Extinct Restaurants

Sophia’s Rotisserie
Metairie: 1301 Veterans Blvd.
Carrollton: 8124 Nelson

The rotisserie is generally considered by chefs and serious eaters to be the last word in roasting chickens. Yet for a long time–until Zea made it into a major specialty–it was difficult to find a rotisserie restaurant anywhere in the New Orleans area. The Brennan’s tried at the Palace CafĂ© but couldn’t make a go of it at first. (They tried again with better luck in the 2000s.) Even the chains failed at rotisserie (anybody remember Kenny Rogers’ Roasters?)

None of that stopped Sophia’s from trying–or succeeding. Sophia (I’ve forgotten her last name, except for the fact that it was Greek) originally opened her shop in an abandoned Rally’s on Veterans Blvd–the space that Al Copeland later turned into Wrap and Roll, then Wholly Mackerel.

She became well-known not only for the chicken, but also gyros sandwiches and the like. Those were rare in those days, and I remember the excitement Sophia’s stirred up among my radio listeners in those days.

In 1992 Sophia moved her operation to a former residence in Carrollton. It was near the center of the known universe at S. Carrollton at S. Claiborne, sort of behind the supermarket that stood at the corner in those times.

Everything Sophia was doing in Metairie was even better in Carrollton. The rotisserie chicken was especially wonderful, with a beguiling (and somewhat Greek) flavor of lemon, herbs, and pepper. The only thing even remotely off-putting about it is that the skin wasn’t crisp. (That’s normal for rotisserie chicken, which bastes itself as it turns and stays moist.

As good as the chicken were the side orders, particularly some Greek-style roasted new potatoes. These are redolent with garlic and herbs, and were perfectly irresistible. The cole slaw, potato salad, beans, and other sides are decent. Most orders come with freshly-baked cheese biscuits, which make a pretty good meal on their own.

Besides the chicken, Sophia’s also smoked barbecue ribs. Barbecue was not much seen around New Orleans then, and the demand was great. So were the ribs.

I don’t know what happened to Sophia or her restaurant. I don’t know if it made it to Katrina time, but if it did, it probably went underwater like everything else around there.

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