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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Archive for the ‘Po-boys’ Category

Monday, February 14, 2011 @ 09:02 AM

130My in-laws left for Florida yesterday and to say that I’m jealous is a bit of an understatement. When you wake up and the temperature outside is negative 5, that pretty much means I will be doing anything and everything not to have to go outside.  So luckily I have another post to remind us all of warmer climates yet again from another spot that we hit up on our 2nd trip to the great city of New Orleans.

I have to start off by saying that this next spot makes me sad for a three reasons…reasons which I will get to, but it also makes me happy for other reasons I will also mention.  If you notice the sign to the left, you may have already been able to guess the next feature or better yet what they are known for.  Parasol’s, an old Irish Bar & Restaurant located on Constance Street in the Garden District of New Orleans, had been serving up their famous Roast Beef Po’ Boy for generations.  Although not a particularly “pretty” joint, you didn’t care because you knew you were getting a simple yet great sandwich when you came.

We first heard about this sandwich Mecca while doing our research for our second trip to the Crescent City and this seemed to be a spot that Guy Fieri really enjoyed, and if Guy is happy that usually means that I’m going to be as well.  We have watched enough episodes of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” to notice when he REALLY likes something or when it is just ok in his opinion, and these Po’boys seemed to be an item he REALLY enjoyed!  Take a look…

Adam and I both might be biased because we both LOVE sandwiches, and often it will be a sandwich that we see that really draws us to a place over many of their other dishes.  So with Parasol’s being known for their Po’boys, I figured we had a great chance of being drawn to the thing they were truly known for….and not just any Po’boy….the Roast Beef Po’boy.  This is reason number one that I’m sad, because let’s just say I made a lapse in judgment upon ordering…but we’ll get to that.

We ventured over via cab to Parasol’s on the 2nd evening of our trip (for you PCC regulars out there you know that this is the evening of our lunch visit to Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which you may or may not remember being especially memorable for Adam for all the WRONG reasons).  Now that day in New Orleans it was particularly hot and we had been walking, A LOT, after a very greasy chicken experience.  Most of us (with our stomachs of steel) seemed to being doing ok…except Adam who was quickly going down hill and was really struggling by the time we pulled up to Parasol’s…only to get worse.  Not to get too graphic, but let’s just say he and the bush became good friends for about 15 minutes to a half hour and it never really got better from there (for him at least).

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So back to the hotel alone he went…never to enjoy what was to come. This was the first sad part of this experience, because I think of the 4 of us, Adam was probably the most excited of us all for this, and he never even got to taste it.  I did bring that sandwich back for him, but by the time he was feeling better, almost 2 days later it was no longer good…tragedy I know!

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So after my hubby made his way back, we went ahead and placed an order and as I mentioned before, this is where the 2nd "sad" happening took place.  Knowing their famed roast beef Po’boy had a gravy that came smothered on it, I didn’t feel like I wanted that on top of the fried chicken in my stomach, so I ordered the ham Po’boy instead, and although it tasted fresh and still delicious, looking at Audra and Garrett’s Roast Beef Po’boys, I knew I made a critical error.  I should have just sucked it up and gotten what I really wanted knowing, one, it is what they are known for, and two, that I would likely not get the chance to have it again anytime soon.

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I mean look at that! The ham is not even worth showing you, because this is the crown jewel you need to order.  Luckily I was able to try a bite and what makes this Po’ boy so fantastic. It is simple yet so flavorful. The roast beef served in its own juices is the star and it really does not need much else to make this sandwich taste fantastic.  Simply dressed with mayo, lettuce, and tomato, it is the beef that truly makes this Po’boy stand out.  As I said, the ham was also tasty, but more on the level of a really good ham sub sandwich.

So what is the last reason to be sad about Parasol’s?  Well as you may have noticed….I was speaking in the past tense when referring to Parasol’s up above, because last year, very soon after our visit, Parasol’s closed…dun-dun-dun (Queue dramatic music). However (and this is when it gets a little confusing), the former proprietor took the menu, the staff…heck, pretty much the whole "Po’boy" a few blocks over to Magazine Street to an equally old Irish pub called Tracey’s. What actually happened was the owner of the building would not renew the lease to the then proprietor of Parasol’s. The "Parasol’s" name belonged to the building owners, so the reputation of great Po’boys associated with that establishment seemed doomed to end in this petty rental dispute.  However, the proprietor owned the old ‘Tracy’s’ sign (an old famous Irish pub that had closed down some years earlier in the district) and just decided to re-introduce the cache associated with that name with the great reputation of the Po’boy menu that had been created at the old Parasol’s….seemingly the best of both worlds. We actually even saw Tracey’s featured on both Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” and Food Network’s “Food Fueds” and its familiar feel is what drove us to research them, and sure enough they were the former Parasol’s.  So although it has a new name, it is apparently the same flavor you know and love, just a newer, better, and bigger location!

The silver lining to all this is that, although Adam didn’t get to try Parasol’s in the manner it became famous and I am a dummy who didn’t order the right item, we at least got to experience it how it was and now we can still visit Tracey’s whenever we are fortunate enough to visit New Orleans again. Better yet, it will be like a brand new experience for the both of us. So in the meantime, although Parasol’s is no more, anyone venturing to NOLA anytime soon, you better check out Tracey’s, because from that one bite, I know their Roast Beef Po’boy won’t disappoint.

SIGNATURE DISH: Po’ boys is the name of their game, both when they were Parasol’s and now as Tracey’s; and although Po’ boys are found at many a place throughout New Orleans, it would seem that Tracey’s, formerly Parasol’s, is the place to get them! And please don’t make the same mistake I did. Get that Po’ boy they are truly famous for…, the Roast Beef!

TASTE: The ham was very good, but not the star. Although I just had one bite of that delicious Roast Beef, I am smart enough to know what I will be ordering the next time I get to visit.  And this time around, Adam and I are also going to be very cautious what we eat beforehand, for his sake!  Let’s just say it was that memorably good!

AMBIANCE: By all definitions, Parasol’s is your typical hole-in-the-wall sorta place.  It was not big or fancy or even nicely decorated, but I don’t think that is why people are going there.  The downstairs bar is very narrow, but serves its purpose…a place to drink.  The upstairs has a few tables and serves ITS purpose…a place to eat.  Now, I can’t speak for Tracey’s, but Parasol’s "dive-bar" approach had its appeal for what it was….emphasis on WAS.

PRICE: If I’m being honest, I really don’t remember how much the Po’ boys were, but considering that was all each of us got to eat, I don’t think they were all that expensive.  They were maybe $10, but even that I think is too high.  Still, I know I would pay it again and considering some of the more expensive meals we had that were hardly worth it, this was a deal.

SERVICE: I don’t really know how to rate this, because we didn’t really have any.  Not to say no one was helpful, it’s just that we ordered from the cook at the counter, paid him, and then waited for our order to be called.  It was fast, but that is about all you can say.  Again, this is not a put down… that’s just the type of establishment this was.

Overall, given the circumstances, we still really enjoyed this meal, minus Adam.  I know he is still really sad that he missed out, but I will be glad when he and I can someday experience Tracey’s.  But in the meantime, I will give Parasol’s 4 ‘Little Piggies.’

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Thursday, July 22, 2010 @ 12:07 PM

mother's signSo can we officially say summer has flown by so far?  When we arrived in Indiana, I knew the next time I would get to see my parents was in August. Well, that went from feeling like forever to just two short weeks away; and with the amount of house “projects” we seem to have continuously going on (all my fault by the way :)) this summer has been kinda hectic…to say the least.  But such is life, and to be honest, it is not in my personality to just let things around here take care of themselves. So, I was destined to take on everything seemingly at once the minute we bought a house; and in all honesty, I have really been enjoying seeing the progress we are making and all the potential this place has. Plus, all I have to do when I get a little tired or frustrated is transport myself back to one of our many great vacations and reminisce, which is exactly what I’m doing this week. 

I’m assuming that many of you will or have taken at least one “trip” or vacation this summer, even if it was a small weekend getaway.  Summer seems to be that time when jobs can be a bit more relaxed, the weather is nice, and those trips seem a bit more possible. Well, Adam and I are no different (perhaps we even take more trips than most), and we like to plan a few trips each year, not usually long, but just long enough to escape, relax, and try some amazing food we’ve seen in pop culture.  I think a part of me has always had the travel bug (Adam definitely does!), so it is just one of those things we do whenever we can.  But enough rambling…let me get to the point I was trying to make. With all the traveling we do, since starting PCC we typically plan our trips around places that will give us and "blog worthy" dining spots.  So if you are traveling with us, be sure that we are going to eat our way through a city and have researched all of our possibilities thoroughly. 🙂

All of this brings me to this week’s feature restaurant on PCC.  You all know that the point of PCC is to find those places we have seen featured in pop culture and give an honest review.  So having planned our first trip to New Orleans 2 years ago, we knew a "must visit" spot was one we had just seen on Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food" ‘New Orleans’ episode and had heard about from countless other sources. I’m referring, of course, to the the N’awlins landmark… Mother’s Restaurant.  You can see why we knew we had to go…

“Man vs. Food” [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved June 30, 2010, from“Man vs. Food” [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved June 30, 2010, from

“Man vs. Food” [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved July 22, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPeeIKWyQkI

If that video does not tempt you, I am not sure what will.  Mother’s is not any fancy new Po-boy shop that has recently sprung up and is getting lots of hype…no sir. They have been serving up great sandwiches since 1938, which I would say at this point makes them an institution.  Opened by Simon and Mary (Mother) Landry, people came from near and far (and still do) to get a taste of these simple yet delicious Po-boys, as well as their take on some of New Orleans’ favorites. In fact, so many people are coming to Mother’s that you can be guaranteed to wait in a hefty line each meal time; and since you’ve had time to think in that line, you best know what you want when you get to the front of that line, trust me…but we’ll get to that. 😉

Traditionally Mother’s was known for their ham. Later on, however, their roast beef began to gain a lot of notoriety for its juiciness and flavor; and it was these two simple meats that would later give birth to two of their most popular sandwiches…The "Ferdi Special" and "Debris Po-Boy."  The Ferdi was actually named after a regular customer who one day decided he wanted both the ham and beef together… thus the Ferdi was born.  The Debris was also a customer invention. You see, the roast beef is cooked and then sets in a gravy to stay moist and soak up all of the flavors of the seasoning. It is only cut right when you order that sandwich. Knowing this, the customer asked if he could have the little bits of meat that fell back into the gravy juices upon being cut, and the owner says to him, “You mean some of the debris?”  This was only the beginning my friends!

As I mentioned, we had already put Mother’s on our radar screen and trip itinerary before our first visit to New Orleans.  We knew it would be our lunch spot for our first full day, and let me tell you… it did not disappoint.  We made the 10-minute hike from the French Quarter and knew we must have been approaching it when we saw a line stretched down the block.  We quickly hopped in, perused a menu some women had printed, and decided on our order so we would be prepared, although it wasn’t much of a decision process. :)  Now the way it all works is that the line slowly works its way through the front door and to the counter where your order is placed, and you better be ready because the girls at the counter are not the most patient and they expect you to be ready. In other words, probably best to know what you want and not have any questions…could get a little hostile. After you order, by the time you have wrapped around to the cash register, your order is ready.  Someone will then seat you at an available table.  What is so deceiving about this place is it appears upon first glance to be very small. However, they have a large back room filled with tables, so there is plenty of room, although they are typically packed full. 

Anyway, after about an hour, we made it to the counter and Adam’s order was a no-brainer…debris Po-Boy, pure and simple. I mean old boy couldn’t shut-up about it prior, so there was no chance of anything else. 🙂 I, on the other hand, faltered slightly when seeing the large menu overhead, but in the end went with the same, including a small piece of their ham…after all, it is what they’re known for, and it’s on the friggin’ sign for cryin’ out loud! Had to do it, right? Also, we got a side of the sausage, because seeing it in the line it looked crazy good.

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A little confession…these pictures are all actually from our second visit to New Orleans a year later (this past May).  Although this past trip we didn’t eat there, they let me come in when they were closing so I could snap some shots since I didn’t take any on our first trip.  I did this so you can at least get a sense of this place, even though it was nowhere near as crowded as a typical lunch rush would be. 

But back to our story…after we were seated, we looked down at our mouth watering sandwich choices and dug right in.  What make these Po-boys so great is that though are simple and not a lot of fuss, they are dripping with wonderful flavor.  The debris is somewhat messy because they dip the whole thing, bread and all, into that gravy, but that is what makes it all the more delicious!

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Unfortunately, the ham and sausage were nothing to write home (or too much in this blog ;)) about, but that didn’t matter much, because the Debris totally made up for it…worth every ooey-gooey bite if you ask me.  We were both so hungry it didn’t take us long to chow these down and enjoy every possible morsel, extra debris and all…and the fact that you just kept wanting more of that flavor helped.  So if you are looking for a top-notch sandwich and a place that serves up New Orleans history in a non-stuffy atmosphere, Mother’s is certainly the place that won’t disappoint.  So if you are traveling to New Orleans and want a po’ boy, Mother’s is your best bet!

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SIGNATURE DISH: Although Mother’s Restaurant serves up a variety of New Orleans’ style fare, they are truly known for their signature ham and Po-boys, especially their Ferdi Special and the Debris.  These typical sub-type sandwiches are their staple and seem to be what is drawing in the crowd.

TASTE: You can say it is just a sub sandwich, but that wouldn’t come close to being accurate about the Debris Po-boy.  This ain’t no regular sub or even Po-boy for that matter.  The amount of flavor and seasoning they are able to infuse into the roast beef and gravy drippings is simply amazing!  And sometimes simple bread, condiments, and meat are all you need to be good; and in this case, they have mastered this art.  The debris was out of this world – melt in your mouth tender, and by soaking that bread, each bite just gave you a dose of that wonderful flavor. As for the other items, I can only speak to the ham and sausage…which I don’t think I’d order again on their own. 

AMBIANCE: They aren’t worried about fussiness or wowing you with their décor.  In fact, one might say that with the bright fluorescent lights, stark surroundings, and dingy floors, it borders on the feel of an old school cafeteria. But who cares…I think that’s part of the charm. You look around and this seems to bother no one. None of the hundreds that pack this place every day are here for a pretty/dainty place to eat some fancy chefs version of gourmet…rather they are here simply for delicious food and unpretentious surroundings.  So if you are in need of fancy diggs, this is not your kind of Big Easy joint.

PRICE: Here is where I have a little bone of contention with Mother’s. Their prices (I felt) were a bit steep.  With a debris Po-boy coming in at $10, I thought that was sort of expensive for what it is.  Now don’t get me wrong…it’s delicious and I would likely pay the price again, which is probably why they can have their prices where they do…people will pay for it.  However, I was just surprised given that we ordered our lunch was just over $40.  I guess that’s the Big Easy for ya…it’s expensive anywhere you go.

SERVICE: The line was a bit much, especially given all the places to eat in New Orleans. However, it was totally worth it, and we were treated nicely by everyone, even the servers behind the counters who are notoriously impatient when you order. Although we could tell they were trying to move us through quick, they were kind and helpful.  What can I say…they seem to run a real smooth ship and are able to get people in and out fairly quickly and without issue. Also, I was very impressed and thankful for how they allowed me to come in after hours and chat with everyone and take pictures. It was customer service at its finest, and top notch in my book.

Looking back, we should have probably eaten there again last May…seeing as how many of the meals we tried this last time didn’t quite live up to the hype. Oh well, that’s why I do this…to find out the real truth about these places and see if they are truly worthy. Mother’s Restaurant…worthy it was. 4 ‘Little Piggies.’

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