Driving Around For Food

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris August 06, 2022 11:00 in Dining Diary

As our annual Coolinary gets rolling, I often wonder how many people actually take part in these annual “deals.” I put that in quotes because I feel that sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t deals. Still, we like to drop in on a few places each time.

The last round of deals was Restaurant Week, and even though we had an ambitious agenda, we really only did two: one lunch and one dinner. 

But the lunch turned out to be more of a “dine” around, and I use that term loosely. We started at The Commissary, a place I find interesting. I have been a fan but I am less so after this last visit. 

First, they changed the appearance of it. I actually liked the warehouse look of open space here, but it has been closed in by a dark partition. They also had a party going on which made it impossible to sit anywhere other than a bar. We sat at the back food bar looking into the kitchen, but not until a computer problem made us wait nearly thirty minutes to order.

The special Restaurant Week menu for lunch at the Commissary was a housemade kielbasa sausage with sauerkraut potato salad, and a house salad with vinaigrette dressing.

The house salad was pretty but completely ordinary Bibb lettuce with tomato, some pistachios, like something you might make at home with less impressive ingredients.

From the vantage point at the bar we could watch the preparations of everything. I got to observe the fresh cut fries being prepared in a way that a lot of people are doing now. There is a lot of time between cutting and frying and this affects the final product. We got some anyway. They were better than not fresh cut but they weren’t extraordinary as fresh cut should be.

Tom got a Cuban sandwich that he liked very well. They were assembled before and pressed as we watched. I also saw the kielbasa on the griddle. I didn’t like its look as soon as I saw it. But the potato and sauerkraut salad was the most intriguing. 

When the plate arrived I recognized the sausage as pretty authentic. It was dark and kind of forbidding like something you would buy on the street in Central Europe. That is not a slam, because these are “real”, which is why I didn’t care for it. I often say on the Food Show (airs weekdays 2-4pm 990AM) that I much prefer “fake” American food. European food is too “real.” My only experience with kielbasa was a product from the grocery store shelf that my mom used to buy. I loved that one but this one is for people who want to try the real thing. 

This Next Gen Brennan cousins are serious and know what they are doing. When they make a sausage it is premium. The Andouille made by Geordy Brower is the best I have ever had, and I am sure anyone from Poland would wholeheartedly approve this kielbasa. They make everything and sell it in the shop part of the space, next to the restaurant.

That potato/sauerkraut salad was really interesting. I love sauerkraut in any iteration, and I know this was homemade.

I’ve never seen them mixed like this, and I am sure that too is “authentic.” I don’t need to eat it again. There was a pronounced mustard taste which I also love, but again, this was too real for me. Someone who is looking for that should shop at the Commissary.

From there we headed to Belle Chasse for some barbecue at LA 23 BBQ for the barbecue roundup piece in an upcoming newsletter. It will be reviewed in detail there but suffice it to say it was as fine as it needs to be. They are located across from the Naval air station, where at lunch time hordes of hungry soldiers are released and looking for food. That’s not to say it isn’t good, but it definitely isn’t as good as some of the others in town.

We definitely weren't done with our search for food. I wanted to stay over and have a Restaurant Week in town but I knew we wouldn’t make it that long. We headed into Metairie and passed Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken newly opened on Veterans next to Atomic Burger.

Originally I thought this chain was from Los Angeles because it is so prevalent there, but it is actually out of Memphis. I was surprised to see it open in the home of Popeye’s. 

It was on this visit that I understood why they not only opened, but now have a second location here. The first place was a really cool building redo in the Warehouse District on Diamond St, a few buildings from Cochon adjacent. Gigantic glass garage doors enclose interiors that take advantage of the ”warehouse” aspect of its location.

That was so successful that they have recently redone a Mattress Store into the same look. This is a real restaurant as opposed to fast food restaurant seating. That makes up for the inferiority of this chicken to Al Copeland’s brand. 

Gus’s fried chicken is more along the lines of Willie Mae’s Scotch House. A batter that is a crunchy shell, too dark in color (spices, not old oil) and indeed very spicy. The chicken is good quality and the product is good, though “world famous” is a stretch. The plate comes with a slice of white bread, good coleslaw and very tasty baked beans. And it’s a deal for $12 or $14.

The vibe of this place is something from Tennessee, and I like it. It is table service, which is surprising because it looks for all the world like fast-casual.

One the way back across the lake we passed Drago’s in an attempt to miss the endless construction on Severn. Just seeing it and all the people there at 3:30 in the afternoon made us want some chargrilled oysters.

We swung into the parking lot and marveled at how full it was. Inside was also full on a mid-afternoon on Saturday! Most of these people were not snacking as we were but eating full meals like lobster dinners. Both dining rooms were practically full.

We ordered a dozen chargrilled from the raging flames, and got them pretty quickly. I have noticed heavy charring on all these oysters of late. I guess they are just doing so many of them it’s hard to monitor that. The charring does take a little away from their goodness, but there is a lot of goodness so they still rate up top among the legion of copycats, all of whom do a credible job.

Since we had long since stopped being hungry, and since I was a little embarrassed by this eating adventure, and since we had spent over $100, we decided to head home. Most important, we left for practical reasons. We were right by the bridge.