What could you possibly hope for if you already run one of the most popular New Orleans restaurants, have co-authored three culinary books and serve on some of the most prestigious boards in our city?
Well, if your name is Ti Adelaide Martin, daughter of culinary “grande dame” Ella Brennan, now co-proprietor with cousin Lally Brennan of Commander’s Palace, more than anything in the world you want to receive the Grand Award from Wine Spectator Magazine. Only 75 restaurants in the entire world are in that elite group, and last month Commander’s Palace joined them.
“It is something we have sought for an awfully long time,” Ti says. “Thing is, they don’t really tell you how to get it. It’s sort of a mystery. We do know you have to have a (wine) program of great depth.”
And if great depth means great numbers, well, Ti and her team have it: a cellar with more than 2,400 options for diners to choose from and “wine guy” Dan Davis who can help make the best choice from this dizzying array.
Growing up in a household where wine was served at every evening meal way before that found favor in most American households, Ti has become an expert in the subject. A graduate of the Court of Master Sommeliers, a West Coast organization created in 1977 to promote excellence in hotel and restaurant beverage service, she has promoted their coursework in New Orleans. Now more than 100 of her current and former staff have been trained in the intricacies of wine appellations and grape varieties.
A leader in the burgeoning cocktail rage, Ti loves the whole idea of blending flavors, finding balance, and presenting new drink options. Not content running Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide and the adjoining Swizzle Stick Bar, she has just opened SoBou in the former Bacco restaurant in the W New Orleans French Quarter Hotel. Described as a “spirited restaurant” SoBou (short for South of Bourbon Street) not only has automated wine-dispensing machines and a custom cocktail list, it also has a “beer garden” section where the tables come complete with self-serve taps.