[Emily Hingle]

Virgin Hotel Welcomes Chef Chris Borges

10:50 November 21, 2023
By: Emily Hingle

Commons Club's Newest Executive Chef

The Virgin Hotel's Commons Club is getting a dash of local flavor with the appointment of Chef Chris Borges as Executive Chef.

Hailing from a lineage of local seafood purveyors, Chef Chris is happy to present his take on New Orleans cuisine in his new kitchen. Virgin Hotel welcomed local foodies to partake in the newest menu items which began with champagne and light bites. The Scallop Crudo paired excellently with the bubbly as the scallop took on the delicate, earthy flavors of the included apple slice, turnip, dill, and almond aillade.

Experiencing Commons Club's Menu

Upon entering the dining room, you also enter into part of the kitchen as the cooking area is built into the dining room so that you can be a part of the action. Chef Chris explained what his menu is inspired by and the dishes began to emerge. The opening dish of Fried Brussels Sprouts Salad was surprising in that the Brussels sprouts were not bitter whatsoever. The hearty Brussels were tossed with lima beans, cardamom yogurt, golden raisins, sourdough croutons, and thinly grated cheese.

The bright green Gumbo z'Herbes was a fantastic second dish. The warm, rich green gumbo was topped with chewy wild mushrooms and it all just melted on the tongue into a complex, savory bite.

I was quite excited for the good, old fashioned Spaghetti and Meatballs. I love this homey meal, and I order it in many restaurants, so I was anticipating getting Chef Chris' version of it. This dish has the distinction of meatballs made with lamb rather than pork. The meatballs are incredibly tender and nearly melt when chewed. The perfectly thick red gravy sticks so well to the housemade pasta. I won't lie about taking some home for the next day.

Keeping things thoroughly New Orleanian, Chef Chris prepared BBQ Shrimp that is flavored with brown butter and fermented garlic. The flavorings are well balanced, not overpowering and not yielding. The head-on shrimp were loosely coated in bottarga breadcrumbs that added a lovely bit of crunch.

Just before the final two dishes, we were presented with the Banana Bread Old Fashioned. This is one of the best drinks I've ever had, period. The typical bitter booziness of The Old Fashioned was replaced with the soft sweetness of banana flavor from Tempus Fugit Banana. It was an experience all on its own, and I recommend it to all Old Fashioned fans.

This drink was a marvelous complement to the special entree of Iberico Pork & Dirty Rice. The Iberico Pig is no ordinary animal. Hailing from a few regions in southern Spain and Portugal, Iberico pork is heavily regulated for quality. Chef Chris served the extremely tender and succulent meat with crab fat-tossed dirty rice paired with earthy collard greens and just a hint of pepper jelly. Nary a word was spoken in the room while everyone marveled at the one-of-a-kind flavor of the dish.

Though it was getting hard to have one more bite at this point, dessert is always necessary. The Olive Oil Cake continues the savory concept with just a dollop of Chantilly cream and a little fresh fruit for sweetening.

After Dinner Relaxation

Impressed and needing a night cap, we then retired by the rooftop pool to get a peek at Red Hot Holiday which is sure to be a hit with those seeking sexy holiday pictures. The elevator bank is covered in red flowers, and you'll find sophisticated holiday accents throughout the patio space.

The Paradise Punch is a lovely way to cleanse the palate, even though I did not want to lose the flavor of the magnificent meal. The bright drink of rum, tiki bitters, and fruit juices is truly a tiki drink with a sprinkling of nutmeg. Others preferred the French Quarter Spritz with vodka, sparkling wine, and rosemary-infused Aperol.

I was really wowed by the new food at Commons Club that Chef Chris Borges has so lovingly created. He is not held to any corporate limitations, so his heritage, expertise, and creativity can fully be explored.

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