When you want to enjoy an exceptional meal to celebrate a special occasion, do you resort to visiting your favorite restaurant, or do you step out and try somewhere new?
My husband and I asked ourselves this very question in 2018.
We were celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary, and although we could easily walk into our favorite restaurant in town without making reservations, we wanted to experience something different and outside of the norm.
Earlier in the year, we talked about visiting Emeril’s New Orleans. I went online to check out the menu and the reviews (of course) and planned to make it our special place to celebrate our anniversary. My husband called the restaurant about 2 months in advance, and made our reservation.
I was very excited about the drive into the city, and as the GPS directed us onto Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-ah-TOO-lus) Street in the heart of New Orleans’ Warehouse District, I anticipated the experience we would have inside.
When I entered the restaurant, there was a tangible buzz in the atmosphere. Despite the fact that Emeril’s New Orleans is considered upscale dining, the restaurant has a warm, friendly ambience that is a part of the vibe of New Orleans. We received a friendly “Good evening” from the maître d’ at the front of the restaurant, and we were seated without having to wait.
On this visit, I intentionally refrained from taking photos of my food so that I could enjoy the evening celebrating our anniversary. I ordered the Andouille Crusted Gulf Drum (a type of fish) and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I asked our waiter to take one photo of us when a special anniversary dessert was brought to our table along with the “Emeril’s Blend” French Pressed coffee that we ordered.
During our drive back home, my husband and I talked about how much we both enjoyed the atmosphere and food at Emeril’s New Orleans. We also talked about something we saw on the menu that would bring us back to the restaurant for our 25th wedding anniversary.
We knew what to expect in the dining experience and ambiance at Emeril’s as we drove into New Orleans last year, and we already knew what we wanted to try on the menu. Emeril’s New Orleans has a five course Reveillon (REV-ee-on) Menu that changes seasonally, and our appetites were ready to enjoy every offering in every course.
“Reveillon” is a French word that translates to “awakening”. A Reveillon Dinner is a New Orleans tradition that has been a part of Creole culture since the early 19th century. The dinner celebrates the start of Christmas with a big family meal eaten at home after midnight mass.
For more about the history of the Reveillon Dinner, visit https://holiday.neworleans.com/tradition/reveillon-dinners/.
The Reveillon Menu
Every table in the restaurant is set with plates that have Emeril’s signature. You could call them Emeril’s signature dishes (I really could not help myself!).
The plates are whisked away by the waitstaff after every guest at the table is seated.
Before the menus were placed at our table, I chatted with our waiter. He asked if I needed to see the drink menu. I politely said no, and mentioned that my husband and I would be abstaining from alcoholic beverages.
After our waiter left the table, complimentary champagne was delivered to our table at the request of the maître d’, who had not been privy to my conversation. However, our waiter noticed the glasses as he walked by our table and offered to bring them back to the bar. He definitely paid attention to our brief exchange.
A complimentary starter dish replaced the champagne to celebrate our special night, and it was absolutely delicious.
I appreciated the attention to detail when it came to the service.
The Reveillon Menu contained a taste of everything I wanted to try at Emeril’s, and after our delicious starter, I was ready for the first course.
One thing to note is that the courses on the Reveillon Menu are not shared; each person enjoys their own plate.
Truffled Prawn Remoulade
There are two prawns on the plate of the Truffled Prawn Remoulade, and is served cold with its namesake remoulade sauce and a tasty cocktail sauce. Each one was delicious, and neither sauce remained on my plate at the end of the course.
Acadiana Seafood Gumbo
When I read the description of this dish, I was intrigued and curious about the way Crab Potato Salad, which is served cold, would mix with seafood gumbo, which is served hot.
This course was served in the smallest cast iron pot that I’ve ever seen. When I brought the first spoonful to my mouth, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the texture and temperature of the potato salad mixed with the warmth of the smoked fish andouille underneath it.
With an empty plate before me, and no longer a skeptic of this unlikely pairing, I was ready to move on to the third course.
Crunchy Smoked Quail
This course introduced a new member of the fowl family to my palate. It was going to be the first time I ate quail. The Cherry Quail Reduction noted on the menu was brought to our table and poured on the quail tableside. Our waiter left the remainder of the sauce with us.
My first bite into the quail was a combination of surprise and delight. The coating was perfectly crispy and the meat was tender. The Cherry Quail Reduction added a tart sweetness to the meat. The wild rice underneath was dark and had a smoky taste that perfectly complemented the quail.
This dish was another winner.
Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Even though I was familiar with beef tenderloin, the combination of flavors present in the three courses before this one left me with anticipation about the way this dish would taste. The beef was cooked rare and was soft and warm.
The surprise in this dish was the Gruyere Potato Soufflé. To the naked eye, it looked like mashed potatoes, and upon tasting it, the soft texture elevated it beyond any other potato dish I had ever tasted. Thanks to the gruyere, which is a smooth-melting type of Swiss cheese, and the fact that this was a soufflé, this dish had a creamy taste and it melted in my mouth.
After another clean plate, I was ready for dessert.
There was only one request that I had for our waiter before the dessert course was brought to our table — coffee.
When I dined at Emeril’s New Orleans the year before, I ordered “Emeril’s Blend” French Pressed coffee. It was rich, bold, and smooth, and remained on my list as a must-have after dinner.
While my husband and I sipped on our coffee, our pecan eclairs were delivered to our table. They were adorned with a candle to add another element of celebration to our anniversary dinner.
Typically, I prefer a sweet dessert after a savory dinner. The pecan eclair wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be. It was, however, a perfect pairing with my cup of coffee.
I mentioned earlier that “reveillon” means “awakening” in French, and my second dining experience at Emeril’s New Orleans was an awakening of my tastebuds to new textures and flavors. Each course on the Reveillon Menu was visually appealing and introduced me to food combinations that I had not tasted before, but came to love.
There are many restaurants to dine at when visiting New Orleans, and I have found a favorite at Emeril’s New Orleans. My 26th wedding anniversary is quickly approaching, and I believe that I’ll have to go without a visit to this NOLA establishment this year. The drive into the city for an evening of celebration will be missed, but I will have a greater appreciation for the food and exceptional dining experience when the restaurant reopens.