Tell me about John Besh's restaurants...good,bad,ugly?
We agree. Our one complaint - the wine pairing, is probably moot now. Back then, that was the one blight on an otherwise perfect meal. The sommelier has been changed, and reports are that she's top-notch.
Though getting long in the tooth, here's my review (part way down in a long thread) of Restaurant August: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/433877
this is a review i wrote of august this spring:
I knew that most of my trip to NOLA would be consumed with consuming traditional NOLA foodstuffs, but for our big splurge dinner i wanted something different. I wanted a fabulous place, where local and traditional Louisiana ingredients were done in an ultra modern style. Cutting edge cuisine with overtones of new Orleans. August fit that bill perfectly.
The space itself is lovely and inviting. lots of wood, bar i could see myself being a semi regular at if i were to visit here more often. I loved the wine "cellar" being overhead as a balcony in one of the rooms.
the service was perfectly tuned. Available, without being pushy or hovering, patient when patience was called for, helpful when asked.
There were 4 of us - I had the tasting menu, every one else had an app and an entree. starting with what i didn't have - for apps there was:
hand made potato gnocchi tossed with blue crab and black truffle
P&J Oysters: crispy fried with Louisiana caviar "ranch dressing,"
pepper seared with truffle spoon bread, horseradish crusted
creamy white asparagus soup
crispy gulf shrimp, red pepper and garlic
i didn't taste the soup (and I'm not sure why - i love soup) but was told it was very rich and tasty. the oysters were good, but not to my taste - nothing wrong with them in any way, I'm just not crazy about fried oysters, i find it kills the delicacy of the flesh. The gnocchi was excellent, light and puffy and lifted to a near transcendent state by the truffles and crab meat.
2 of my friends had the "stuffed" speckled trout with wild onion, crawfish and morel mushrooms - good, although perhaps overly rich. i would have shot for cleaner flavors in the sauce given the ingredients. Not bad enough to dock a star or anything, just not the direction i would have taken the dish, nor what i expected it to be given the description. but delicious so no foul.
other friend had prime filet of beefwith oxtail marmalade, porcini mushrooms and smoked marrow. This was truly an excellent dish - i liked how the smoked marrow was served in a faux bone made from potato - the meat was perfectly prepared and flavorful, and oxtail marmalade is exactly as unctuous and delicious as it sounds. seriously.
on to my tasting menu:
first i did not get it with the wine pairings, as i wanted to share the same wine as the rest of the table. I like that - seems more social. I do not recall what wine we had off hand , if i recall i will edit this review to include it, but it was a lovely red, with complexity and flavor - big enough to stand up to the meat dishes, not so big it killed the seafood.
ok tasting menu:
1)warm salad of pieds du veau,
veal sweetbreads, hearts of palm and black truffle
- i was nervous about this, as i have a thing against sweetbreads, but i know it was conceptual, and a holdover from youth and not based on anything real, and i hate that; so knowing it would be done right here was a place to check an old bias. the end result - bias gone! these were delicious little nuggets of goodness, lightly fried, and full of great flavor.
hand made spaghetti alla carbonara
house cured guanciale, slow cooked yard egg and sweet peas
-this was both amazing, as one of the best pasta dishes i've ever had, and surprisingly one of the places where i might have docked these guys a half a star. Why the contradiction? The pasta - fantastic, with the perfect bit, cooked exactly al dente. a little spring and a little chew to it. the porky goodness and the sweet peas lifted each others flavors through the contrast. The poached egg was the most properly cooked poached egg ever. in the history of poached eggs. a testament to the skill of the kitchen; they ain't easy to get right like that. And it was brilliant to use a poached egg on top to make the sauce, instead of building a sauce in the kitchen to toss the pasta with. texturally a dream, with great rich flavor (can i use the word unctuous again?) swimming with umami. A great dish. but- where was the pepper? carbonara needs little black flecks of pepper to look like the carbon, or it ain't carbonara. I do not know if this was a mistake in the kitchen or if this was a deliberate omission, but it really hurt what was otherwise one of the best dishes i ever had. If you read this, chef besh, your carbonara needs pepper. the flavor would have tied it all together. (and there was no pepper on the table to make up for it)
lacquered Berkshire pork belly with Louisiana crawfish, olives and blood orange
-do i really need to say how good this was? just read the ingredient list again!
slow braised kobe beef short rib ramps, baby root vegetables and leek purée
-perfect. seriously. perfect
napoleon of nougatine with Valhrona chocolate bavarois and salted
-this was my least fave thing of the night. too high a nougatine to chocolate ratio, and the salted ice cream was too salted, and didn't really meld w/ the rest of the dish.
Ok long story short - don't miss this place.
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
been to Domenica three times now and absolutely loved it all three times, especially for the price.
Luke has one of the best bread puddings in town...among other dishes on the menu
the Shrimp & Grits are yummy