The Best: A New Restaurant; Re-Opening of a Treasured Afro-Creole Eatery; A Crawfish Boil Fundraiser; and $6 Poor Boys to the Rescue
Though this is hardly an ideal time to launch a new restaurant concept in New Orleans this is exactly what Chef Serigne Mbaye— one of the hardest working, most ambitious people I have ever known— did last week when he launched Dakar (3325 St Claude Ave., 504-249-8966, dakarnola.com), at a location last known as Polly’s Bywater Cafe. He is offering contemporary Senegalese cuisine via pop-ups for pickup from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays with plans to add table service as soon as it makes sense to do so.
A serendipitous encounter in a Senegal airport in 2016 with Cliff Hall of the New Orleans Fish House brought Serigne – an American citizen raised and educated in Senegal – to New Orleans where he quickly landed a job as a line cook at Commander’s Palace. There, he quickly rose to sous chef before leaving for Cafe Adelaide for a top role in the kitchen. In 2018, he was awarded the Paul McIlhenny Culinary Scholarship at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, where I served as a mentor to Serigne, and he held regular pop-up dinners exploring the connections between the foods of Louisiana and Senegal. He left New Orleans to hone his skills at Atelier Crenn, a 3-Michelin Star restaurant in San Francisco, and at L’Atelier Joel Robuchon, a 2-Michelin Star restaurant in New York. Now the rolling stone says he is back in New Orleans, a city he vows he loves above all others, to stay.
This week’s menu at Dakar includes Thieboudienne (Gulf fish, Jollof rice, local vegetables, tamarind sauce); Nems (Senegalese egg rolls, braised chicken, pickled vegetables, and sauce Gastrique); Fonio salad (West African millet, Creole tomato, avocado, pineapple, lemon honey vinaigrette); and Fried Plantains with red onion sauce. Beverages on offer include Bissap – cold hibiscus tea, sweetened and spiced0 and house-made non-alcoholic Ginger Beer. Orders must be placed in advance via telephone or online.
While they are keeping their Lower Garden District location closed for now Chef Jordan Ruiz and his wife/partner Alexis Ruiz recently reopened the Gentilly/Pontchartrain Park location of The Munch Factory (6514 Congress Dr., 504-459-2180 for takeout, Order through Ubereats for delivery). Hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 11a.m. – 3 p.m. The menu options are numerous and include eight small bites, nine sandwiches and burgers, a daily soup and gumbo, some entree salads, and 6 hot entrees. See the menu at themunchfactory.net
On Saturday from 2-4 p.m., the Alumni Association of St. Augustine High School – New Orleans (AASANO) and the Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) will present The Big Curbside Crawfish Boil Fundraiser to raise money for tuition assistance for students. Each sack purchased for $20 will include five pounds of boiled crawfish, one ear of corn and four potatoes. Multiple sacks may be purchased. Curbside Pick-up will be Saturday from 2 – 4 p. m. at St. Augustine High School, 3600 A.P. Tureaud Ave. Stay in your car and your order will be brought out to you. Place your crawfish order by here, call 504-452-8841 or email Matthew Williams at email@example.com. TODAY is the last day orders will be accepted so get on it.
Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts is reopening many of its restaurants following the COVID-19 closures with specially priced six-inch, $6 poor boys in an effort to support the local community. In celebration of getting back to business, the Ammari brothers are taking a page from history when the Martin brothers offered cheap sandwiches during the economic slump of the 1920s, and are offering the discounted poor boys to help those who have been out of work. The term “poor boy” was coined when New Orleans transit workers were on strike and had little money to buy food and the Martin brothers offered sandwiches to those “poor boys” that came in to eat. Since then, the poor boy sandwich has become synonymous with New Orleans cuisine. In honor of the poor boy, Creole Cuisine will donate $1 from each poor boy and invites guests to make donations on guest checks to the Second Harvest Food Bank, where every dollar feeds four people. TABASCO brand will match guest donations and Leidenheimer Baking Co. is partnering with Creole Cuisine by donating the bread for this initiative. One hundred percent of all donations will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and their mission to fight hunger across South Louisiana.
The following Creole Cuisine restaurants will offer the $6 poor boys unique to its own cuisine style: Broussard’s will serve a Shrimp Rémoulade poor boy; Café Maspero will serve a Southern Fried Fish poor boy; Ernst Café will serve a Roast Beef poor boy; Royal House will serve a “Peacemaker” Shrimp and Oyster poor boy; and Tommy’s will serve a classic Meatball poor boy. The $6 poor boys are available for dine-in and take-out only (safely seated six feet apart) and not available for delivery. Pick up our “Poor Boy Passport” and get a stamp for each of the five poor boys purchased and you will receive a $100 gift card to use at any Creole Cuisine establishment and some restaurant swag, too. With all five stamps, you will have provided 40 meals to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love, even if you are doing it from afar, digitally, or over the telephone. We need each other more than ever so take the time and make the effort to reach out. While you are at it make an effort to forgive past misdeeds and share some love. Please reach out to me if you have something to share or I can help in some way because You’ve Got A Friend in Me.