Jazz Brunch At Commander’s Palace

Back from my cruise and have nothing memorable to report on the food served on-board, so back to the New Orleans restaurant reviews.

Oh, what a night.

At least that’s what one of my friends must thought as we took our seats at Commander’s Palace for Sunday jazz brunch. He looked a little paler and was a little quieter than usual due to being over-served Saturday night. So he was not enjoying the three-piece jazz band wandering the historic, sprawling restaurant in New Orleans’ Garden District.

However I loved the music by the cheery trio and, somewhat more nefariously, my friend’s face fluctuating between rage and wincing as a trumpeter excitedly blared notes from The Champs’ “Tequila” in his ears. I think they knew he was hungover.

Diners aren’t stuck with the band throughout brunch, and indeed we only saw them once more during our roughly two hours there.

Seems like a long time for brunch but that’s because this is a very indulgent yet relaxed meal. The menu has a decent range of options from typical brunch fare such as pancakes to some dishes found on the dinnertime menu, including an excellent turtle soup with sherry (accept the offer of adding more sherry table-side).

I’ve had dinner at Commander’s before and the nighttime service is flawless, the kind where every plate is set down at the exact same time and you only need to whisper the word “waiter” before someone has rushed to ask what the table needs. Brunch was a little more relaxed, with water refills splashing on to the tablecloths and soups being set down with such force that a splash fell on to the floor. But the waiters were impeccably upbeat and attentive, and those minor faults can be overlooked.

All three courses — yes, I’m greedy — were outstanding. I had the aforementioned turtle soup to start with, and the richness of the sherry complimented the thick, hearty starter.

Second course was Commander’s version of eggs Benedict and this thing was a meal in its own right. Perfectly cooked eggs were placed atop a biscuit and moist chunks of shredded pork, finished with what may be the best hollandaise sauce I’ve ever had.

After a few too many libations, we decided it was time to slow things down between the entree and dessert. We sipped on tar-thick, flavorful coffee — better without cream — for a while before our final courses came out.

For the last course, I had the “Southern style” pecan pie, a thick, gooey custard pie infused with molasses and served with vanilla bean ice cream. An excellent version of the dish, and a great finish to the meal.

I’ll never forget the jazz brunch at Commander’s and will be making it a routine stop for every future trip to New Orleans.

My friend, however, might pass it up.

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