ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
As much as people like to reminisce about a past that never really was, with all the bad parts removed from the Good Old Days, retro restaurant concepts have never done especially well. It’s tough enough for restaurants that really are old to keep a balance between their traditions and the demands of the modern market. It’s a greater stretch still for a former Shoney’s to pretend that it’s operating in 1953. The American flavor catches your attention until you remember that this is New Orleans, where Americana never really set in completely. And certainly not in the local food. This is the puzzler that is Legacy Kitchen.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The intent seems to be to bring the food of a 1950s diner into the modern age. In the process, the kitchen creates thoroughly contemporary dishes. Some of them are outright trendy. If the name and the decor didn’t remind you of the legacy, I don’t think you’d notice it. Example: fried chicken and waffles, that odd combination so popular around the country in chain restaurants. Also in step with the tastes of 2014: near-Mexican dishes.
WHAT’S GOOD They cook reasonably well here, particularly when working on robust dishes like roast chicken, soups, and a recently-disappeared specialty: duck confit chili with beans, a great dish for the chilly weather we’ve had to put up with this winter. The steak specials have been surprisingly good. The hamburgers and other sandwiches are in a league with the affiliated burger place, and not special enough to warrant the over-$10 prices. Don’t expect much from the seafood. Subtlety isn’t the game.
The owners of the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company (across the street) opened Legacy Kitchen in 2013, after renovating the closed Shoney’s in the very prominent location across Veterans from Dorignac’s Supermarket.
An airy design with many windows and long expanses of light-wood banquettes makes the place comfortable. Here and there are pockets of retro design, with elements of the old manual typewriter as a leitmotif. Add tablecloths, and this could become an ideal spot for one of the gourmet bistros Metairie doesn’t have. The servers are well trained but oversell. One day, the waitress started working on me to buy a dessert when I was only half-finished the entree.
Blue cheese chips, herb aioli
Smoked salmon dip
»Shrimp and tuna ceviche
Kale Caesar salad
Seared tuna tango, avocado, mango, macadamia
»Victory roasted chicken salad (oven-roasted, avocado, cherries, goat cheese)
»Buffalo chicken salad
»Soup of the day
»Hamburgers in several arrangements
Turkey-avocado, pepper jelly-mayo, multi-grain bread
»Club with bacon, turkey, ham, cheddar, swiss, multi-grain
»NYC Nola pastrami, remoulade slaw, mustard, sourdough
»Fried half chicken, angry pickles
Veggie burger melt, pepper jack, chipotle-soy glaze, avocado
Fried chicken & waffles
»Roasted chicken, black beans, avocado, cilantro-lime sour cream Open-face meatloaf, white gravy
»Fried bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers
Santa Fe chicken pasta, enchilada cream sauce
barbecue shrimp, popcorn rice, Creole brown butter
»»Duck confit chili (on the menu the first time I went, but not since)
Gulf fish St. Charles (asparagus, mushrooms, garlic herb butter, crawfish casserole)
Filet mignon, baked potato
Ribeye ‘n fries, garlic herb butter
Barbecue back ribs, two kale slaw, shoestrings
Lemon ice-box pie
Double chocolate bread pudding, bourbon cream
Harvest spice cake, cinnamon apple glaze
FOR BEST RESULTS
The soups are excellent, especially the turtle soup and the crab and corn bisque. Order light, because portions are large and a lot of the food is on the heavy side.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The music–a mix dominated by 1970s pop with scatterings of doo-wop and Sinatra, is much too loud. If they’re going to fry their own potato chips, why don’t they do it to order? That crawfish concoction sent out with the fish is abysmal.
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
- Value +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Local Color -2
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations