My sister, Beth, has been going through a really rough time lately, dealing with even more uncertainty and upset than the rest of us while also dealing with the same uncertainty and upset the rest of us continue to endure. A “fixer” and a nurturer, I try to solve the problems of those I care about. When “fixing” is not possible, and it often is not, I turn to feeding those I care about. I am tired of my own cooking and I assume my sister, who lives two blocks away, is as well, so I determined a festive meal at one of her favorites places would be just the ticket to a few hours of relief for Beth. I made a list and started calling around. In some cases I encountered the endless ringing that signals closure. At others it was an answering machine. Others still, advised that takeout was an option.
I hit pay dirt when I called Clancy’s, (6100 Annunciation St., 504-895-1111 clancysneworleans.com) a long-time family favorite located within walking distance of our Uptown homes. Clancy’s reopened on Monday evening! Our return to the buttercup-hued corner restaurant will feel like a homecoming. Years ago I used to go at least once a month and 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.
Clancy’s has been impervious to change since it opened at the corner of Annunciation and Webster streets in 1983. The seasonally driven menu drifts enough to keep it interesting but stays reliable enough to ensure it comforting. Firmly eschewed are all manner of squiggles, foams, and pearls on the plate as well as fussy Russian service whereby everyone at the table is served simultaneously. The tuxedoed waiters are courtly, yet friendly. The linens are white. The art never changes, nor do the reasonable prices. I am reassured by the lack of bullshit to be found here.
Despite the comforts to be found in familiarity, I find even greater soothing in one change that has come to Clancy’s. Proprietor Brad Hollingsworth advised that five outdoor tables have been added to the 14 indoor tables Clancy’s is seating under Louisiana’s current 50 percent Phase Two restaurant occupancy rule. When asked if fans or other climate control implements were in use outside Brad said “We will wait and see what kind of demand we have for outdoor seating.” Recalling the long waits and full-house bookings since Clancy’s opened in 1983 and the evenings when my husband and I happily agreed to just eat at the bar, I suspect those outdoor tables will be in high demand. In preparation for soon occupying one such table I just plopped a Dewalt 20 volt Lithium ion battery onto its charging base to power the Dewalt 20-volt fan I intend to bring with me for an al fresco dinner with my sister. It weighs less than seven pounds. I have been known to carry handbags that weigh more.
Brad said the reduced menu of long-time favorite’s will “definitely register as classic Clancy’s and more will be added as the reopening progresses.” Among the appetizers included in the reopening menu are fried eggplant with aioli, crabmeat salad with life-altering deviled eggs, shrimp remoulade, gnocchi with crabmeat, and sweetbreads with Madeira. Possibly my favorite thing on Earth, the smoked soft-shell crabs—plump, buttery goodness sublime with a kiss from the smoker, crispy fried exterior, a mound of jumbo lump on top, and a faint wash of Meuniere sauce—is currently being offered as a special but, among other things, panéed veal Annunciation with crabmeat and asparagus and a filet with red wine demi-glace will be offered every day, as will house-made ice creams; a butter-rum Budino with warm caramel sauce, fleur de sel and Chantilly cream; and Clancy’s signature sweet, rich, silky lemon ice box pie.
What will be tragically missing upon our return to Clancy’s is Daniel Walters, Clancy’s long time, kind, cheerful maître d’. Daniel lost a months-long battle with COVID-19 in May. He worked the door and welcomed everyone who walked through as family. He set the tone for the experience to come.
Please raise a glass to Daniel when you visit. His spirit most surely resides here.