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Jul 6, 201711:02 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

The Shaq Diet

And Where to Eat in Baton Rouge

associated press

In 1992, when I was in law school at LSU, I lived across Highland Road from a strip mall that included a sandwich shop called Blimpie’s. I was already sort of a snob about food, but I could walk there and it was inexpensive.

In 1990, LSU had a great basketball team. In addition to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who was basically Steph Curry before there was a Steph Curry, that team had Stanley Roberts, Maurice Williamson, Wayne Sims and Vernel Singleton, who in my memory was a clone of Scottie Pippen.

Oh, and also that team had Shaquille O’Neal. It’s hard to imagine, watching the NBA these days, how dominating Shaq was at the time. These days the game is more about outside shooting, and centers like O’Neal aren’t as critical, but back then Shaq was unstoppable. Unless you fouled him, of course, which is what most teams did.

The Blimpie’s Sub Shop near my apartment had a pair of Shaq’s shoes on the wall above the cash register. He wore very large shoes, because he is a very large man. According to the internet, he is 7 feet 1 inch tall. I would not describe him as “gangly,” either. Small children could use his shoes as a boat.

I met Shaquille O’Neal at that Blimpie’s, and by “met,” I mean I was at the Blimpie’s at the same time he was, and as I left, he was leaving too. I held the door open for him. Here’s how it went down:

“Thanks, man,” he said.

“No problem,” I responded.

That happened; that was real. I exchanged words with Shaquille O’Neal. I think we made eye contact.

I’m not going to pretend it made us friends. I mean, I have been pretending that for many, many years, but I know it’s not true. He’s probably not going to call me some day and say, “Hey, remember that time you held the door for me? That was awesome. Let’s get a sandwich together again, soon.”

And if he does call me, I will not suggest Blimpie’s, because the one near my former apartment is not there anymore, and also the food at Blimpie’s was not all that great anyway. It was convenient, but it was not a fried oyster po-boy. I apologize if you prefer “subs” over po-boys, but if that’s the case there’s not much I can do for you and you may also be from Philadelphia.

While I lived in Baton Rouge, a sandwich from Blimpie’s met my needs, which were for something fast, cheap, edible, and filling.

Baton Rouge has changed a great deal since I was in law school. It’s larger and more congested because a lot of people have moved there, but the increase in population means there are also a lot more restaurants than there were in the early 1990s.

I’ve heard good things about some of the places that have opened downtown – City Pork, Cocha, and Kalurah Street Grill, for example. I thought Stroube’s was good when I tried it, but I haven’t been back there, or to Juban’s or Mansur’s, in a decade. There was some good Indian food in the '90s, and I have memories of a decent Thai restaurant, too. But even though I get to Baton Rouge fairly often, I’m usually there briefly and moving on. I haven’t tried most of the new spots.

But that could change, so if you know of a good restaurant in Baton Rouge, please share it with me in the comments, including why you’d recommend it.



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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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