Friday, September 17, 2010. Café Lynn Still Feels New.

Written by Tom Fitzmorris September 24, 2010 17:01 in

Dining Diary

Friday, September 17.
Café Lynn Still Feels New.
Jude has decided to take a leave of absence from school. He talked with his academic counselor about his situation, and he gave his blessing to the plan, saying things like that came up all the time. Mary Ann doesn't think he'll ever go back, which suits her just fine. Jude has so many film projects that he can't possibly give them the time they require and attend classes at the same time.

Every time we congratulate Jude for achieving a goal, before we know it he's nearing another one that takes us (and him, I'll bet) by surprise. He was very lucky to get into USC's media program. And now, two years later, he has a burgeoning career in his intended field of movie production, with only three semesters of school done.

He has a specialty. He rescues film productions that have only a small percentage of the work done, but spent most of the budget. Jude and his working partner Steve retool the project, bring in a new cadre of contractors, and get the film finished. Jude cuts the deals and arranges the logistics; Steve handles the math and writes the checks. They're both on the set filling in the gaps. They work out of an office at the Paramount Pictures lot. Amazing!

Back here in the comparative dullness of home, the radio station has a great new system that tells me when I have commercial production work to do. If there is none, I can do the show from home if I like. Today was one of those days: free and clear. The time I saved filled up, of course, with the mammoth project of moving five thousand reviews, recipes, and other articles from the old side of the website into the spiffy new side.

So, it was twelve consecutive hours at my desk, while the sun shone brightly outside. As the sun went down, I broke away for a dinner to reward me for working hard.

Café Lynn has not changed much since the last time I was there. Chef Joey Najolia opened the restaurant after a long stint as chef de cuisine at La Provence under Chef Chris Kerageorgiou, and after Katrina. His style is half New Orleans, half southern French. And very good. As was true from the outset, the dining room was filled with people who looked as if they were enjoying a secret pleasure. After four years, the place still feels like an exciting new restaurant, even though the menu is almost exactly like the one I saw here a year ago or more.

The repast kicked off with a very generous Manhattan. The waitress said that the redfish courtbouillon soup was worthy of being ordered, and she was right. Nice big chunks of seafood, excellent broth. The Greek salad sounded good, and they agreed to serve one smaller than the standard entree size. If what they brought me was a small one, then the big one must be for truly starving vegetarians.


A plate of sea scallops, arranged as if in a smile, arrived at entree time. It had a persillade sauce, a pretty, fresh green in both color and flavor. (A little garlic and some other things were in there, too.) It reminded me of the old oysters bourguignonne they used to make at Antoine's. The scallops were big and firm and tasty. A couple of them were a little gritty. Scallops live in fine sand, and they need to be washed a little better than these were. But I've had worse for much higher prices.

Even though the Najolias have built a little patio outside, the building that houses Café Lynn still looks a little too much like the former Burger King that it is. They need to spend a few dollars on a new dining room lighting system. Currently they just turn on a few of the old fluorescent fixtures. In a place with food and service this good it seems shabby. What they really ought to do is follow in the footsteps of Bosco's and move to a more comfortable space. One of these days, they will. Competition will force it upon them.

I know that's true because I just got an assignment from the North Shore edition of CityBusiness to compile a restaurant list. I checked my database to see what I'd be working with, and was stunned to find that 217 real restaurants (no fast food or delivery places, to name two excluded categories) are open in St. Tammany Parish. And more are coming every month. Nice ones, too.

**** Cafe Lynn. Mandeville: 3051 East Causeway Approach. 985-624-9007.