Garden District Favorite Since 1893
This is the iconic landmark where I dined with family the night before Thanksgiving. It was dark when we arrived so I didn't see the "Commander's Blue" till I drove by the next day. That whimsical color didn't go on the old building until 1974 when the famous Brennan Family took over.
Party of 13
My brother and wife are frequent guests, so it was fun to see many of the waiters nodding politely and greeting them by name.
We were graciously guided upstairs to the Garden Room where our table awaited us. Since we were the first diners to arrive, I took advantage and slipped over to the window to take in the courtyard below, filled with white tables, trees and white lights.
The Garden Room
The head waiter greeted our table, then turned to my brother, " Welcome..." he said with a teasing smile, "It's been a while. I haven't seen you since... yesterday!" This of course cracked me up, because this was my baby brother who was being treated like a VIP. He used to ask for peanut butter and jelly in restaurants.
We were given menus and then napkins were placed in our laps. I was pretty impressed that we were given dark or light napkins, depending on our outfit. I took a quick snap of the table, then tucked my camera away, so the entering diners might think I was a regular, too!
Cell Phone Snaps
Luckily cell phones can be used to discretely capture a shot without being noticed. This pic reveals the impressive "Commander's Blue" ribbon, down the center of our table. I'm not sure what you have to do to pull off the high ranking blue ribbon, but we had one. The photo also captures a glass or the famous Nola cocktail, Sazerac. There was no camera ready when the waiter arrived with some special drink holders made of twisted iron, which served up our complimentary rum drinks. Oh my!
This shot of the room, taken much later, shows the back corner. My brother explained the corner table was often booked for special guests. I kept an eye on the table, kind of hoping Sandra Bullock showed up. She lives just a few doors down, after all.
Time to Explore
After ordering our main course, I decided I needed to powder my nose. I headed down the stairs where I had a good view of the dining room and all the gentleman diners. I made sure they were following rules, since jackets were required. That's what you do when you are still angry since childhood about having to wear a swim cap when boys didn't.
Yes and No Doors
The place was busy at this point, so I didn't feel like I was too obvious as I peeked around a bit. I loved the doors into the kitchen with reminder signs telling you which to use. I wasn't trying to go further, but a gracious waiter recognized a nosy customer. Suddenly he was inviting me in to see the kitchen.
Hard at Work
I felt like I was snooping around backstage during a Broadway play. Surely I shouldn't be there. But he encouraged me to take a photo and when a couple busy chefs took notice, what could I do but grab my cook book from my purse?
Not Just Any Chef
Maybe my Sazerac gave me a little nerve, but I hadn't really intended on intruding! Suddenly though, I was showing my 1950's Ford Motor Cookbook to Chef Roby (I think that's his name) and he was laughing at the page featuring Commander's Palace in the 1950's. He got the attention of Chef Tory, who had his hands full but still had a good laugh as he looked and cooked. Ignorance is bliss, because I NEVER would have intruded if I'd known I was interrupting Executive Chef Tory PcPhail! I'm not sure if Emeril Lagasee or Paul Prudomme would have been so tolerant when they were Executive Chefs at Commander's!
The Head Table
Before leaving the kitchen I did notice The Chef's Table, set up with a view of the kitchen action. Yep, there were two ribbons on that table! The lovely blond woman at the table caught my eye and inquired about that book that was causing a commotion.
I Join the Chef's Table
She was curious, so I explained how the book from 1954, featured famous restaurants, most of which are gone now. Rachel, who had been celebrating her anniversary asked me to sit right down a moment. She seemed intrigued to hear how my husband and I often travel in search of these old dining gems. We laughed about the old Commander's recipe for Remoulade Sauce. The illustration shows the wonderful building before it turned Commander's Blue.
Lally and Todd
Then Rachel asked their waiter, Todd to take our picture. And then Lally Brennan who is Co-Proprieter of Commander's arrived on the scene. She had come to our table upstairs, earlier and my brother had introduced us to her. Then suddenly I was greeting her in the kitchen and she was having a look at the curious book.
One More Photo
Next, Lally, who has been working in the Brennan family biz since she was 13, was encouraged to join the gang for a photo. I promise you... at least I'm pretty sure... I was not obnoxiously inviting myself into all of this. Commander's is just a welcoming place and everyone was in an awfully good mood!
I returned to our family gathering and had to explain why I was gone so long. My relatives laughed and seemed amused that I'd been kitchen hopping. I'm guessing, my own kids might have been glad I did my restaurant socializing out of their sight!
This is a lot of chatter about everything but food. But the happy faces say it all. The food was indeed amazing, right down to the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé finished table-side with warm whiskey cream. Before that, we devoured some turtle soup, gumbo, sea scallops, Autumn Mushroom Risotto and much more. There wasn't a dish or taste that wasn't perfect.
Planning and Sharing
It was a nice treat lingering on the sidewalk, sharing what we liked best about our meal... and making last minute plans for our Thanksgiving feast the next day.
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.