Over a recent conversation, third generation restaurateur, Dickie Brennan describes firsthand the origin of the now ubiquitous Jazz Brunch.
“From their earliest days in the restaurant business, my Aunt Ella worked Saturday nights, and my Dad, Dick Brennan, worked the Sunday breakfast shift. So, when Dad and Aunt Ella left Brennan’s Restaurant to open Commander’s Palace, they kept their same schedules. Now, at this point, Breakfast at Brennan’s was already a New Orleans’ dining tradition. On a trip to London, my Dad was sitting in a restaurant listening to some music and the idea came to him to create a new tradition to fill the seats in his fledgling restaurant at breakfast time. Dad thought about what people love most about New Orleans – great food and great jazz. In 1974, he married the two with the creation of Jazz Brunch.
To get the word out, my sister, Lauren Brennan Brower (who’s now my business partner in our French Quarter restaurants, Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House and Tableau), my cousins and I rode the streetcar down to the French Quarter to hand out fliers advertising our new Jazz Brunch. The chefs came up with some wonderful brunch dishes, and we asked Alvin Acorn and his jazz trio to come play. That first Sunday we tripled our business and it just continued to grow from there. Even after he retired from Commander’ Palace, he made regular trips to Palace Café with his grandchildren for Jazz Brunch.
I can’t count how many jazz trios have played Jazz Brunch at our restaurants, but I recognize a lot of familiar faces walking through the French Quarter on my way to the restaurants. We’ve made a lot of good friends over the years, and we’re always looking to make some new ones.
I’m really proud that the Jazz Brunch tradition my father started continues at Palace Café, Tableau and restaurants all around the country. This weekend custom is great for everyone. Jazz Brunch gives a lot of really talented local jazz musicians some good exposure and an opportunity to perform. Plus, our Creole Bloody Mary’s, Bourbon Milk Punch, Café Eggs Benedict, Pork Grillades and Grits, and Lost Bread (our version of French Toast) give something to wake up for after a night out in New Orleans!” -Dickie Brennan
As the first family of Creole dining, the Brennan family restaurants play a vital role in New Orleans’ culinary scene. Dickie Brennan’s four restaurants each serve a part in keeping the Creole food traditions alive. At Palace Café you’ll find crabmeat cheesecake, andouille crusted fish and white chocolate bread pudding. All dishes so popular they would have an uproar if they even dared considered removing one. In fact, Palace Café has served so many white chocolate bread pudding desserts that they have purchased nearly 65 tons of white chocolate (more than any other restaurant in the U.S.)
Just around the corner from Palace Café is Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. This is a true New Orleans steakhouse featuring prime beef and Gulf seafood. Their expert approach has earned them places on multiple national top ten steakhouse lists including Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Maxim, and The Daily Meal. The house filet is a perfect example of New Orleans and Steakhouse marrying beautifully. It’s a Creole seasoned broiled filet on a bed of Pontalba potatoes with tasso, creamed spinach, and flash-fried Gulf oysters, and finished with béarnaise sauce.
At the end of the block from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, at the corner of world-famous Bourbon Street, you’ll find Bourbon House. This seafood and oyster bar features the best in local seafood. From oysters on the half shell (Gulf oysters and specialty aqua-culture raised oysters) to char-grilled oysters topped with crawfish or crabmeat, to fried crawfish etouffee, this eatery offers a true taste of New Orleans in an upbeat atmosphere. In addition to seafood, Bourbon House is a leading Bourbon bar, offering over 200 selections of American Whiskey as well as the home to the New Orleans Bourbon Society.
Lastly, a visit to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without a meal overlooking iconic Jackson Square. Tableau fits this bill perfectly—with its wrap around balcony offering table service and its innovative takes on Creole cuisine, it’s a fun way to enjoy an afternoon or evening people watching and soaking in the sights and sounds of the Square. Also, if you’re not able to be in New Orleans on the weekend, but still want to experience a fantastic New Orleans brunch, Tableau serves brunch daily and offers $15 bottomless mimosas. What’s not to love about that?
Images courtesy of Dickie Brennan & Co, A Family of Restaurants.
For more information on Dickie Brennan’s restaurant family visit http://www.frenchquarter-dining.com.