My sister is getting married next month, which means one thing: I’m totally stressed. They say the bride always loses weight before the wedding. Not so for the bridesmaid, but I just love the following restaurants so much. Maybe I’ll marry them.
Crescent City Pie and Sausage, a relatively new gem opened by Chef Bart Bell, is tucked away on Banks Street in Mid-City. Located next door to Bell’s breakfast joint, Huevos, the smoker releases the promising scent of savory meats before you enter the door. The Redneck Brisket sandwich is a testament to smoking done right: sweet barbecue sauce and a spicy poblano kick highlight the moist brisket. The sandwich is served on grilled ciabatta, making this redneck meal a bit too classy for the trailer park. In fact, the restaurant has hick-chic elements, with mix-matched dishes and a wall bedecked in salvage wood, which lends a touch of Grandpa’s huntin’ camp to the bright, casual dining room. Start with a link of sausage. Apparently Chef Bell has mastered the art of making sausage from any form of meat – I was happily surprised when a seafood sausage featuring redfish arrived at our table topped with homemade spicy remoulade. Likewise, the “meat pies” are an excellent option to start. They look like the love child
of a calzone and a samosa: the vegetarian option, with basil, tomato and homemade mozzarella is the best Caprese salad you’ve ever had, deep-fried. If you can’t decide between eating pizza or a sausage, do both. The Mediterranean pie is topped with tender house lamb sausage along with goat cheese and grilled veggies. The Chaurice,
a Creole pork sausage similar to chorizo, is spicy, sweet and accompanied by greens and macaroni and cheese made with Munster, a chance for fromage snobs to tell you about the cheese’s monkish origins. Casual, great prices and everything is utterly, deliciously homemade. Plus, they have NOLA Blonde on tap.
Tucked into a small, cozy house on Jeanette Street in the Riverbend, Boucherie takes the cake when it comes to smoked meats. Pork cake, that is. The entrée is a must try. This “cake” – a reference to how it looks; there’s no strange breading or anything going on here – seems a hybrid of cochon du lait and North Carolina barbecue. Chef Nathaniel Zimet creates a purple cabbage slaw that comes to the table piled atop the meat like a strange, vibrant bouquet. (In high school, I dyed my hair that same color, much to my mother’s chagrin.) Flavorfully, the slaw lends the pork its famous vinegar zing that’s native to low country. A bed of tender potato confit balances the dish with its starchiness, but you might also try the pulled pork sandwich if you’d rather have bread. Are you drooling? That is OK; servers come around and place paper over the tablecloths to protect them from people like you, a casual quirk in
a dining room with dark, heavy curtains and white table cloths.
The hand-cut fries are slathered in garlic butter and piled with Parmesan in the fashion of a cheese afro. So long, all you soggy bald fries of my past. The mussels steamed with collard greens are a surprisingly original and sapid take on a New Orleans staple. Save room for the Krispy Kreme bread pudding. Descriptions won’t do this dessert justice.
Boucherie has a full bar and is perfect for lunch with a business partner, dinner with the gals or a romantic dinner with the one you love. It isn’t the type of place you want to visit if you’re on a diet.
For a night out with friends, when letting loose is the point, head to the Cochon Butcher for an ever-changing wine list, tasty cocktails, sandwiches and small plates at the Swine Bar. The bar menu is excellent. Try the ham hock and pepper jelly on toast for a sweet, spicy and tender treat. The mushroom duxelle and lard crostini is a salty accompaniment to the big hops and citrus in Stone Levitation Ale, part of the brief, choice beer list. If you’re in the mood for take-out or need catering, Butcher has an array of platters, from sandwiches to meals you heat up at home.
Sausage and boudin, anyone?