On Sunday afternoon Mrs. Food Blogger and I made one of our semi-frequent excursions to the Gulf Coast. I had taken the time to pick out three Ocean Springs eateries that I have been wanting to try. Sadly when we arrived we found that all three close around 3:00 PM on Sundays. Mrs. Food Blogger suggested McElroy's on the Bayou.
I grew up eating at McElroy's in Biloxi, and had not tried the post Katrina McElroy's on the Bayou. After I was forced to accept the fact that we were not going to be eating Mediterranean/Middle Eastern because all three places that serve that cusine in town were closed, I sort of began to want a good po-boy.
Upon entering we were greeted by a very nice receptionist who handed us off to a seating hostess who took us to the table and introduced our server. We were given menus immediately and our drink orders were taken. After a few minutes she returned to ask if we were interested in an appetizer.
We ordered fried crab claws. They were out and served in a reasonable amount of time. They crab claws were lightly breaded and seasoned. They could have used a little more seasoning, but they were not overly salty like you find at some places. They were served with tarter sauce and cocktail sauce. We thought that they would have been complimented well by a nice remoulade sauce.
By this time we had both decided on po-boys. The wife ordered her standard the fried shrimp po-boy, while I fought back an initial urge to order the soft shell crab and ordered a half/half on shrimp and oyster (pictured).
The po-boys were served with fries, they were not hand cut, they were standard processed fries. The positive was that they seem to fry all their seafood and fries in very hot oil and the food has very good texture.
As I deconstructed my po-boy I found ample amounts of seafood on both halves. The shirmp could have been fried a couple minutes more and could have used a bit more seasoning in the breading. They were good, a bit above average but not great. The oysters were well above average, good flavor (fresh), good texture and a good amount.
The food overall was respectable, but not outstanding. The atmosphere was a bit unusual, nothing like the McElroy's in Biloxi that I grew up with, but the people were to notch. Kind of felt oddly Shoney's-ish. Kind of just cookie cutter in the tables, chairs, drab wall art. The view out the back deck over Bayou Fort is beautiful, but they didn't have table service set up outside.
The service we received was top notch. Everyone we talked with was a cut well above average from the receptionist, to the servers to the chef, they made it into a very nice dining experience.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
This afternoon I found myself meeting a prospective business partner in Oak Grove for lunch. He suggested a recently opened eatery near his office - Cafe Ma'me. I was pretty excited about the prospects of trying out this newly opened boutique cafe. I had heard good things about it from our friends at myHattiesburg.com, so I was looking forward to trying it myself.
From what I can tell this is an extension of D. Morgan Catering, with a modest dinning area sharing the kitchen with the catering company. The setting is cozy, about half a dozen mismatched tables in an intimate setting.
Cafe Ma'me bills itself as "true French with Creole and Cajun influences".
I enjoy Cajun/Creole cuisine, Mrs. Food Blogger's family traces roots from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to New Orleans (Old Metry as they call it) and back to France. So, she quite frankly spoils me with some of the best Cajun/Creole you can find anywhere.
Cafe Me'me is open Monday-Friday from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM, and serve a limited menu. Today the lunch special was a "Creole smothered steak with mashed potatoes and English peas".
The Lunch special was served with a small pone of cornbread. The cornbread was pretty good, it was sweetened and that's just a pet peeve of mine, I don't like sweet cornbread. I grew up eating a more coarse ground savory cornbread and that's just the way I prefer it. If you like sweet cornbread, you'll probably really like this as it was served piping hot with fresh spread.
The smother steak and mashed potatoes were well above average. I'll go so far as to say one of the better "home style" lunch plates I've had in some time. The steak was not a chopped or cubed steak. It had the texture of a thickly sliced roast beef cutlet that was "cut with a fork" tender. It was smothered in a creole flavored brown gravy that was quite nice. Now when I say it was a Creole gravy don't think spicy. Authentic Creole cooking is not about the heat it's about flavor. And the flavor always starts with onions, bell pepper and celery, and they blended together in this brown gravy to near perfection.
The mashed potatoes were home made, not out of a box. They were creamy with that unmistakable texture of real mashed potatoes. The Creole gravy on these home made mashed potatoes was just excellent The English peas were good but not to my taste, these peas were sweeter, they had to have added maybe some creme fresh or maybe butter and sugar. They were not bad, but this is another item that I tend to prefer savory over sweet.
To finish the meal the offered s complimentary bread pudding desert. Again you can tell that this was home made and not out of a box. I was pleased to taste hints of not only the traditional cinnamon, but also nutmeg. A light fresh creme sauce was served over the bread pudding, could have used a bit more of the sauce but in all a very nice desert.
The red beans and rice looked and smelled wonderful, but I didn't get to try them, I'll check that out the next time I am out that way.
Weekly Specials - 9/21 - 9-25, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
A Hattiesburg institution for more than 40 years - The Gold Post Sandwich House. This is my father's favorite, always has been, for as long as I can remember anyway. My first po-boy came from the Gold Post, and it was a shrimp po-boy, because that's my dad's favorite po-boy. Looking back I may have been 12 or 14 years old before I knew that you could get anything besides shrimp between a split baguette.
I visited the Gold Post for the first time in years this week. I can say this, there's something for consistency, because it was just exactly like I remembered it, I'm not sure that it's changed one bit since the early 80's when I would go there with my dad.
Stepping to the counter the menu was a lot more extensive than I remembered. I was sort of bummed out that I didn't go on one of the days (M-W-F) where they have their house made gumbo. On, Tuesdays and Thursdays they have a house made veggie soup which I hear is also good. I had my heart set on gumbo.
I ordered a shrimp po-boy and order of onion rings and a diet coke. That's what my dad would have ordered had he been there with me. I didn't remember it being quite this expensive, the lunch setting me back almost $11.
After a short wait my number was called and I stepped to the counter and back in time 20 years. There it was, one of my dad's favorites. The classic Gold Post shrimp po-boy.
I found a table, and deconstructed my po-boy. The Gold Post may have the best bread of any sandwich joint in town, so it's good, real good. The shrimp were like I remembered but different than most shrimp po-boys. The shirmp were not individually breaded and fried, there were kind of clusters of 2-4 shirmp that were breaded and fried together into little mini-ship patties? It's really quite unique. They also fry them darker than the golden brown you would probably expect.
The same onion rings from my youth, I didn't really like them all that much then and I still don't. These aren't house made rings, they're mass produced and are not ringlets of sliced onions. They were pretty much processed onions formed into rings coated in batter and fried. Fried is always good....right? Well, not so much with these rings.
The dressed po-boy was good, not as good as in my memory, but good. The remoulade sauce that they serve on their seafood po-boys is good, flavorful, but not what I consider spicy...so I added some Tabasco sauce.
While I sat in the Naugahyde booth with the wood grain Formica table top and ate my sandwich, I noticed something. The people I watched people walk in and out who have been coming to this Hardy Street Icon for not years but decades.
My mind kept wondering back to those first po-boys with my dad. I became a dad for the first time not that long ago. I hope that in a few years my own son can look back with some memories like the ones that I relived over a decently good, somewhat over priced, shrimp po-boy in a little sandwich shop that I really hadn't even thought about in years.
Maybe it wasn't really a po-boy, maybe it was a time machine.