Fried Soft Shell Crab at Antoine's Restaurant, courtesy of Antoine's Restaurant.
What began in the mid-1800s as a feasting holiday between friends and family has become one of New Orleans’ oldest existing traditions –Réveillon dinners. Derived from the old French word ‘réveillon’ (re – vee-on), meaning ‘awakening,’ this European custom was first introduced to the Crescent City’s dining scene by French colonists during the early 19th century.
Served to break what had been a traditional day of fasting on Christmas Eve, these lavish feasts originally started on December 25th after Midnight Mass with nothing but family members, and was once again celebrated with friends and other loved ones during New Year’s Eve. The Creole-inspired fare, meant to commemorate the Christian faith, included chicken and oyster gumbo, game pies, soup soufflés, decadent desserts, brandy, wines and coffee, and — as told by old folklore accounts — could go on until sunrise.
Today, the Révellion dinner festivity, now a month-long celebration, has gone from homemade family meals to multi-course, prix fixe menus at the tables of the city’s dining institutions – permanently ingraining itself in the Big Easy’s culinary and holiday history alike. With roughly more than 50 participating restaurants serving everything from authentic Louisiana Creole cuisine to modern and contemporary fare, these are our picks for the six best Révellion dinner deals in New Orleans this year.
Restaurant, American, French, Seafood
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Arnaud's Gulf Fish Mitchell, pan seared and served with a bouillabaisse reduction & mirliton-pickled okra slaw | courtesy of Arnaud's Restaurant.
Leader of the culinary old guard since 1918, Arnaud’s Restaurant is a French Quarter eatery famous for its classic Creole cuisine and live Dixieland Jazz room. During this year’s révellion celebration, this culinary institution will be serving a traditional four course menu with your choice of white shrimp or beef carpaccio, Creole onion soup or butter lettuce salad, seared black drum, roasted rabbit loin or seared flank steak, and chocolate absinthe trifle or crêpes suzette with orange creole cream cheese. $49.
Antoine's grilled filet of pompano with crabmeat | courtesy of Antoine's Restaurant.
With a 176-year-old legacy, Antoine’s Restaurant is New Orleans’ oldest French-Creole fine dining restaurant and the birthplace of ‘oysters Rockefeller,’ which consist of half-shell mollusks topped with various other ingredients, and then are baked or broiled. Open since 1840, this French Quarter eatery will be featuring its traditional 4-course révellion dinner special: (1) charbroiled Louisiana oysters with seasoned garlic or alligator bisque, (2) greens and baby spinach orange vinaigrette salad, (3) chicken with champagne mushroom sauce or Louisiana drum stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp and (4) eggnog bread pudding with warm praline rum sauce or raspberry dark chocolate mousse. $49.
Located in New Orleans’ Central Business District, Cafe Adelaide is an upscale eatery serving inventive takes on modern Creole fare. Known for its weekend brunch specials, this casual restaurant will be offering a contemporary four course réveillon meal as well as an amuse-bouche. The menu starts with a blue crab and saffron bisque, followed by crispy Gulf oysters with roasted cauliflower and bacon, demi-glace braised basil-fed escargot with orecchiette pasta as a second course, an entrée of black Angus beef Rossini, topped with a tarte à la bouillie with Cajun sweet dough. $48.
Borgne Restaurant | courtesy of Borgne Restaurant.
Serving coastal Louisiana fare with a touch of Isleño flavors, Borgne is Chefs John Besh and Brian Landry’s Central Business District restaurant. With a menu honoring classic New Orleans fare, this seafood-focused restaurant will be serving a four course contemporary révellion dinner featuring P&J oysters Thermidor with tarragon, Louisiana white shrimp remoulade, spiced duck breast with parsnip, and buttermilk panna cotta with pumpkin and caramel corn. $65.
Oysters at Restaurant R'evolution | courtesy of Restaurant R'evolution.
With an inventive menu featuring both Creole and Cajun fare, Restaurant R’evolution is a swanky hotel eatery located in the historic French Quarter. For this year’s réveillon feast, R’evolution will be featuring a four course contemporary menu consisting of: (1) seafood gumbo or turtle soup, (2) cranberry waldorf salad with smoked walnuts, (3) braised boneless short ribs or beurre noisette poached Gulf fish with lobster nage, and (4) a seasonally prepared bread pudding crème brûlée. $72.
Upperline Restaurant dining room | courtesy of Upperline Restaurant.
Hailed as one of the most influential restaurants to ever open in New Orleans, Upperline Restaurant is a modern, fine dining restaurant located in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood. This trendsetting bistro, frequented by both locals and visiting travelers, will be serving a traditional four course réveillon meal – however, each course choice will include more than three meal options: (1) creole gumbo, turtle soup or a glass of madeira wine with spiced pecans, (2) original fried green tomatoes, crispy Louisiana oysters, duck and andouille etouffée, or watercress, stilton, pecan salad, (3) sautéed fish, creole shrimp and grits, grilled fish piquant, slow roasted duckling with garlic, or a rack of lamb with madeira mint and (4) crème brûlée, honey-pecan bread pudding, Louisiana pecan pie, brandy Alexander, or Irish coffee. $46. For a complete list of the restaurants serving Révellion dinners, click here.