Caramelised Water Chestnuts
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What: This dark, complex Creole soup is made from a thick brown roux and contains, among other things, turtle stock, hard-boiled egg, shredded turtle meat (snapping turtles, which locals will assure you are plentiful and certainly not cute), and sherry, which is often offered to the diner to adjust the taste accordingly. Consistency varies widely—it can be very thick—but it’s always rich and robust in flavor.
Where: Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave., map) in the Garden District does a killer turtle soup: not too thick or thin, but smooth and vivid, with a floater of sherry provided at the table. The restaurant claims each batch takes three days to make.
When: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm and 6:30pm-10pm; Sat jazz brunch, 11:30am-12:30pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm; Sun jazz brunch, 10:30am-1:30pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit, or, to keep costs (slightly) down, go during weekday lunch (and expect 25-cent martinis!).
Order: If you’ve browsed EYW’s New Orleans section, you’re well aware of what don’t-miss dishes we recommend you follow the turtle soup ($8.50) with: shrimp & tasso henican, oyster & absinthe dome, eggs Sardou, bread pudding soufflé. At brunch, the excellent $42 three-course (plus Bloody Mary) prix-fixe special includes this soup, though it is also offered on the à la carte lunch and dinner menus.
Alternatively: The turtle soup at Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St., map) in the French Quarter is rich and meaty, using three types of turtle meat; other wonderful variations of this regional classic can be found at K-Paul’s (416 Chartres St., map), also in the French Quarter; Mid-City joint Mandina’s (3800 Canal St., map); and Ralph’s on the Park (900 City Park Ave., map), on the edge of City Park.
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