WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Since Katrina, Elizabeth’s has been the culinary and social center of Bywater. Like the neighborhood itself, its style blends hipness and funkiness. It is to Downtown what Jacques-Imo’s is to Uptown–with some of the same decor, even. After a hiatus following the storm, breakfast is back as a mainstay. But the place hops most in the early evening. “Real Food Done Real Good” is the slogan, and the image that gives is true.
At breakfast, the menu is familiar except for a few signature items–notably the homemade sausage and praline bacon. The lunch menu–particularly in the sandwich department–is a mix of deli and poor boys, with a few platters. At dinner, the kitchen does its best and most varied work.
In 1996, Heidi Elizabeth Trull left the Windsor Court Hotel where she’d been cooking and opened a catering business in the Bywater section of downtown. The area was becoming cool, with a sense of neighborhood. People who smelled Heidi’s cooking thought they could eat there, and after awhile they could. Elizabeth’s began as a breakfast and lunch spot with enough unique specialties (notably the praline bacon) that it began to draw eaters from all over town. The restaurant was sold a couple of times and its food evolved into a hybrid of rustic Creole and Cajun with bistro-style dishes.
Elizabeth’s is in an old building that looks to my eyes like a late-1800s house raised up to make room for a business. Both floors are used for the restaurant now. Downstairs, every table seems to be fitted into a slot or a corner, the better to create a sense of community, whether you want it or not. Upstairs, a big antique bar sets the theme, with more space in all dimensions and a cooler vibe. The walls are covered with signs and folk art.
»Blue cheese oysters
»Boudin balls in Creole mustard sauce
»Fried chicken livers, pepper jelly
»House made hogshead cheese
Fried green tomatoes, shrimp remoulade
House salad, lemongrass vinaigrette
Seared tuna salad, lemongrass vinaigrette
Smoked turkey and sausage gumbo
Smoked crispy hog jowls, spinach, Maytag blue cheese
House cured pastrami, Swiss, rye
Fried chicken poor boy
House smoked turkey, toasted wheat berry bread
»Hog jowl BLT, chopped tomatoes, fresh spinach
»Elizabeth’s dream burger (with praline bacon, blue cheese)
»Hot sausage poor boy
»Hot roast beef poor boy
»Fried shrimp or oyster poor boy
»Seafood stuffed mirliton
Campfire smoked rib-eye steak with hollandaise
»Grilled double cut pork chop over bacon, hominy glaze
Pan seared salmon with roasted pepper and dill relish
Seared duck breast, red wine cherry sauce
Sautéed boneless chicken with mushroom, tasso sauce
Chopped sirloin, grilled onions and gravy
Sautéed mahi-mahi, citrus beurre blanc
Calf’s liver and onions, brown gravy
»Daily blackboard specials
Oooey gooey cake
FOR BEST RESULTS
The daily specials are far and away the best food you can buy here. If you speak with someone who’s really wild about this place, add a grain of salt.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Consistency is the big problem here. Since before the turn of the century, the lunch food here has been the least inspired. The clean-up crew could be a lot more assiduous.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +2
- Live music some nights
- Open Sunday lunch
- Unusually large servings
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted