Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vino and Venison: Taking a bite out of the monthly wine dinners at L'Auberge Baton Rouge's 18 Steak

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

If you haven't gotten a chance to check out 18 Steak at L'Auberge yet, you're missing out. The decor is totally luxe and over-the-top: quilted leather booths, dark interior lighting, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

It looks like somewhere The Godfather would bring someone he was either trying to kill or impress. And it's awesome.

Recently we had the opportunity to try one of 18 Steak's monthly wine dinners. The restaurant has been offering multiple course dinners paired with a variety of wines, and when L'Auberge Public Relations Manager Julie Collins got in touch with us about attending a dinner, we couldn't very well pass it up.

The dinner started with a cocktail hour where we sipped on champagne and admired the decor. We snacked on some passed hors d'oeuvres while Blair and Julie rekindled their friendship by nerding out over Harry Potter (you may have read about these two gals gushing over HP before in Put it all on 18 Steak).

Poppin' champagne like we won the championship game.
Poppin' champagne like we won the championship game.
First course: oysters on the half shell
First course: oysters on the half shell

Once we were seated, the serious eating began.

Our first course consisted of a variety of raw oysters served on the half shell and paired with a lovely chardonnay, the William Fevre Champs Royaux 2013. One of the oysters, the table favorite, was a rare find from Japan. It was topped with a lemon-y granita and had a really unique flavor, different for those of us who are used to Gulf oysters.

Next, we were brought a duck confit salad served with fresh Louisiana strawberries. I wasn't a huge fan of how stem-y the greens were, but the confit made up for it. The strawberry sauce added an unexpected sweetness to the salad which went along nicely with the duck as well as the paired wine, the Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Reserve Bougogne Rouge 2011.

Second course: duck confit salad
Second course: duck confit salad

Around this point, we were all two glasses in (well, three if you count the champagne at the bar). The previous courses had definitely whet our appetites, but we anxiously awaited the main course while juggling our multiple wine glasses.

When it was finally brought out, it took all our efforts to keep our jaws from hitting the floor. We were served a medium rare venison chop. Porcini crusted and topped with micro-greens, the venison laid in a red pool of cherry reduction. Cutting into it was like cutting into a stick of softened butter, and the texture was the same upon eating a bite. This dish paired elegantly with the Bouchard Pere et Fils Beune Savigny-les-Beaune 2012.

Main Course: Procini Crusted Venison Chop  with Cherry Reduction
Main Course: Procini Crusted Venison Chop
with Cherry Reduction

The main course was Blair's favorite, but I enjoyed the dessert course most of all.

We were brought a beautiful little log of chocolate cake topped with a hazelnut creme and poached pears sprinkled with cinnamon. Chocolate syrup was dotted on the plate along with a dollop of pear jelly. This final course was served with the Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Gevery Chambertin 2012.

Blair goes to a lot of these dinners, so she's a seasoned professional. She was very happy with the amount of food we were served. Normally, she said, each course is a huge portion of food. At the end of the 18 Steak dinner, we were able to move and weren't feeling the 'itis.

Dessert: Chocolate cake with hazelnut creme and poached pears
Dessert: Chocolate cake with hazelnut creme and poached pears

Blair and I both appreciated that the wines weren't super heavy. Each glass paired nicely with each course, and at the end of the dinner we were each given a bottle of Pinot Noir to bring home.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you're in luck! 18 Steak will be hosting another wine dinner featuring Hall Family Vineyards on March 25 for only $99 per person. And Julie told us to keep our eyes peeled for another dinner in April. More information can be found here.

If the wine dinner is a little out of your price range (normally, it is for me), Julie gave us the down-low on a great promotion starting this week in Bon Temps Buffet at L'Auberge. They're calling it Fisherman's Keep, and for $25 you can eat all the snow crab clusters, sautéed scallops, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, stuffed crabs, barbecue shrimp, stuffed flounder and crawfish you can get your paws on until April 4. Julie suggests heading there Wednesday for dinner and hitting up Blitz Bingo at Edge afterward. Click here for the menu. 

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