Aaaaah New Orleans… For just a few short days, we saw, ate, and drank a lot of you. But Brennan’s, you were our best dinner experience by far. I wanted to eat at Brennan’s since I hadn’t last I’d been to New Orleans and we decided to go there for dinner our second night. Brennan’s is well-known as the inventor of the bananas foster… and us… we love bananas foster.
Brennan’s is old school fine dining. You get that as soon as you walk in. Well, we walked in after a crowd of drunken Bourbon Street asshats. “Is this place any good? Do you have, like, cutting edge food?”, the drunkard asks the host. We decided to hang back at the copper topped bar while the pile of drunks settled. The charming NJ native bartender didn’t have any drink menus, he chose one for each of us. Very old school bartending. He made us both something to fit our tastes precisely. My cocktail had some flavored vodka, orange and vanilla maybe, some muddled oranges and mint, some iced tea and some other secrets. He dressed the martini glass with some perfectly placed mint leaves. It was a sight to see. I am a little biased as a bartender, but I was impressed. Brett’s drink had some sort of bourbon, iced tea, mint and muddling as well. I really didn’t pay much attention at that point since I was sipping my delicious martini.
Look at this!
We made our way into one of the dining rooms. Browsing through the wine list, I remembered that Brennan’s is also well-known for an amazing wine collection. They did, however, lose a lot of rare and expensive wine after Katrina. The list was overwhelming… it was more of a book than a list. We finally decided on a moderately inexpensive wine that we knew we liked and moved onto the dinner selection.
The dinner menu was also a lot to look at as well. Luckily, we had probably one of the best servers ever to help guide us through the menu. Remember how impressed I was with the bartender? Yeah, this guy was even more impressive and charming. Brennan’s is all about the service showmanship and we were loving it. We had plate licking frogs legs and turtle soup to start. Dinner was a rack of lamb and peppercorn crusted steak. It was all amazing, but we could not leave without the big show, bananas foster.
We pretty much saw the flambe show five or six times at other tables during diner. So when it came our turn, our server asked us which story we’d like to hear… the creation of bananas foster or the ghost story. We picked the ghost story, but I can tell you both in the summary way.
Bananas foster was a challenge the owners of Brennan’s put to their chef to use the excessive amounts of bananas they had in town in the early fifties. New Orleans had become a major port of entry of bananas to the country He came up with this simple recipe, but the key is really in the table side show.
As for the ghost story, Brennan’s is said to have many ghosts. We heard about the famous chess player Paul Morphy and his good friend and wife. It seems that there was some sort of love triangle of murderous sorts commenced. Our ghostly friend killed his wife, friend and then hung himself from the chandelier. Of course fact doesn’t really back up this alluring story. Except that there was such a man who died in the house (well, now restaurant) and haunts the Red Room on the second floor which also has the oldest gas chandelier, so we were told.
The facts of the story really didn’t matter much. Having the table side presentation of the bananas foster was worth it. I just wish I took the better camera and video would have been the smarter choice. All in all… if you’re in New Orleans. Go to Brennan’s. Just go.
Here is the official recipe… but it really is all about the show.
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup banana liqueur
- 4 bananas, cut in half
lengthwise, then halved
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.