As the year whittles down to its final days, people are making good on those pledges to get together again over dinner. In New Orleans, this often calls up a Reveillon, those multi-course menus served this month at a circuit of restaurants around town (see our earlier story on diverse flavors running through this year’s crop).
But not all the special dining event this season fall under the Reveillon umbrella. Over the next few days, we’ll highlight a few unique offerings, special menus and Christmas-themed restaurant events.
A West End Classic, Reinterpreted at Purloo
Menus with drink pairings are one thing. But for a new special menu at Purloo, inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, inspiration came literally from the restaurant’s own bar.
That gleaming oak and cypress bar was for generations a place to rest an elbow and hoist a cold one at Bruning’s, the West End seafood joint that got its start in 1859.
That bar was broken up by Hurricane Georges in 1998. Bruning’s had a temporary second location nearby until it too was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; the restaurant never reopened. The shattered pieces of the bar, however, had been collected and were waiting in storage for eventual restoration. Meticulously reassembled, that bar is now part of the collection of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and is in very active use as part of Purloo.
“You’ll see people come in, walk past it and then do a double-take,”said Purloo chef Ryan Hughes. “Some people who used to sit at the end of that bar in the ‘80’s drinking beers come in here now and sit at the end of the bar drinking beers. I’ve seen grown men cry when they see it again.”
Bruning’s is the starting point for a new menu of specials at Purloo, with dishes that are modern tributes to (though not direct reproductions of) flavors from the old seafood house.
Of course that means there’s whole flounder, the calling card of Bruning’s, here stuffed with crab, mirliton and eggplant and finished with a warm brown butter and kumquat vinaigrette. There’s a duck and andouille gumbo, raw oysters (sourced from Grand Isle’s new, specialty off-bottom cultivators), and a seafood platter of stuffed crabs, crawfish hushpuppies and fried catfish with a Thai-style slaw, among other dishes (see the full list below).
Purloo serves this Bruning’s inspired menu alongside its regular menu through the end of January.
(And the next time you see Hughes, ask him about the Southern-themed James Beard House dinner he was tapped to help prepare in New York on Dec. 12, along with fellow New Orleans chef Alex Harrell of Angeline, Jeremy Conner of Cellar Salt Co. in Lafayatte and the Jackson, Mississippi chefs Matthew Kajdan of Parlor Market and Tom Ramsey of La Finestra. Their collaborative menu looked fantastic).
Bruning’s Tribute Menu
duck and andouille gumbo
gulf shrimp salad, chow-chow, fried baby kale
stuffed blue crab shells, crawfish hushpuppies, fried catfish, red remoulade, pickle salad
Grand Isle oysters on the half shell, smoked shallot mignonette, Florida sea salt saltines
whole flounder stuffed with crab, mirliton and eggplant, warm kumquat and browned butter vinaigrette
smoked and chargrilled ribeye, collard greens, frites, marrow red wine reduction
Cajun cane syrup cake, starlight mint gelato
1504 O.C. Haley Blvd., 504-324-6020
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.