"...it was quite simplyambrosia—the mythically delicious food of the gods."
By D.J. Beuticia
Published Jun 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
On a recent Thursday evening my entourage and I journeyed to Maison Lacour to celebrate the art of fine French cooking. Graciously serving Baton Rouge since 1986, this grande dame of restaurants is inside an alluring cottage off of North Harrell's Ferry Road. It was originally owned and operated by our hostess' parents, but Eva Jetty and her chef-husband Michael now carry the torch beautifully.
Boasting five intimate dining rooms, each decorated with casual Southern elegance, Maison Lacour offers equal opportunities for a meal among friends or a quiet couple's dinner. As ours was a large, boisterous party, I'm sure the other patrons were pleased that one of those dining rooms was reserved exclusively for our table.
Having had little time together in recent months, our group was anxious to catch up on each other's lives, which meant the menu languished unattended for some time. Our hostess, owner Eva, was exceedingly patient with our group, giving us plenty of time to decide on food and drinks without attempting to hasten our decision-making. Once the decisions were made, it was as if a floodgate of food had opened up on our table.
We ordered four starters, with two being particularly noteworthy. The Pte Maison is my kind of hors d'oeuvre. A duck pte studded with green peppercorns and heightened with a touch of cognac, this modest dish was sublime. It was juicy yet firm, and the flavor was mild with whispers of pepper. The serving of toasted baguette rounds splendidly complemented the rustic texture, and once I had devoured it, I found the pepper lingered on my palate in a pleasing way.
The Artichoke Heart was another appetizer worth serious consideration. The artichoke bottom, no doubt difficult to separate from the rest of the vegetable, was topped with succulent jumbo crabmeat and luscious hollandaise sauce. The lemony hollandaise and rich crab perfectly enhanced the mild, tender artichoke.Our group unanimously deemed it the favorite of our four hors d'oeuvres.
A few in our merry band were not satisfied with just appetizers, and they ordered soup as well. The Bisque l'Orange, with its mixture of crawfish bisque and fanciful hints of orange, seemed like an awkward merger, yet it was an impressive marriage of flavors. Aided in texture by the immensely plump crawfish tails, it was quite simplyambrosia—the mythically delicious food of the gods.
The Palm Hearts Salade caught my eye early on, and though each entree is served with a lovely salad of greens, toasted walnuts and pickled red onions, I couldn't pass up these lily-white hearts of palm atop fresh, crisp lettuce. Tossed with a tasty vinaigrette that exalted the simple greens and palm hearts, it was a good choice.
Maison Lacour's entree offerings have most tastes covered, with fish, fowl, beef and vegetarian options available. But on this night, meat was the name of the game, and Cte de Veau and Steak au Poivre were our choices. The Cte de Veau arrived with an enormous bone protruding from the opulent cut of meat, heralding a very special dish enveloped in a cornucopia of mushrooms and cognac cream. After one bite, I had a severe case of entree envy. After two bites, I considered executing a plate bait and switch.
Steak au Poivre is an enduring classic, and this version's peppercorn-crusted filet mignon was swimming in an abundant deep brown demiglace with copious amounts of green peppercorn adding flavor and crunch. The complimentary crisp baguettes were the perfect vehicle for sopping this deeply flavored sauce.
Our table had perused the dessert menu long before it was necessary to order, so we were prepared when asked for our choices. To satisfy all tastes, we chose Chocolate Souffle, Crpes Suzette and Gteau au Noix. A tip: The souffle—available in lemon, chocolate or vanilla—should be ordered 30 minutes before service. Lighter than air and overflowing its ramekin, the chocolate was subtle, which helped keep the dessert from being cloying. With a light, crisp top and a hot, moist center, the entire dessert was delicate yet substantial enough for six patrons to have multiple bites each.
For a more robust selection, we chose Gteau au Noix. A true gem, the petite cake was earthy and slightly dense, yet thoroughly moistened by the luxurious crme anglaise.
As fantastic as the other desserts were, the table favorite had to be the Crpes Suzette. A seemingly simple dish, the tender crpes were gilded in a syrupy cognac orange sauce that was sweet but not saccharine. The entire table was fighting over the first bite, last bite and every bite in between.My companion deemed it one of the top desserts in all of Baton Rouge—a perfect end to a sumptuous French meal.
Maison Lacour stands as a bastion of elegant French cuisine, where you can comfortably celebrate life's important moments. Simply dining here made our otherwise ordinary evening an extraordinary event we are still reminiscing about. Just before we left, a guest commented on what a gracious and intimate experience it is to be served personally by the owner, giving you the feeling that you are a favored guest in their home. I hope to get another such invitation soon.