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High Hat Cafe

Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4500 Freret St. 504-754-1366. Map.
Casual.
AE DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Every now and then, a New Orleans restaurant will open with a menu combining the food of our city with that of the Delta Country of northwestern Mississippi. Because they are connected by the Mississippi River’s busiest segment, a cultural connection formed two centuries ago between our city and Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville and Memphis–the main ports of the Delta Country. Eat in any of those places, you’ll notice many dishes and flavors in common with New Orleans eats.

We never had a lot of Creole-Mississippi Delta food here. Indeed, it is some time since the last restaurant flagrantly purveying that cuisine: Cafe Atchafalaya, during the hegemony of Iler Pope, in the 1990s. It wasn’t until 2011 that High Hat took the baton. It was the perfect time for such a place to open. The city was still regrouping after Katrina. And, more important, there was an astonishing efflorescence of new restaurants in the stretch of Freret Street between Napoleon and Jefferson Avenues. Everybody wanted to see that development grow, and the restaurants did well.

High Hat was (and remains) like the neighborhood cafe you remember in a neighborhood you never visited before in some little Southern town you happened to drive through. Add a feeling that it’s 1949, and you have an accurate image of High Hat and some–but not all–of its food.

WHAT’S GOOD
Fried catfish is the top specialty, but not quite the equal of the famous names in that biz. Chicken gumbo, a very spicy treatment of shrimp remoulade, and a few Mississippi Delta touches like hot tamales and cornbread are other centers of attention. The New Orleans barbecue shrimp and the boudin are unarguably Creole and Cajun, respectively. Also here is a suggestion of barbecue–pulled pork and chicken. All of the food is fresh and prepared to order, with a credible amount of locally-raised vegetables. The menu seems abbreviated at first glance, the enough specials are available to make the pickings more rewarding.

HighHat-Bar

BACKSTORY
In 2011, High Hat took over the space where the hallowed Bill Long’s Bakery operated for fifty years. Omnipresent owner Chip Apperson came from Memphis, where the name of an old bar–Cecil’s Hi-Hat Lounge–stuck in his head. Cocktail remain part of the heritage here, with a nice old bar making good drinks.

Shrimp remoulade wedge salad at High Hat Cafe.

Shrimp remoulade wedge salad at High Hat Cafe.

DINING ROOM
The big windows, high ceilings and earth-shade tile floors will bring a chill of nostalgia to former Bill Long customers. Where the counters were is now a bar, over which hangs the old sign from Cecil’s Hi-Hat Lounge. (Chip salvaged it just as the old place was coming down.) In the back is a semi-open kitchen. The servers blend perfectly into the retro atmosphere in their dress and personalities, although this may have been just an accident.

CLICK FOR FULL ONLINE MENU[/title]

BEST DISHES
Starters
»Gumbo ya-ya (chicken-andouille)
»Barbecue shrimp
»Hot tamales
Pimiento cheese, deviled ham
»Devilled eggs, mixed pickles
Cecil’s appetizer salad
Cecil’s dinner salad
»Shrimp remoulade
Wedge salad
»Boudin

Poor Boy Sandwiches
»Fried catfish
Slow roasted pork
Shrimp: fried or grilled
»Oyster remoulade
»Cuban
Reuben
»Flat Top burger
High Hat burger (pimiento cheese)
Barbecue bacon burger
»One-eyed bacon cheeseburger (fried egg on top)

Entrees
»Barbecue shrimp
»Smoked roasted chicken
Slow roasted pork
Flat Top catfish
Spicy seared Gulf fish
Shrimp and potato hash
Vegetable plate (pick three sides)
»Fried catfish and hush puppies
»Whole fried catfish

Desserts
Chocolate chess pie
»Grilled glazed doughnut, vanilla bean ice cream
Abita root beer float

FOR BEST RESULTS
The best meals I’ve had here were composed entirely of appetizers, which intersect the entree list somewhat anyway. Hamburgers and sandwiches are better that you expect; the daily plate specials not quite as good.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The menu is too abbreviated for me; I’m always turning it over to see what’s on the back of it. (Nothing.) I will never understand the appeal of pimiento cheese. My wife is the only person I know who loves it. Pickings are slim on Fridays, when the special is shrimp Creole.

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
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +1
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Sidewalk tables
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open all afternoon
  • Historic
  • Quick, good meal
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • No reservations

 

1 Readers Commented

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  1. Louis Armbruster on January 18, 2016

    The French fries at HH were perfect. they were fresh, served hot and a good portion. I ate all the French fries before I ate the Cuban sandwich. An enjoyable lunch.

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