Saturday, November 11, 2017. Found Bread. A busy day of dining begins with breakfast at the Abita Roaster, where I find myself joking around with the waitress, mainly because she throws my quips right back at me. Later, I would see why she is so pleasant: her check bears the words “FOOD CRITIC.” I know that a few such alerts are issued to the staff in many restaurants. I like to think it has no effect on me. Mary Ann says that I am kidding myself. But when am I ever not that way?
The breakfast platter includes café au lait (I asked the waitress whether I can have it made with chicory, and they do–a rarity). Also here are two slices of bacon, two soft-scrambled eggs, and six slices of French bread sliced on the bias about an inch thick. The menu warned me of this by calling it “French toast” instead of “pain perdu” or “lost bread.” When the menu offers the lost technique, half as much bread is drenched in twice as much custard. There’s no such thing as over-saturated lost bread. What the Abita serves now is Yankee style French toast–not nearly as good as pain perdu.
I have no radio show today or tomorrow. I spend the afternoon writing ads for the upcoming LPO concert at Carnegie Hall in February. Some listeners thought it would be a fun trip to New York City for the Eat Club, with some interesting eating before and after the music. It will be a small crowd–some twenty people–but that’s big enough for a jovial Eat Club affair.
Mary Ann invited two couples to dine with us tonight at Pat Gallagher’s 527 (is that the right number?) in Mandeville. We know one of the couples from our kids’ mutual school years. The other couple is in the seafood business, and they’re not kidding about that. The lady of the house has been known to shuck dozens of oysters and filleting big fish back when they had a restaurant.
The conversation bounces around the matter of growing older while trying to remain friendly with the other side of the marriage duo. No conclusions come from any of this, but we have a load of laughs.
One of us brings forth from Pal Gallagher’s cellars $150 worth of Stags’ Leap Cabernet. (Note the position of the apostrophe after “Stags’.) We drink all of it with steaks. Pat Gallagher has become a steak master in the years since Katrina, during which he worked as an Executive Chef for Ruth’s Chris. That influence has remained ever since, and he has become a major player in the North Shore steak business. Two slabs of sizzling beef come to the table, preferred by the women.
I build an all-appetizer dinner for myself. It begins with crabmeat St. Francis, the famous creation of Chef Warren Leruth, one of the greatest New Orleans chefs of all time. Then comes a half-dozen oysters Pablo, which are described as a southwestern-style Rockefeller. Then a pile of grilled asparagus and a seafood casserole–almost a gratin. Somebody eats a beautiful service of red snapper in the usual buttery way. One of the girls has a couple of martinis. I begin with a Manhattan before shifting to the wines.
Gallagher’s is very busy all the time. The buzz is that the original establishment in Covington has taken second place to the new Mandeville. That was the reason they opened this location, so I’m sure they must be happy. I wonder if the business in Mandeville–always more suburban than demi-rural Covington–explains why Pat Gallagher has shaved off his familiar red beard. The food remains as excellent as always.
All the way home, MA talks about what an engaging evening this has been. I like this hanging around with friends, too. We have plenty of them, but we don’t call them nearly often enough.
Pat Gallagher’s 527. Mandeville: 527 Causeway Blvd.. 985-778-2320.