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Jfood visits August - My New Vote for Best in City

jfood Jan 30, 2011 10:09 AM

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.

-----
Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

  1. edible complex Jan 30, 2011 01:22 PM

    yep! love the potato as bone idea. will have to try this soon. thnx!

    1. thew Jan 30, 2011 01:26 PM

      on this we agree jfood. not only one of the best in NOLA but one of the best meals i've ever had anywhere

      1. c
        califkatie Jan 30, 2011 05:35 PM

        i went to august for the first time this last trip. we had the green salad, the gnocchi, the venison sausage/cassoulet and the hummingbird cake. each dish was perfect. we ate at the bar, for lunch. our bartender was a delight. she was so friendly and informative. when i went upstairs to use the restroom, the cooks in the kichen were fun,too, asking me how my meal was, etc. we will definitely be back.

        1. nomadchowwoman Jan 30, 2011 07:48 PM

          Definitely one of our best. So glad you enjoyed it. And I agree: that pumpkin seed brittle* elevates the salad into another realm; the gnocchi w/truffled crab is otherworldly; the salted toffee ice cream, swoon-worthy (even to this not-really-a-dessert person).

          *Took me two tries, but, using the recipe from Besh's book, I made the p.s. brittle this past December; we had some really great salads in the ensuing days.

          8 Replies
          1. re: nomadchowwoman
            s
            smilingal Feb 2, 2011 10:23 AM

            sorry - OT - hi there nomad - our time is approaching - I posted something about the experience at Galatoires regarding upstairs VS downstairs - should we pay someone to stand on line for us to ensure a downstairs experience? If so, how much? Otherwise we will eat at our reservation upstairs - 6 adults (some may think differently!)

            1. re: smilingal
              h
              hazelhurst Feb 2, 2011 10:46 AM

              I think you're in the wrong spot here

              1. re: hazelhurst
                s
                smilingal Feb 2, 2011 10:53 AM

                yes, sorry, but I wasn't sure how to shout out to nomad!

            2. re: nomadchowwoman
              g
              gulfcoastpirate Feb 19, 2011 11:06 AM

              Jfood - we just got back from New Orleans last weekend for the marathon and also had the pleasure of dining at August where we had some of the same dishes. You are correct, the food and atmosphere was outstanding. We're already making plans to return this fall for the UH - Tulane football game so we can dine there again.

              Nomadchowwoman,
              I also have the book with the pumpkin seed brittle recipe and am planning to try it soon. I've found the pumkin seeds and both the pumpkin seed and walnut oils. Perhaps I wasn't playing close enough attention (probably because the four of us shared four apps so we could sample a little of everything) but I don't remember the pumpkin seeds being whole in the brittle as it says in the book. When you made this did you leave the pumkin seeds whole?

              Thanks for any info.

              1. re: gulfcoastpirate
                c
                califkatie Feb 19, 2011 11:17 AM

                yes, the pumpkin seeds were whole in the brittle.

                1. re: califkatie
                  g
                  gulfcoastpirate Feb 19, 2011 04:57 PM

                  Thanks

                2. re: gulfcoastpirate
                  nomadchowwoman Feb 19, 2011 01:36 PM

                  And, yes, I left them whole. Just be careful not to burn the brittle as I did the first time.

                  So glad you liked August--and congrats on running the marathon. I'm "training" for the CC classic in April, but I'm nowhere near able to run a marathon (or a half-marathon).

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                    g
                    gulfcoastpirate Feb 19, 2011 05:09 PM

                    Thanks. I'll try to be careful.

                    I didn't run the marathon. I wish I could. A little too old and beat up these days from all those years on the basketball court. I still hit the gym regularly but I don't think my knees could take a marathon. My wife and I took the ride with our 20-something daughters who like the running. We go to a couple a year depending on the city. We're down by Galveston so New Orleans seemd to be a good place to visit and I hadn't been back since Katrina.

                    I was very impressed with August. I thought it was an excellent meal in a nice atmosphere without being too stuffy. I was looking up the date for the football game on my Android as I was walking out the door. Can't wait to go back.

                    Good luck with the CC and thank you both again for the responses.

              2. Bill Hunt Jan 30, 2011 08:05 PM

                Jfood,

                Great post. Predicated on some recent reviews here, I was worried that Chef Besh had lost his game, or his interest. Your food visit mirrors ours.

                My only complaint was the sommelier's wine pairings, and I realize that you did not do that. Also, the sommelier has changed at least once, and maybe three times, since our visit.

                Thank you,

                Hunt

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