Saturday, February 20, 2010

PAPA ROUX

Dear Daughter-in-Law called this morning, to ask if we’d like to meet them for breakfast. Of course, we were delighted, and had a lovely time together, went on for a little grocery shopping, and now we’re back home, the cold stuff put away, the non-perishables still in their bags over on the cold slate, and some chicken wings in brining to fry, to go with some tiny green peas in mashed-potato nests.

There’s also an almost-ready-for-the-oven Bread Pudding on the counter---we’d had a not-quite-right one recently at lunch, and, since I had all the ingredients handy, I sliced and halved a few inches of baguette, melted a knob of butter in the bottom of an 8” cakepan, stood the little arches around in it, and poured in half the custard, made with a few tablespoons of Eagle Brand, leftover from the hot fudge for the strawberries last night, with a couple of eggs, a cup of milk, some vanilla and just a thought of nutmeg.

I poured in only half the liquid, so the bread would soak it up instead of floating, which it is prone to do when too much is surrounding it. A handful of dark dried cherries, the rest of the custard, and into the oven about the time Chris gets home and gets changed into comfy sweats and his house-shoes. It will be done and nicely still warm after we finish supper.

The pudding at the restaurant was the only jarring note in an otherwise really good lunch---they said it was almost out of the oven, and I fear that they took it out a little soon, just for us---it was still just a teensy bit soupy in places, probably caused by the haste on our behalf.

Chris was finished for the day about one o'clock, so he said, “Let’s go to Papa Roux!” He’d been there for gumbo or a po-boy several times, but I’d never been, so off we went. The outside of the place, a plain white block corner of a strip which houses a tattoo parlor and some kind of body shop, is distinguished only by the big black painted letters down the street-end.

The front window lists GUMBO and RB&R and PO’BOYS in big white letters, and one whole pane of the big windows is taken up with a hand-lettered sign---actually TWO signs, one placed atop the other in a clockwise rotation so there are eight corners showing. The first sticks out enough to read bits of the announcement of the “po’boy eating contest” and the top sheet names the WINNAH, with his stage name in quotes like a DubyaDubyaEff star.

He’s touted as having eaten almost the whole FIVE-POUNDER---Four pounds 11 ½ ounces, of a “loaded” sandwich, in 49 minutes. And, should he feel famishment at any time in the future, it goes on to say: HE EATS FREE TIL YOU DETHRONE HIM!!

Oh, My. I can see that that might be an enticement---the food is great, and he could just take up residence, hoping that no one else with the gluttony for that much food or that much punishment happens along that side street to unseat him from the dining table.

The place was fun---Graffiti everywhere, mostly in the vein of KILROY WAS HERE, along with a whole battalion of his cohorts (or a whole cohort---I forget those Roman names for number groups), and I think they must hand out markers with the silverware.

Down low at the bench which runs around one wall are small pictures, some with crayons, and just-learned alphabet from the small set, then rising higher and higher are scribbles and pictures---quite a few other languages, and I recognized both Arabic and Korean in the mix. All the walls could be covered in some kind of zany black-and-white toile depicting houses and rainbows and cars and Mardi Gras masks---and speaking of which, great clusters of beads hang from fans, street signs, and light fixtures, and the good-sized square white top-only tent with a little cupola turns one big corner into a little courtyard with tables and chairs amongst the white and blue lights wound around the tent poles. There are even flower boxes on the wall to carry on the illusion of a not-too-classy-for-you New Orleans courtyard secluded back behind all those elaborate gates.

The tables are mismatched, the bright YaYa chairs splash every color there is around the room, and zydeco on the PA, along with applause, gives you the feel of stepping into a familiar hometown spoon to a comfortable ongoing party, if your hometown is in rural Louisiana.

There was a wide stand of boxes, cups and lids, along with plastic cutlery, with a sign reading “To GEAUX,” and other little puns on anything which ends in ‘O.” And in a great fest of ecumenical sportsmanship, the staff T-shirts read, “GEAUX HORSE,” and “WHODAT” with no top billing and no partisanship. Wise, very wise.

The walls also sport several concert posters---my favorite pictures Elvis and Johnny Cash, together at the Amory, MS, National Guard Armory in 1956---with the line, “Fresh from the Louisiana Hayride,” as if they needed a little something to recommend them---and featuring Carl Perkins singing “his” new single, Blue Suede Shoes---which probably meant Elvis hadn’t sung it yet. Ticket Price: $1.25.

Chris had an amazing-looking crabcake Po’Boy, with probably six thick chunks of crabcake, well-blackened, and slaw on, as well as the tangy “Cajun sauce” which was drizzled on my chicken. I noted an unusual thing: You can order a “Breadless” PB, or with cornbread. I opted for the cornbread version, so my “Chicken Po’Boy” half was a neat oval casserole dish with a nice pile of shredded chicken with red spices evident, and a scoop of wonderful crisp shredded slaw, with just enough of the sweet/tart dressing. A little warm bowl alongside had a dense, slightly sweet square of warm yellow cornbread. We shared two sides, the Veggie Etouffee and a little bowl of RB&R---both nicely done. We were both REALLY happy with our choices and will be going back soon, probably to take the family.

Lunch--- 10:30 to 3, Tuesday-Saturday; Dinner---Friday only.

2 comments:

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Hummm,Papa Roux sounds like my kind of place. I love anything N'awlins. Gumbo and Po'Boys top the list.
Thanks for sharing, if DH and I are ever back up your way we will give it a try.
Molly

Kim Shook said...

We are going to NOLA in March for our anniversary and I hope that we can find a place like this! It sounds wonderful!