Husband’s note and mea culpa: This post is overdue…long overdue. The dinner in question took place more than a month and a half ago, and my (much) better half diligently scribed her thoughts right away. In the interim, He Said/She Said operations have been crippled (as far as she knows) by a strike. According to a source close to the situation (me) our I.T. staff read some crap about the Google employee benefits package and got a bunch of crazy notions about how we should be more ‘strategic’ in our ‘talent management.’
‘If you have a blog,’ they said, ‘you didn’t build that.’ Given that, as mentioned before, our entire I.T. staff consists of a pair of ne’er-do-well Boston Terriers, and that said terriers are in fact not a part of any federally protected class, I fired them both on the spot (I like being able to fire dogs who work for me). No severance, chew toys, or dog biscuits. The result being that I now have to do all the tedious formatting, coding, and other high-tech whatever all by myself.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Insert meat quote here. Over the past year or so I have significantly increased my meat intake. Until then I could have easily seen myself as a partial-vegetarian. I say partial because I really do love seafood. If beef, pork or chicken didn’t touch my lips another day in my life I don’t think they would have been missed.
Steve likes meat though. And we decided to buy a share in a cow. So these two things have significantly altered my overall meat intake over the past several months. Sure bacon is awesome. But it is one of those rare things to me that smells better than it tastes. (I have a feeling @HeSaidSheSaidNO is likely to see a significant reduction in twitter followers based on this statement). Duck confit is probably my favorite meat. Steak? forget about it. Until the other night that is when we cooked up some of our steer’s t-bones. Those were oddly beefy, like no other steak I can remember. And I really enjoyed them. I digress.
7:30 pm on a random Wednesday night I get a text: “Have you been to Toups Meatery?” It’s my dad. What the heck is he asking me about a new place in Mid-City for? It is well outside of the Kenner/Metairie border. I respond immediately, “no, but I hear it is very good.” After a 10 minute delay I receive the following: “beat you to it.” What? Dad? This can’t be happening. I’ll admit, I am a bit competitive and never before have I had my father contending as the more happening half of the father/daughter relationship.
The better half has been pushing to get to Toups for quite some time and it just hasn’t been high on my priority list because it is a.) meat-centric and b.) I generally view it as therefore higher in fat. However, after I received that alarmingly boastful text from my father I was left with no choice but to get my ass there and judge it for myself. After all, what does my dad know? Uggh!
Having never been to Mediterranean Cafe, the previous occupant of this building, I can’t compare the décor. What I can say is that it appears to have had a bit of a sprucing because the interior is light and airy with pale, muted yellow walls complimenting beautifully abundant natural wood trim. We were quickly greeted, sat and offered a beverage. At the same time the night’s specials were detailed.
We settled on a bottle of Cotes du Rhone for a very reasonable $30. And as I perused the menu I could immediately envision men lunching here. We settled on two appetizers: rillons (slow cooked cubes of pork belly cooked down until the point of being candied) and boudin. I suggested the boudin and upon being assured it was made in-house it seemed like the right thing to test the chef’s skills.
The rillons were unimpressive. I am not sure if this is because of the preparation or my preferences. After three tries for each of us it was conclusive that these are not our thing. They were very chewy, to the point of making my jaw hurt and I didn’t savor the candied part. The boudin however was among the best I have consumed. Delicious! They were deep-fried, which was a bit of a surprise, but the ground, moist and smoky inside was delectable. In fact, a few weeks later I am still thinking about it which is a sure sign of greatness.
For entrée I opted for the daily special: lettuce wrap with lime-marinated pork belly, red onion, cilantro and shiitake mushrooms. He Said was sold on the lamb neck with mint chow-chow and black-eyed pea ragout. My lettuce wraps were good but the tart of the lime was slightly off-balance and that kept them from elevating to great (for reference, I am a fan of all things lime and therefore have a high lime-threshold). The pork belly itself was delicious and the overall composition was as light as pork belly can be and very appropriate as a summer dish. He Said’s lamb neck definitely stole the show. The meat was so tender and flavorful as it fell off the neck bone. This portion was big and the price of $22 it is a great value. The mint chow-chow and black-eyed peas combined to result in a perfectly executed dish.
Toups is the closest thing to Cochon New Orleans has seen since it’s opening. We will be back to work our way through the rest of the menu just as soon as we can. But with all of the new restaurants opening (yes they are still opening much to my surprise) it may take some time before a repeat visit occurs.
Husband’s postscript: I had lunch at Toups yesterday, and enjoyed a terrific burger with a side order of guilt for not having posted the review above in a more timely manner. My conclusions: Toups is solid, and I’m better off if I do what my wife asks me to do.