Monday, October 3, 2011

Where You're Meant To Be

The day after is all about recovery.

After last night's partying, we had a full day to revive ourselves as best we could.

Not surprisingly, that meant starting with brunch. After yeterday's so-so lunch, I was in charge of food today and chose Elizabeth's in the Bywater for some down-home Southern breakfast.

I don't want to say I needed it but I started with  a large Coke and a refill  (I'm not a coffee drinker). 'Nuff said.

Elizabeth's is a Southern joint with vinyl tablecloths of varying designs (the Carmen Miranda fruits being my favorite), Boudin balls and pecan-crusted praline bacon.

By no choice of mine, we were up at a reasonable enough hour to beat most of the Bywater neighbors to Elizabeth's.

After inhaling my caffeine dosage, I ordered a waffle and a house-made breakfast sausage link fatter around than a fifty-cent piece.

The sausage was stellar, earthy, salty and heavenly with my sweet waffle. Already memories of the night before were fading as the place began to fill up, first with visitors followed by hipsters.

The tattoo ratio almost, but not quite, matched that of Richmond.

I got high points from the sisterhood about my brunch choice before they dragged me along for shopping, something I detest.

As we walked around back in the French Quarter, I realized that sleeping in this area is fine but not nearly as enjoyable as our foray into the Bywater had been.

You can only see so many tourists with hand grenades and genital cups before you want to scratch your eyes out.

So when it came time to plan another meal, I suggested the Warehouse District despite some trepidation on my sisters' part about "that" part of town.

My choice was the American Sector restaurant just outside the World War II Museum. Seated on a shaded patio in the late afternoon, we had a view of a bridge and lots of blue sky.

The place is Chef John Besh's tribute to World War II-era food with an updated and Southern twist. The diner-like menu even advertised the restaurant's air-conditioning, a retro but charming detail.

After drinks and Abita beer-battered onion rings (the batter so light and flavorful, two of us dubbed them the best onion rings of our entire lives), we went for the main course.

I had the beef tongue in mushroom gravy open face sandwich consisting of two enormous pieces of thick bread smothered in tongue and gravy and sprinkled with cubed carrots and green onions.

Filling, flavorful and just unusual enough to notice, the dish would have been a perfect belly-filler for  soldier home on leave.

The foot-long house made hot dog with caramelized onions and chili was obscenely fat and indescribably delicious.

My bacon cupcake married white cake with praline buttercream frosting and had a vanilla cream filling. And, yes, sugared bacon on top.

No one ate this well in WW II, I'm willing to bet.

When we left, I noticed the Victory Gardens placed between the restaurant and the museum, and full of herbs and greens growing for the restaurant.

It may be a concept restaurant, but it was incredibly well-executed. Vintage posters extolling the importance of "Eat Every Bite!" were superfluous.

From there we wandered down to the Bridge Lounge, almost under the bridge. The former punk bar almost immediately provided some colorful entertainment.

A bar sitter decided to reach behind the bar and pour himself some liquid out of a pitcher.

I'm not sure what he thought was in that pitcher or why he thought he had a right to help himself, but it was only after he swallowed it and asked that he learned it was liquid paraffin.


He immediately began to over-react (as the bartender told him, it wasn't going to kill him but he was definitely going to have an upset stomach) and shout at the bartender, even telling him to shut up at one point.

As if it was anyone's fault but his own.

By the time we'd taken our drinks out to the patio, we heard the bartender shouting, "GET OUT OF MY BAR!" at the guy.

The other patio sitters looked at us for the story and we filled them in. One, who used to bartend there, went in to be of assistance.

The offending party soon left and we now had new friends in the people at the next table who had shared the incident with us.

They were locals with great stories about the neighborhood and their upcoming wedding at the swamp house of the New Orleans Zoo,

The bride-to-be read a text and looked at us. "Okay, this is New Orleans," she said smiling and reading.

"What's up with Dan?"

"Oh, he overdosed."

"Oh, okay."

Heroin-addled acquaintances aside, they were a charming couple who recommended books about local architecture and legends and made recommendations of music venues when I asked them.

Based on the wisdom of strangers, we found ourselves in Faubourg-Marigny at the Spotted Cat for a band with a girl singer (music theater major) with upright bass, vibes, guitar and horns (this being NOLA and all) who did jazz standards and, inexplicably, "White Rabbit."

The women's bathroom had two highlights: the working piano (which I banged on badly) and the wall of graffiti. My favorite was "There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be."

I tell you, I couldn't make up better stuff.

When we finally left, we were adopted by a very sweet couple of visitors who were headed to Bourbon Street to celebrate one of the guys' birthday.

"I'm a cello player and gay in a small town in Louisiana," he explained holding his boyfriend's hand up in the air. "This place is like heaven to me!"

They were so in love and excited to there and the one had a Gene Kelly habit of swinging himself around every light post he came to.

We couldn't help but buy them drinks and send them on their way when we got to Bourbon Street before bidding them good night.

Recovering from the night before is easy, but recovering from time spent with a madly-in-love couple takes a bit longer.

According to the bathroom wall of the Spotted Cat, I needed to see such a happy couple.

Duly noted. Now what?

No comments:

Post a Comment