I was taken out to dinner by a couple of friends and we went to one of their favorite restaurants, the Palace Cafe. Located in the old Werlein Music Store Building on Canal Street, it is one of the restaurants owned by Dickie Brennan and his sister, Lauren Brennan Brower.
They both started with the Werlein salad, a southern take on a Cesar salad. I just sipped my Blood Orange cocktail while waiting for my entree. I had the Shrimp Tchefuncte, which had a deep, dark flavor to the Creole meuniere sauce. Julie had the duck which was served a little too rare for her but upon its return from the kitchen, I found to be quite good. Bridget had the crab meat cheesecake (which was divine) and the turtle soup.
For dessert, Bridget had the white chocolate creme brulee. It was a small bowl of velvety deliciousness. Julie had the pecan pie with the peanut butter ice cream that had a bit too much crust for the filling but the ice cream was terrific. I had the strawberry shortcake and, while the strawberries and cream were quite good, the shortcake biscuit was just too big for the plate and dry, too.
The service involves a lot of staff, with all plates arriving at the table at the same time and servers dividing the tasks of drink and dessert and entrees. Even with a 20% tip from every table, I’m not sure how any of them are able to make a living after the tips are split. The group serving our table was good, just chatty enough to make us feel welcome but unobtrusive enough that we could enjoy our conversation.
There’s a lovely website that has tips and tricks from the kitchens of the Dickie Brennan Restaurants that I was able to find for a copy of the Palace Cafe’s Creole meuniere sauce. I’ve posted it below.
In French, meunière means “miller’s wife,” and refers to a style of cooking where a protein (usually fish) is seasoned, lighted dredged in flour and sauteed simply in butter. Thus, to cook a la meunière is to cook it by first coating it in flour. A Meunière sauce is the simplest in preparation; it traditionally consists of butter, chopped parsley and lemon. In New Orleans, we add a bit more flavor and body to the sauce by adding Worcestershire and hot sauce, as well as heavy cream.
Creole Meunière Sauce
1 lemon, peeled and cut into quarters
½ C Worcestershire sauce
½ C Crystal Hot Sauce
¼ C heavy whipping cream
2 C butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Combine lemon, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in a heavy saucepot. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is thick and syrupy, whisking constantly.
Whisk in the whipping cream and reduce the heat to low.Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing until the butter has been completely incorporated after each addition.
Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Season with kosher salt and white pepper. Strain through a fine strainer into a sauce pot and keep warm.