It was Sunday and that means brunch, but we decided to resist the urge to do the usual Oxlot 9 brunch and head across the lake on this beautiful day. We initially set out to go to the Court of Two Sisters to sit outside before switching to the newly-opened Arnaud’s, and then decided to go Uptown after all. Tom suggested Jack Rose, a surprise considering his disdain of what has become of his beloved Pontchartrain.
This was an easy sell because I love the food at Jack Rose as much as I hate the decor. The space at Jack Rose might be the single most arrestingly distasteful space I can think of where serious money has been spent to create a mess. The Mason Hereford restaurants are mere wannabees here. The difference is that Mason’s mom shopped local garage sales for the junk in his places, and Jack Rose is decorated by hotshot New York designers who shopped flea markets from New York to New Orleans for theirs.
My revulsion at the space is a testament to how great I think Chef Brian Landry’s food is. And it is. Calling for a reservation on the way somewhere is always a bad idea, but we rarely take our own advice. I am a free spirit who blows with the wind, and Tom is stuck because I am driving. I was surprised to learn that they could take us, but only upstairs in the Tin Roof Lounge. Fantastic! Outside on this beautiful day.
We were offered a space on the back deck, which has two tables and is a great place to go if you shouldn't be seen with your companion, or if you don’t want to be disturbed. In our case it was out because Tom does not sit in the sun. Period. We asked for another table and were seated at a two top inside. The chairs were those rattan throne-type chairs that were really popular in the Seventies. Our table was next to a cool metal Forties-type office chest with all the papers still intact. The remainder of the space was filled with pictures of who- knows-who from who-knows-when and typewriters, etc. On the bar was a lamp like the one from A Christmas Story, the one with the leg and a fringe shade. The music overhead reminded me of an old LP record player where the needle isn’t in a groove but is scratching the whole record. Dreadful.
A look around the room explains why all of this is so distasteful to me. We are at least twice the age of everyone else in there. The nearest competitors for this dubious distinction is a fortyish couple having champagne at the window. They could be the parents of the other patrons here, so that makes us....
For people not with Tom, the small balconies are very pleasant and offer nice views of the city. I imagine this is even better at night.
The Tin Roof is a bar, and is now doing brunch because it has to survive in COVID world. There are no barstools, and all tables are spread out, but drinking is still the idea.
A lot of booze was leaving that bar, but there was a lot of food coming in too. There is a charcuterie board on the menu for $20 and at a glance it looks like the best deal for that in town. It’s not as highbrow as the others (I could swear I saw a nice slab of cheddar go by), but a girl at the next table ordered one for her entree, and that seemed like a good idea. A lot of variety, cornichons, nuts, etc. Very nice.
The first thing on the appetizer list is ciabatta. This is served with whipped butter and sea salt as well as olive oil for $3. It comes beautifully presented with a few dried flower petals in the schmear. Sea salt with butter is something we’re seeing a bit lately, and it really makes butter gourmet. The ciabatta was good bread but I would have preferred it toasted or grilled. That would have made this little presentation great.
There were several interesting things on the appetizer menu, but I settled on the shrimp and artichoke fregola, or fregula. By sight this resembles Israeli cous cous, but it is actually a Sardinian pasta made from Semolina flour. The lemon basil oil that was the base of this dish was divine. Perky and light, this generously coated the fregola, with large quarters of artichoke hearts cracked olives, and grilled shrimp throughout. Fresh dill and other fresh herbs dotted the plate. I can’t wait to eat this again.
There was a corned beef hash on the menu, which means I am required to get this. But there was also a burger, creating quite the dilemma for me. Ever in search of the new king of burgers, I went with the burger. Tom got flank steak and eggs with Wagyu beef and salsa verde. The eggs were fried and accompanied by crispy red potatoes. (These potatoes turned up everywhere, as cracked potatoes on the vegetables menu, as the basis for the corned beef hash, and as an accompaniment to a lot of dishes.)
He liked this steak dish rather well but complained about the chewiness of the rare beef. This seems a chronic problem with this dish anywhere. It’s too rare to be anything but chewy, it seems.
My burger was served with cheese curds and a hickory sauce that I asked for on the side, but it would have been better on the burger. It was intensely flavorful, with some notes of tomato and a real kick to it. Much thicker, too, than a regular hickory sauce. The burger was so perfectly formed I get suspicious, but it had a good flavor as well. Not one for the books, but it worked. My overriding thought about it was onions. A burger should never make you think first about the dressings, right? This burger was served with surprisingly ordinary fries.
I wished I had gotten what I’ve had here before which is one of the best of its kind around town. The duck and andouille gumbo is great here, as are all their soups.
There is a dessert of the day here that we should have gotten: a shortcake with red wine ice cream, but I was already too full to think about it. I couldn't even order the Mile High Pie. Tom went with bread pudding with banana curry ice cream.
This was as delicious as it was complex, and downright gorgeous. There was the regular slab of bread pudding, which Tom, the bread pudding connoisseur, declared excellent. It was flanked by the signature Besh brittle, of which I am a huge fan. But this very crunchy brittle was made with dried bananas. Fantastic! The curried ice cream was equally fantastic, with hints of banana and less of curry. It has the familiar color of curry, with a butterfat richness and creamy texture. On top were little rolled tubes of white chocolate colored to contrast to the rest of all this. Really great.
Several times throughout this cacophony of exuberant millennials, and a progression of interesting food, Tom commented on how enjoyable it all was. Agreed. All of the interesting and challenging parts of this meal made for a special experience. One that we look forward to repeating.
Getting into the car I glance over at the building across the street which is a parking garage. We had our wedding reception over 30 years ago at the home of Tom’s great friends Kit and Billy Wohl, who live atop the garage. Exhibiting terrible manners, we knocked on the door.
They let us in and we had a lovely visit with them as they watched the Saints game and snacked on croissants. It was the first time back since that day, and it was nice to visit the scene of the very beginning of our story.
Note: Brian Landry was the chef at Borgne before opening Jack Rose wth another Besh alum, Emery Whalen. The manager is Tim Zissis (from the Greek family who owned Zissis restaurant.)