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Tried and True

Tru Burger (8115 Oak St.) opened in June and it’s been firing on all cylinders ever since. The people behind the restaurant – Aaron Burgau, Leon and Pierre Touzet and Marcus Woodham – are all involved in Patois, and the Touzet brothers are also behind Ste. Marie. Tru Burger is more like a diner than either of those restaurants, but the food shows consistency and attention to detail.

The restaurant grinds its own beef for its burgers, which can be ordered in single or double patties served on house-made buns. Lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles are included and cheese (cheddar, Swiss or American) is an extra $.50. Other extras include jalapeños, grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, fried farm eggs, avocado and a tomato-based chili, at prices that vary between $.50 and $1.50. Tru Burger’s hot dogs can be garnished with onions, jalapeños, sauerkraut and relish at no charge; chili, cheddar cheese and slaw are available for a small surcharge. Milkshakes are made with milk from Smith’s Creamery; add malt for $.50. The fries are thin-cut and are usually crispy and well-salted. I am not a huge fan of the chili, which is a little sweet for my taste, but it did go well with the hot dog I had on my last visit.

As of press time, the restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license, but one is in the works; that’s about all the joint needs to complete it. It has already become at least a bi-weekly destination for me and the addition of, say, cold Abita Amber beer would round things out nicely.

 218-5416. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Fried morsels of goat, beef or pork are on a separate portion of the menu and they reminded me somewhat of the fried pork ribs at nearby Vietnamese restaurant Tan Dinh. The inch-square pieces of goat were fried on the bone and served with a slightly spicy tomato sauce. A side order of pickled slaw was a welcome addition, as the tartness and spiciness worked well with the meat.

The grilled conch from the entrée portion of the menu was less successful. It is difficult to render conch tender, and some of the pieces of mollusk reminded me of very over-cooked chicken. That said, the flavor was good and those pieces that weren’t tough were tasty. Sides of sweet plantains were as good as I’ve had and the hand-made tortillas were better than most. I look forward to returning for the curried oxtail stew, goat soup and grilled snapper with sea salt.

265-8946: Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Elianne Charles was born in Haiti and she and her son and daughter have been operating Taste of the Caribbean (505 Gretna Blvd., Gretna) for a year now. It is the only Haitian restaurant in town, which is a shame, because based on the food I’ve had there it’s a cuisine that deserves to be explored further.

Taste of the Caribbean is located in a strip mall, which, as I write, is only partially occupied. The restaurant is a clean, bright place with a dozen or so tables, a flat-screen TV and a cooler with soft drinks from the Caribbean. The menu isn’t extensive, but if you’ve never had Haitian food before, there’s plenty of novelty.

The “meat pies” on the appetizer section of the menu are deceptively named. They are really Caribbean vegetable patties and the filling of mixed vegetables in a slightly spicy sauce were a let-down compared to the crust. Like all of the pastries in the restaurant, that crust is made by hand and it was exceptional, with the kind of balance between flakiness and chewiness that the best bakeries in the city would do well to emulate.

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