Mar 17, 2012


after finishing late at stella! the night before, jake took one for the team and was in the line at 9am for the first seating at galatoire's. i got to a slower start and arrived around 10am after stopping for coffee (but not breakfast, for reasons that will soon become apparent).

ahead of us in the line were at least two people waiting to sell their seating options to fat-walleted diners for whom the allure of galatoire's does not extend to getting up early. for those seeking guidance: the hours before lunch can be profitably filled with the times-picayune (define: picayune) and pimm's cups imported from the bar around the corner. a folding chair may also be useful.

the doors opened at 11.30am and we moved upstairs to the bar, which was furnished with much in the way of wood and tradition. our request for dry vermouth on the rocks was misinterpreted. fortunately, as the bartender noted, "no one ever has trouble moving a couple shots of vodka." after milling about briefly, we were called to the dining room below.

jake and christina go often to new orleans, and are Known To The House. our lunch order was an ongoing conversation with their accustomed waiter, who vanished to put in for "some little bits to get you started." a sidecar soon arrived with robustly sugared rim and darkish aspect contributed by lemon juice of an antique variety. it tasted like no sidecar i'd ever had before but was perfect for those who enjoy dry, oxidative wines. not long after, plates of textbook soufflé potatoes and fried sticks of eggplant showed up. a small dish of powdered sugar came with, to be mixed with crystal hot sauce. i tried this combination to humour the table. everything became blurry after this first sortie, as careful accounting is neither possible nor desirable at galatoire's.

there were several plates of hot oysters, diverse gumbos, and stuffed eggplant (more accurately described as a large pile of crabmeat bound with cream and lightly garnished with eggplant). intermittently, tables of celebrants sang "happy birthday" and expected other diners to join them; this got old by the seventh or eighth rendition. if memory serves, other things that arrived were: pompano fried briefly in brown butter and covered in a shower of crisp almond flakes, several variations on seafood lightly cooked (with garlic) (jake reminds me:) speckled trout fried in brown butter and showered in crisp almond flakes, pompano grilled and festooned with crabmeat yvonne, oysters rockefeller, and a supernumerary plate of brabant potatoes (= with much garlic; jim harrison correctly points out that garlic is a vegetable and should be used in quantity).

jake found bargains in the capacious wine list—a 2005 dry muscat from alsace from dirler-cadé and a 2001 alsace pinot gris from trimbach. the hard truth: i remember nothing more than that they were bone-dry with great acidity, great pairings for a long lunch light on meat and vegetables but heavy on cream and seafood.

dessert was unnecessary but arrived anyway: a perfect creme caramel (see more about gels here) and a sweet potato cheesecake. followed by a tureen of coffee dosed heavily with brandy, cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel, then set aflame.

certainly a nearly perfect meal, though perhaps not ideal for those with genetically high cholesterol levels.

we finished lunch at 5.45pm.


Jake said...

I think a closer reckoning will yield that it was speckled trout fried and almonded thusly, while pompano was grilled and festooned with crabmeat yvonne.

Jake said...

Oh, and crabmeat sardou.

vaughn tan said...

a precise accounting appears to, in fact, be possible.

Jake said...

There is a normal flow of things. The presence of speckled trout, I believe, may have stanched the flow short of the "wacky old-school Escoffier chicken dish" stage. But we recovered, and soldiered on.

vaughn tan said...

so you're telling me i had a non-canonical galatoire's experience?

Jake said...

Not at all. The chicken is not that transcendent, except for the realization that you are eating a well-executed classic. And with just four stomachs, two of which being at least somewhat reasonable, the choice had to be made. I think we chose wisely.

vaughn tan said...

truly, you know that there is no success without failure and that nothing is ever won without something being lost too.