Hammond’s Jacmel Inn - First Rate Fine Dining
by Judy Bergeron
It’s no surprise that Jacmel Inn scored an excellent rating in the Zagat Survey of New Orleans area restaurants. Jacmel continues, as it has for years to be one of Hammond’s culinary treasures.
Tucked between two of the city’s busiest streets, the restaurant, in a two-story house built in 1888, manages to be secluded. Live oaks, bamboo and assorted shrubbery form a noise-absorbing cacoon around the structure, which sits just a few yards from the street. The abundance of windows allows diners to enjoy the beauty of the gardens on Jacmel’s surrounding 2.2 acres. Inside, the atmosphere is cozy and intimate. There are several smaller rooms for dining, as opposed to one or two large rooms, each filled with eclectic artwork, well-spaced tables, subdued lighting and more inner windows. The center room offered a warm, blazing fireplace on a recent chilly night. There’s also a bar area and a spacious patio for warmer occasions. It’s obvious that the owners love and respect things from the past, with the beautiful, restored millwork and old doors and plantation shutters used as decor harkening back to an earlier time.
Our wait person was friendly, efficient and unobtrusive. She started us off with drinks and complimentary hot Italian twist bread. She also brought us small spoons of corn and avocado salsa drizzled with chipotle sauce, a flavorful mix of sweet and savory, with a touch of heat.
We chose an appetizer of pan-fried Gulf jumbo lump crab cakes. These weren’t flattened, compressed cakes, but puffy and light cakes, lightly fried to crispiness on the outside with an airy mixture of delicate crab and seasonings inside. I’ve never described crab cakes as melt-in-your-mouth before, but these in fact were. Shaved parmigiano reggiano and a white remoulade sauce topped the two cakes.
The tilapia Jacmel featured two lightly fried filets with the thinnest of breading so as not to take away from the delicate taste of the tender, well-cooked fish. The filets sat atop a mound of creamy spinach and artichoke, blended into a smooth and well-seasoned mixture. Flanking the fish were three stalks of steamed, seasoned broccoli garnished with a slice of lemon.
The veal medallion was attractively presented: the two slices of veal were criss-crossed atop a bed of lightly-seasoned pasta and also flanked by broccoli. The veal was very lightly breaded, well-seasoned and extremely tender and flavorful.
We recommend saving room for dessert, as both we tried were unforgettable. The chocolate bomb was the lightest, creamiest chocolate mousse molded into a half-circle, with a coating of hardened milk chocolate. The confection was drizzled in white chocolate and encircled by caramel and powdered chocolate. Two strawberry slices and a mint leaf formed the garnish. The cane sugar creme brulee was equally delightful, garnished in the same fashion as the mousse. The vanilla-infused custard was baked in an oval ramekin and topped with carmelized sugar. Crunch on the top and smooth as silk on the inside, each bite was something to savor.
Likewise, the whole experience of visiting Jacmel is something to savor. Guest should plan to stay a while, as meals are not rushed here, each course presented with enough time in between to anticipate what’s to come. So relaxing is the setting, you’ll want to linger anyway.