What is a Reveillon dinner for, anyway?
It’s holiday time in the city, and that means dozens of restaurants in the city are having Revellion dinners.
But, what exactly is a Reveillon (pronounced reh-veh-yohn) dinner, you might ask?
According to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the custom goes back to the 1800s and has roots in Creole traditions. The word reveillon comes from the French word for ‘awakening.’ Families would fast before midnight mass on Christmas, and gather after church for a fancy meal. Usual fair might feature turtle soup, oysters and veal grillades well into the night. Eventually, the practice fell out of favor, but in the 1990s local chefs, including Emeril Lagasse and Frank Brigsten, brought back the tradition with a twist, turning it into a four-course meal featured at restaurants during the month of December.
Here are a few notable Reveillon dinners across town:
Café Degas (Esplanade Ridge/$43)
Café Degas’ usual fare features classic French food with a touch of Creole. The Reveillon menu here features cured duck breast for starters, seared sea scallops with parsnip puree and carrot ginger coulis, veal and celeriac flan, and chocolate pot de crème for dessert.
Brigsten’s Restaurant (Uptown/$58)
Part of the original push to bring Reveillon dinners back, this restaurant offers lot of choices for three of the four courses. The first is smoked salmon on rye toast with pickled sweet pepper, capers and horseradish whipped cream. After that, you have your pick between barbeque shrimp and shrimp calas, basked oyster Rockefeller, smoked pork chops or roast duck. Dessert features decision between sweet potato bread pudding, fruit salad and tres leches cake, strawberry shortcake or pecan pie.
Café Dauphine (Lower 9th Ward/$48)
This Reveillon menu features lots of New Orleans staples. For starters, you can choose from crawfish corn chowder or chicken, sausage and shrimp gumbo. After a second course of fried green tomatoes and salad, you can choose from grilled redfish with lump crabmeat, pork chops with rice dressing or fried chicken with baked macaroni and cheese. Dessert features red velvet cake or raisin pecan bread pudding with rum sauce.
Messina’s Runway Café (New Orleans East/$35)
One of the city’s best brunch choices, Messina’s sticks to that formula for its special holiday menu. Although its abbreviated from four courses to three, Messina’s is still a solid choice, especially if you may be on a tighter budget. A salad with candied pecans starts off the menu, followed a choice of beef debris eggs benedict, pan seared gulf fish or beef grillades. For dessert, there’s egg nog crème brulee. Pro tip: this menu is only available on Saturdays and Sundays, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Brennan’s (French Quarter/$65)
This menu features two courses (three if you count dessert), but it makes up for it with drinks. For the ‘Eye Opener’ is a brandy milk punch. The first course is an oyster soup, followed by Eggs Nouvelle, a fancy way of saying poached eggs, lump crabmeat, and spiced cauliflower. For dessert, there’s sticky toffee pudding and…more drinks! It’s paired with sparkling rose’.
The Country Club (Marigny/$60)
Known for its chill vibe and pool, this Reveillon menu throws in a little Lagniappe with an amuse bouche course, which allows the chef to prepare diners for the meal and show of his style and flair. The first course features a hand-rolled puff pastry with melted onions, roasted garlic puree, olives and anchovies. The second course highlights a French saffon stew, lobster, shrimp, mussels, fish and crostini. Veal is spotlighted in the third course and for dessert is a chocolate genoise, chestnut mousse, orange anglaise, candied hazelnuts and coffee toffee.