Arguing With Success

Mary Ann Fitzmorris February 06, 2020 10:44 Dining Diary

I have spoken probably too much of the two worlds, and our local culinary dichotomy. There are mostly old school restaurants like the one we mentioned yesterday, quietly serving the same good food with good service as they have been doing for decades. They keep a loyal and appreciative clientele. 

These places are worlds apart from the newer hipper restaurants catering to a much younger crowd, who are usually unaware of the back history of what makes our city unique. They aren’t all that interested in it either, because they want to forge their own way and remake New Orleans in their image. 

These two groups of people rarely inhabit the same space. We’ve made no secret which camp we’re in, but because of what we do, it’s imperative for us to drop into the other world because it does exist and people ask us about it.

One of the most solvent places in the aforementioned other world is District Donuts, Sliders and Brew.  I first visited the original place years ago. It started on Magazine street adjacent to one of the originals of the other world, and definitely a budding institution. Stein’s Deli started the young transplant culinarily world by opening a Northeastern style deli, which had never done well in these parts. What Stein’s had going for it that all previous attempts didn’t have was a large crop of other young transplants, mostly from the northeast, who had come to rebuild our city. Stein’s represented a food culture that was familiar to them, and it has and will continue to thrive. 

District Donuts set up shop right next to this thriving food business, which provided immediate walk-in traffic. The brew was artisan coffees, which has experienced an explosion of its own success for all the same reasons. The donuts were fine for the large mass of sugary stuff that it is. The sliders, which I actually prefer to a large hamburger now, were cute and also fine for what they were. None of this is particularly exceptional, and would not warrant a return visit, from me, anyway.

But the successful proliferation of this place continues to make me wonder, so last week we found ourselves wanting breakfast after a Jesuit event early in the morning. The new place in Lakeview was open, so we dropped in. I can’t even decide how to classify it. There was the usual coffeehouse clientele sitting at their computers, a busy kitchen turning out, ...things.

Breakfast offerings were minimal, but Tom got a sticky bun with cinnamon “balls” under a thick glaze of sugar. Tom loves sugar, and this suited him quite well. He was mesmerized, as I was, by the cup for his cappuccino, which looked like a plastic cup that had been crushed but was actually ceramic. This was clever. And the cappuccino in it was beautiful by any standard.

I got a breakfast sandwich with a biscuit with a sunny egg and bacon. I got plain bacon instead of miso praline. Huh? And a kolache. Just because.

The biscuit was large and dropped. It was a little tough and didn’t have a lot of flavor. I am used to Tom and ML’s dropped buttermilk biscuits that were a house staple here for many years. They are light and fluffy. The egg was everything you want a sunny egg to be. Cooked perfectly, its bright yellow yolk was the epitome of the word sunny. The bacon was thick and flat with a nice smoky flavor. It had such a chew that when I wrestled a piece with my teeth and finally won, the piece I conquered broke and flew off into Tom’s cappuccino splashing it on his new suit.

Before we left I had to go back and ask for the kolache I had ordered. This Czech pastry brought to the United States by immigrants from Central Europe settling in Texas have made them plentiful there. In recent years they have gravitated here as a new fad. There was nothing wrong with this kolache except the sausage, which was tough and gnarly, with too much spice. It is really hard for me to reject a sausage, but I did.

None of this was bad. None of it I need again. The place seems uncomfortable, and except for an exquisite communal table of reclaimed wood, I am puzzled by it all. On the way out the door, I stopped at a coffee display on the edge of a counter. It was stacked with bags of the house brand,  Cool Kids. 

And that explains everything.

District Donuts. Sliders. Brew

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