For no reason at all, until recently I had not been to Clancy’s restaurant in years. That I live within walking distance of the place makes this reality all the more perplexing. All I can chalk it up to is some odd form of self-flagellation, of which I was unaware.
My return to the buttercup-hued corner restaurant felt like a homecoming. I used to go at least once a month, and I have nothing but the very fondest of memories – many, many memories – made in its unpretentious dining room while under a watchful gaze from the portraits of distinguished fellow New Orleanians lining the rear wall.
Impervious to fads and resistant to change, the seasonally driven menu was just the same as the last time I was there in the winter months. Since it opened in 1983, Clancy’s has eschewed all manner of squiggles, foams and pearls on the plate as well as fussy Russian service. The tuxedoed waiters are courtly, yet friendly. The linens are white. The art never changes, nor do the reasonable prices. I am comforted by the lack of bullshit to be found here.
The fried eggplant with aioli was exactly the same as I remembered it, as were the fried oysters with Brie, and the crabmeat salad with life-altering deviled eggs. It was unfortunate that soft shell crabs were out of season (I am beating a path back just as soon as they come in, their plump, buttery goodness sublime with a kiss from the smoker, crispy fried exterior, a mound of jumbo lump on top.), but I consoled myself with the trusty, yet decadent risotto with lobster and mushrooms then finished the meal with a sliced of sweet, rich, silky lemon ice box pie.
The next day I enjoyed the antithesis of Clancy’s when I visited Turkey & the Wolf for lunch. As at Clancy’s, the walls here are adorned with portraits of notable New Orleanians, though not of the human sort. They are crowded with images of the city’s famous sandwiches: Think the shrimp poor boy from Domilise’s and other things you crave. It is notable that the menu seems to be driven by cravings. The menu at this quirky sandwich shop and cocktail bar is what happens when hunger, creativity, access to a panorama of disparate ingredients and raw talent collide.
On my visit we sampled a fried pot pie that turned out to be filled with a sort of thick vegetarian stew kissed faintly with cinnamon. Thick slabs of buttered and grilled Pullman-style loaf bookend curls of fried bologna layered with English mustard, American cheese and kettle-cut potato chips. A wedge of iceberg lettuce was morphed into a sinful bounty under ladles of thick, chunky, house-made bleu cheese dressing, crisp hunks of bacon and a fistful of the of same ingredients – dried garlic and onions, sesame seeds and poppy seeds – commonly found atop everything bagels.
Save room for dessert. Soft serve vanilla ice cream is offered with a variety of unusual toppings. I went for tahini with date molasses It was a weirdly delicious ending to a seriously delicious and seriously weird meal.
Though there is a full bar, a savory menu and table service, Bakery Bar is an excellent choice for take-out, celebration-worthy deserts. Whole Doberge cakes are available as are Dobites – small, pyramid-shaped petit fours of doberge cake in flavors like salted caramel and key lime. The salty balls take their ribald name from scatterings of sea salt atop cake truffles. I especially like the ones with the rainbow sprinkles.
Speaking of take out, Simone Reggie recently opened her eponymous market on Oak Street. Loaded down with made (and grown) in Louisiana pantry items, produce, meats and seafood, Simone’s also offers some exceptional prepared take out offerings from chef Ashley Roussel.
1179 Annunciation St., 265-8884, Bakery.Bar
6100 Annunciation St., 895-1111, ClancysNewOrleans.com
8201 Oak St., 273-7706
Turkey & The Wolf
739 Jackson Ave., 218-7428, TurkeyAndTheWolf.com