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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Poor Boy

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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One Response to “Poor Boy”

  1. Audra Young says:

    Katie, Thank you for the memory. That was a fun trip and my mouth is watering thinking about that po’boy! It was so very good. The place scared me a little, so I am glad it has moved. Poor Adam though…I felt so bad for him and also for his new friends “the bush, and the trash can” and for the owners of the house accross the street. We did have a great time that evening.

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