Antoine’s in the French Quarter of New Orleans claims to be the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States, opening in 1840. It’s true old-school fine dining, with crisp white tablecloths, impeccable service, and a menu of items so rich you need a shot of Pepto Bismol for a digestif.
After a hit and miss dinner at Herbsaint the night before, my friends and I hit Frenchman Street for some live music (and a few more libations). When we woke up Saturday, I think we were all grateful for the promise of the the restorative powers of Antoine’s lunch menu.
Available Mondays through Saturdays, the lunch is a great chance to sample some classic dishes. For the insanely low price of $20.14 I was able to sample three charbroiled style oysters for a starter, followed by stuffed pork tenderloin, and finishing with a meringue dish for dessert. Complimenting the menu even further is the offer of 25 cent martinis. The flavors apparently change regularly, and the day we went they were serving lemon drop martinis — they packed an eye-opening punch with a deliciously tart flavor. While they didn’t exactly compliment the menu flavors, they were impossible to decline.
As for the food, Antoine’s excelled.
This was my first time ever trying charbroiled oysters, seasoned with garlic, herbs, olive oil and topped with Romano cheese. The seasoning was so rich I could smell it before the plate was set down, and the delicious oysters were devoured in about 0.1 seconds.
The main course of pork tenderloin was stuffed with an Andouille bread stuffing, served with garlic mashed potatoes and a Champagne reduction sauce. I may have developed gout within a few mouthfuls. The piping hot dish was a tremendous example of how letting oneself indulge now and then in overly rich, carbohydrate-heavy dining can make for a flawless tasting experience — even if a not-so-spectacular impact on the waistline.
Dessert was the least strong of the three courses, but with food as well done as they serve here, that’s a minor complaint. And I take the blame for ordering the blandest choice: a scoop of vanilla ice cream served on a meringue shell and drizzled with chocolate sauce. My friends both got the bread pudding, get that instead.