News From the Kitchens
MCP, Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine and Bearcat Café
Jeffery Johnston Photographs
MCP opened in April in the former location of Naked Pizza off Claiborne. If you’ve been to Mid City Pizza, you’re familiar with the menu, because it’s essentially identical. That’s no more a coincidence than the fact that MCP are the initials of the Banks street restaurant, and owned and operated by the same folks. Owner Rand Owens told me they chose a different name to avoid confusion, and, I think, because putting “Mid City” on a building in the Uptown neighborhood seemed incongruous.
It’s a small place, focused more on takeout and delivery than in-house dining. They make just about everything in-house, including the dough, sauce and meatballs, and source most of the rest of their products locally. They use Terranova’s sausage, for example.
The large, thin-crust, New York-style pizzas at MCP are the same as at the Banks Street location, including the daily specials – the red beans and rice pizza is available every Monday, as is the taco pizza on Tuesdays. Specials change the rest of the week based on what’s available and what they feel like cooking. MCP delivers to a huge area for such a relatively small operation.
MCP, 6307 S. Miro St., is open 7 days, 11 to midnight, MidCityPizza.com, 509-6224.
Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine
Before Freret Street became a hotspot for dining, Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine was the place to go in the neighborhood. It was a beloved restaurant, and one of the places most missed after Katrina devastated the area. The folks behind Dunbar’s never left the business, exactly; most recently you could find them cooking at Loyola University and at well-catered events and festivals.
When the property at 7834 Earhart became available, they jumped on it. The new space is cavernous. There’s a ton of elbow room, and that’s mainly because the kitchen wouldn’t be able to keep up with many more customers at one time. That tells you two things about Dunbar’s: first, it’s extremely popular, and second, they care enough about the food and their customers that they will forego a quick buck to guarantee return visitors.
The menu is essentially the same as before, with a few additions. The gumbo that was once available only on Fridays is an option every day, and they’re doing barbecued baby back ribs daily. Beyond that, Dunbar’s is as classic a Creole joint as you’ll find in New Orleans, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Dunbar’s Creole Café, 7834 Earhart Blvd, open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day but Sunday, when they open at 10 a.m, 509-6287.
Bearcat Café on Jena Street a block off Freret, is an interesting concept; the menu is divided into “good” and “bad” cat sections, with the former made up of lighter, healthier dishes, and the latter featuring more hearty fare. There are vegan and vegetarian options on both sides.
General Manager Robert Jeffery has a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry, having worked with Chef Kevin Vizard at his eponymous restaurant, followed by a stint at the Palace Café.
Just about everything is made in-house, including the teas, juices, yogurt and coconut milk. There’s a reverse-osmosis water filtration system used to make excellent coffee and espresso, and other beverages. The seasonal menu is a mix of classics and vegan/vegetarian dishes like the chia seed pudding with granola, coconut milk, fruit and honey, or the farro bowl, with seared mushrooms, almonds, seaweed, fennel, carrots and black beans. The kitchen is gluten-free, but sandwiches on La Boulangerie bread are available. Carnivorous options include brisket hash with egg and mornay sauce, and the “hangtown fry,” which combines soft-cooked eggs, crispy oysters, bacon and crème fraiche.
Bearcat Café, 2521 Jena St., open 6 to 4, Tuesday to Sunday, 309-9011.