This past weekend was a special one for Darlene and me. We celebrated our 4th anniversary as a couple. We exchanged kisses and gifts as I arose for work early Friday, but little did I know that Dar had more up her sleeve this year.
As I went out the door for work leaving her in bed she told me to be ready to dress special for dinner. WHAT? No clue to where we were going?? Just dress nice. What a brat! My mind was spinning all day. What were we going to dine on? Should I dress casual or to the nines?
When I got home from work she finally relented and told me to get dressed for St. Boniface’s french quarter. We were going to Beaujena’s. Beaujena’s even for the residents of St. B is a mystery. A husband and wife team run the 24 seat restaurant and the menu is known to change at a whim. Once seated you are at the mercy of the chef.
Not to worry though, for years the reviews of this establishment have been solid to say the least. Myself, a seasoned eater and more that welcome to eat whatever is put in front of me, was cool. More to the point I worried about Darlene, although not a picky eater, she really does have preferences and I thought that a “Strange” dish could have thrown our dinner off the rails.
The first dish of our seven course meal was a baked lemon with anchovies, cheese and olives. Served with bread, it was strange for sure but savory, sweet and tangy all at the same time. This dish shouldn’t have worked but it did, it was light and really awoke my palate.
The second dish a light garden tomato soup. The soup was silky smooth and rich, none of the extra acid one would normally expect from a tomato soup was present. Rich and velvety, all around excellent.
The third was a trio of quinoa Arancini stuffed with a light white cheese, fried to a golden texture. I am not a huge fan of quinoa, but I did like the treatment of the ingredients, everything worked well together. If you like the grain instead of rice you’ll love these, served in an acidic red sauce they almost taste like pizza bites. Everything works in this dish except for my dislike of quinoa.
Fourth came an evolved seafood dish, calamari stuffed with shrimp served on a light mustard sauce. To my taste the shrimp stuffed calamari was perfect, a nice interplay between the two sea creatures. As I told Chef Randy after the meal however, Darlene and I both found the mustard a bit overpowering. Seafood by essence is delicate, mustard should be left for more hearty meats.
Bacon Squared turned the corner on flavor, throwing subtle out the window and giving us full two barrel flavor. Bacon and fatty pork belly really make you hit the wall. Salty, fatty but balanced with a supremely acidic gastrique. It all works, if you like fatty pork, if you like bacon, if you enjoy a good tangy pickle you will love this dish. It’s over the top in richness but saved by the gastrique which cuts through it all and just delivers flavour.
Thankfully a cleansing salad was served before dessert, a joyfully light portion of Asian greens with beets and a blue cheese vinaigrette. Thankfully light and acidic. Fighting once again through the very heavy levels of the bacon and pork belly.
I bet you thought I forgot about dessert , not by a long shot friends. The Chef himself brought out our decadent rich chocolate torte. He and I discussed how the dinner progressed, Darlene seemed content to just sit and listen. Waiting for the first perfect bite of an obviously obscenely wicked treat.
One cannot explain a meal like this in a few sentences. Was the meal perfect? How was the service? Did we have a great time?
For Beaujena’s I can solidly say that the total of the experience was well above average, the food was an exploration of what food can be, the service was personal and friendly. Darlene and I got to reconnect in many ways that went above food and flavor.
If you and your special someone have more than a few hours to kill. Do check out Beaujena’s French Table. For romance and good food you will not forget the experience.