It’s been a while since we first dropped in on Lula, a handsome and cavernous space on St. Charles, in the former Halpern’s Furniture store. We first saw Lula in 2016, after they had set up shop about a year earlier. It seemed an odd place to be on St. Charles, and we were curious, so we went in. I think one of us got a burger and one a salad, and the food was just fine but unremarkable. We didn’t go back until today, and this time we were serious.
Lula is the collaboration of two guys who met by chance in New Zealand, who then decided to open a distillery with no knowledge of it at all. They studied for years and apprenticed, learning the craft, and opened Lula to make Vodka, Rum, and Gin, using only Louisiana’s raw materials.
They even campaigned in the state legislature for a law that would allow them and anyone else to serve food on the premises where spirits are crafted. That kind of determination explains why they are still here, drawing a crowd of customers for a Tuesday lunch, and filling their private rooms in this very large space.
This time we got a little carried away with the very interesting menu. I had to resist the urge to try one of their shrimp boils, which are flavored with lemongrass and ginger, or garlic butter, or hot garlic. We ordered some fries that the waitress assured us were fresh cut. And a tomato stack of fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp remoulade that had a sauce which included bacon, jalapeno, corn, and pickled okra. This was spectacularly good. The crawfish mac ‘n’ cheese was $16, so it was a large portion. An entree. Since I just wanted to taste it, we asked that the crawfish be left out. ML is not a seafood eater. It was made with our new favorite, cavatappi pasta, and came in a skillet with a brown crust on top, and some pulverized green stuff that looked like broccoli. This was dense and creamy, with cheeses of aged cheddar and parmesan. It was quite good but not the best we have had. Still very recommended. As an entree, this came with a side salad. Always looking to eat my cruciferous vegetables, I got a coleslaw which was enormous, and topped with walnuts, which was perfectly fine but not special. I ran out of interest in eating this before I ran out of it. The fried chicken salad looked beautiful but tasted less so. There was a lot of fried chicken on it, but the dressing had a hint maybe of the distillery spirits? An odd flavor and not a good one. And the fries. To us, there is no point in eating french fries unless they are hand-cut. Housemade. I continue to explain because we have this discussion with waiters constantly, only to be surprised and disappointed at what appears to be a very deceptive frozen fry arriving at the table. Such was the case today, so I asked if there were potatoes being peeled and cut, because I would have bet money not. The waitress assured us again she had seen this with her own eyes. So now I can only conclude that I don’t know what the hell I am talking about.
This is not brilliant food, but it is not bad. A cool place worth another visit for dinner or brunch. We will return. And we should return with someone inclined to get spirits. They sound good.
1532 St Charles Ave New Orleans
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