After several missed opportunities on trips back to the United States, I finally got to try Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen special Sunday Brunch and most importantly — the Bloody Mary Bar. I’ve eaten at the Jazz Kitchen Express, but never inside the main restaurant itself — it is a lot smaller than I realized (at least on the first floor). There are a number of tables outside, in the courtyard, and even upstairs. Since it was rather chilly outside and there was live jazz, we opted to sit inside. Prior to heading out, we called to see if we needed a reservation and the person on the phone indicated they were not expecting much of a crowd. We arrived around 11am and ended up at one of only two open tables — one of the high top bar ones. We had a great view of the band, just not a great table for drinks and large plates of food.
We were just in NYC a couple weeks ago where we stopped by the St. Regis Hotel to try the Bloody Mary in its American birthplace — The King Cole Bar. After a wonderful experience there, I was excited to create my own Bloody Mary and see how the Jazz Kitchen compared to the “original”.
If you are not familiar with the N’awlins Bloody Mary Bar at the Jazz Kitchen, you are missing out. It’s truly a custom Bloody Mary, right down to picking your own garnishes. It took nearly 5 minutes to finally reach a decision in the ingredients for the first round of drinks, but it was worth it.
Bloody Mary choices:
Me: Tomato juice with Stoli vodka. Added beef broth, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon juice, A-1, and Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce. Garnish with celery and garlic olive, add celery salt on the rim, and serve straight up.
Brett: Tomato juice with Absolut vodka. Added beef broth, horseradish, Worcestershire, black pepper, A-1, and Tabasco Original sauce. Garnish with celery, jalapeno-stuffed olive, and pickled okra, add Creole seasoning and serve straight up.
They recommend serving the drinks straight up and they come in a martini glass with a little bit of ice inside. The volume is the same as those served in “regular” glasses, just not filled with ice.
Unable to decide between the appetizers, we decided to go with all three of our top picks and then decide if we could hold a main course (I’ve had my eye on that Bananas Foster French Toast for months!).
The first appetizer to arrive was the Oysters on the Half Shell. This is 1/2 dozen Pacific oysters served with a Bloody Mary cocktail and mignonette sauce ($14). This was not a bad price for oysters — I know people who live near prime oyster places are cringing at the price, but for Downtown Disney, I thought this was reasonably priced. The oysters were quite large and had a nice, slightly salty taste. We love oysters and I have to say these are some of the better ones we’ve had in our travels.
Next, the Fried Green Tomatoes arrived. They came with applewood smoked bacon, spicy boiled egg crumbles, and a Cajun remoulade ($8). I could’ve downed about 10 of these — awesome!
Our last appetizer was the Popcorn Calamari, served with a Creole mustard aioli ($9). The aioli was awesome and the calamari were nice and crispy.
Surprisingly, we were not that full and decided to stick around for another hour or so, watch the band, order another Bloody Mary and try out the brunch specialties. We figured the main courses would not be that big since the appetizers were respectable portions.
Our next round of Bloody Marys:
Me: V-8 Juice with Absolut Citron vodka. Added Beef Broth, Worcestershire, lime juice, A-1, Tabasco Chipotle. Garnished with celery, garlic olive, pickled okra, and added smoked salt to the rim, served straight up again.
Brett: Tomato juice with Absolut Peppar vodka. Added beef broth, horseradish, Worcestershire, black pepper, A-1, and Crystal Hot Sauce. Garnish with celery, garlic olive and kosher salt on the rim, also again served straight up.
What seemed like a good idea at the time instantly evolved into a bad one as all the breading from the appetizers began expanding in our tummies. We waited for the drinks to arrive and assured ourselves we would be ok and the main courses would not be that big…right?
Our second round of Bloody Marys arrived and yet another winning concoction! I was rather proud of myself and wondered if I missed my calling as a mixologist along the way. :-) Actually, I am kinda thinking you can’t go wrong with whatever drink you put together, but I would recommend watching the spicy additions as I heard one person send their Bloody Mary back as it was just too hot to drink.
Now, the mains have arrived and our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs. Had we planned to spend an entire day in the Parks walking it off, we’d probably be ok, but we only had a couple hours before I had to get Brett to the airport for the next leg of his business trip.
I had ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast and this was one of the best brunch items I’ve ever had. It was served with applewood smoked bacon, bananas foster syrup, and fresh whipped cream ($12).
Brett ordered the Blackened New York steak served with a buttermilk biscuit, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and sausage gravy ($14). His entree was also an excellent choice. The biscuit was gigantic and the sausage gravy was very flavorful without overpowering salt like many others I’ve tried. One tip on ordering the steak — it is a thin steak so it’s easy to wind up with one overcooked. Brett ordered medium rare and it was more medium.
I was shocked at how much we managed to get through on our plates, but we almost finished everything. Needless to say, we did not even tempt fate and look at the dessert menu. When this was originally mentioned back in August on Disney Parks Blog, there was talk of a dessert buffet, but we never saw anything. There is a kid’s buffet ($12, ages 3-12) that includes typical breakfast items, grilled cheese sandwiches, and the big hit seemed to be the freshly made cotton candy for dessert!
The N’awlins Brunch is held every Sunday from 10:00am to 3:00pm and features live jazz, tableside performers (the magician was quite entertaining), and more. I’d recommend making reservations, especially if you require a low table as it was still full around 1pm, including the outdoor tables.