New Orleans in 1999
It's throw-back time, again. Today I'm thinking of two visits, to Nola's iconic Brennan's on Royal Street.
The first visit was during Spring Break, 22 years ago. Heidi and Scott were 12 and 9 and they weren't exactly thrilled about French and Creole dining. They also weren't excited to stop and pose for this photo, when we were out for a stroll.
But the next day, they warmed up to the idea of dressing up and going to a festive brunch at Brennan's. I have no photos of our outing, but I ran across a journal write up. It amuses me.
"After watching some turtles in the courtyard pond, we were seated... all around us, people were being served flaming dishes and mimosas... Heidi frowned into her menu, pouting that she didn't see sausage or bacon anywhere... Scott was just as grumpy, since he was hoping for a Denny's-type of breakfast... Before long we eased into the blissful feast, with 35-dollar Eggs Benedicts and 5-dollar glasses of milk... The kids split a 15-dollar omelet (at the kind waiter's suggestion) and then he brought them a surprise. Strawberries & Cream Blintzes... Don and I lingered over a Bloody Bulls and then we all feasted on Bananas Foster and Chocolate Suicide."
The kids still laugh about their first trip to Nola, before they learned to adore the charm and adventure of New Orleans dining.
Brennan's in 2019
Don and I made our second visit to Brennan's, in 2019. It was 2 days before Christmas. I'm not sure what my expression is all about.
Don and I had gone to New Orleans, to escape the quiet holiday. With both kids married and living in California and Oregon, the house felt too empty. We decided to hit the road and spend a few days enjoying festive decorations, music, food & drink in Nola.
A Cookbook Inspired Visit
We didn't have dinner reservations on December 23rd, but we stopped at Brennan's anyway. I was carrying my vintage cookbook in my purse... the cookbook that sometimes leads to amusing conversations with people. The cookbook featured a recipe from Brennan's, so who knows?
We headed inside to the Roost Bar. Maybe someone in the bar would enjoy an encounter with 2 Texans and a cookbook. (This is the kind of thing that our kids would not have put up with, 22 years ago!)
Drinks at the Bar
We snagged 2 seats at the bar and ordered. A Sazerac for Don and a French 75 for me. We were patient since our bartender was bombarded with orders.
Feeling festive, I struck up a conversation with the woman who dined alone at the bar. She hunkered over her meal and complained about the bad service. She griped about the cold weather. She couldn't believe that my husband and I would actually want to come to New Orleans for Christmas. "I'm from Southern California." She moped. "You can't believe how hard it is to be here for work, when I could be in California." I insisted that I actually could imagine, since I once lived in Laguna Beach. I made some suggestions about how she could cheer up and enjoy Nola... Then, finally she paid her bill and walked away, taking her little black raincloud with her!
There was zero chance that Raincloud Woman would care about the cookbook, so I waited until she was gone to pull it out. I thought about showing the featured recipe to our bartender. He might be amused by the recipe for Broiled Squab Turkey.
But he was handling a lot of orders. He did happen to mention that he'd just moved to Nola, 2 months before. He probably had little interest in being bothered with a vintage cookbook, or questions about the history of Brennan's.
Then I spotted this gentleman, greeting customers. He didn't appear to be too busy, so I caught his eye and asked if he knew whether Brennan's served Broiled Squab Turkey these days. I didn't capture him laughing in my photo, but he did laugh. Andrew was properly amused by the recipe and book.
We had a fun chat with Andrew about the history of Brennan's. The business (originally on Bourbon Street) was founded by Owen Brennan in 1946. About 10 years later, the biz relocated to this 2-story French Quarter mansion on Royal Street. The mansion has a much longer history, since it was built in 1795.
Then and Now
I wonder about this historic building, when it was brand new in 1795. Was it painted? It looks orange in this cookbook illustration from 1956.It looks pink, now. Who were the people who lived here, when it was a residence? Who were the people who died here? There are stories...
I did a little hunting on the internet and found this old photo, below. It was taken long before Brennan's opened.
I'm so glad we stopped in for a fun and quick Roost Bar visit. We didn't really have a dining adventure, but we did manage a brief cookbook encounter.
Next time, I want food and I want stories. I want to find out about the ghosts that have haunted the place for centuries. Mostly I want to eat Bananas Foster again! I didn't realize 22 years ago, that this flaming dessert was first created for Owen Brennan's restaurant, using a family recipe!
Cheers for that!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.