Here’s one reason I really like Chef Chuck Subra’s food: At a recent lunch I had a dish of seared pork tenderloin over marshmallow mashed sweet potatoes with pork cracklin’s. I am not the biggest fan in the world of those Thanksgiving-time sweet potato dishes topped with three inches of marshmallows but Subra doesn’t go overboard, pairing the natural sweetness of the potatoes with a sauce featuring molasses. The cracklin’s not only add crunch, they also add some fat to the lean tenderloin. That same meal I enjoyed a selection of ceviches and an appetizer of braised pork belly with a sweet mustard glaze and sauteed spinach.
La Côte is a very nice space; it’s open, with massive round, brick columns dominating the dining area. There are banquettes, a very comfortable bar area and a chef’s table that traces a long curve from the wine cooler to the kitchen. Add to that an excellent bar and what more could you ask?
La Macarena (8016 1/2 W. Metairie Ave.) got its start on Williams Boulevard and moved to its current digs a couple of years ago. It’s one of the few “old” places that feature Latin dishes from areas other than Mexico; the menu features the cuisine of El Salvador but also that of Spain, Argentina and the Caribbean.
There is no doubt that the stars of the show at La Macarena are the pupusas – handmade disks of corn dough stuffed with fillings such as cheese, beans, pork or seafood, the last of which is a relatively new addition to the menu.
Among the highlights of the combination platters, the carne asada uses fillet and, at $21, you’ll notice. The meat is well seasoned and very tasty and, like most of the combination platters, is served with a fairly light version of black beans and very tasty plantains.
Hillbilly Barbecue (208 Tallulah Ave., Harahan) is an unassuming white, cinder-block building located behind a bar off Jefferson Highway, but the smoked meats they put out are first-rate.
New Orleans doesn’t really have an indigenous style of barbecue, and the meat that comes out of the smoker at Hillbilly is squarely in the Tennessee/Kentucky tradition down to the thin, vinegar based sauce. As is typical of the region, pork is the specialty, and the pulled pork shoulder (pictured below) is one of the better examples I’ve had outside of Memphis.
The sides at Hillbilly are nicely done, with star turns from a corn salad flecked with tomato and duty put in by a slightly spicy potato salad, very nice baked beans and a vinegar-focused slaw. Hillbilly offers catering, a good choice for a summer party if you don’t feel like spending 24-plus hours watching meat.
Questions? Comments? Suggestion? Email Robert Peyton: firstname.lastname@example.org