Restaurant Review: John Besh’s August

French-influenced cuisine is a mainstay in New Orleans restaurants, and at John Besh’s restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St), nowhere is this more apparent—and delicious. Opened in 2001 downtown, just a few blocks off Canal St, August and its menu reflect John Besh’s culinary training in both New Orleans and Europe. He also focuses on using local ingredients to bring his contemporary French menu, with a foundation in Southern Louisiana roots, to the table.

Photo courtesy of Besh Enterprises

Photo courtesy of Besh Enterprises

August is housed in an historic 19th century French Creole building on Tchoupitoulas St in the Central Business District, and the interior maintains many of the original architectural details. The décor features vibrant hardwood floors and mahogany paneling, towering columns and antique mirrors. The restaurant is separated into three distinct dining areas: the picturesque main dining room with two signature crystal chandeliers, a two-story wine room and the more intimate Gravier room. The restaurant also has an upstairs private dining room and the Chef’s Tasting Room, which sits 12 people and features the four-course Chef’s Tasting Menu.

August is open for dinner nightly and also hosts a Friday Lunch and Sunday Brunch. The dinner menu features cold appetizers, such as foie gras three ways and salads of bruleed goat cheese and peaches or heirloom beets, crab meat and Benton’s bacon, topped with a quail egg. It also features hot appetizers, which include huitlacoche agnolotti with slow-roasted Sandy Hook rabbit and smoked chilis as well as handmade potato gnocchi tossed with blue crab and black truffle.

For the main course, diners can choose between seafood, meat and fowl. Seafood entrees include such Southern Louisiana-inspired offerings as grilled pompano, breaded “trout Pontchartrain,” Gulf snapper “courtbouillon” and St. Mary Parish soft shell crab. As for meat and fowl options, August serves up a Chappapeela Farms duckling, Rebecca Lirette’s Berkshire-duroc pork and slow-cooked and pecan-smoked Louisiana beef with chanterelle, local lima and confit potato.

Guests can also choose between a five-course Degustation Menu, which is $97 per person or $147 with a sommelier’s wine pairings, or a Tasting of Farmers Market Vegetables, which is $72 per person and $122 with a sommelier’s pairings. The vegetable tasting includes fried green tomato and Covey Rise stuffed squash blossoms, among others. The Degustation Menu features octopus and teta de cochon and Two Run Farm’s whole lamb along with its three other courses, which include appetizers and a dessert.

The Friday Lunch menu consists of several of the dishes from the dinner menu in smaller servings as well as a three-course Prix Fixe menu for $20. The Sunday Brunch menu also includes several appetizers and entrees off of the dinner menu as well as a few other dishes, such as an open-faced soft shell crab BLT and slow-cooked veal cheek grillades.

August is one of the premiere fine dining restaurants in the city and is a highly recommended choice for an unforgettable meal.

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