Galatoire’s

Taking the opportunity to gloat about being in Louisiana while I can: last night, my parents took me and my sister, who was visiting this weekend, to the new location of Galatoire’s (this one called Galatoire’s Bistro), here in Baton Rouge. We had the kind of meal that demonstrates conclusively why such an alarming percentage of Louisianians die of obesity-related diseases: it’s less that the meal was terribly fattening (which, of course, it was) than that it was so damned good. It almost certainly ranks in my top five meals of all time. (The number one such meal has been so enshrined for years, protected by the haze of fading memory, but it was all but impeccable: the Grill Room at the Windsor Court hotel in New Orleans, 1993. This is followed closely by dinners at Nola in 2001 and Commander’s Palace in 2000. You may sense a theme here.)

Last night’s dinner was just fabulous. The atmosphere is quite different from the original Galatoire’s, but I wasn’t disappointed in it at all, given that I went with somewhat lowered expectations, having read a pretty mixed review. The dining room is slightly crowded, as it should be, but not unduly loud. We had two lovely Sonoma wines, a Matanzas Creek sauvignon blanc and a Rodney Strong pinot noir. And then there was the food. I started with really fine oysters Rockefeller. Their only downside was their intensity; I could have shared the appetizer with someone and been perfectly content. My sister and stepfather had the salad Godchaux, which was piled with marinated jumbo shrimp and lump crabmeat, and my mother had a small, nice house salad. Our entrees were also impeccable: my stepfather’s duck was perfectly roasted and came with the best parsnips (yes, parsnips) I’ve ever tasted; my sister’s crab Sardou had two beautiful whole artichoke hearts topped with crab, nestled on top of creamed spinach and topped with just enough hollandaise to add a bit of a kick; my mother’s trout meuniere was fabulous, and my stuffed eggplant–stuffed with a crab and shrimp dressing, of course–was absolutely perfect.

Dessert? I’ll just say this: bread pudding topped with a bananas Foster sauce, and chocolate crème brul?©e.

I’d say I may never eat again, but I’ve already eaten the leftovers for lunch today.

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