whelmed by Parkway, Central Grocery
Just returned from a trip to NOLA where I visited both Parkway Bakery and Central Grocery for the first time.
We enjoyed the roast-beef po'boy at the former, and the muffuletta at the latter, but I have to say we weren't blown away in either case.
I certainly don't mean to bad-mouth: at Parkway, the staff was wonderful, and the other sandwiches we got (catfish and alligator sausage) were very good. Hell, the roast beef was very good, too. But given the chatter on this board and elsewhere -- well, maybe my expectations were just too high.
I still have to try Parasol, but based on a previous visit I will continue to give props to the (underappreciated?) r.b. po'boy at Ignatius, on Magazine Street. Where else?
As for muffulettas... we got to Central on the early side of lunch and, happily, didn't have to wait terribly long. But again, while we enjoyed the muffuletta, I don't see what the big deal is about C.G. in particular. After several visits now I've had a few different muffs -- Napoleon House, Johnny's, the one at Jazzfest; even Mike Serio's -- and none of them were so much better than the others that I'd recommend spending extra time and/or money for any of them in particular.
best to all -
I'm a Nola resident who just had my Parkway Tavern cherry broken this weekend, and I have to say I was also just whelmed. I've almost been afraid to write about it as it's such a po' boy go-to from what I've heard. Maybe it was just a bad day for Parkway, but the roast beef po' boy looked like it had been run over by a car before being served and I found the catfish to be dry, even with mayo and hot sauce. Like you, I enjoyed the service and ambience, but was left feeling like I was missing something with the po' boys.
Roast beef poboys are much like snowballs or anything else you really like. I've never had a bad one, but there are others that are better than the rest. What makes them better? Who knows, the bread, the way they slice the roast beef, is it debris style...etc etc. Seriously, someone could write a book about the roast beef poboy and po boy shops, much like Obituary Cocktail and make a fortune on New Orleans sales alone.
Did you see the posting last week about best po boys? There were so many suggestions that it may be helpful in the future as there is so much variety and such a huge difference in opinion as to whose po boy is the best. Personally, I love em all! I have never had a "bad" experience, minus my rb po boy at Domilise's. Would not recommend the RB there to anyone, but everything else is good. For variety, you may enjoy the BBQ Shrimp po boy at Liuzza's by the Track. Nikinik: My husband LOVES Magazine Street Po Boys. Not my fave, but again, it is all a matter of opinion. In regards to muffs, I like Central Grocery, but my husband swears by Nor Joe's in Metairie as they are made to order and they are pretty damn good.
I like Nor-Joe's but I have had better Italian Salad elsewhere...it it possible to mix 'n match by geting a muff in one place and adding your favorite Italian salad later--or even some extra meats. My argument with Central Grocery is that the goddamn muff is all bread..sure, it is supposed to be a "stretcher" of materials but, in the old days--read 1960's/1970's---the CG muff had MUCH more stuffing.
As to roast beef poboys, well, two things have changed in the "standard" in my adult life. One is the bread..we do not have the many bakeries available anymore...those breads made a difference. A second issue is the cut of the meat. Acme is now selling a shredded meat RB po-boy..why not? it is easier that way and, moreover, whoinhell is gonna know better? There real sandwich..and I believe m friends on tis board will agree...is a thin sliced piece of roast beef..it is so thin that even ancient teeth, augmented perhaps by dentures, can get through it. These pieces of beef require some care but little long-term attention: cook the roast right, slice, leave it lay in juices. If good, it'll sell before it can "go bad"
A Central Grocery muffaletta used to be a big deal; sadly, no more. In the 60's and 70's their muffalettas deserved their glowing praises because back then, each of their muffalettas were made when ordered, not ahead of time. My grandfather (very Sicilian) would take us with him when he went to CG to shop and order a muff or 2. Nowadays they are pre-made and literally stacked in columns behind the deli counter against the wall. Trust me, if my grandfather could see how they sell them now, he'd roll over in his grave.
Central Grocery Co
923 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116