Edie Jarolim made all the arrangements; all I had to do was sit back and enjoy. I arrived early and waited at the bar for Edie to arrive. Everyone from the manager to the bartender to the hostess was friendly and upbeat. And my Sazerac (they have several versions) was outstanding – a perfectly built cocktail. A sign of good things to come.
Sazerac is located in the site of the recently departed Amalour and previous to that, Bodega (and several other restaurants over the years.) The food is New Orleans influenced. The owners, Aric and Josh Mussman, very wisely, retained the lush décor from Bodega. The lighting, the padded booths, the wooden tables reflect the feel of NOLA, to a tee.
Unfortunately, the lighting, as romantic as it is, was not good for photos, so don’t go by what you see. All the food was beautiful.
We began with Fried Green Tomatoes. There were two fat juicy, breaded tomatoes which on their own were tasty but what made the dish standout was the “signature bronzed baby shrimp sauce magnolia”. The sauce was dark red almost brown, and buttery with a spicy finish and a passel of tender baby shrimp, I was wowed and woke up this morning thinking about this little dish.
As expected, oysters play an important role on the menu and are presented in a number of ways. Fresh, of course, but we opted for the oysters sazerac, which consisted of six, big, fat oysters baked in a herbsaint fennel infused creamy cheese sauce. Herbsaint is a anise infused liquor and here played a subtle role with the oysters. Again, a dish that is a must order.
While all this was going on, Aric stopped by. We chatted about food and the business and his brother. He told us all about the chef they hired, Robert Iaccarino, whose has worked in several prime restaurants in NOLA. He insisted we try the French Onion soup; the recipe is from Brennan’s. If you don’t know Brennan’s please Google it, I don’t have enough space to tell all there is to say about this beloved, storied New Orleans classic.
I grew up eating the world’s best French onion soup from The Corner House in Racine, Wisconsin and I adore this soup but have found very few that match The Corner House version. Well, now I know where I’m going when I’m jonesing for French onion soup. The broth was dark and savory with a thick slice of bread and tons of gooey cheese on top. Definitely different than the Corner House bur seriously, delish!
Rather than go with just one Creole dish we ordered the Taste of New Orleans, a trio of quintessential Creole dishes. In this case, jambalaya, shrimp creole and crawfish etouffee. Each contains rice and all were fab, but my fav was the etouffee.
Even after all that goodness, we had the crab cakes that are made with jumbo lump crab and super jumbo lump crab. These were probably the biggest crab cakes I’ve ever had. The crab flavor sang, nor a hint of filler and the remoulade sauce on the side was perfect. We barely touched the green beans and brabent potatoes. Brabent potatoes are cubed then sautéed in olive oil, garlic and parsley. Ideal, but there was no room.
There WAS room for bread pudding. We opted for the praline sauce and weren’t disappointed in this darkly not-too-sweet take on the simple dish.
I cannot wait to go back to Sazerac. I know there are so many other great sounding dishes on the menu, but I will have to have those fried green tomatoes and the oysters.