Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Cuisine Rouge Rating:
Le Creole's tagline includes two important words that set up very high expectations for a dining experience there. The two words are in fact the name of a city - a city whose name invokes an instant menagerie of thoughts filled with colors, sights, smells, sounds and most of all flavors. Those two words: New Orleans. And so that's where the bar was set, right there at "New Orleans" considering their website proudly announces "Where the Gulf of Mexico meets New Orleans."
Upon entering, we were greeted by the hostess and an incredible bouquet of aromas, which was indeed promising. The most overwhelming fragrance was that of fresh seafood, so, as far as we could smell at least, they were delivering on their promise of bringing the delights of the Gulf to your plate. The ambiance in the tastefully decorated dining room was wonderful. The lighting is dim and romantic, yet the overall feel is not too stuffy and a large family wouldn’t feel out of place. In fact, a family with children dined next to us. I was particularly delighted to see a piano player skillfully playing jazz and standards on a tremendous grand piano in one corner of the restaurant. Live music is always a wonderful addition to a dining experience, as long as it's not too loud or distracting. This was perfect. And again - it hearkened back to that "New Orleans" feeling I was expecting.
The waitstaff was polished and attentive, as well as and very enthusiastic about the food, which is always a great sign. Our server answered our questions accurately and was knowledgeable regarding the wine list and nightly specials.
We chose two appetizers - one that appears on the regular menu, the crawfish and warm goat cheese crepe, and a special, the crab cake.
The crawfish and warm goat cheese crepe is served with fresh herbs in a nantua sauce, which I'd never heard of. It was absolutely amazing. The flavors were very good - a hint of bell pepper, a bit of spice all rolled into in a creamy sauce that tickled the palate. The crawfish were fresh, plump and tender. The crepe was lovely and perfectly crisped. It was an amazing dish packed with flavor.
The crab cake was made completely of jumbo lump crab, no fillers to speak of, and broiled, not fried. It rested in two distinct sauces, a remoulade and another creme sauce - the name escapes me. The crab had a good fresh, sweet flavor and the sauces were delicious. However, my fourth or fifth bite in left me with a bit of shell in my mouth, which caused me to stop eating it completely. I know that it happens, and I didn't make a fuss. But once I come across anything like that in a dish - a bone, a shell, etc, I can't continue eating it because I'm immediately paranoid after each bite taken. They were very small pieces of the shell but just enough to make the dish unpleasant.
We also ordered a soup and salad - the crispy iceberg wedge and the turtle soup - just to try them out. While we waited for our second course, we were presented with a surprise from the kitchen - the chef had send out a specialty to our table - Roasted pork belly on a bed of stone ground cheese grits in a chipotle pepper sauce with a fried egg perched atop.
Neither of us have had the pleasure of trying pork belly. We know that it's offered in several restaurants in New Orleans (there's that city again), but we've never heard of it being served here in Baton Rouge.
In a word: sumptuous.
The dish was very rich and flavorful - full of bold flavors, like the sweet heat in the chipotle pepper sauce and the sharp cheesy goodness of the grits. The egg, pork belly, grits and sauce all paired together was a real treat. Quite an interesting and delicious combo.
Our entrees arrived next. We'd almost forgotten that we'd ordered soup and salad, but were so nearly stuffed from the chef's gift to our table that we shrugged our shoulders and said "Next time. Next time we'll try them."
I chose the crispy fried chicken and sweet potato waffle. The dish is accompanied by a creole coleslaw and Jack Daniel's and Steen's Cane Syrup sauce for drizzling. So, so wonderful. It was comforting. It was complex, flavor-wise. It was just plain good. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the waffles were fluffy, yet crisp with that hint of sweet potato coming through. Although I'm not a big coleslaw fan, I did take a few bites and it was quite good.
Our other entrée was the fish special, and of the two fish offered, he chose the red snapper. You can then choose one of two methods of preparation, which basically can be described as southern and northern. The northern version features the fish roasted on a cedar plank and served with grilled asparagus, herbed potatoes, and a tomato buerre blanc. He chose the southern preparation, entitled the “Pointe Coupee”; where the fish is crusted in Bergeron pecans and fried, topped with jumbo lump crab, set atop a bed of sautéed spinach and surrounded by a sweet corn sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and there was no greasiness to it. The crab was fresh and tasty, and the sauce had a good rich flavor. All in all it’s a very good dish, but nothing extraordinary.
Although we were near popping, we knew we had to try at least one of their signature desserts, and what screams New Orleans louder than Bananas Foster? A simple, yet incredibly delicious offering consisting of two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and a small cast iron skillet filled with fresh chopped banana and that gooey caramel, bourbon and cinnamon combo. The chef lit our skillet and we oohed and aahed a bit before blowing it out and serving up the steaming sauce onto our ice cream. It was delicious - and the bits of burnt crunchy sugar were an added treat.
So, to sum it all up - it was a great finer dining experience with all the charm, flavor and sophistication of New Orleans plus the casual friendliness of the staff. I felt at home and pampered while in the midst of a beautiful and elegant setting eating luxurious cuisine. It's a great new addition to the Baton Rouge restaurant game and definitely a place that would serve as a great destination for a special occasion or a family evening out.
Le Creole is located on Highland Road past Blue Bayou on the right and directly across from Ruffino's.