WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Dining in an antebellum plantation has tremendous appeal both to locals and visitors. Until Kevin Kelly bought and re-imagined Houmas House, you went to a plantation more for the atmosphere than for the food. Latil’s Landing, the best of the three restaurants on the property, is in a league with the best traditional restaurants in Southeast Louisiana. It’s worth the trip even when you’re not showing guests around.
Jeremy Langlois has been the chef since the opening of Latil’s Landing. A protege of John Folse, he has made a name for himself with his mix of innovative and historic recipes. Very much a Louisiana gourmet menu, it uses large amounts of vegetables and herbs grown on the plantation. Almost all of the rest of it is locally sourced.
The restaurant is in the oldest part of the house, built in the 1770s. The rest of the premises are a mix of historic buildings and new ones built according to records of lost structures on the plantation. Kelly has planted gardens of stunning lushness, particularly this time of year. The plantation is still surrounded by vast acreage of sugar cane. Tours of the house go on constantly, telling a classic story of the antebellum river lifestyle.
The dining room’s antiquity is clear. Windows give a second-story view of the grounds outside. Sometimes they also serve in the main house’s grand dining parlor. Service is simple but good. Wines are stored in the original cistern of the house, an outbuilding just outside the dining room. A new addition is the home of Sunday brunch, which is one of the strongest draws here.
»Crab and mango cake, chipotle remoulade
Beer-battered fried shrimp with cheddar cheese grits, tasso cream sauce
»Roasted oysters, Creole cream cheese mornay sauce, pickled mirliton, Louisiana caviar
»Foie gras with lost bread
»Rabbit and andouille gumbo
Bisque of curried pumpkin, crawfish, and corn
Salad of blue cheese, roasted pecans, organic greens, cranberry vinaigrette
»Roasted beet and crab salad
Quail salad, pickled quail eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, bacon-fig vinaigrette
»Black drum crusted with blackeye peas, fall vegetables, crabmeat, caper butter sauce
Lobster and Creole tomato risotto, roasted shrimp, crawfish tails, Parmesan broth
Herb-crusted salmon, rum scalloped sweet potatoes, white asparagus, dill cream sauce
»Bacon-wrapped veal loin, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, soft-shell crawfish, sauce au poivre
»Charbroiled filet mignon, oyster mushroom demi-glace, scalloped potatoes, white truffle oil, crispy spinach
»Coffee-marinated rack of lamb, shallot potatoes, grilled eggplant tart
Grilled breast of duck, candied yams, asparagus, parsnips, praline pecan sauce
»Bananas Foster split
Chocolate sponge cake, Creole cream cheese ice cream, flaming meringue
Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding
»Apple Gallette, crème anglaise, mint syrup, vanilla ice cream
FOR BEST RESULTS
The best way to eat here is to get the chef’s tasting menu. It typically runs six courses, changing with the seasons, at a reasonable price. The best time to dine is Sunday afternoon, when they open at two and keep going. That allows time for a tour. The
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
If it were me writing this menu (but I’m glad it isn’t), I’d push for more classic Creole dishes. It seems a bit too contemporary for the setting.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Consistency +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +2
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +3
- Outdoor tables, drinks only
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations honored promptly
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Orleanians are aware of the plantations interspersed with the chemical factories up and down the river. But since the demise of the great restaurants of Elmwood Plantation and Tchoupitoulas Plantation, we don’t think about such historic venues for dining. Until the day when a visiting friend or business colleague comes to town. In which an interest in visiting a plantation home is almost universal. The revival of Houmas House during the past decade has been a good thing for all the plantations between here and Baton Rouge. The food is better everywhere.