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Restaurant Review: Commander’s Palace – Destin, Fl

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Commander’s Palace: is a chain of fine dinning restaurants originating in New Orleans that offers modern spins on classic southern creole cooking.  I have been to New Orleans and Destin Commander’s franchises many times.  I keep returning because the service is impeccable, the food wonderful, and the menu different.

The Food: Commander’s offers local proteins and produce presented in classic southern and modern creole dishes.  In Destin, the menu has classics from New Orleans, such as turtle soup and crawfish, but the focus is on local seafood.

The highs: All of the food was impeccable prepared and the service was tremendous.  For my first course, I had turtle soup.  If you have never had turtle soup at Commander’s it is something you must try; it is prepared with a dark roux and the stock is reduced until it is almost a stew.   For my second course I had, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Black Truffle Gnocchi appetizer.  This was easily one of the best courses I have eaten in years; it had a wonderful earthy taste, but each bite revealed new flavors and compexity.  For the main courses we had whole flash fried flounder and the Angus steak.  The who fried flounder, was tender/flaky and the presentation was stunning.  The steak’s temperature was perfect temperature and the accompanying truffle butter and sauce forestiere, elevated this meal from a simple steak house meal to fine dining.  

The Lows: I could have used more bread…

Ambiance:  A tranquil modern dining room over looking the Destin pass and Destin Bridge.   While dining, there was an airshow and fireworks over Destin Pass making for a very memorable meal.   It is an ideal setting for business and pleasure.

Cost:  Appetizers averaged $8 and entrees $28-32 for above-average sized portions.

Overall: An outstanding dining experience.  I have been to Commander’s many times and this was easily one of the best meals I have eaten at Commander’s or anywhere else.  It is easy to see Commander’s is an institution in New Orleans and soon to be in Destin.

Restaurant Review: Copper Grill, Destin FL

May 26th, 2010 No comments

Copper Grill: is a restaurant I have wanted to try for several years.  When it opened in 2000, I heard many good things about the fabulous cuisine.  Due to the regions abundance of outstanding local restaurants,  I put off going for about a decade.

The Food: The food offers are your standard fair steak house with a couple local catches and a selection of Maine and African lobster.  Before going to the restaurant, the online menu differs from the in restaurant menu in terms of price and the weight of steaks; the online menu has 2 ounce heavier steaks for $4-$5 less.

The highs: During the appetizer course, the Jumbo Lump Crab Martini was the highlight of the evening.  It was light and perfectly balanced for the summer, in fact it was likely the best item we ordered all night.  For the main course, all the steaks were cooked to the proper temperature.

The Lows: The tuna steak appetizer fell flat; its surface was badly burnt and that depreciate an otherwise attractive dish.  The restaurant has an open kitchen in the center of the establishment, while I am normally a fan of a kitchen on display, this one was more dismay.  There was only one chef and as he completed a course he placed it under the  salamander.  Some of the main courses from our table of four sat there for 10 minutes before being served.  While this is not completely outrageous it does explain why my lobster tail was leathery. In a restaurant who’s logo is a lobster, a rubbery-tough to cut with a steak knife lobster tail should make own re-evaluate the quality control. My last bone to pick is presentation, if you ordered a steak without topping, it comes out simply in the middle of a cutting board.  Simply a small slab of meat, lost on a large board with no garnish or accompaniment.

Ambiance:  Dimly lit with modern American decor.  Large comfortable booths.  I found our server to be slightly over bearing with her gimmicks and pressuring members of our party to get drinks/desserts. 

Cost:  Appetizers averaged $14 and entrees $40-43 for average sized portions.

Overall: Copper Grill is an average want-to-be ‘upscale’ steak house whose high prices will ultimately put it out of business.    Personally, I see no reason to return with Destin’s abundance of locally owned upscale dining and Ruth Chris just right down HW 98.