A food paradigm shift.
For the longest time it was easy for me to tell you what my top restaurant dining experience was: Spago at the Four Seasons Resort Maui. Years ago, Mr. Darcy and I were on Maui over Christmas for a work event I had. My boss, her husband, Mr. Darcy and I all had Christmas dinner at Spago and the food was amazing.
I remember I had the Chinois Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Vinaigrette. The meat was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and was as tender as I’ve ever tasted lamb. The vinaigrette was bright and packed with flavor, including some heat, that complimented the lamb in the most perfect way. Wolfgang Puck was there and signed autographed cookbooks for my boss and me. And that’s probably why the lamb was so perfect – it left the kitchen under the watchful eyes of the renowned chef himself. It was quite a Christmas dinner.
But then in the last year and a half I’ve had three other dining experiences that have blown my socks off and completely realigned my taste buds, opening them up to so much wonder at the possibility of the flavors of meals yet untasted. And that’s when it hit me – at Spago I had one of the best entrées I’ve ever tasted, but not one of the best meals. I don’t remember anything else I ate that night at Spago. But at restaurant August in New Orleans last year, at La Bête in Seattle earlier this summer, and at Sylvain in New Orleans last weekend I tasted the three best meals of my life.
Everything at Sylvain from the location (the French Quarter) to the ambiance (18th century converted carriage house) to the staff (friendly and knowledgeable without hovering) to the food and drink (their bartender won a Sazerac Seal of Approval award at Tales of the Cocktail 2011) was sublime. There were four of us dining and we shared everything that came to the table: Chicken Liver Crostini, Roasted Beet Bruschetta, an Artisan Cheese Plate, Crispy Duck Confit, Pappardelle Bolognese, Braised Beef Cheeks, and for dessert, Chocolate Pot de Crème, Pineapple Sorbet, and a Sylvain Float (rootbeer with caramel ice cream). Gluttonous? Yes. Fabulously delicious and worth every bite? You bet!
Their list of craft cocktails is thoughtful and inspired and their dishes have been crafted with the same light hand and care without sacrificing flavor in any way.
The restaurant is dimly lit at night and although these photos were taken from a high-end camera, they just don’t do the food justice. You must go there and see (and taste!) for yourself.
If you have a trip planned to New Orleans any time soon, give Sylvain a try. While we were able to walk in and get a table on a Thursday night, I recommend a reservation. The secret about how wonderful they are won’t be kept for long and it would be a shame to miss dining here.
This is just one food and beverage adventures we had in New Orleans last weekend. Read my full New Orleans trip report here.