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Cheesecake, please! The who’s who of the Big Easy attend the re-grand opening of Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro

By Heather R. Breaux

March 19, 2008 at 11:05 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

CHEESECAKE. There was plenty of Copeland’s signature desserts to go around for all who desired a slice of heaven.
Photos by Heather R. Breaux
CHEESECAKE. There was plenty of Copeland’s signature desserts to go around for all who desired a slice of heaven.
Earlier this month, hundreds gathered in their best evening attire for a night of choice cocktails and fine dining at the re-grand opening of Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans - an event I just couldn’t miss!

Let me first say that I always feel a little awkwardness and a lot of anxiety when the invitation to a huge social event makes its way to my mailbox.

But don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way, I absolutely enjoy wining and dining with the who’s who of the Big Easy. I just dread the whole “meet and greet” part. I always wonder, “Does anyone really care who I am?”

Yet regardless of my personal woes, I knew that the re-opening of this restaurant was important, not only to the owner, Al Copeland, but to the city of New Orleans and to southeastern Louisiana.

The location of this popular bistro chain was one of the first of its name to be developed and to see the doors open again with the servers ready to please any request is a major sign of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The evening began with a few “I’ll-take-’em” perks like valet parking, complimentary champagne flutes - filled and re-filled with champagne (of course) - a live Jazz ensemble and a grand tour of the completely remodeled restaurant.

The restaurant opened with a frozen-top bar on which partons can chill their drinks. A back-lit “ice wall” that contains bottles of vodka frozen into it. And a 30-foot-long glass-enclosed “fire wall” that separates the dining room from the Sweet Heat Martini Lounge.

I enjoyed, along with many others, a complimentary taste of the menu by way of the buffet line that led us on a tour of the kitchen where perfectly suited chefs were elbow-deep in pots and pans whipping up a few of the restaurant’s signature entrees.

The appetizers were the first to be served and I indulged in corn tortilla flautas stuffed with rotisserie chicken and bite-sized spicy fried shrimp sprinkled with almond slices.

Next was the Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad complete with fried wonton strips and drizzled with plum-lime vinaigrette.

I then made my way to the pan-bronzed salmon, the baby-back ribs, the fork-tender pot roast and the penne pasta.

I know what your probably thinking, “Whoa, that’s a hefty load!” But let me assure you that I was not gluttonous with my meal. My intent was to treat my palate to taste of everything, not a lot. After all, I had to save room for what was to come - the cheesecake.

With nearly 20 different pecan-crusted varieties whose toppings range from fudge brownie and chocolate praline to bananas foster and caramel, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t decide.

So I remained conservative and went with a slice of the chef-crafted original cheesecake.

Midway through dinner Copeland’s son, Al Jr., took to the podium and spoke a little about what this re-opening meant to the company and to his father, who couldn’t attend because he was receiving treatment in Germany for rare salivary gland cancer.

When the speeches were done, the band played on and everyone re-engaged in conversation.

The endless champagne continued to set the mood and the restaurant - whose dessert menu was once voted the best in New Orleans - was brought back to life.

For those of you who’ve dined at a Copeland’s restaurant, I urge you to do it again.

And for those of you who’ve never tantalized your taste buds with a slice of creamy cheesecake topped with fresh banana fudge, I ask, “What are you waiting for?” It’s a dining experience that certainly won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth!

ABSOLUTELY EYE CATCHING. Absolut Vodka models posed at every corner throughout the night.
COOKIN' AND MORE COOKIN'. The food was non-stop as patrons were served buffet style and got a sneek peek at the restaurant's kitchen.
     



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