Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fleming's... a magical place

Bite and Booze: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Baton Rouge, LA I couldn't have planned this better.  This is just love how things seem to work out for me... so they say.  So, last night I started a blog about my life as it relates to food and drink.  And today, for happy hour, I met some good people at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar for, what else, food and drink!  Fleming's is pretty much my favorite place to go in Baton Rouge.  Usually it is only on a special occasion when I get to go, but every now and then, and especially at happy hour with the 5-6-7 deal, I get to go just for fun.  I'm typically not such a big fan of corporate eateries or watering holes but this one is special.  It turns out that I know the chef partner that opened the restaurant from college days.  And then, the real important thing, one of my best friends, Eusebio Gongora, took a job there and has worked his way up to Sous Chef and doesn't seem to be stopping there.  Everything seems to taste better when he brings it out to the table and can add that personal touch.  He has the best food mind that I know but has no formal training.  All of his knowledge comes from his own learning and personal experience... you know, the kind of stuff they can't teach in a classroom.

This evening I met my buddy Brent Broussard, LSU soccer star Chelsea Potts, and my brother, Eric Ducote, at Fleming's for a couple rounds of cocktails and some fine dining.  We got a table on the patio area outside because the weather in Baton Rouge was fantastic today.  I started off with a nice Petite Sirah from the Vinum Winery in California.  It was a tasty red wine that certainly wet my appetite for more concoctions.  Every Wednesday in September Flemings was giving away samples of their burgers during happy hour.  We got to try the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Burger, Portobello Mushroom Burger, Fleming's Prime Burger, and the Sliced Filet Mignon Burger.  All four were fantastic, but my favorite was the portobello which included sauteed spinach and goat cheese.  It was a unique creation with flavors that blended together perfectly between the buttery bun.  After I finished my glass of vino I looked at the 5-6-7 drink menu and decided to give their cocktails a try.  I'm all-too-often a beer drinker, followed by bourbons, red wines, and then rarely other drinks.  It is not because I dislike the taste, so I imagine it is just a routine that I've fallen into.  Perhaps this blog will bring me out of that pattern and I can give my take on the signature cocktails around town.

Shaken, Not Stirred

My first choice was the Fleming's Classic Martini.  I do enjoy a good martini and it had been years since I had one.  It was a slightly dirty beverage made with Ketel One Vodka.  The olives were stuffed with blue cheese which created a very interesting flavor.  I also tried a Fleming's Mojito which was a standard rum-mint-syrup-soda mojito mixture that was very clean and crisp and ideal for the outdoor weather.  The final drink that I tried was a Tropical Martini made with Malibu coconut rum.  This was definitely not my kind of drink.  It was consumable, but very sweet and fruity.  Such is life.

The beverages were great but the real treat of the evening was that we were also able try ALL the appetizers on the 5-6-7 happy hour menu.  It was really a perfect amount of food for the four of us.  Appetizer one was the seared ahi tuna.  The seared tuna is marvelous at Fleming's.  The sear around the outside is perfect and the fish is a delectable, melt-in-your-mouth slice of heaven served with a spicy mustard sauce that complements the dish perfectly.  Next we had a taste of "wicked cajun barbequed shrimp".  The well-sized crustaceans were served in a classic New Orleans style buttery, spicy sauce and were as good as any I've had before.  The jumbo lump crab cakes were nice but certainly not the best crab cakes I've ever had.  Still, it is hard to go wrong when you are working with really good lump crab meat.  Next up was the beef tenderloin carpaccio served with a cheesy bread for delivery to the mouth.  The thinly sliced beef was mouth-watering at first taste.  It is definitely one of my favorite appetizers on the 5-6-7 menu.  But the best in show for the night was not the carpaccio, it was the sweet chili calamari.  The succulent squid was fried golden brown and drizzled with a sweet chili sauce that hit the spot.  The flavor was immense as it had the truly perfect combination of sweet and spicy to go with the wonderful textures of the calamari.

To sum up, it was a great happy hour dinner and drinks evening with great friends.  I'm really glad I got back in touch with the martini, and I definitely preferred the classic version.  The mojito was delightful and I'd certainly drink one again on a nice Fall day.  As far as the food goes, it was all spectacular.  I love every time I get to go into Fleming's.  The highlights were the Portobello Mushroom Burger and the Spicy Chili Calamari... but man, it was all so fabulous!

Happy eating, and drink for your health!

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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