Dante’s Kitchen: Again and again and again!

When I started writing this blog, I promised myself I would pick a new restaurant to feature every week, knowing that with over 800 eateries in the Greater New Orleans Area it would take me a very long time to run out of food blogging fodder. Unfortunately, I did not foresee one, essential flaw in my master plan. What if I liked the experience so much, that I simply had to return? Would my readers scoff and click over to another local blog covering new and interesting food topics? Was it unfair to all of the restaurants I had not yet visited? Would I be giving too much love to one place in particular?

Finally, I came to a simple, definitive and sound conclusion to my dilemma, I don’t care!

No offense to y’all, but think about it. When you find a restaurant you really love, don’t you keep going back again and again and again? This chosen restaurant becomes almost a family staple, a place for special occasions and celebrations…the place to go to on a Saturday night. Well, now after several years of writing about all these wonderful places to eat around town, I have formulated a few choice spots that I think of when I want a  fantastic meal, guaranteed. So, that’s why John and I ended up at Dante’s Kitchen for dinner on Saturday night. I just couldn’t help myself!

We ambled the 3 1/2 blocks to the restaurant, arriving early in the evening and chose a table out on the front porch. After placing our dinner order, we got a couple of cocktails to enjoy while we waited. John’s Sazerac was possibly one of the best I have ever tasted and my Sidecar was definitely not shabby either. Sitting there sipping away, we spun a little fantasy that we were sitting on our own front porch, watching the dusk settle over our peaceful neighborhood while listening to the train rattle by. One day, the dream house will be mine…oh yes, it will be mine.

We started out with some of the chef’s house made charcuterie, Goat Prosciutto, Salame di Calabria and Coppa (pork shoulder). All of them were incredible, my favorite being the salty, fatty, delicious prosciutto, especially with the crisp, peppery crackers served alongside. A spicy jelly that accompanied our dish was so good, that John used his finger to wipe out every last drop. Thank goodness no one was watching.

I was on the verge of ordering some more cured meats (we were pretty hungry), when our server brought out Dante’s famous spoon bread and everything was right with the world once more. If you have not tasted it, spoon bread is essentially a sweeter, more moist version of cornbread, that at Dante’s is lovingly slathered with honey butter and always served before your entree. How could I have forgotten?

Shortly after the spoon bread was inhaled, our entrees arrived right on cue. John got a pan-fried Redfish on the Half Shell, which in New Orleans means “loaded with crab meat on top.” The fish was perfectly cooked and the lump crab meat on top was tossed with herbs like fresh mint and basil. John wolfed it down in mere minutes. I chose a new item on the menu, Slow Roasted Duck Breast served with roasted and raw apples and surrounded in a brown butter and white balsamic vinegar reduction. The tender duck breast was sliced and served atop a small hill of butternut squash puree and sprinkled with shavings of their own duck prosciutto. It was marvelous!

Instead of us each selecting our own, John and I decided to share a side of Stuffed Eggplant and I know both of us regretted it the end. Thin strips of eggplant were rolled around the most delicious filling of chopped spiced pecans, fresh herbs and walnut oil. It was so yummy that I almost ate John’s piece that he saved on purpose for his final mouthful, savoring every morsel.

Yes, we were both sated and stuffed, but there was no way I was walking home without dessert and I couldn’t resist ordering the Peach Tartlet with a scoop of their own Buttermilk Gelato.

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