DJ Dines, Valentine’s Day Edition: Galatoire’s Restaurant [RECIPE]
“I think one of the most romantic restaurants in the South has to be Galatoire’s in New Orleans,” says Reese. With its black-and-white tiled floor and walls covered in green and gold fleur-de-lys, this soigné French Quarter feels as au courant as when it opened in 1905. Quintessential NOLA dishes like shrimp remoulade, soufflé potatoes, turtle soup—and let’s not forget the Oysters Rockefeller—get better with every visit.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Melvin Rodrigue, President of Galatoire’s, talks with us about why lovebirds flock to Galatoire’s and shares that famous Oysters Rockefeller recipe with us.
What is your role at Galatoire’s?
I am the President and CEO of Galatoire’s and have dedicated my career to continuing the tradition and experience of one of America’s grandest fine dining institutions. I joined Galatoire’s in 1997 as the chief operating officer and am proud to be the first non-Galatoire family member to serve as president.
Reese says Galatoire’s is the most romantic restaurant in the South. In your mind, why is the restaurant so romantic?
Galatoire’s embodies the history and culture of New Orleans and is a place you go to make memories. Every day, we are the backdrop for couples celebrating milestone events, from engagements to Valentine’s Day to anniversaries and even weddings. Also, our guests are always dressed to the nines, and there’s something about jackets and formal wear that screams romance.
Any special goings-on for Valentine’s Day?
All guests that dine at our steakhouse, Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak, which is located directly next to the traditional Galatoire’s, will receive complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on Valentine’s Day. We also have a delicious prix-fixe menu with carefully-crafted wine pairings for couples wishing to celebrate.
If you were coming to Galatoire’s for Valentine’s Day dinner, what would you order?
To start, I would recommend the Oysters Rockefeller [recipe below], which are easy for sharing—we all know oysters are an aphrodisiac. As an entrée, one of our guest favorites is the grilled black drum served with crabmeat meuniere, which is a very traditional New Orleans-style dish. The fish is not too heavy, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day. My go-to Valentine’s Day dessert is chocolate black bottom pecan pie, which adds an extra layer of chocolate decadence to a Southern classic. And of course, the Galatoire’s private-label sparkling wine would be flowing all night.
For a visitor to NOLA, what would you recommend for a romantic day and evening?
New Orleans is a city known for romance. I would start the day off with beignets and café au lait before strolling through the French Quarter and taking in the beautiful architecture and incredible antique shops and art galleries on Royal Street. For dinner, of course couples should dine in our traditional first floor dining room or in our steakhouse, which has a more intimate feel. For an over-the-top romantic experience, guests can enjoy our private dining space, which comes with access to a private balcony overlooking Bourbon Street.
Tell us about this recipe for Oysters Rockefeller.
It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day because it’s beautiful to look at, great for sharing, and pairs perfectly with champagne.
Recipe for Galatoire’s Oysters Rockefeller
Over the years, many New Orleans’ institutions have developed their own variations on the rich, herbaceous dish that was originally created in the city in 1899 by chef and restaurateur Jules Alciatore that was named for the wealthy and unforgettable John D. Rockefeller. Like Rockefeller’s philanthropic legacy, the timeless dish named for him lives on through the ages.
If you must cook the oysters in batches, the rock salt will help to retain the heat within the first batches while the other batches cook. If Herbsaint is unavailable in your area, you may substitute Pernod. This dish can also be prepared with other types of shellfish, if absolutely necessary.
- ¾ cup chopped fennel (bulb only)
- ¼ cup chopped leeks (green and white parts)
- ¼ cup finely chopped curly parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped scallions (green and white parts)
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 ½ cup cooked and drained chopped frozen spinach
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground anise
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup Herbsaint liqueur
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted salted butter
- ½ cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
- 12 cups rock salt
- 6 dozen oysters on the half shell
- 12 lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To make the sauce, in a food processor combine the fennel, leeks, parsley, scallions, celery, ketchup, spinach, salt, white pepper, cayenne, thyme, anise, Worcestershire, and Herbsaint. Puree the mixture thoroughly. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the food processor into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter and bread crumbs. Ensure that the mixture is well blended.
Pour enough rock salt into twelve 8-inch cake pans to cover the bottom of the pans. Arrange 6 oysters in their half shells in each pan.
Fill a pastry bag with the Rockefeller sauce and pipe equal portions of the sauce over each shell. You may also use a tablespoon to distribute the sauce. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until the sauce sets. Turn the heat up to broil and broil the oysters for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the tops are bubbling.
Line each of 12 dinner plates with cloth napkins that have been folded into neat squares. Carefully nestle the pans of oysters within the folded napkins. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve at once.