News From the Kitchens
Truck Farm, Ruby Slipper and Roux Carré
Chef Brack May was the first to put fried chicken and waffles on a menu to my knowledge, and that was emblematic of his approach – comfort food in spirit, refined in technique and presentation.
At Truck Farm, May is hitting a middle ground. The first thing you notice is the smoke emanating from a portable “pit” that’s big enough to fit two whole hogs. May’s staff is also using it to smoke house-made sausages and brisket, among other things. The menu is a work in progress, but in addition to the smoked meats, burgers and salads there are daily specials, such as catfish tacos on Tuesdays, spaghetti and meatballs on Wednesdays and fried chicken on Thursdays.
The main dining room is airy and filled with eclectic art, including a circular mural that was taken from the United Fruit building (which is owned by the Coleman family, also owners here). There is a screened patio to the rear that opens onto a courtyard flanked on either side by kitchens with enough space and equipment to rival those of the largest restaurants.
Truck Farm is a bit off the beaten path, at 11760 River Road, St. Rose, but it’s a short, quick trip from New Orleans, and it’s worth the ride.
Open Mondays-Thursdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m., until 8 p.m. on Fridays and for brunch on Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jennifer and Erich Weishaupt opened the first Ruby Slipper a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina, and it became a hit in its Mid-City neighborhood almost immediately.
The Weishaupts now operate five Ruby Slippers, but they only own one of the properties. When they realized recently that the lease on their original location would be ending in a couple of years, they decided to start planning on a more permanent home.
They told me that they never considered leaving Mid-City, so when the property at 315 S. Broad St. became available they took a look. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but the former Carpenter’s Union Hall is as solid as they come on the inside and it came with a huge, L-shaped lot that opens on both S. Broad and Banks streets.
The couple has big plans for the increased space. For one thing, Jennifer says, they can now consolidate their offices, storage space and commissary kitchen activities. For another, they’re planning on expanding the seating available by building a large deck at the rear of the structure, which will still have ample room for parking in the grassy, fenced lot.
Eventually, they hope to open an outdoor food court.
If you can’t wait to sample the Ruby Slipper menu, you have a lot of options – visit TheRubySlipperCafe.net for a list of locations and hours.
In the last few years, the movement to “incubate” small businesses has exploded, and hasn’t left the restaurant industry behind. Roux Carré is one example of the trend; described by the folks behind it (The Good Work Network) as an “accelerator for emerging food-preneurs,” the facility provides space for walk-up service, business training and other behind-the-scenes assistance to folks wanting to get a start in the industry.
The brightly colored building is focused inward on a covered patio filled with metal tables and chairs. At the periphery, five vendors offer their wares from trailer-sized structures.
The current lineup of vendors is as eclectic as what’s available at the Fairgrounds during Jazz Fest. Miriam Rodriguez, a.k.a. “the Pupusa Lady,” has her eponymous Honduran stuffed tortillas for sale, as well as ceviche, fried chicken and beans and rice; Splendid Pig offers barbecued pork, corn soup, salad and crab cakes; Johnny’s Jamaican Grill includes jerked chicken, shrimp or chicken curry and plaintains; Estralita’s Carry Out serves New Orleans classics such as seafood gumbo, red beans and rice and sweet potato pie; and finally, the Youth Empowerment Project makes snowballs, juices and teas.
Roux Carré is located at 2000 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The food court is open Wednesdays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.