Monday, February 1, 2010

Lüke, New Orleans

We serendipitously stumbled on Lüke today at the end of our little afternoon excursion to New Orleans.  It's John Besh's little gem of a brasserie located withing walking distance of the French Quarter and on the St. Charles street car line.  We discovered on our walk up to Herbsaint only to find that it was closed on Sunday.  It was our second restaurant strike out of the day after Central Grocery.  Thank goodness Lüke saved the day for us.  Actually, it turned out to be the culinary highlight of our afternoon.

Once inside Lüke, I felt like I had been transported back in time forty or fifty years.  The pressed tin ceiling and black-and-white hexagonal tiled floors felt like old New Orleans, and the place seemed to favor locals.  It was quiet when we arrived around 5:15, but was beginning to fill up just as we left.  It was refreshing since we had just ventured out of the Quarter, a very touristy and crowded part of New Orleans.  We weren't even all that hungry after our late lunch of Muffalettas and bubbles, but I couldn't resist the charcuterie plate when I spied it on the menu.  I have a hard time turning down any sort of cured meat delights!

I was overjoyed when the charcuterie arrived that we had opted to order a little food to snack on.  It included a rabbit and duck rillette, truffled foie gras mousse, hog's head cheese, paté de campagne, venison sausage, fennel marmelade, anise flavored pickled watermelon, and of course, mustard, cornichons, and toast.  Chris and I were both really impressed with the sampler and it was amazing how quickly our appetites returned once we started tasting the delicious bounty that was set before us.  It was a wonderful statement on how great classic charcuterie can be when made well and everything on the plate was a home run for me.

Chris and I also sampled some whiskeys from their extensive list.  Chris had an Eagle Rare Bourbon, a favorite for both of us.  I ordered a Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye, one I'd never heard of.  Turns out it's a release from Buffalo Trace, which produces some really great Bourbon.  It was intensely spicy and had a long finish, but it was also nicely balanced out by caramel sweetness from prolonged oak aging.  I loved sipping it, and it went great with the bold flavors of the charcuterie.  I'm not sure that it has made it up to Boston yet.

The ladies, Mom and Melissa, both opted for dessert instead since we didn't have any at lunch.  Mom's Gateaux de Basque was a delicious dense pound cake topped with fresh Louisiana strawberries and creme fraiche.  Mellisa chose a spectacular bread pudding with candied pecans and caramel topped with vanilla ice cream.  I loved that neither dessert was cloyingly sweet.  They were a fitting follow up to the magnificent savory flavors of the charcturie that we had just finished.

What a great spot!  I can't wait to return to Lüke and will keep it in mind for my next trip to NOLA.  I'm eager to try more from them when I have a better appetite.  It would be a great spot to stop for lunch before starting a day of sight-seeing downtown.  Wonderful food, service, and atmosphere to be had all around.


  1. I just drooled on my keyboard...rabbit and duck rillette, truffled foie gras mousse? I die.

  2. thanks for reading! it was amazing. if you're in new orleans, be sure to check it out!