Royal Street's famous Hotel Monteleone may be well known for the decades-old Carousel Bar & Lounge, but Criollo Restaurant is not to be discounted. The continental-meets-Creole restaurant is just on the other side of the room from The Carousel Bar, and it offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bar bites for those seated in and around the revolving bar. Criollo also serves up a specialty on the weekends that should not be missed.
Those seeking an effervescent start to the day should indulge in the Taittinger Champagne special available during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 2 PM. A bottle of Taittinger Brut La Francaise Champagne costs only $39! If you prefer champagne cocktails, take a look at the 32oz. Carafes which include Mimosa, Poinsettia, Bellini, and French 75 options.
For this meal that kicked off the weekend, we started with the Shrimp Remoulade appetizer; shrimp were placed on a tower of perfectly fried, thick-cut green tomatoes then deluged in a thick, tangy remoulade sauce. We also tried out the Blue Crab & Corn Beignets by recommendation from the server. I enjoyed them more than I expected because the steamy savory beignets were drizzled with a delicious Cajun brown butter the likes of which I've never tasted before. I'm sure I'll be hard-pressed to find such a delectable butter elsewhere.
No meal in the French Quarter is complete without some gumbo. I had the Chicken & Andouille Gumbo with a beautiful base roux. Salty, smokey, rich, and just thick enough to coat the entire mouth with flavor.
For the main course, my friend was enticed by the Eggs Sardou: poached eggs dripping with a very rich hollandaise served with artichoke bottoms and creamed spinach. The sauce was just incredible, and it made me a little jealous that I didn't order it. It was particularly tangy and rich, more than other hollandaise I've had at other establishments. I would certainly recommend this dish.
I had the old school southern staple: Chicken & Biscuits. A large portion of buttermilk fried chicken came cradled between warm, buttery jalapeno cheddar biscuits that were drenched in an authentic, down-home white sausage gravy. Steam puffed out of the biscuits with every stroke of the knife! This was a perfect dish to have with the bright, nose-tingling Taittinger which provided a perfect palate cleanser between bites.
We had to go back to the appetizer portion of the menu for our dessert, and we needed to sample the French Market Beignets. They were served fluffy and warm with a surprising praline sauce for dipping. Beignets are never served without coffee, of course! But instead of hot café au lait, I opted for an Espresso Martini made with Ketel One vodka, Tia Maria, and, of course, espresso. A few espresso beans delicately floated on top. A couple of fresh strawberries provided a fresh, sweet ending to a glorious brunch.
Take a leisurely, sun-soaked stroll through the French Quarter to your new favorite brunch spot Criollo before you take a twirl around the Carousel Bar. This bubbly brunch is a is the basis to a wonderful weekend! Be sure to make reservations to ensure a seating.