While in New Orleans, I had the chance to eat at John Besh’s Lüke restaurant. It was unexpected and unplanned. I traveled to NOLA for business and while relaxing at the AC Bourbon Hotel bar with my clients and coworkers one night, the client wanted us to experience the local celebrity chef, John Besh. I knew of John Besh from his appearances on Top Chef, but the thought of going to his restaurant never crossed my mind.
At My Life Abroad, it’s all about seeing the world, one bite at a time. It’s not a secret I live to eat, not eat to live. You’ll hear my war cry of “These curves don’t maintain themselves” when I need to justify my food choices. Eating at Lüke was a casual, fun experience and I know I saw New Orleans through its food during this dinner.
Easing into the Big Easy
I had 3 nights in NOLA and the first one started with a walk down Bourbon street, dinner at Red Fish Grill, and ended with beignets and coffee at Café du Monde. It was a great evening out and NOLA was unseasonably warm for mid-January. With Bourbon Street and beignets under my belt, anything else to experience in the city was icing on the cake. Little did I know what awaited my taste buds….
Let's Talk About Besh
The second evening, we had no dinner plans, but my clients wanted to start the night with drinks at AC Bourbon Hotel. It had a cute little bar off the lobby with a fun and spunky bartender. During happy hour, the special was dealer’s choice: you picked the liquor, the bartender picked the drink. I chose vodka and was presented with a lovely coffee-creamy drink that was like a fancy iced latte.
During drinks, we decided to find a dinner location and landed on Lüke. After a quick reservation on Open Table, and a short walk, we entered the cosy, southern-inspired restaurant. Not one, but two servers greeted us and made sure weWe had not one, but two, servers and we were well attended. The menu was small and unfussy, but damn if it wasn’t hard to decide what to eat.
We started with sweet potato and truffle agnolotti, which has brown butter, Marcona almonds, winter citrus, and fried sage tucked into a ravioli style dish. We also chose the crispy Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds, espelette honey, and progress milk barn cheese.
Following the delicious appetizer of Brussels Sprouts in a sweet-spicy sauce and topped with julienned apples as well as jalapenos, our main dishes arrived. My two clients at dinner, Andy and Sam, chose well and I felt a twinge of order envy when I saw their meals. Andy chose grilled pompano with crispy kale, and turnips, while Sam went classic with Moules et Frites (mussels and fries). I snagged a bit of crispy kale from Andy and it was delicious. It almost, almost, made me a kale believer. Sam went quiet during the meal, so I know his mussels were excellent. I do know Sam’s fries were excellent because a few of them spilled into my dish before arriving at the table.
My colleague and I ordered the same thing – Gulf shrimp Étouffée. I don’t know what wizard magic was in this bowl of amazing, but it was unlike anything I’ve ever had. The menu’s humble description called out Creole tomatoes, garlic, and handmade cavatelli pasta. I saw no mention of the flavor-filled cream sauce and it definitely didn’t mention those little shrimp were some of the freshest you’ll eat! This definitely goes on my Top 10 Meals list.
See Sam’s fries there? So good… but that Étouffée. I was a sad girl to get to the bottom of that bowl. And I didn’t let a drop of the sauce go to waste. I snagged some French-style bread and soaked up every juicy bit.
This was the second, and the best, night in New Orleans. Getting to spend time with fun clients and kicking back with a delicious cocktail always makes for a great night. On top of that, we enjoyed an amazing dinner with great company and conversation. New Orleans heart and soul shines through its people. When those people generously share their culture through food, you know you’ve found an amazing city. While celebrity chef restaurants have the potential to be over-hyped and over-priced, John Besh hit the nail on the head with Lüke. Don’t miss it on your next trip to New Orleans.