Recently, during one of the Saints games at my cousin’s house, the subject of new restaurants came up. I mentioned a few that I wanted to try, but had forgotten about one in particular until my cousin said “Hey, have you been to Dominique’s?” Well, no, I hadn’t, and in the few weeks preceding this conversation I had definitely heard the name slip off more than a few people’s tongues. “You have to swear we’ll go together!” she said. I promised her we would and a few weeks later we had an 8 o’clock reservation at one of Magazine street’s hottest new restaurants.
Dominique’s, located on Magazine in between Bordeaux and Valence street, blends in so well with the other houses on the block that should you drive past it during the day you could easily miss it (I live in the area and missed it quite a few times). At night, however, the strings of white lights in the trees and along the porch banister are lit up, making this charming eatery much easier to spot. The curtains that line the front windows and the tea light candles placed inside along the walls and bar give the restaurant a comforting warmth that almost makes it feel like home.
I was the first to arrive so I grabbed a seat at the bar where the very friendly bartender mixed me an Oriole cocktail, made with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, Chartreuse, Lemon, and Grapefruit Bitters. Very tart and just the right amount of sweet, I sipped happily on my cocktail until my cousin met me. She ordered the Earl Grey Gardens cocktail with Kettle One Oranj, Earl Grey Syrup, Lemon, Soda, and Thyme, which we both agreed was one of those cocktails that’s so easy to drink, it could easily get you into trouble. It tasted just like iced tea, only better.
We were seated in Brent’s section, in the center of the room between two other tables. The noise level in the restaurant was acceptable, and giving the close proximity of us to the other tables, someone obviously gave the acoustics of this restaurant some serious thought. I heard only what my cousin had to say, not the two men to the left of me, or the two women to the right. Dominique’s is small but certainly not stingy on comfort.
In true fashion I had already stalked Dominique’s website earlier that day, so I had a good idea about what I wanted to order. After a short discussion about which dishes peaked our interest the most, my cousin and I decided to have the Wagyu Beef Tartare, Lobster and Celery Root Salad, and Duckfat Fried Chicken with Mac and Cheese appetizers and to share the entree of Maple Leaf Duck with Parsnip Puree. The tartare arrived first and though slightly salty, we found the avocado creme fraiche and ginger to pair very well with the robust rare flavor of the beef.
Next, the Lobster and Celery Root Salad was placed in front of us. This was probably my favorite appetizer of the night, with plump briny pieces of bright red and white specked lobster meat and soft chunks of golden celery root. The arugula added a peppery kick and the basil aioli was the perfect fresh and creamy sauce to bind all the flavors together.
Curiosity was the cause for us ordering the Duckfat Fried Chicken with Mac and Cheese. Anything cooked with duck-fat gets a “T” for tempting in my book and need I ask who doesn’t love mac and cheese? I found the chicken to be slightly dry but flavorful and the mac and cheese had a shell of crunchy breadcrumbs that, when cut open, gave way to ooey gooey mac and cheese. Eating this made me feel like a kid all over again, just with a bigger appetite and wearing three inch heels.
It didn’t take long for us to polish off our cocktails, so we requested that our waiter–who just so happens to be very knowledgeable about wine–choose a pairing that would go well with our duck entree. He did just that, pouring two beautiful wines from a big copper bucket for us to try–a rosé in one glass and a cigare blanc in the other.
We sat there, sipping and discussing the wines while waiting on our breast of duck, so we were very surprised when a leg of duck appeared in front of us. The Duck Confit was an appetizer we had certainly thought about ordering, but opted not to since we were getting duck as a main course. Our waiter, however, had other plans for us. With his wine pairings, he said he wanted us to try both the leg and the breast meat of the duck. We thanked him and began carving away, pairing each bite of duck with some of the poached pear and frisee lettuce. The vinegary tang from the apple cider vinaigrette and the poached pear held up well against the savory duck meat. The frisee salad added an earthy bitterness and burst of color that this dish would have otherwise lacked. We enjoyed the Duck Confit very much but as surprised as we were to receive it, we were even more surprised to see it on our bill, since we didn’t even order it.
By the time our Duck with Parsnip Puree entree was placed in front of us I was close to being uncomfortably stuffed. But after just one bite it was as if my body had managed to create a whole new stomach so I could fully enjoy it. No question that the duck was definitely the star of this dish, it’s flavor only enhanced by its vegetable co-stars. Peppery arugula and mild, creamy parsnip puree soaked up the tangerine-duck essence to provide that extra burst of flavor in each bite. The duck breast was seared beautifully, very pink and meaty without being overly fatty, and I loved the added crunch (and use of duck!) from the duck cracklings. Probably the best executed duck dish I’ve ever had.
Dessert at Dominique’s is complimentary in the form of house made cotton candy wrapped around a stick of sugar cane. I’m not sure if the flavors vary but on this particular evening it was green apple flavored and, as cotton candy always is, super fun to eat.
Curiosity and an “Eh, what the heck” attitude led us to order two desserts off the menu. The Goat Cheese Cake with Local Honey jumped out at me and the Citrus “Floating Island” was my cousin’s pick. The goat cheese cake is a go-to for any goat cheese lover but the drizzle of honey and dusting of ground nuts brought it over the top. The floating island was served as a lemon custard accompanied by some red sorbet (raspberry I believe) and slivers of fresh fruit including grapefruit, pineapple, and apples. Light and refreshing, Dominique’s “Floating Island” was my favorite of the two.
As we were finishing up dessert our waiter surprised us with one of the frames from the bee keeper’s hive, scooping up a spoonful of honey for each of us to try all on it’s own. It was unimaginably sweet with a warmth that lingered in my mouth long after it was all gone.
Dinner between the two of us was around $75 per person which I found to be very reasonable considering how much we had eaten, the quality of the service, and how buzzed I was when we left–and I don’t mean from the honey….
Dinner at Dominique’s was rather impressive and I cannot wait to go back with my boyfriend for date night. The restaurant has a romantic quality that is both elegant and chic without being stuffy or forced. In fact, the whole dining experience is best described as, well, easy. It was easy to park, easy to be seated, easy to talk, easy to drink, easy to order, easy to share, easy to eat, and easy to pay. So next time you’re driving down Magazine, remember to keep an eye out for Dominique’s, because enjoying amazing food in a beautiful, uniquely New Orleans setting, is something you definitely don’t want to miss.