In late 2014, after a reported $20 million renovation, Brennan’s reopened for business on Royal Street in New Orleans, with restaurateur Ralph Brennan – nephew of patriarch Owen Brennan – and partner Terry White at the helm.
Locals are thrilled to have the storied grand dame back in business, complete with the opulent Breakfast at Brennan’s tradition, as popular an eating frenzy as Galatoire’s Friday lunch.
The backstory of the restaurant’s bankruptcy and fractured family dealings is fading from memory, replaced by Brennan’s stunning transformation and return as a major player in the city’s fine dining and group business world.
One of the spiffy new dining spaces upstairs at Brennan's — Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
Brennan’s design redo by New Yorker Richard Keith Langham is nothing short of spectacular. Passersby can now peek into the relocated kitchen with its portal to busy Royal Street. A front dining room replaces the original kitchen with windows that offer views straight back to the lush courtyard.
The main bar was moved and redone in an aviary theme, accented with birdcage lanterns and a silvered mirror painted with the plumage of peacocks and flamingos. The popular garden dining room off the courtyard is freshened with the peachy pink that updates Brennan’s former hue.
Lavish private dining rooms upstairs celebrate the colors of Mardi Gras, complete with retro photos of Carnival royalty.
Brennan’s vast wine cellar, overseen by Beverage Director Drew Brandwein, offers more than 7,500 bottles, including an impressive (and expensive) selection of bubbly. Craft cocktails, including an interesting deconstructed Sazerac, are the purview of Bar Chef Lu Brow, one of the city’s most respected bartenders, formerly at Café Adelaide for the past decade.
Chef Slade Rushing is in the kitchen, reimagining Brennan’s classics like eggs Sardou and turtle soup, while bringing his own take on Southern-influenced French cuisine and locally sourced dishes to the table. Rushing aims for a lighter touch with his sauces, freshening Creole flavors with an inventive eye.
Nontraditional breakfast and lunch items include New Orleans barbecue lobster; "Rabbit Rushing," or fried Mississippi rabbit, creamed collard greens, eggs and pickled pork jus; and an escargot omelet.
Three-course breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available, along with a menu of snacks like buttermilk fried rabbit bites, smoked gouda and pimento croquettes at the bar. Tableside bananas foster, long a signature dessert, is still a flambeau-ing presence, warming the air with the scent of caramelized sugar and rum.
Co-owner Ralph Brennan remembers playing in Brennan’s restaurant when he was a kid growing up in a family that would forever change the dining landscape in New Orleans. Brennan’s is the place where he had his first – and his last – escargot and where he would peel mountains of shrimp to help out in the kitchen.
Like a dear friend who has returned from a transformative journey, Brennan’s is back and better than ever.