A visit to New Orleans is not complete without trying the city’s legendary creole and Cajun dishes, including gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and barbecue shrimp.
But even die-hard NOLA food lovers will tell you culinary diversity is a necessity. That’s where The Grill Room at The Windsor Court Hotel is worth a visit. Here, you will find thoughtful, modern American cuisine with a sophisticated flair. You will find a New Orleans accent here and there as more of a whisper than a shout.
Overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef and Culinary Director Igor Krichmar. Born in Ukraine, Chef Igor’s family moved to the United States when he was a young boy and settled in Chicago. His culinary career has included working at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, the Montage Deer Valley, Intercontinental Hotel in Los Angeles, and The Standard Highline in New York.
Chef Igor’s approach to planning The Grill Room’s menus is “use the best ingredients we can source from around the world available by the season.” This is a restaurant that aims to expand palates and not cut corners. It’s a fitting philosophy given the reputation of the hotel and its discerning clientele. The Windsor Court is consistently ranked among the Top 15 City Hotels in the nation (Travel & Leisure) and has earned the AAA Four Diamond Recognition for 17 consecutive years.
Tucking into our meal at a quiet corner table last April, the focus was Spring. We started with a delicate cantaloupe, green herb gazpacho with pickled grapes, a summer tomato tart with English peas, Stracciatella cheese, sous vide cherry tomatoes, avocado mousse, and baby snow peas (pictured below).
I selected a perfectly cooked steelhead trout with morels, leeks, peas, and baby carrots, and my dining companion a cooked to order 16 -ounce ribeye with a choice of bearnaise, au Poivre, or a “secret” steak cause and sides of roasted mushrooms, frisée, and pommes purée. Chef Igor sources his heritage beef from Linz, an Illinois farmer whose quality he feels is unparalleled. Both were sublime.
Chef Igor’s memories of his Ukrainian grandmother’s cooking can also be tasted in a presentation of delicate veal and mushroom tortellini laced with dashi and egg yolk aioli, a first course at The Grill Room.
For heartier appetites, The Grill Room offers a 65-ounce (shareable!) Chateau Uenae Wagyu beef cooked on Binchotan Japanese Charcoal. According to the menu description, this legendary Hokkaido snow beef is sourced from cows at Chateau Uenae Lake Farm in Japan. The freezing cold temperatures in this area give the meat a lower (fat) melting point that delivers an intensely sweet flavor and “snowflake-like delicateness.”
Pastry Chef Matt Serkes has created a menu that adds creative twists and international accents to traditional desserts. During our dinner, we tasted a light blueberry cheesecake with spongey puffs of yuzu-basil and a passion fruit roulade.
The extensive wine list is global. The sparkling section features an impressive list of grower champagnes. Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Rhone Valley selections are prominent. Spanish whites and reds and German wines are well represented. There is a smattering of “interesting reds.”
The cocktail menu offers classics and seasonal drinks. I was enamored by my French 75, which used Armagnac instead of gin. Since tasting that cocktail, I have always requested Armagnac or Cognac in my French 75 where I go. Another sparkling cocktail that piqued my interest is The Queen’s Flute, a concoction of sparkling wine, lavender and violet syrup, and bitters. (pictured below). I learned the original recipe was created in 1950 to commemorate the wedding of Margaret Rhodes, a cousin to HRM Queen Elizabeth.
The Grill Room is one of several dining options at the hotel; others include The Polo, Pool Bar, afternoon high tea, and, of course, room service. The Club Level (a supplemental cost and well worth it) offers breakfast, afternoon tea, canapes, and dessert, along with a very friendly team.
As the hotel’s name implies, The Windsor Court has a British feel- bespoke and ultra clubby, thanks to a $15 million renovation. Harrah’s Casino is across the street; the French Quarter and the Riverwalk are a short walk away. It’s easy to tumble into the streets to find the next party, parade, or festival. It’s nice to be able to tuck into quiet meal and a luxurious bed when you return for the night.
Featured photo: Beet Tartare with edible flowers