Native returns and dines for 5 days
First stop, Guy’s Po Boys on Magazine. Great in your face New Orleans friendliness here. Marvin is just like he is on the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=UKRIjriCJBM&NR=1
None of the hipster coolness I experienced on my one visit to Mahoney’s.
Had to get the roast beef and the fried shrimp. Both were classic and delicious in the straightforward, basic style of my long ago youth. A little too much roast beef in the generous poboy for me, but I’m sure I’m in the minority. I like a po boy that leaks out the ends but doesn’t squirt out the sides and prefer the proportions of the long gone Acy’s, my ideal for rb pbs. But I did love Guy’s and will return next visit for the pastrami, which Marvin kindly presented us with a taste of, and it was great! My wife, “a Jewish lady from New York,” like in the above pastrami video, thought so, too.
Dinner that night was at Charlie’s Seafood. A commendable act of preservation by Frank Brigtsen in Harahan. It was great to be in a room full Harahanians (Harahaniacs?) peeling the heads off of boiled shrimp, pulling the tails out of crawfish and creating piles of shells in beer trays, washing it all down with a beer or a Barq’s, and maybe a cup of gumbo. The boiled seafood was just as it should be: local, fresh, in season and boiled right. Split a “dirty boy” as an appetizer. This “Dirty Rice Mix (no rice) on Buttered Pistolette” was quite tasty. The butter beans special was a little boring. My wife says mine are better, and I have to agree. The cornbread was quite salty, even by N.O. standards.
After dinner it was back downtown to Buffa’s Back Room to hear the very talented Aurora Neeland and Tom McDermott. No cover, no smoking, reasonable drinks. An older, hip crowd. Didn’t see any food, but the menu looked possible. And GREAT music!
Met friends for lunch at Patois. Patois only has lunch on Fridays. Started with a couple of excellent Sazaracs. My wife had the gumbo, which she described as “dark and delicious.” I had the French vegetable soup, which was delicious and light, even with the pork belly. The fried oyster and spinach and bacon and parmesan salad with Meyer lemon buttermilk dressing was all that, and the Fried Des Allemands catfish was fresh, cut thin and perfectly fried and seasoned. The hushpuppies were the best I’ve ever had. Very pleasant!
Dinner was at a reunion event catered by Geaux Plates Food Truck. This truck can be found at the Tuesday Hollygrove Market and elsewhere. It has been a sort of obsession of mine to discover how the Vietnamese presence in New Orleans would work its way into the melting pot that is New Orleans cuisine, and there it was in the cochon de lait and bayou chicken bahn mis! Delicious!
Lunch at Casamento’s.: On the half shell and fried, oysters are what I get here. They as good as they’ve ever been in my 50 years or so of eating them here.
Dinner was another reunion event, this time at Antoine’s. This was a fun event in an historic setting. The food was mediocre banquet food at best. Wouldn’t be inclined to go back. Disclaimer: I grew up dining with my parents at Galatoire’s, where the soufflé potatoes were much better.
Before heading over to second line the Mardi Gras Indian Super Sunday Parade. We picked up Muffalattas at Cochon Butcher. I really like these. Lightly warmed, house cured meats, good roll. Not the biggest one in town, but one of the best I’ve had. Once again Acy’s is my platonic ideal. Also had them freeze a couple of packs of boudin and a hunk of tasso (for my butter beans) to take back to the Bay Area. Looked like there may have been some interesting food at the event, but we were happy to sit and enjoy our muffs before heading down LaSalle behind the Hot 8 Brass Band.
After the 4 miles or so, we were ready for snoballs, so off to William’s, I mean Plum Street Snoballs. We had Orchid Cream Vanilla and Nectar Cream. Cold, refreshing, and tasty, both were as I remembered from the 60’s, but with less syrup, which was OK by me. There was a constant long line and a short wait because the place was running efficiently, another good change from the old days
Dinner was at Café Atchafalaya. Definitely the best meal of our visit. Once again dining with friends, we sat outside in front of the restaurant on a beautiful balmy night. Everything here tasted original and authentic and was perfectly prepared. They even had 2 outstanding mezcals that I had never seen before. A rare occurrence! All of the specialty cocktails ordered were well received. For dinner I started with the Free-Form Crab Ravioli with shitake mushrooms, spinach, mascarpone and citrus burre blanc. Wow, this was great, My wife had Louisiana Crab Salad which had a bit of a Southeast Asian touch with cilantro, peanuts, and green curry vinaigrette. Laden with fresh plentiful crabmeat, this was everything the mostly mayonnaise crab salad at Antoine’s was not. My wife had a redfish special which she greatly enjoyed. My boudin stuffed bacon wrapped quail showed Cajun influence and was as good as it sounds. The collards and potatoes were a perfect accompaniment. Others enjoyed the Shrimp and Grits and the Gumbo. IMHO, Café Atchafalaya is currently an inspired place.
For lunch we headed to Saint Mary’s Assumption Church for their St. Joseph’s Day Feast. Donation appreciated but not required. We were there early and watched pan after pan of homemade, mostly Italian food arrive. There was fish and lasagna and spaghetti and stuffed artichokes and artichoke dressing and salad and even a very good crawfish etouffe and much more. The bread and cookie alter was taken down and served. A sweet and very local annual event.
The final supper was at Geautreau’s. This is a French style place tucked into a former drugstore in a quiet neighborhood uptown. A nice place to dine with old friends. The pork belly with oyster chowder was OK. The oyster chowder was more of a sauce. It was a shallow serving that cooled off quickly. A fork, a sharp knife and a soupspoon were required to eat this appetizer sized appetizer. My wife enjoyed her shrimp and citrus salad and the halibut. The fish was quite well prepared. I had the Wild Mushroom Perogies, which were a distant second to ones I had in Krakow last year. My friend had the Osso Bucco and the taste that I had was quite good. Crème Brulee was passable.
Thanks, men. Just tried the transported Cochon Butcher boudin and it was quite good! Brought some home two years ago and it was good enough to try again. This time it was even better, approaching those I used to pick up on sales trips to Ville Platte from N.O. nearly 40 years ago. I think those Butcher guys and gals do a great job!