I re-awakened at four in the morning, to the raucous noise from outdoors. It was the sound of heavy rain on our tin roof. After another hour, it was clear that a major wind was at work on our house. Fortunately, we have a good, strong roof. Based on the intensity of the storm, I was surprised how long it took the power to go out. The Marys have long laughed at my habit of watching tropical storms. "Why don't you go to Mattina Bella?" MA asked, I thought that was a good idea, except for the power outage. With all the downed trees on the roads, it would be hard to get around I wondered how a storm of this power got past me.
I arrived at Mattina Bella at around 9 a.m. A hand-written sign on the door said, "Closed. Power Out." Of course, the power was out. Driving around Covington revealed no open businesses. Then, after having to be re-routed by the Sheriff's men, I made it over to the Fat Spoon Café. It was open, across the street from the Popeyes on Causeway Blvd. But there was a 45-minute wait for a table. And it was still raining a little. I decided to stay anyway and talk with the other people who were waiting along with me.
But there was even better news. The lights inside the restaurant were on. At first, we heard that it involved a generator, but we soon learned that power had blinked on elsewhere around Covington. I waited about 50 minutes before I sat down at the bar. The cheerful waiters and the same menu meant business as usual here, including complicated dishes like Eggs Sardou--a dish originally created at Antoine's in the 1890s.
When the Marys returned from some errands later, they reported lines on the highway three blocks long for Cane’s, so clearly we were among the lucky ones. It kept raining throughout the day. When it was time for dinner, MA and I had very few options. Not many of the restaurants in town were open. Many gas stations, grocery stores, and other resources were off duty. We started at Seiler Bar in downtown Covington, but sporadic eruptions of revelry connected to the LSU game discouraged MA on my behalf. After driving around for something like an hour, we wound up a block away.
Our final choice was a happy one. Ox Lot 9--our regular Sunday brunch locale, was open. Unfortunately, it was booked except for the bar, which was also near capacity. Here is where we encountered something I used to call a dumb hostess issue, though in this case it was a nice young man. Front door greeters are given a set of rules that they interpret as set in stone. Like spacing for servers, and such. In this case, the dining room was empty save three tables, and the host told us these reservations would all be coming within the hour. We were there for a snack, so MA inquired about a quick turnaround of one of these tables. This was very politely denied. MA, who is astounded at such decisions to turn down available revenue, went to the hotel for a minute. We were about to depart when the chef let us know we would be seated.
Perfect! We settled in, and chose an abbreviation of dishes, because MA wanted us to be out in an hour before the reservation for the table arrived. I had the wonderful ceviche here served with fried plantains, but the highlight on my table was what looked like about three dozen mussels, cooked in wine and herbs. Very good, and as affordable as mussels have a way of being. Mary Ann got an unusual version of shrimp and grits, where the requisite crustacean was the famous Royal Reds. She liked it well enough but wished she had stuck with her original idea of chicken and dumplings, also rarely seen on menus. Next time.
Fat Spoon Cafe 2807 Hwy 190 Covington 985-893-5111 7-2 seven days fatsooncafe.com
Ox Lot 9. Covington: 428 E Boston St. 985-400-5663. Tu Sat 5-10 Sunday Brunch 10-2