On the corner of Tchoupitoulas Street and Gravier Street in New Orleans resides a historic 19th century French-Creole abode that owner and renowned Chef John Besh has turned into a culinary treasure. Executive Chef Michael Gulotta creates magnificent dishes each day in the kitchen according to Chef Besh’s compilation of intriguing items on the menu. With his southern Louisiana background, Chef John Besh has not only proven this with his flagship Restaurant August, but also with eight other successful eateries including Besh Steak, Dominica, Luke, La Provence, Soda Shop, The American Sector, and Borgne all located in south Louisiana as well as another Luke establishment located in San Antonio, Texas.
Original architectural accents and towering columns add southern charm and elegance to the interior décor of the establishment, while mahogany paneling and a two-story wine cellar enhance the intriguing feel of the entire eatery. Crystal chandeliers hang gracefully and effortlessly overhead, and antique mirrors reflect images of the ‘now’ while at the same time reminding those who pass by of the good times of the past.
We were delightfully surprised that not a single of Chef John Besh’s restaurants charge a corkage fee. That’s right…no corkage fee. his particular visit, we brought a bottle of wine and Champagne from our cellar to enjoy along with the amazing meal we were prepared. Our table for two was located inside the two-story wine room, which was a pleasant conversation piece throughout a large majority of our dinner.
The cuisine here is best described as contemporary French. The flavors and visual artistry will astound, while he ambiance will delight every one of your senses. Below, the chef’s amuse bouche cauliflower custard with curried oat Florentine, cauliflower sabyon, chives and all spice on top. Scrumptious, creamy, colorful and carefully inserted into a delicate crownless egg shell, this precursor to our meal was indeed an enjoyable one.
My husband chose the Crawfish Agnolotti with sweet peas, crispy fried veal sweetbreads, morel mushrooms, baby carrots, crawfish tails, and crawfish bisque foam and tarragon to complete the dish. I’ve tried sweetbreads before…a very long time ago. Let’s just say they weren’t my favorite delicacy…until I tried them at Restaurant August.
I decided on the Foie Gras Prepared Three Ways for my first course. An indulgence in itself, never have I experienced such distinct flavors from foie gras as I did with this offering. Preparation #1 consisted of a foie gras baumkuchen. Baumkuchen is a type of layered cake traditionally served throughout Europe. This presentation included layered sponge cake filled with foie gras mousse, a Champagne gelee, and a sweet aged balsamic. Method #2 was a sweet corn and foie gras mousse with pickled peaches and pickled baby corn beneath the perfect cloud of divine pleasure. Light and airy, yet loaded with multiple levels of flavor and character, this foie gras delight just melted in our mouths with its heavenly texture. Finally, the third showcased foie gras item was succulent foie gras jellied meatloaf that was wrapped in beet “paper”. This was joined by an intricately-placed line of crunchy salted sunflower seeds. A presentation of crustless brioche was placed on our table as an accompaniment to the foie gras starter (above photo). All sensational flavor experiences, all very different from each other, and all exploding with visual appeal and contrasting taste.
My husband and I love sharing bites of everything we order with one another. And for our entrée selections, it was no different. Our first decision was the Breaded “Trout Amandine”, which amazed us with every bite. Executive Chef John Gulotta impressed by breading speckled trout with crunchy brioche. He then incorporates tarragon butter, jumbo lump blue crab meat, white shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, hericot vert, and hearty Marcona almonds into a surprising conglomeration of happiness on top of the fish filet. As if it couldn’t get any better, a sinful brown butter Hollandaise is added on the side. Tender, flaky white fish joined by unlimited flavor sensations in this selection made us extremely satisfied patrons…but let’s not forget our second entrée…
Prepare yourself for this one…the Crispy Fried Pass Manchac Soft Shell Crab! Both colorful, creatively constructed, and possessing a gentle crunch, the cornmeal-crusted and fried crab is placed atop a coconut and lemongrass sauce “creole” then layered with even more mind blowing layers of flavor with the addition of a roasted garlic and eggplant puree, and a warm salad of heirloom tomatoes and pickled peppers. A very slight notice of a hint of spice in this dish was appropriate without being overbearing.
Just when we thought we had not an ounce of room left for another sip or bite of anything, our server arrived with dessert menus. We almost passed on something sweet and delectable for our last course, but we found ourselves surrendering to the intriguing list of house made treats. We selected the Goat’s Milk Cheesecake, which raised my eyebrow. A nice switch on traditional cheesecake, this confection was actually hand-formed into what appeared to be a log of goat’s cheese. Brilliantly executed in design and appearance, we indulged in this delicious creamy reward. The cheesecake was accompanied by a scoop of honey ice cream, a drizzle of caramel, and crunchy almonds.
The bill arrived soon after we finished our dessert, and the cover was a colorful rendition of a map of the area. Presented alongside the check was a taster plate of local confections including a miniature pecan praline, a chocolate truffle, a candied strawberry gelee, and a baked blueberry confection.
◾ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Elegant southern comfort is what you will find at Restaurant August. From the gas lanterns flickering light along the sidewalks after dark to the soaring ceilings lined with columns and antique mirrors to the walls intricately paneled in rich mahogany to the two-story wine room, you will be enchanted from the moment you arrive to the difficult second you leave this establishment.
◾FOOD / DRINK: Innovative and intricately crafted southern favorites arrive in the form of little works of art. The lack of a corkage charge for bottles that are brought into the eatery is also a refreshing idea that is not easy to locate regarding restaurants of this caliber.
◾LOCATION: Restaurant August is located in the Central Business District of the Crescent City at 301 Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, LA 70130.
◾HOURS: Dinner nightly from 5:30 PM to 10 PM, and Lunch on Fridays from 11 AM until 2 PM.
◾SERVICE / STAFF: Jeff and Will worked together as our serving team, while William bussed our table immediately between each course and assisted us throughout the evening answering our questions, taking photos of us, and offering his assistance.General Manager, Amanda, was also extremely helpful in explaining the menu items for us, and offered us an overwhelmingly positive sense of gratitude for us patronizing the establishment.
◾PRICE / VALUE: The idea that the restaurant does not charge a corkage fee brings the overall quality of the experience to an all-time high. Therefore, the prices asked for the exquisite culinary talents of the chef were suitable and acceptable in our opinion.
◾CORKAGE FEE: There is NO CORKAGE FEE for bottles of wine and/or Champagne that is brought into any of Chef John Besh’s restaurants!
◾CONTACT INFO: Phone: (504) 299-9777, Website: www.restaurantaugust.com
◾PARKING: The restaurant provides an adjacent parking area for patrons free of charge while they are dining inside of the establishment.
◾PRICING: The Crawfish Agnolotti was priced at $16, while the Foie Gras Prepared Three Ways was a splurge at $26. Our entrees were fairly positioned at $38 for the Breaded “Trout Amandine”, and $36 for the Crispy Fried Pass Manchac Soft Shell Crab dish. The Goat’s Cheese Cheesecake was an easy $11, while we saved an exorbitant amount with no corkage charged for the bottle of Champagne and wine we brought in to enjoy with dinner.