A few years ago, Commander’s Palace introduced a prix-fixe lunch (with 25 cent martinis!) allowing everyday y’ats to join the St. Charles set in the Garden Room. NoDef has been enjoying the impeccable service and turtle soup ever since, but we have always wondered, “What surprises does Chef Tory McPhail have have in store beyond that last swirl of Brandy?” Last week, the Commander's executive chef descended upon the backroom of a French Quarter antique shop to prepare a secret feast, and answered that very question.
The brandy was gone, and tequila was in, as the was not a meeting of the brass, but an elaborate promotion organized by Patron. Fifty select guests of the alcohol behemoth's Secret Dining Society were invited to dinner at an undisclosed location, and spent an hour following clues before arriving at a large tables in a darkened M.S. Rau Antiques. At first blush, serving tequilla in an antique store sounds like it would put the bull in the china shop to shame. However, Patron recruited Glazer’s Steve Wilshire and the cocktail whizes at Bar Tonique to concoct custom creations for the evening. Each of their seven cocktails was matched with a custom dish from Chef Tory.
The evening started with a couple cocktails paired with the requisite shrimp hors-devours, and, of course, Tory’s take on the classic beignet and cafe au lait. Don’t get us wrong, these treats were tasty, but they were nothing compared to what followed. Wilshire produced a Satsuma, basil and Patron concotion, and Tory upped the ante by pairing it with sea scallops accompanied by a margarita caviar. Fans of El Bulli may recognize the “caviar” as one of the signature dishes of molecular gastronomy. (The tiny spheres have the look and texture of beluga eggs, but the taste of an exploding margarita.) The meal grew from there with the likes of bacon infused Hake (Tory added the pork to keep it local) and an incredible antelope painted with Tabasco and sugarcane. Wilshire was not to be outdone offering up a Vesperado, a clever tequila twist on Ian Fleming’s legendary libation, and something called a Ginger Street. (The Ginger Street tasted like its name which is to say great!) Turns out McPhail and Wilshire do pretty well unfettered.
For more coverage of the event, check out this Eater NOLA.take.