For our one “splurge” in NOLA, we headed to Lüke, a John Besh restaurant, highly recommended by Manny Augello, who also gave me some great tips for other eats in New Orleans. Now by “splurge”, I just mean it wasn’t an $11 po’boy or muffaletta. It was a proper sit down meal in a lovely felt-like-it-could-be-in-France bistro at pretty reasonable prices, both wine and food-wise.
In general, we couldn’t fault the food here, with one exception. I ordered the roasted beet salad with Clemson blue cheese and spiced pistachios ($8.00), expecting something a little special. What arrived (before we even had our apéritifs…Grrr) was this:
I mean, really? I could make that at home. And, more importantly, where were the beets? The waiter helpfully informed me that they were under the leaves.
Which they were. But you know, had I wanted a green salad, I would have ordered one, you know? The flavours, however, were spot on. I loved the addition of the pistachios – generally you might expect walnuts or pecans in such a salad. I will definitely attempt this at home as I learn to love beets this year! And Neil enjoyed the bonus green salad. He also enjoyed the “plateau” of P&J oysters ($7.00/half dozen):
At this point we ordered a bottle of wine for our main course but literally MINUTES after our starter plates were cleared, my main appeared. NOT good coordination, for sure and it did make the experience feel a little cafeteria-like. When I approached our server about this, she simply told me she was “waiting” for the wine from the bar. In my book, you don’t call your mains up when your table has empty glasses.
The wine appeared fairly quickly after that and so did Neil’s main course. He actually couldn’t decide on a starter so he ordered TWO for a main course.
Grilled housemade boudin noir with a sauté of potatoes, apples and onions ($11.00). This was a spectacular dish (though I didn’t try the boudin – not a fan) and Neil thoroughly enjoyed it. The boudin was in a small enough portion that its richness wasn’t overwhelming, whilst the sauté was a keeper for a future French dinner party. Great flavours!
Pâté of Louisiana rabbit and duck livers perfumed with truffle and country bread croutons ($8.00). Lovely. Fabulous flavours and beautiful presentation with pickled onions, grainy mustard and a savoury marmalade to go with the pâté. Right then, about that pâté. Check out the SIZE of the portion!!! Imagine eating ALL that and then ordering a main course. Mind boggling, isn’t it? A bargain at the price but slightly unnecessarily large in our opinion.
Ahem – speaking of portion size, may I present The Lüke Burger.
With tomatoes, Allen Benton’s bacon, caramelized onions, Emmenthaler cheese and served with housemade fries ($16.00), this is what I had chosen online a few days before heading down to NOLA! Look at those fries…
Actually the first time this came, when the wine hadn’t appeared yet, the fries were cold. You have to wonder how they were so cold if my main arrived literally minutes after my starter plate was cleared… In any case, when the second serve appeared, they were stupendous, perfect fries. Crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
And the burger (and yes, yes, I order my burgers well done, sorry)…
Well, nearly (though I never eat the bread on my burgers) – it was THAT good! The bacon, the onions, the cheese – it was pretty much the perfect burger. Loved this! Unfortunately no room for dessert, because I did have my eye on the bread pudding and the duck egg crème brûlée. Next time maybe… You can check out the rest of the delicious choices on the menu here.
Given the portion sizes, though, a more leisurely service would definitely have been appreciated, but overall, this superb food in a lovely French atmosphere managed to excuse the few hiccups in service. Besh’s other NOLA restaurants can be found here.
333 St. Charles Ave.,
New Orleans, LA 70130
Open Daily: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.