02 September 2011

Review: Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen

Visiting Disneyland and looking for a restaurant that is fun, has live music and great food? Then Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen located in Downtown Disney is the place for you!

Ralph Brennan's brings together two things that the "Big Easy" is known for - unique food and music.


Ambiance

In Anaheim's Downtown Disney you can find a little piece of New Orleans outside of New Orleans Square in Disneyland. The restaurant is located at the far end away from the parks, near Disneyland Hotel. Upon arriving you will check in at the podium at the entrance to the restaurant. Here you have your choice of indoor seating, where you can watch and listen to the live band, or outside, which is always enjoyable due to the beautiful weather in Southern California.


Once stepping inside, which also has an outside eating area, you will notice a beautiful fountain, wroght iron spiral staircase and balcony, and greenery which gives you a feeling of being in a French Quarter garden. If you are dining inside the restaurant to listen to the band, you'll pass through this area on the way to your table. The dining room has a lively but elegant feel with colorful umbrellas that hang from the ceiling, a painted piano, and rich wood tables with white linen tablecloths.

Inside Outdoor Seating
Menu

The menu is cajun, creole and primarily seafood, but there are also steaks, chicken and some vegetarian items. Offerings include red beans and rice and po' boys for lunch, with gumbo ya-ya, crab cakes, jambalaya, and various steaks on the dinner menu. Even the side items are culinarily relevant with options including andouille grits, crawfish mashed potatoes, and bacon pecan green beans.

At dinner, you can savor the flavors with a 3 course menu, including soup or salad, entree, and dessert for $30; just a fraction of the cost of ordering off the full menu.
On Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. you can enjoy the N'awlins Brunch Fest. Start your brunch off with the Bloody Mary Bar where you can customize your drink. Specialities include crab cakes and eggs, grits and smothered pork, cajun omelet and a staple, bananas foster french toast. Although adults must order off an ala carte  menu, kids 12 and under can enjoy a buffet for $12.

Drink Menu
Specialty Drink Items
Dinner Menu
Food and Drinks

LUNCH...

Red Beans and Rice
The red beans and rice might not look anywhere near as good as it tastes, but looks can be deceiving. These are full of flavor! Often this dish can have mostly beans and just a little bit of andouille sausage. As you can see it's full of sausage and tasso, a spicy, peppery smoked pork, so it's spicy and doesn't need a boost from Tabasco.

Muffuletta Po Boy
For those of you that haven't tried a muffuletta you are missing out. A signature sandwich of New Orleans, the muffuletta consists of ham, Genoa salami, provolone cheese and olive salad. This sandwich is stacked with meat and cheese and the right amount of olive salad, as to not overpower the flavor of the meat and cheese.

DRINKS...

Raspberry Rum Runner
Bayou Breeze
The specialty drinks are wonderful. Ralph Brennan's is not shy when pouring the alcohol! Their Raspberry Rum Runner is a nice twist on the classic. It's one of the refreshing, tempting drinks they tweet about! If you are looking for a slightly sweeter drink try the Bayou Breeze. The coconut rum and Midori add the right balance of sweetness to the orange and cranberry juices.

APPETIZERS...

Crawfish Beignets
I'm sure when you think of beignets you don't think of them as being savory and made with crawfish. These beignets are more like fritters and come with two distinctly different dipping sauces. The first, Tabasco pepper jelly is a contrast to the crawfish, kicking it up a notch and balancing the flavor of the crawfish. The chipotle raviogote brings out the flavor of the crawfish, giving you a very different tasting experience.

Gumbo Ya-Ya
When dining in a New Orleans restaurant you can't miss having gumbo. Gumbo ya-ya is a personal favorite of mine. There are so many different ways to make this - chicken, seafood, vegetarian, the options are endless. At Ralph Brennan's it's chicken, andouille sausage in a dark roux sauce seasoned with cajun spices and served with white rice. This is one of the most delicious gumbos outside of New Orleans. It's hearty, rich, spicy, a perfect consistency, everything you want in a gumbo. 

DINNER...

Barbecue Shrimp and Grits
One of my favorite things to make at home is shrimp and grits. The only way I eat grits is if they are cheese grits and served with barbecue shrimp. I hate to say this, but this dish is better than mine! "New Orleans" barbecue sauce is different than what most people think of; it's not a thick, smokey sauce. Instead of having a ketchup base, it's stock based so the sauce is thin but has an incredible flavor and works perfectly with grits. What makes the dish even more amazing is the grits aren't just made with parmesan cheese, they have chopped andouille sausage in them. This brings shrimp and grits to a whole new level of complex, spicy flavors. If you are visiting Disneyland you must try these!

DESSERTS...

New Orleans Bread Pudding
Double Chocolate Bread Pudding Souffle
Another popular dish is bread pudding. When I think of the "Big Easy" and something sweet, two things come to mind, beignets and bread pudding. I find that many restaurants serve a mushy, bland bread pudding but this is not the case here. The New Orleans bread pudding, made with raisins and topped with creme anglaise, is perfect. It's not soggy, has a great consistency and flavor.

If that isn't enough, there is the famous double chocolate bread pudding souffle, which must be pre-ordered. Made with semi-sweet chocolate and served with white and dark chocolate ganache, this is a chocolate lovers dream. It's moist with the right amount of sweetness as to not be overly sweet. Whether you love desserts or could take them or leave them, you won't be disappointed by trying this one. Just don't forget to place your order for it with your entrees!

Overall

Ralph Brennan's is one of my favorite restaurants to dine at when visiting Southern California. It has a lively atmosphere, delivers the Crescent City vibe, great food, and exceptional service. On my most recent visit Jesse was a server. He's one of the best, most attentive servers I've had, including fine dining venues. I will be asking for him on my return visit.

In my opinion this is a restaurant that provides a consistent, fantastic dining experience to it's guests. When visiting Disneyland or the Anaheim area this is the ideal place to grab a meal and enjoy the company of good friends.


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