In New Orleans, Fridays mean three-hour lunches. One of the most popular places to give in to the decadence that’s just part of our DNA is Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. Its location, just across the street from one of New Orleans famous above-ground cemeteries, is the perfect reminder to enjoy life while you can. It’s all the permission you need to order the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé or Commander’s Classic Fudge Sheba, if you’re a chocolate lover (and who isn’t?).
From the minute you turn over your key to the valet, you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere special. As you’re escorted to your table, take notice of the laughter that rings out from every dining room. You’ll see balloons tied to chair after chair – proof that Commander’s is where locals and visitors alike go to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, upcoming weddings, new babies, promotions and “just because.”
For years, Commander’s has been home to some of the most brilliant chefs on the New Orleans cuisine scene, including Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Current chef Tory McPhail is a James Beard “Best Chef” so prepare your taste buds for the wow. Start with the Soup 1-1-1 – demi servings of gumbo, turtle soup and the soup du jour. Then close your eyes and just order whatever your pointer finger hits on the menu. When we asked our server which entrée was her favorite, she said she was giving up the Corn Crusted Des Allemands Catfish for Lent. One of us ordered it and we had to admit she was making quite a sacrifice. Other “must experiences” include the Crawfish Flatbread Acadiana appetizer and the Blackened Gulf Fish. And we’re serious about the Turtle Soup, y’all. It’s simmered slowly for 72 hours before serving and is truly amazing.
Of course, an essential element of the three-hour lunch is the cocktail. According to the website, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, Commander’s co-proprietors, are known in some circles as "The Cocktail Chicks." We ordered what the menu calls a “big, beautiful” Sidecar which is served at Mardi Gras time with green sugar on the rim. It was absolutely delightful from start to finish. The Blood and Sand, named for an old Valentino movie, will take your breath away. And if you haven’t had a Sazerac yet, we can think of no better place to enjoy this New Orleans classic.
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