Happy Hour at Borgne Restaurant
Happy Hour, Redefined:
Happy hour has become a hot thing here in New Orleans. Thanks in no small part to Chef John Besh and his empire of delicious local restaurants. The American Sector, Luke and Domenica have been known for years to have some of the best happy hours in this city. Who am I kidding? They’ve raised the bar and redefined what happy hour is in New Orleans. That’s a fact. And they’ve done it again with their most recent offering – Borgne Restaurant.
Borgne has been open at least a year and has been doing happy hour pretty much since they’ve started. Chef Brian Landry and his crew have worked tirelessly to get great seafood and local dishes into the hands and mouths of diners since day one. But what they’ve recently done is again, up the ante. They’re now offering a daily selection of appetizer plates for $5. Yep, five bucks. And these dishes are out of this world. Think ceviche, chantrelle mushrooms, braised turkey necks, pork and more pork. Not for the faint of heart. Definitely for those who like to eat, drink and commune in style.
Along with the $5 appetizer plates, Borgne also offers discounts on beverages. During happy hour, they offer half off select wines, cocktails and beer. They’ve got a great draft beer selection and some pretty delicious cocktails, as you’ll see below. Just the physical space of Borgne’s bar is pretty awesome. It’s a long, modern space, but one that’s warm and welcoming. I like how spacious it is. I imagine it’s a fantastic place to watch Saints games during NFL season.
So back to my visit to Borgne. Of course, I had to go down there and try some of these dishes so I could give you a good, first hand report on how everything was. I’d never just send you off blind to a restaurant without first testing. Although, this particular visit wasn’t my first to Borgne. We dined in 2012 for Jeremy’s birthday and later last year we had drinks and snacks after Tales of the Toddy (also held in the Hyatt, where Borgne is located).
Let’s start with the cocktails – because we can! Below is a hibiscus mojito. It was all kinds of tasty. And I love the cute tin cup it was served in. The hibiscus flavor really came through in the cocktail along with the delicious flavor of mint. This was very clean and refreshing.
The other cocktail I had that afternoon consisted of Saint Germain and vodka along with some cucumber. I wish I’d gotten the name of this particular cocktail, but I didn’t. It was also refreshing and tasty. Slightly sweet but well-balanced. Sometimes vodka and I aren’t friends (long story short: my fault), but this one agreed well with me.
Along with those two killer cocktails came a slew of dishes for me to try. Thankfully I had skipped lunch that day because this was food enough for a small army. Chef Brian really knows how to take care of his guests. I felt like I was in great hands. So let’s move into the food, shall we?
The first dish was a true southern classic – pink-eyed peas with pork. But of course it’s even better than that. Chef Brian has loaded this dish with seared pork belly. The dish is completed with mint, micro greens and vanilla bean vinegar. Such a delicious and creative dish. I could eat a whole meal of this stuff, for sure. My favorite part was that they seared up some pork belly fat along with the meat. It was delicious – it had the texture of scallops, but then I realized it was actually pork fat. I’ve never had pork fat so moist and tasty and delicious.
Since we’re talking southern classics, let’s just go right ahead and address the braised turkey neck that they served me. Holy WOW. I’ve had turkey necks before but never like this. Never so packed with meat and so juicy and flavorful. I don’t know what kind of ratchet turkey necks I’d been eating before but the bar has been set. HIGH. Chef Brian told me that the first braises the turkey necks in liquid then allows the necks to cool in that liquid. When they get an order for one, it’s pulled from the liquid, dusted in rice flour then deep-fried. Yep, they went there. And the dish is finished with pepper jelly that’s made in house. I die. You gotta get this.
Fear not, for those of you looking for a little lighter fare, Chef Brian’s got you hooked up as well. The ceviche I tried was outstanding. Very well-balanced with tangy and seafood flavors. The fish and tomatoes paired really well together. And the rice crackers really sealed the deal. A good, refreshing dish.
But now let’s get back to the good stuff. Besides the turkey necks, this chanterelle mushroom and pappardelle pasta dish was my favorite. The noodles were tender yet had a pleasant “bite” to them. The chanterelles were plentiful and so tasty. They’re in season right now and couldn’t be better. The kicker was the thick shavings of Parmesan cheese that completed the dish. Simple yet very elegant. C’est bon!
Next we’ll enter the “deep-fried” portion of the tasting menu. This first dish was amazing. I know I keep saying that, but everything was really truly so delicious. Below are breaded, deep-fried Manzanilla olives stuffed with a pork and fennel sausage. Brillant idea and definitely something I want to try to make soon. They didn’t come with a dipping sauce but really, they didn’t need it. Chef Brian knows what he’s doing. That should be fairly obvious by now….
Oh and my favorite fried item of all time – OKRA! These babies were fried up in a light and crispy batter and then topped with what seemed like a remoulade sauce. Delicious. It’s hard to mess up okra like this, I mean, c’mon! But what Chef Brian did that others don’t normally do is get the frying so perfect. Sometimes they’re greasy, sometimes the batter is cakey. Not here. Crisp and delightful all the way around. And I love how the sauce came drizzled over the okra. One less thing to do. Just eat, no dipping. Done!
Finally, let’s jump back to a pasta dish. These little raviolis were stuffed with a duck liver mixture and then finished with a vinegary butter sauce. So good. Very rich but tasty as heck. The little portion was perfect – not sure how a big plate of this would do. I’m sure I could manage if I had to, though. Take one for the team, as it were. The tanginess of the sauce definitely balanced out the richness of the duck liver. Perfect pairing. Another winner.
I tried one more dish that I don’t have a picture to share with you. It was a meatball dish with red sauce served over polenta. All three pictures I took were blurry and unattractive. Sorry, because this was another one of the top dishes. Jeremy really loved it – he joined us late in the tasting (advantages of being a blogger husband!!). The meatballs were tender, the sauce tangy and of course the polenta was oh-so-creamy. That was definitely another dish I could have done an entree portion of.
Check out Borgne next time you’re looking for a happy hour spot. They’re located in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel, near the corner of Poydras Street and Loyola Avenue. Happy hour is daily (yes, even weekends) from 3pm to 6pm. Be sure to not only enjoy their $5 appetizer plates (selection changes daily) but also their fantastic drink specials. You’ll be glad you did. I know I’m glad to have this on my new happy hour roster.
- Address: 601 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113
- Phone: 504.613.3860
- Hours: Su-Th: 11a-10p; Fr-Sa: 11a-11p | Happy Hour: 3p-6p, Daily
- Web: BorgneRestaurant.com plus Facebook, Twitter and Instagram