Though one would think Downtown Disney
is strictly a hotspot for tourists, little gems like Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
stand out from the crowd, providing fine food with unique entertainment and a wonderful New Orleans atmosphere. It’s a comprehensive experience, exciting to all the senses, that will make you want to come back over and over.
Even the restaurant itself is exciting. I was captivated by the outside of the building, clearly influenced by French Quarter architecture, with its whitewashed doors, ornate ironwork galleries, and saturated colors. When I saw the elaborate fountain in the courtyard I realized that the building’s design was meticulous and thoroughly engaging. Walking inside Ralph Brennan’s is a carefully planned adventure from Southern California to Louisiana. And as I entered the dining room it was as if I had stepped into a new world. I was now in a southern mansion filled with positive energy, colorful parasols, and a full jazz band.
It’s important to note that this is not a place to bring someone for an intimate conversation. Even before the band starts, the noise level is clamorous. But if you’re looking for a place to have a good time filled with food, atmosphere, and music, then this is a great choice.
I know very little about music, especially Jazz in particular, so I’ll be brief. Kenny Sara and The Sounds of New Orleans
, the in house band, played wonderfully. They played gorgeous music that I’m sure any real fan of jazz would appreciate. Food though, that I know, and I know that what Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen served was delicious.
The first appetizer my girlfriend and I tried was their Southern Garlic Cheese Bread
. Unlike most cheese breads, this was made with real garlic, giving it a thorough and homemade taste with just the right amount of crunchiness. And the spinach and mozzarella stuffing inside was incredible. I wasn’t expecting it to be spicy, but I was pleasantly surprised when it made my mouth tingle slightly, just enough to wake it up and give me a little kick of flavor.
Next were the Louisiana Crab Cakes
, served with a wonderful black bean salad. The salad’s mixture of black pepper, beans, sweet corn, and carrots had a great taste, and even better texture. The crab pieces were amazingly generous, having more than anticipated. And what good crab it was! It was soft yet crispy, with a fresh taste and a texture that almost melts in your mouth. Complimented by the black bean salad, the appetizer was a joy to have. I’m going to remember it and make a point of ordering it every time I’m in the restaurant.
Since my girlfriend and I love seafood so much and wanted to taste the unique style of New Orleans seafood, we went ahead and ordered a round of Oyster Shooters
. Much like the other appetizers, these didn’t let me down. Oysters in general are tasty, but I’ve become a little hesitant to eat them since sometimes you get a bite of sand with them. These though, they were buttery, chewy, and sand free, meaning I could eat without fear. The Bloody Mary cocktail sauce was a tad overwhelming, but overall it provides a nice controlled burst of spiciness, melding sweet spice with the freshness of the sea. Adding a touch of lemon completes the dish, making it sing.
, I was told, is a house special. It was good, but nothing I would personally recommend to others like me who aren’t lovers of spicy foods. The pieces of meat were moist and chunky and the melody of greens, spicy red peppers, meat, and rice did go well together. But what I didn’t appreciate was the slow burn that never quite recedes. It overwhelmed my senses a bit. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods in general, but if you are then you may want to try this out.
If there was one food I’d suggest to anyone, and I mean anyone, it would be the Androuille crusted yellowtail
. Served with mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe over tomatoes and a chardonnay reduction sauce, it’s a thoroughly delicious meal. The mashed potatoes had a delightfully surprising taste of goat cheese, giving it a unique flavor that I’m craving as I’m typing this out. The broccoli was a deep green, unfamiliar to me, but enchanting with its deep bitter taste. And the yellowtail had just the right amount of sweetness, a great crust, and a texture that lights up your tongue with delight. Like the garlic bread, the yellowtail had a feeling of a wonderful home-cooked meal, but tasted better than anything my mom ever made me from scratch. As a whole, what I loved about this dish was how it creatively combines all kinds of flavors into one cohesive piece. The potatoes, fish, broccoli rabe, and reduction sauce all stand on their own, but combined they play off each other.
The Double Chocolate Bread Pudding Soufflé
can be summed up as AMAZING. I’m hesitant to ever use caps in any of my writing, but I can’t think of how else to emphasize just how much fun it was to eat. It’s a wonderful mix of delicious white and dark chocolate ganache, mixed in the center of bread pudding. The soufflé acts as a sidekick to the chocolate. This allows two textures to mix inside your mouth, the soft inside and the crispy outside. It’s so warm, so good, so smooth, and so very, very delicious. You do have to pre-order this, but even if you forget, the wait for it is well worth it. Easily, this was the best thing we had that day.
As I left the Jazz Kitchen, I couldn’t help but smile. I had never eaten there and so I had no idea what to expect. But the atmosphere, music, and food more than met my expectations. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
is located in the Downtown Disney District
at 1590 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim. For more information, call 714-776-5200 or visit rbjazzkitchen.com.