departments

Jul/Aug 2010 Issue

The Diamond Grill

By Deborah Reinhardt

A single diamond, polished and presented in a tasteful setting, will make a lasting impression. Similarly, The Diamond Grill offers an evening of fine dining in a visually lavish building that once was a jewelry store.

Bar

The mezzanine-level bar hosts happy hour and serves drink and appetizer specials.

Historical elegance serves as the backdrop to fine dining at The Diamond Grill.

Diamond Grill photos

dining room
Schnack’s Jewelry had been a part of downtown Alexandria, La., since 1931. The store at 924 Third St. closed in 1996, and it remained vacant until 1999 when Robert “Buddy” Tudor Jr. and J. Michael Small purchased the historical building. Renovations were performed in 2003-04 and The Diamond Grill opened on April 1, 2005. Current owners are Tudor and his son Robert “Bobby” Tudor III.
  
The renovation that preserved 22-foot ceilings, ornate plaster and original chandeliers garnered the Louisiana Preservation Honor Award in 2006. The cases with glittering gems have been replaced with polished wood tables and chairs and crisp linens, but the cuisine shines as bright as a diamond thanks to Chef William Leroux’s careful eye and detail to presentation.
  
On a recent visit to this AAA three Diamond restaurant, I started the meal with a classic jumbo Louisiana Gulf shrimp and crab appetizer served with a well-balanced remoulade and cocktail sauces beautifully presented in a martini glass. The sweet crabmeat paired well with the firm shrimp, impressive in their size.
  
Others in our group tried a cup of seafood gumbo that reportedly was robust and very good. The coconut shrimp served with an orange marmalade dipping sauce. The coconut shrimp were adequate but not memorable.
  
For my entrée, the crabmeat en croûte was delightful. Lump crabmeat in a creamy Mornay sauce was lovingly wrapped in puff pastry and baked golden brown. Thyme-infused rice accompanies the dish, but I substituted the vegetable of the day.
  
Those who ordered the small filet mignon–topped with blue cheese and served with roasted garlic whipped potatoes and sautéed fresh corn–said the beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. But it’s the Creole-inspired dishes here that really shine, including the fresh fish Creole (catch of the day topped with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers and okra served with lemon thyme rice and grilled bananas) and seared jumbo scallops served on a black bean cake topped with cilantro butter and served with vegetables and whipped potatoes.
  
Dessert in Louisiana should always been enjoyed, and it’s no different at The Diamond Grill. A favorite at our table was the bread pudding, which was served warm and topped with an almond cream sauce. Comfort food with a touch of elegance. There’s also a bread pudding soufflé available, but allow half an hour for preparation. The vanilla bean crème brûlée was infused with star anise that mingled well with the soothing vanilla. The custard was beautifully creamy and the sugary top was the color of yellow topaz and had a marvelously satisfying crunch. One of my favorite desserts, and it was done to perfection. Chocolate lovers will not be disappointed with the dark chocolate molten cake served with vanilla crème anglaise (a light custard poured as a dessert sauce) and chocolate sauce.
  
We complimented our waiter at the end of the meal for the gracious and attentive service he extended.
  
Select from the restaurant’s well-balanced wine list (the wine is kept in the vault that once kept precious jewels safe), or enjoy a cocktail from the mezzanine-level bar that also offers tapas (small plates). Happy hour is from 4–7 p.m. Monday through Friday and nightly appetizer and drink specials are available. Dining hours are from 5–10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
  
The Diamond Grill is a wonderful restaurant to be savored with good friends and conversation, and is well worth the drive downtown. For more information or reservations, call (318) 448-8989 or visit www.thediamondgrill.com.
  
Deborah Reinhardt is managing editor of AAA Southern Traveler magazine.

 

 

^ to top | previous page