Commander's Palace, renovated and reopened
|Current owner(s)||Brennan family|
|Street address||1403 Washington Ave|
Commander's Palace was established in 1890, and is located in the Garden District of Uptown New Orleans (1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, 70130). Owned by the Brennan family, whose patriarch Richard Brennan, Sr., died in March 2015, it has long been one of the best regarded upscale restaurants in the city. Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse are two of its alumni. Commander's Palace has received a four-diamond rating by the American Automobile Association. It was ranked the most famous restaurant in New Orleans.
Though tradition holds that Commander opened his restaurant in 1880, it was actually ten years later, in 1890, that Emile Commander established a small saloon at the corner of Washington Avenue and Coliseum Street. Within a few years he turned it into a restaurant patronized by the distinguished neighborhood families of the Garden District. By 1900 Commander's Palace was attracting gourmets from all over the world.
In the 1920s, Frank G. Giarratano was the owner of the restaurant. He lived above the restaurant with his wife, Rose and their two sons. There were rumors that there were private dining rooms upstairs rented to riverboat captains, visitors, etc. The upstairs rooms were the private residence of Mr. Giarratano and his family. while the downstairs with a separate entrance remained a family establishment. Fearing that the restaurant business would decline from what it had been during World War II, and being in declining health, Giarratano sold the restaurant to Frank and Elinor Moran after the war ended.
In 1944, Frank and Elinor Moran bought Commander's Palace, refurbished it and carried on its tradition of excellence with an expanded menu including many recipes still used.
Thirty years later, when the Brennans took over, they redesigned the interior to complement the outdoor setting. Large windows replaced walls, and custom trellises and paintings were commissioned.
The restaurant suffered extensive damage due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After a full renovation, the restaurant re-opened on October 1, 2006.
In 2001, a second Commander's Palace restaurant was opened in the Desert Passage mall adjacent to the Aladdin, Las Vegas, casino (It subsequently closed a few years later). A new Commander's Palace restaurant in Destin, Florida, opened in 2008 and closed in 2010.
Awards and honors
In 2013, chef Tory McPhail won the James Beard Foundation Award for South Best Chef. In 1996, the Foundation awarded the Most Outstanding Restaurant honor. Other James Beard Awards include Lifetime Achievement Award (Ella Brennan) 2009, Outstanding Service Award 1993, and Best Chef, Southeast Region (Jamie Shannon) 1999.
Since 2012, Commander's Palace has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Zagat has listed Commander’s Palace as the “Most Popular Restaurant in New Orleans” for 18 years. In 2008, they were inducted into the Culinary Institute of America Hall of Fame.
- Most Famous Restaurants in New Orleans
- Beaman, Greg. "Emile Commander: Before the Palace". Our House Stories. Our House Stories. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
- Times-Picayune. 1880: "Humble beginnings for Commander's Palace, a landmark New Orleans restaurant." September 16, 2011. 
- "Chef Tory McPhail - Commander's Palace". New Orleans Online. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Anderson, Brett (May 5, 2015). "James Beard Award winning restaurants in New Orleans". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on 2015-07-15.
- "Commander's Palace". Wine Spectator. 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-08-19.
- COMMANDER’S PALACE: CIA OF THE SOUTH
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