Best Hot Bowl of Soup - 2002
Grand Isle Crawfish Bisque at Alcatraces
"Of soup and love," goes the old Spanish proverb, "the first is best." While the latter is an unending roller coaster of ecstasy and despair, the consommés, chowders, gumbos, gazpachos, borschts, and mulligatawnys that enrich our planet are dependably soothing, satisfying, and invigorating: perpetual bliss served with a spoon. In fact the very first restaurant on Earth, an 18th-century bistro in Boulanger, served nothing but soup. Its Latin motto: "Come to me all of you whose stomachs cry out and I will restore you." Alcatraces, the Cajun-Creole venue in Noe Valley, ladles up a soup worthy of its heritage. Its Grand Isle crawfish bisque is southern Louisiana in microcosm: thick, soulful, and intense with garlic, onion, herbs, and spices, it's also as sweet and earthy as the mudbug that flavors it and as bright and invigorating as a jazz fugue wafting across the Mississippi. Named after a Gulf Coast resort island once favored by wealthy Creole planters, the bisque is undeniably elegant, served with simple grace in a deep, white platter with a pink crawfish tail arranged atop this marvelous restorative.