POSH Place #5: Behind the Pink Wall: Brennan's
CEO of POSH PR®, The Caroline Doll, visits Brennan's New Orleans!
On my trip to New Orleans, I wanted to scope out any and all pink places, the pinker the better. It took very little to discover Brennan’s, the pinkest restaurant in town. Dolls, when something is pink, you KNOW you’re on to something good.
If I’m being honest, I had never heard of Brennan’s. I now know that’s probably not something I should admit, seeing as I’ve now learned Brennan’s is restaurant royalty. Brennan’s is the place that turned Southern Hospitality into a business. But you don’t need to know that before dining here, because Southern Hospitality is the core of Brennan’s.
We had just arrived in New Orleans and barely had our feet on the ground when it was time to head to dinner at Brennan’s. We didn’t have our bearings whatsoever! Translation: we had to use our GPS for a walk that was 3 minutes away. We managed to turn a 3 minute walk into a wild goose chase and were late to our 7:30 reservation! But the host at Brennan’s graciously welcomed us, asking us to wait while David Weick, the restaurant manager, came to escort us. I wish I had gotten the host’s name, but he was the truest southern gentleman, and charmingly filled us in on the go-to Jazz bars to visit later on.
We walked through the corridor, which used to be the “drop off station” for horse-drawn carriages to drop off women in petticoats and men in tall boots. Mr. Weick lead us to the courtyard, placing us right in front of a water fountain original to the 1795 building, that is also an established residence to a family of local celebrity turtles! (These turtles have their own parade every year, complete with mini floats!) Mr. Weick and the waitstaff lavished us with care, ensuring we experienced what made Brennan’s “Brennan’s.”
Brennan’s is a story of defeating the odds and going above and beyond, particularly because of Ella Brennan, one of the first women restauranteurs to grace the culinary world with her Louisiana drawl. The Brennan’s received pushback when they decided to be the first Irish family in the French Quarter to open a restaurant. However, Ella and her brother, Owen, were resolute. Straight out of high school, Ella immersed herself in cookbooks, shadowed chefs in their kitchens, learning everything and anything she needed to know! Ella knew SOMETHING had to separate them from the competing restaurants in the neighborhood, something more than food. On a tour of New York City restaurants, she paid special attention to how guests were treated as soon as they walked in the door. In an interview she recalled, “You felt like you were the most beloved human on earth! The hospitality those people showed was extraordinary!” Thus, she returned with a mission: to turn Southern hospitality into a business! The full Southern experience.
And an experience it is! At the end of our dinner, we were treated to Banana Foster for dessert (Here, we learned that Banana Foster was created in the kitchen at Brennan’s. Who knew!) Mr. Weick rolled out a portable stove top, flaming bananas and rum into the most delicious delicacy! I had read that the current head chef, Slade Rushing, came in with a mission to harness the full flavors of what makes Southern food Southern food, but to lighten the plate for the sake of the palette. (Read: we were able to enjoy dessert even after a full Southern meal, guilt free!) I had the “‘Blackened' Redfish.” At first, I was a little surprised by the lite portion, but when I took my first bite, what was lacking in quantity was made up for in quality. The sauces were full of that rich, distinct flavor that New Orleans is known for.
Mr. Weick was kind enough to take us on a tour the next day. Learning about the history and context of the restaurant was such a unique experience. He encouraged us to watch the Netflix documentary, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table. I’m so glad I did! You never know WHAT kind of story lies behind a pink wall, dolls!