The Virgin Hotel opened with much revelry and spectacle when Sir Richard Branson paraded down the street backed by the famed St. Augustine Marching 100. The ceremony was seen by some as controversial, but it was still a testament to Virgin Hotel's appreciation for and commitment to New Orleans culture. Food and cocktails are a huge part of New Orleans culture, and Virgin's cocktail bar and restaurant Commons Club means to honor local tradition by providing mouth-watering meals including a sunny brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., complete with live music.
The lightly colored sun-drenched dining area lines the street-side of the building and it creates dark and seductive swanky inner rooms that act as lounges for people to take refuge in. It was in one of these lounges that the three-piece jazz band set up and played several lovely tunes to eat your meal to.
For me, breakfast starts with something a little sweet, and the Churro Fritters covered in a layer of cinnamon sugar was the perfect thing. The little balls of heaven arrived hot and steamy. One light push of a knife, and the steam swirled into the air to escape. The fluffy interior almost melts when placed on the tongue, but the exterior has a satisfying crunch to it that really forces you to savor every sweet bite.
The Sante Fe Spa Water cocktail was an interesting drink to have with the Churro Fritters because they were both sweet but in vastly different ways. The cocktail was a highly refreshing blend of Sauza Hacienda Tequila, jalapeno, cucumber, lime, cilantro, ginger, and sparkling soda water. This is the perfect drink for those mornings when you really need to rally for the day, but you can't start with something so heavy or syrupy. This could also be a fantastic drink without the alcohol, hence the name.
Another green-hued menu item that I tried was the Avocado Toast, which seems like a hit for Commons Club. How could it not be with it's gorgeous pops of color: bright green avocado spread, diced butternut squash, rich pumpkin seeds, and topped with an inviting fried egg (fried and poached eggs are optional). I was surprised by the multigrain toast as well; I've never experienced a bread that could so well hold up this kind of spread. It really made all the difference because nothing ruins toast like sogginess.
Light At Dawn came in a big, beautiful round glass that was so fun to drink from. This cocktail was a mixture of June Wild Peach Gin Liqueur, spicy ginger syrup, and a touch of sparkling wine to make it effervescent. It was a great and not over-powering complement to my main course of Crispy Boudin with a side of Benton's Bacon. I've had a lot of boudin in my day, but this boudin is something special. The hot, steamy boudin cake sat upon a bed of Bayou Cora melty, buttery red corn grits swimming in a sea of dark and savory red eye gravy. I had to break that thick, crunchy crust to find the quite spicy boudin waiting inside. Steam rose as the surface cracked; the boudin was very finely ground and tasted so good and salty while the crust provided an excellent mouthfeel to counter the soft core. Not to be outdone, Benton's Bacon was exactly how I like my bacon, and I haven't found bacon I love outside of my grandmother's kitchen. Very smoky, very salty, nice and crunchy, not too oily! I don't know who Benton is, but I'll be coming back to him for all my future bacon needs.
Commons Club is so excited to have you at their brunch that they serve Mimosas by the pitcher. You'll probably come for brunch and stay for people watching in the lounge or library. You can check out the full menu here.