We thought we had a winner when The Quarter finally opened up downtown on Second Street after months of buildout, but the NOLA look was only a facade. No Cajun food, no Creole food, no beignets with cafe au lait.
Now then … move on up the road to the 1500 block of Second Street, and Bayou will show you wheah y’at, darlin’. It was Chef Matthew Black’s summer entry in the city’s culinary contest.
Dee and I went for lunch with arts editor Arthi Subramaniam, who ordered the Pecan Fried Chicken. She passed some my way. It almost floated off the platter, it was so delicate. Dee had a fried oyster po boy — half the size of a New Orleans po boy, but with all the taste and a side of creole potato salad.
I looked up at the specials board and saw a softshell crab etouffee, but I gasped at the price: $27. For lunch. It’s just not soft shell season on the Susquehanna. A guy at the next table named Big Mike saw my consternation and mentioned he’d just had the dish, and it was worth the price.
It probably was, but part of my love for New Orleans food is that it’s not expensive. Oh, there’s an Emeril’s or two, but you don’t have to go there to eat well.
So I went for BBQ Shrimp with Dirty Rice and a Black Pepper Biscuit.
The shrimp were wonderfully juicy, the rice tangy, the biscuit took me back to buttery breakfasts on the bay.