One rarely experiences greatness and when it does present itself, it is important to give appropriate recognition. John Besh’s Restaurant August now ranks as one of the most memorable meals of my life. When one considers the epitome of restaurants, this restaurant deserves to be included in the discussion. It was nothing less than spectacular and brilliant. And spending the evening with Mrs. J and one of our daughters made it even more special.
We asked for a table in the first larger room. The décor was beautiful; lovely chandeliers, tables far enough apart, open, airy, able to hear people speaking at your table without shouting. The interior is just a perfect setting. The other two rooms on the first floor were decorated differently and gave a different ambience, but for a Saturday night dinner I thought this was the perfect setting.
The service was flawless. Our server (Jeffrey) knew each dishes down to the last detail, was willing to spend time describing each and offered alternatives if there was something that would not be a perfect presentation. The timing during the meal was like watching a ballet with the runners, the water person, the bread, each and every person knew their job, their timing and it was perfectly orchestrated.
Now we were there for the food so let’s move to the main event.
For our appetizer course we ordered the Organic greens with pumpkin seed brittle, Point Reyes blue cheese and pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette, the Foie Gras Three Ways and the Hand-made potato gnocchi tossed with blue crab and Perigold truffle.
What can you do to perfect salad greens to make it spectacular? At August they place a piece of pumpkin crisp atop their delicious salad greens. This resembled a thin praline but was pumpkin versus pecan (how great is that for someone like me with a nut allergy). Then they added some fantastic blue cheese; soft, pungent and just delightful. The Foie Gras Three Ways was also delicious; two mousseline presentations plus a piece of seared foie gras with a few slices of delicious toasts. Each of the three presentations brought a different flavor combination and each was better than the other two; once you cross a certain line everything is great. But the winner of the appetizers was the gnocchi with crabmeat and truffle. The gnocchi were light as clouds, with great flavor. The crabmeat added a fantastic sweetness to the dish and the truffles complemented with their great earthy tone. The light cream sauce brought the richness to another level.
For our entrees we ordered the Prime filet of beef with oxtail marmalade, porcini mushrooms and smoked marrow, the “Breaded” speckled trout with Louisiana crab, white shrimp, toasted almonds and sauce mousseline and the special stuffed saddle of rabbit. The beef was exceptional. It was full of flavor and so perfectly cooked that I asked the server if it was prepared sous vide (it was not), just a perfectly grilled steak. Accompanying the steak was a rich red wine reduction. A hollowed out Yukon potato made to resemble a beef bone was filled with an incredible pulled beef (I am thinking short rib type). A sweet marmalade sat atop and all the flavors were perfect. The rabbit consisted of a braised lower half that was then encased in the breast and rolled. This was then roasted and presented with a reduction and roasted baby root vegetables. This was delicious presentation and the sweetness of the root vegetables, the richness of the sauce and the two complementary flavors and texture of the rolled rabbit were fantastic. Then we move onto the winner of the entrée selections, the trout. The trout was sautéed with a thin bread coating on one side, not in the traditional flour, egg, bread, but just a thin bread coating on one side. Sitting atop the trout was at least six ounces of the sweetest crabmeat you can find in Louisiana, plus mushrooms and sautéed spinach. I am unsure which part of the dish was the best since each was perfect. This was the best fish dish I have ever tasted.
Dessert brought another level of flavors to the table. We ordered the napoleon of nougatine
with Valhrona chocolate bavarois and salted toffee ice-cream and the chocolate pudding. The chocolate pudding was like none I have ever eaten. The deep, rich chocolate flavor was presented in the smoothest manner possible. Sitting atop the four scoops were small meringue chips and what appeared to be small diced pieces of homemade marshmallow. This was fantastic. But as great as the pudding was, the napoleon stood above. There were about five layers of different textures and flavors of chocolate, salted toffee and more chocolate and then it reached new heights with the vanilla ice cream that sat proudly atop this perfect dessert. The flavors, the texture differences and the creaminess of the ice cream were brilliant.
It was just a perfect evening and I will place John Besh’s August restaurant as my choice as the best in NOLA, and is a strong contender for the best in America.
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130