Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
Fighting My Way Through A Lull.
I go to the sleep clinic and drop off the gizmo that read my breathing patterns for seven hours last night. I’m told that they’ll be in touch to make sure the data are usable. From there I head straight to the radio station, where I am needed to record not one but five commercials. One of these is for the Eat Club dinner on March 9. It will be an interesting test of the new radio transmitters. And the radios that people are buying so they can hear me and The Food Show.
One such test of the new gear is unimpressive. We didn’t get the first listener-caller until a half-hour into the show. This is far from setting a record, but it don’t make me happy. On the other hand, two people with have legitimate perspectives on this–Mary Ann and Scoot–both say that shouldn’t worry about it, and just keep talking. One of the best program directors I ever worked with told me the same thing back when. “You are a better talker than most of the people on the telephone,” he said. “Calls you go to in desperation are rarely very good. I’d prefer to listen to you than to them.”
I’m glad I remembered that advice, even though it was first given to me in 1978. It didn’t step up the volume of calls, but it
did make me feel better.
When the show ends, I call Mary Leigh to see whether she’s available for dinner. I have to wait for her to change out of her work togs into something merely very casual. She is a member of the We Don’t Dress Up As Much As Our Parents Did Generation.
As for the venue, she suggested Boulevard. That’s the restaurant that took over the building where Houston’s was for decades. Houston’s was always busy, but not long ago relented on its no-reservations policy. ML takes advantage of this to stack up points with Open Table.
Houston’s regular customers were very upset when the Metairie branch closed less than a year ago. (The one on St. Charles Avenue is still there,unchanged.) But the new owners (they are from the Creole Culinary Concepts, which also bring you Broussard’s, Kingfish, Bombay Club, both Maspero’s, and a good many more) had the good sense to keep the restaurant a lot like what it had been. It wasn’t as busy as I remember. On the other hand, Carnival parades are rolling, which surely takes a piece out of business.
I had not been to a Houston’s for something like ten years, but it doesn’t seem much changed. The menu is still centered on grilling a large percentage of its items. Hamburgers, ribs, grilled fish are central.
I begin with fried oysters attempting to be reminiscent of oysters Rockefeller. Not bad, but not reminiscent of Antoine’s. The entree I chose was to break away from the grill. Instead, I have a red snapper with a panko crust, almost panneed. This is good but makes no big statement. Which was what I expected.
ML is still a fan of wedge salads with blue cheese. We have never seen one as large as this one, enough for two people. It’s also significantly more expensive than we’re used to. Indeed, the whole menu seems notably dearer than I recall. However, both Houston’s and its successor Boulevard hit the sweet spot for people who don’t like the idea of being a gourmet. That’s my daughter’s taste. And, come to think of it, the palate of the typical Millennial. ML approves the salad.