When my beautiful friend Adriane, a New Orleans native gone West Coast started planning her 40th birthday, she knew she wanted to take the party back home. After researching sites and menus from the many offerings in NOLA gastronomy she wisely, deliciously chose Restaurant Cuvée.
The food was divine–inventive, beautifully prepared and presented and honoring the influences of France and Spain on Louisiana cooking. The wine list is extensive (650 labels) though carefully selected. As the name alludes, this restaurant is all about the wine. Though the popular varietal Chardonnay is by-and-large my least favorite, one of the vintages served at the party was a buttery Chardonnay that forced me to stop hating on the widely-planted grape. The service is impeccable, with an attentive, engaging waitstaff. Every wish was tended to with immediacy. Goblets, both water and wine were kept filled.
Our ascent to Epicurean nirvana began with the Spiced Shrimp Napoleon, layered paper-thin slices of shrimp and fried mirliton (chayote) with a spicy beurre blanc. Perfection.
For the second course I chose the Crawfish-Sweet Corn Canneloni to sate my craving for the humble crawdad. It was very satisfying, yet light enough to leave ample room for the main course to come. I sampled the birthday girl’s chopped salad and fell in love. The densely arranged square was tossed with a slightly sweet dressing that unified without overpowering the varied flavors of the mixed greens, praline bacon, danish bleu and roasted beets.
Though it was a tough choice, I settled on the Duck pour l’entree. Fantastic! Tender, flavorful (the pear glace was just the right touch.) Though I avoided the foie gras, I hear that it was quite good. My dinner companions also sang the praises of the Sea Bass, Lamb Tenderloin and Veal Short Ribs.
The artisan cheeses which came soon after with quince paste and a tapenade were a subtle palate cleanser before the beautiful finish of Fleur de Sel Caramel Pot de Crème topped with a wedge of pecan-macadamia brittle. The marriage of sweet caramel with a pinch of the damp sea salt was an unexpected delight. What a wonderful way to celebrate with warm family and friends the milestone birthday of my dear, dear friend.