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Diary For Thurs., 3/28/2019: Franklin Reopens In Bywater. The Effects Are Mostly As Remembered.

I and many other people find it hard to keep the restaurants of the Bywater neighborhood straight in my mind. The distribution of restaurants, bars, parking spaces, and holes in the streets is a little puzzling unless one lives in the neighborhood full-time.

Another reason I don’t focus on Bywater and Marigny sections as much as I do for restaurants in other neighborhoods is that the definitions of what a restaurant or a bar is changes daily, as dining vogues evolve. Franklin serves enough food to be able to call itself a restaurant. But it’s always been true that a dense enough cadre of people drinks cocktails or glasses of wine forms around the semi-open kitchen. That gives the strong illusion of a bar. Even the name of the place is puzzling: “gastrobar.” What that is?

We set out on this diary day to see what kind of operation the recently-revived Franklin is. We were also investigating the characters of the Elysian Bar and the Hotel Saint Peter & Paul, looking for evidence. The Elysian and the Saints seemed to have a few people eating or drinking, but we never could find anyone to ask for details. By comparison, Franklin seemed much more promising.

What I already knew was that that Franklin was open for dinner, with specials on an abbreviated but very real food menu. We also learned that although the place had been closed for some time, it had reopened on March 25. The servers were skilled enough to explain what was available for dinner and to deliver the goods. I was able to joke around with them–something the just-hired servers rarely are able to handle.

I started with raw oysters topped with three different cold garnishes of varying flavors. That’s a good idea that few restaurants serve. MA also had chilly food: smoked rillettes of redfish. Neither she nor I understood this order: MA has on more than one occasion proclaimed dislike of the very idea of rillettes. (They’re somewhere between a shredding and a pâté.) Also on the table at around this time was a bowl of pommes frites with aioli.

My luck was much better. Here was a small but whole white snapper, which had been grilled deftly. I can’t remember having had this species of dish before, but if I ever run into it again, I’ll take an encore.

The dining rooms were not busy when we finished, but the bar was. I guess that’s how gastropubs work. I guess.

MA, who is the queen of restaurant surroundings, says that she likes Franklin’s look. We felt the same way during its first soujourn through the Bywater world. I hope the menu grows along with the customer base.

One more item: What with that big bar, I started the dinner with an Old Fashioned. The server asked what kind of liquor I wanted. That would be rye whiskey, preferably Sazerac-brand rye. The young email server got a good laugh from my true story about the bartender who, when I asked for an Old Fashioned, asked “an old-fashioned what?” (It happened elsewhere.)

Franklin. Bywater: 2600 Dauphine. 504-267-0640. Dinner only, Mon.-Sat.


Crawfish-Stuffed Peppers With Prosciutto Pasta

Now that we’re starting to see a few crawfish in the market (the rain should help in the coming weeks), I can’t wait to start cooking the bug tails again. Here is a new approach to stuffed bell peppers, with flavors coming from all directions and uniting with the crawfish. Although the recipe may seem a little complicated, it’s not difficult to follow.

  • For the stuffing:
  • 6 medium red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs. Louisiana crawfish tails
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh fennel or celery
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into matchstick-size pieces
  • 3 oz. prosciutto, sliced into matchstick-size pieces

Pepper-Stuffed With Crawfish Gratin.

1. Heat the broiler and put the peppers close to the heat until they blacken and blister. Turn them over until the outside is at least 75 percent black. Let them cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin (it will come off easily). Cut the top one-quarter of the pepper off, and lift out the stem, seeds, and membrane. Try to keep from tearing the bottom part of the pepper while doing all this. Rinse the pepper bottoms in cold water, then set aside.

2. After removing the seeds and stems, chop the remaining top part of the bell pepper. Chop half of the crawfish into about the size of peas.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook until soft. Add the chopped bell pepper, crawfish, and 1/4 cup of water (or shrimp or crawfish stock, if you have it). Bring to a boil and stir for a couple of minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the stuffing ingredients.

5. Carefully fill the peppers with the stuffing. Try not to tear the peppers. Place the stuffed peppers on an oiled baking pan and into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

6. While they’re in there, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the green onions and fennel or celery until soft. Add the red pepper flakes and wine and cook for about three minutes. Whisk in the cream and bring it to a boil over medium heat until reduced by about half–five or six minutes. Add salt to taste.

7. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, the prosciutto, and the remaining chopped crawfish. Heat through. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the pan and toss with the sauce.

8. Serve the pasta alongside the peppers. Garnish with fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Serves six.

AlmanacSquare April 4, 2019

Upcoming Deliciousness

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Vintner Dinners : Tonight. French Quarter Festival April 11-14
Easter April 21
Jazz Festival April 26-May 5
Eat Club Dinner @ Impastato’s April 17

Roots Of Creole Cooking

Today in 1812, the Territory of Orleans was admitted to the Union and became the State of Louisiana. Happy birthday to us!

Two years later on this date (or perhaps two days from now–the exact date is unclear), the event that gave the Napoleon House its name occurred. Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated as emperor of France, and was exiled to the island of Elba. Nicholas Girod, former mayor of New Orleans, offered Napoleon an apartment in his building the corner of St. Louis and Chartres. The apartment is now used for private parties by the Napoleon House, one of the city’s most famous watering holes.

Food Inventions

Today in 1881, a centrifugal separator was patented by Edwin J. Houston and Elihu Thomson that could separate cream from milk. Or mud from water. A derivative of the concept is found in many homes: the juice extractor.

Also on this date in 1828, in the Netherlands, Casparus Van Wooden patented a chocolate powder that could be stirred into milk. The forerunner of Quik?

Annals Of Food Research

On this date in 1932, after many years of research, W.A. Waugh and C.G. King at the University of Pittsburgh isolated Vitamin C for the first time. It’s called ascorbic acid because it prevents the condition called scurvy. Sailors in the British Navy found they could prevent scurvy by eating limes. Coincidentally, in 1581 on this date, Queen Elizabeth had dinner on one of their ships: The Golden Hind, just back from an around-the-world trip with Sir Francis Drake at the helm. They made her eat a lime.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

You know what has more Vitamin C, ounce for ounce, than any common food? Cilantro. Keeps you breath fresh, too.

Food Calendar

Somebody (not Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school, that’s for sure) started a rumor that today is National Cordon Bleu Day. “Cordon Bleu” (“blue ribbon”) in the name of a dish name usually means that it’s stuffed with ham and cheese, then baked or broiled. The idea really got out of hand in the 1960s and 1970s, and we became sick of it. Now you hardly ever see it–although lots of common dishes, particularly in Italian cooking, are stuffed with ham and cheese. (Or, one would hope, prosciutto and Fontina, as the dish in the recipe section of today’s newsletter is.) The real Cordon Bleu cooking school has advanced far beyond such practices.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Spicy Branch is a stream running down from the foothills of the Appalachians in northeastern Kentucky. Its water runs through several intermediate streams before winding up in the Ohio and then the Mississippi. Cincinnati, Ohio is 129 miles downstream. This is heavily-wooded hills-and-hollows countryside. Reach into the water of Spicy Branch, pull out a bottle of Tabasco, and head for lunch at the A&A Cafe, two miles away in Grayson.

Edible Dictionary

Rusty Nail, n.–A cocktail made with the two most distinctive spirits of Scotland: Scotch whisky and Drambuie. The latter is a sweet liqueur made with the former, along with honey and herbs. At eighty proof, Drambuie is just as alcoholic as the whisky. The proportions are two parts Drambuie to three parts Scotch, all served over crushed ice with a lemon twist. Like many good cocktails, this one changes as you drink it, with a major slam of alcohol in the first sip. Rusty Nails were very popular in the 1970s, less so now.

The Saints

Did you know that there is a patron saint of the internet and of computer users? It’s St. Isidore of Seville, a very learned bishop who is not just a saint but a Doctor of the Church. He also had some involvement with beekeeping, so put some honey on your biscuits or toast instead of jelly. Today is his feast day.

Deft Dining Rule #402:

A restaurant where the fish of the day is the same every day–especially if it’s tilapia, salmon, or catfish–isn’t putting much effort into buying its food. You probably will not be impressed by the fish entrees there.

Deft Dining Rule #403:

The exception to Rule #402 is Pacific salmon in season (spring and early summer). The best of all is Copper River salmon.

Food Namesakes

Actor Barry Pepper was born today in 1970. He was the sniper in Saving Private Ryan. . . Muddy Waters, the famous bluesman, was born today in 1915. . . Pro football player Chad Eaton was born today in 1972. . . Suzanna Salter, the first female mayor in the United States, was elected on this date in 1884 in Argonia, Kansas.

Words To Eat By

“Never commit yourself to a cheese with having first examined it.”–T.S. Eliot.

Words To Drink By

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”–Mark Twain.

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