While casual meals out may not require a dictionary to decipher the menu, special occasions at more upscale restaurants might seem daunting. You may open the menu only to find words and phrases like "omakase” or "a la broche.” You have a decision to make -- do you ask the waiter what it means, or do you play Russian roulette and order what you soon discover is a creamed fish dish topped with bits of liver? To avoid dining disaster, brush up on some of these gourmet terms before your next fine dining foray, because eating out should be fun, not flummoxing!
A La Broche: This term simply means cooked or served on a skewer. You may also see a form of the term brochettes, like the mouthwatering beef brochettes served at 121 Artisan Bistro.
Bechamel Sauce: This is a sauce made from milk thickened with white roux. As one of the French "mother sauces,” you can find this sauce on anything from lasagna to asparagus. If gruyere cheese is added, this becomes a mornay sauce. The crab crepes at Mazen’s are filled with mornay sauce, and they will have your taste buds tap dancing.
Confit: When something is cooked in its own fat, it is considered confited. You often find this preparation with duck.
Dauphinois: You will find delectable gorgonzola dauphinois potatoes as a side dish at La Truffe Sauvage. This means that a vegetable or potato is sliced, cooked in milk, and often topped with a cheese.
Drawn Butter: Drawn butter is on the menu at Vic and Anthony’s served with their heavenly Alaskan King Crab legs. It is simply a butter that has been cooked in a saucepan. Once it is cooled, they skim the foam from the top and transfer containers, leaving any solids behind.
Emulsion: This is when two liquids that don’t generally go together are mixed. You probably have an emulsion in your refrigerator at home if you’ve got a jar of mayonnaise.
Macerate: To macerate something is to soak it in a liquid so that it takes on the flavor of that liquid.
Omakase: If you place your order this way in a Japanese restaurant, be prepared to be wowed. This term means "I’ll leave it to you,” and the chef decides what you’ll be eating.
In Southwest Louisiana, choose from a wide array of fine dining options. It is nearly guaranteed that you will leave with a satisfied stomach. Hopefully knowing these terms will make your dining experience more pleasurable, and you will go into your meal brimming with confidence and ready to order!