Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – Bananas Foster
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Downtown Disney District
1590 South Disneyland Drive · Anaheim, CA 92802
Flames flare up for a good minute from the sauté pan, the beguiling aroma of the bananas, steeping in the butter, brown sugar, and alcohol, wafting through the air in the summer afternoon. Despite the fairly windy conditions, the statuesque server, rocking a snazzy black necktie emblazoned with cocktails, crabs, and saxophones, Mardi Gras beads wrapped around his neck, calmly shuffles and tilts the pan as the fruit slices bathe in all the incredible, wondrous, caramel glory. Passersby stop for a moment to glance at the show, commenting on the enticing scent emanating from the small tableside stand. As the blaze dissipates, the warm contents are delicately spooned atop mounds of vanilla bean ice cream to complete the dish.
When it comes to New Orleans desserts, there is no shortage of decadent sweets to choose from. From beignets to pecan pie, bread pudding to pralines, picking a dessert is far from easy in the Big Easy. But the granddaddy of them all is arguably the single most famous dish in New Orleans – Bananas Foster. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney expertly reproduces the dessert originally devised at Brennan’s in New Orleans (founded by Owen Brennan; Ralph Brennan is a third generation member of the family) and named after a frequent guest and family friend named Foster.
A huge part of the allure in ordering bananas foster is the tableside flambéing – the dazzling, dramatic visual presentation involved in preparing the dish. Bananas foster is one of a small number of foods ignited and cooked in the dining room, the wow factor being exponentially large for such a technique.
The unique, unparalleled caramel sauce fashioned by the butter, sugar, rum and banana liqueur is so warm, tasty and appetizing. It easily penetrates the soft flesh of the yellow bananas, augmenting the fruit’s natural sweetness and delivering an incomparable flavor. Bringing together the sauce with the frozen treat produces a marriage made in heaven. Taking a bite, the squishy nature of the bananas comes to the fore quickly followed by notes of the thick, gooey, caramel sauce. Faint hints of the rum and liqueur accentuate the sauce and are barely noticeable; the sugar and butter combo overshadows any remnants of alcohol. Meanwhile, the ice cream maintains its characteristic creaminess with dashes of vanilla bean.
After sitting long enough next to the chilly concoction, some of the sauce begins transforming into crystallized bits. This extra, delightfully crunchy texture and concentrated flavor is an added plus, as it goes along extremely well with the frozen vanilla indulgence.
In essence, bananas foster is a luscious, high-end version of the classic ice cream and bananas combination. It isn’t outrageously sweet – just right for dessert. The only drawback in ordering this dish, though, is the lengthy cooking process involved. Admittedly, flambéing isn’t a quick deal. But with the bowls sitting next to the burner on a hot day, the ice cream had already begun melting by the time they reached our table on this visit.
$16.oo for a dessert that easily serves two, if not more, is an acceptable price given the festive environment and impressive tableside entertainment. Additionally, the rum and liqueur alcohol naturally factors into the costs. Bananas Foster is a fun, distinct dish that is the perfect finish to any meal. Divine vanilla ice cream punctuated by a hot banana liqueur sauce – truly a magical culinary dessert!