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Mar 14, 201910:47 AM
Haute Plates

A weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Neighborhood Restaurants

facebook.com/frankieandjohnnysbarandrestaurant

I have a soft spot for New Orleans neighborhood restaurants. When I was a kid, my parents took us to Liuzza’s for dinner now and then, and we patronized multiple restaurants in Bucktown.

When I was a little older and going out with friends, we’d often end up at Frankie & Johnny’s. It was a place to get crawfish, or gumbo, poor boys or fried seafood. I took for granted how good it was until it wasn’t all that great any more.

It didn’t take the sort of nose-dive that the Pearl, the now-closed restaurant on St. Charles Avenue downtown, did before someone finally pulled the plug. At the end, the Pearl charged a hell of a lot of money for serving badly fried seafood. As far as I know, Frankie & Johnny's didn’t fall that far, but with all the other choices in town, I didn’t make a point of going there until I learned a friend and former neighbor bought it.

This friend is a chef who, when I met him, was working in a pretty high position for a guy with restaurants all over the country whose name rhymes with “Memeril.” He was a good bean those days and also gave me a pressure cooker that I have used regularly for the last 10 years. I like the guy.

I’ve been to Frankie & Johnny's since he took things over, and it was soup to nuts good. It’s the sort of place you take friends who’ve come to New Orleans for a vacation if you like them. But given my responsibilities where “new” restaurants are concerned and the fact that I cook most meals for my family, I haven’t been there in too long.

My friend said they’ve been busy, which is both good and unsurprising. People in New Orleans love to eat; we love the fancy restaurants and we love joints that serve red beans with sausage of dubious origin. We love the neighborhood restaurants that bridge the gap between those points too, and we should celebrate them to the same extent we celebrate the latest white tablecloth/casual, vaguely ethnic spot featuring locally sourced ingredients and a carefully curated bar program that will invariably open next month on Magazine or St. Claude.

I say that as a fan of white tablecloth/casual, vaguely ethnic spot featuring locally sourced ingredients and a bar program, carefully curated or not. It’s the neighborhood eateries that make us distinct, though, and I’d be interested to hear your favorite such place, whether in Orleans Parish or not.

 

 

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Haute Plates

A weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

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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