Saturday, September 10, 2011
Dooky Chase (finally!)
So anyway, I finally put two and two together to figure out that Dooky Chase was about a 5 minute drive from my office, and that it was unacceptable that I've lived here for over a year without partaking of this legendary Creole/soul food establishment presided over by Ms. Leah Chase, chef, New Orleans ambassador, and national treasure.
Wearing crocs and chef pants. COME ON! She's MADE OF AWESOME. And, well, so is her food.
You open the door that says "Dining Room Entrance Only" and immediately see pictures of the POTUS Obama eating her food and posing with her.
You enter the richly appointed dining room filled with beautiful local art and see all the movers and shakers in suits eating Ms. Chase's gumbo and peach cobbler. I sat by myself in the corner and watched everything- tourists, older neighborhood folks obviously celebrating something, a birthday or anniversary, folks in suits and ties talking business and politics.
The guy behind me was on his cell phone bitching that he wanted to come here for lunch because he hadn't been for a while and he didn't want to see no one he knew. Which is, of course, practically impossible in New Orleans, so I don't know what he was thinking. But of course he ran into several people- a priest who gave him the business about not going to church and a young turk politician who was taken aback when this curmudgeonly fellow asked why people say that they are "doing good" when there is injustice, corruption, ignorance, and evil in the world. No wonder he didn't want to run into anyone he knew.
Well, all that local color aside, let's discuss the food. Which was sublime.
Lemonade- delicious and obviously homemade. Seafood-okra gumbo and french bread. Buffet with salad, pasta/olive salad, potato salad, sausage, rice and shrimp & lima bean stew, greens, oyster pasta, fried eggplant casserole, fried whole fish (still on the bone) and glorious, glorious fried chicken. Everything was delicious, fresh, made from scratch, and soul satisfying.
And peach cobbler for dessert.
Ms. Leah came out to do the rounds early on during my visit - I hadn't seen my waiter yet even. She came out and talked to a couple tables, posed for pictures with the celebrating party, and came over to me. "What are you doing here by yourself?" she asked. Fair question. Folks around here share their meals with the friends and family. My being alone ran counter to that philosophy. I told her that my office was nearby and there wasn't really anyone around to go out with, and seeing that it was a beautiful Friday afternoon... "You DESERVE this!" Ms. Chase said. "You deserve a little something special, to take care of yourself." I told her I couldn't wait to try her food and she said she'd make sure I was taken care of. Soon after, Randall came round to take care of me.
I ate my gumbo, and then went up and filled my plate and ate it all up. Although starting to feel a little full, I still wanted another piece of fried chicken and some potato salad. And... some sausage. Randall came by while I was eating that fried chicken and warned me not to fill up, I still had peach cobbler coming.
He brought me my cobbler and another lemonade, and I ate up that heavenly cobbler and washed it down with that cool delicious lemonade and felt like I could never be hungry or thirsty again in this lifetime.
To the gentleman I eavesdropped upon: there may not be much good in the world. But there is sure a lot of good right here at Dooky Chase.