20 February 2015

Brunch at Luke = nice way to start a NOLA day

In my last post about our dinner at Borgne, I noted that one of my goals for our January trip to New Orleans was to visit at least one John Besh restaurant. Well, we actually did visit two of them.

On our last full day in the city (it was a Saturday), we planned to take a streetcar excursion to City Park and to see a different neighborhood. Anticipating that we probably would not have lunch, we decided instead to have a nice brunch. We looked at a few menus online and decided to go to Besh’s restaurant Luke, located in the Hilton St. Charles Hotel.

In my post about Borgne, I noted that the ambiance was too casual. Not a problem at Luke. When we checked in with the hostess, we were shown to a table in the dining room – white table clothes and a large glass wall looking into the kitchen. It would have been a great dining venue. But for this brunch, we actually preferred something more casual, and so we asked for, and were seated, at a table in the bar. The bar is really cool! It’s bright and open and bustling with activity. But note that even though we were in the bar, the tables still were covered with a white tablecloth.IMG_1043

The food was great. I ordered a tartine of Gulf tuna prepared Nicoise style. The rare and tender slices of tuna were artfully arranged on a baguette topped with wedges of hard-boiled egg, green beans, and olives. Along with the sandwich, I had a cup of crab bisque. The soup was rich and very flavorful.

My wife ordered a crab omelet. It was filled with an ample portion of crab meat as well as a house-made white cheese, tomatoes, and pesto. She loved it. She didn’t realize it at the time, but her omelet also came with an order of fries. At first she pushed them over to my side of the table. But when the server clarified that they were indeed part of her meal, she dived right in. The fries were very crisp (the way she likes them) and nicely seasoned.

I also had a cocktail, champagne au poire. It was a fresh pear puree with pear-flavored vodka, topped off with champagne and garnished with a sprig of rosemary. I’m not a big fan of flavored vodka, but this cocktail was so good, I may have to buy a bottle of pear vodka.

While we were sitting there, a couple came in off the street. They took a table in the bar and the server left them with menus. A few minutes later, they got up and left. I’m sure they thought this was like a hotel coffee shop. The server told us it happens from time to time. The prices at Luke definitely are not coffee-shop prices. But for us on vacation and eager to try another variation of John Besh’s culinary creativity, it was worth it.

On our next trip to New Orleans, maybe we’ll try Luke for dinner … and take a seat in the more formal dining room with a view of the kitchen.

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