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A Few Somber Thoughts and a Restaurant Review

As I write this, I’ve learned that Mary Lou Christovich has died, and it is very difficult to be my normal flippant and irreverent self. I knew Mrs. Christovich and her husband, Bill, for as long as I can remember. My father was one of Bill’s partners at my former law firm, Christovich & Kearney, when I was a child, and eventually I was Bill’s partner as well. I had the pleasure of working closely with him on a few cases. He was brilliant and I would be a better lawyer had I learned more from him. He was also devoted to his wife and she to him.  

Mrs. Christovich was one of the most charming people I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot of charming people. She was also extremely smart and capable and the sort of person who simply carried herself as if she knew she was important without being arrogant, if that makes sense? I suppose I could be mistaken, but I believe she was actually interested in what I had to say every time we spoke, and in what was going on in my life.

I know that you do not read Haute Plates for eulogies, so I will end this by saying that New Orleans has lost a great champion, and my thoughts go out to her family. I will miss her.

I had lunch this week at the Wayfare, on Freret Street. I will admit it was my second choice; my friend and I had planned on eating at High Hat Café, but it was closed, and I’ve always liked the Wayfare, so there it was.

My friend, whom I’ll call “Matt W.” for the purposes of this blog, is a meat and potatoes sort of fellow. This is partly due to the fact that he is allergic to shellfish – allegedly – but I believe it’s also his preference. The Wayfare has options for kids like my friend as well as for those of us unopposed to seafood.

To start, the Wayfare has fries cooked in duck fat and served with a really nice, spicy aioli. Duck fat and potatoes are like peanut butter and jelly, or oysters and Champagne, or Nicholas Cage and terrible movies: they just go together naturally. There are people who prefer to dip their fried potatoes in catsup rather than mayonnaise-based sauces, but those people are wrong and would probably learn their lesson if they tasted the aioli at the Wayfare.

Arancini have been on the menu at the place since it opened, and they’re an excellent rendition. The outside is coated in, I believe, a panko crust and it’s fried to a perfect crisp; the middle is tender rice and there’s a melted cheese center. The specifics vary from day to day, but I’ve never had a bad arancini at the Wayfare.

My pal had the Margherita sandwich – mozzarella, tomato, basil purée, spinach, sharp provolone and salsa verde aioli on a pistolette – and he enjoyed it. I had the house-made bratwurst, served with red cabbage sauerkraut and what they called potato “dumplings.” The sausage was very good, but the cabbage wasn’t all that great. The dumplings were not what I expected; they were fried, and a lot more like papas rellanas or croquettes than what you’d get in Germany, but I ate all of them happily. I am a sucker for fried things, and certainly for fried potato croquettes.

There are 30 or so beers on tap at the Wayfare these days; not as varied a selection as the neighboring Freret Beer Room, but still respectable, and the cocktail list is pretty interesting as well.

If you’ve been to the Wayfare, or any of the other places I’ve mentioned recently, please let me know your thoughts. While I have impeccable taste in all things, from time to time I like to see what other people think so that I can feel superior stay grounded.

I suppose I should also say a few things about the end of the year. Maybe I should write something about my top 10 best meals or best recipes or times I’ve avoided food poisoning? Sorry, kids. It’s been a hell of a year, and at my age I just celebrate the fact I’m still alive and relatively healthy and that I have a wonderful family who love me.

May we all be so lucky in the new year.


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