger liqueur, fraise de bois strawberry liqueur, lemon, peychaud’s bitter

Fried Eggplant Batons

dusted with creole powered sugar

Grand Royale

crabmeat ravigote, shrimp remoulade, truffle crab fingers, oysters en brochette

Duck and Andouille Gumbo

chappapeela farms duck and local andouille served with popcorn rice

Asparagus and Seafood Salad

chilled asparagus, jumbo lump crabmeat ravigote, boiled shrimp, tomato, lemon-tarragon dijon vinaigrette

Blue Cheese Salad

spinach, celery, pecans, red onions, sherry-cane vinaigrette, square st. agur blue

Potatoes Tableau

fingerling potatoes, julienned ham, garlic, petite pois, roasted mushrooms, caramelized onion, creole spices

Eggs Benedict

poached eggs, sauteed ham, toasted house made english muffin, lemon hollandaise, masa fried gulf oysters

BBQ Shrimp and Grits

jumbo gulf shrimp, new orleans style bbq sauce spiced with local beer, ground chevre grits

Tournedos Rossini Moderne

two 3oz tournedos, toasted croutons, seared foie gras, marchands de vin

Roasted Duck

crispy seared breast, braised thigh, bourbon-cherry duck jus

Praline Monkey Bread Pudding

brown sugar and pecans baked into a biscuit bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and butterscotch sauce

Frozen Lemon Meringue Parfait

lemon sabayon, italian meringue, cookie crust, fresh fruit

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

traditional custard topped with caramelized sugar

Hot Chocolate Pot de Creme

dark chocolate custard infused with cayenne pepper, topped with house made marshmallow fluff and caramelized cocoa nibs

Tarte a la Bouille

rustic cajun sweet dough baked with vanilla custard, old new orleans spiced rum caramel sauce

Chartres Chocolate Cake

trio of warm molten chocolate cakes, creole cream cheese ice cream, cherry-red wine reduction

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