October 8, 2010 3:55:00 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
From the moment they pass through handsome, carved doors that once fronted the old New Orleans Stock Exchange, diners know they''ve arrived at a distinctive destination. J. Broussard''s high ceilings, original hardwood floors and cinnamon color palette exude casual elegance, a suitable setting for the New Orleans-style cuisine the restaurant has been known for since Joseph Broussard and his wife, Mary, opened it 10 years ago in the Elks Club location on Columbus'' Main Street.
From the beginning, the couple knew they wanted to bring a bit of their Louisiana heritage to Columbus. "From the moment you walk in, we wanted it to feel like New Orleans," Mary remarked.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, the Broussard family and staff will mark a decade of fine dining in the Golden Triangle, and two years in its newer location at 210 Fifth St. S., across from the Princess Theater. Chef Joseph passed away suddenly in 2006, but this anniversary honors his talent and hard work that inspired a restaurant with a reputation as one of the region''s best.
Four years ago, Chef Beth Broussard Rogers stepped into the large footprints left by her father. Growing into the role of head chef at a young age, Beth, now 29, says she discovered that "you never really know what you can do until you have to do it."
Teamed with her experienced mother, who graciously runs the front of the house, and her husband, sous chef and butcher Joe, Beth parlayed her culinary experience gained in Memphis and from her parents into a career she thrives in. "I discovered I loved it, and wanted to cook all day, every day," she admits contentedly.
Oct. 16 anniversary menu
On Friday, Beth and Mary talked about a special anniversary menu developed to celebrate the first decade. "We wanted to offer some of the things that were really popular over the past years, or were particularly special to my dad," said Beth.
The Oct. 16 anniversary selections will include grillades and grits, crabmeat au gratin, mock turtle soup, grilled veal chop with port wine sauce, and catfish imperial. In a restaurant that traditionally offers 10 or more desserts as a matter of course, sweets are obviously a highlight. For the anniversary, J. Broussard''s brings back chocolate ganache, bread pudding with praline sauce, white chocolate mousse and cheesecake with strawberry sauce.
"The chocolate ganache and bread pudding were some of my dad''s most popular desserts," noted Beth. "The grillades and grits is my personal selection. That''s what he made for me on my last birthday with him, in September 2006. We lost him soon after that. Grillades and grits will never be as good as it was that day."
On the anniversary evening, Tony Derrico will provide live music as diners are seated from 5:30 to 9 p.m. One lucky guest will win a dinner for two.
Regular restaurant hours are 5:30 to 9 Tuesday through Saturday. The bar opens at 5 p.m.
The Broussard family is big on going local and going green.
A strong supporter of the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market, Chef Beth frequently offers specials based on seasonal produce she finds there. The restaurant also uses fresh eggs from Scott and Lydia Enlow''s Black Creek Farm''s free-range chickens, in Lowndes County. "The organic farm supplies us eggs all year," Beth explained. "We have a reciprocal arrangement; we provide material for their compost system." (Broussard''s is also open to composting with other farmers.)
"The efforts we''ve made to go green are really important to me," stressed the chef who is credited as the first in Columbus to institute a comprehensive recycling program. "The people at Triangle Maintenance make it so easy," she said. "Every time you throw something away at the restaurant, there''s a trash can and a recycling can right next to one another."
She encourages other Golden Triangle eateries to recycle more. Citing the example of a former employer, Tsunami, a restaurant in Memphis, she stated, "They were responsible for starting the recycling craze that hit Memphis restaurants, by becoming part of Project Green Fork." There, she continued, recyclables have to be separated by category. "How lucky are we here? We get to throw it in one big bin! Even with the trouble of sorting, there are 24 restaurants in Memphis with recycling programs. Here, we have two, last time I checked."
The family also tries to include local touches where it can. Currently, an Item 13 candle made by Chris McDill of Columbus sits atop every table. Local potter, Steve Garner of Three Oaks Pottery, has been commissioned to make items for table settings.
The restaurant''s repeat patrons have been with the family through good times and difficult loss. Seeing many of the same faces has been a positive for Beth. "It''s so good to see the people that have ''grown up'' with me."
"We really want to thank everyone who has been coming all these years," said Mary, who once considered a career in nursing. Her desire to care for people shows in her diligence as hostess. "Really, it''s like a big, extended family."
That connection to community is central to a family celebrating a 10th anniversary -- and honoring the life and legacy of a husband and father who encouraged them to strive for excellence.
ON THE WEB:
CHEF BETH''S CRABMEAT AU GRATIN
1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat (Fresh! Not pasteurized, canned, frozen, etc.)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
4 ounces grated Swiss cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
· Pick over the crabmeat for bits of shell. Heat cream in a pot over medium heat. Boil until reduced by half.
· Add crabmeat and salt to the cream. Divide crabmeat among seven gratin dishes, or in one larger baking dish.
· Top with cheeses and broil until cheese is melted and crab is bubbly. Serve with crusty French bread or crackers.
(Note from Chef Beth: It would be best to save this recipe until you make a trip to the coast, where you can buy really great, fresh blue crab.)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.