Hurricane Isaac has come and gone. To our north, south, east and west, there is devastation. The good news is that, for the most part, New Orleans has been spared. Hundreds of thousands have been without power since Monday and it will take weeks to get everyone back on the grid. Ditto for wifi, cable and landlines. But, if you want to know more about devastation, watch the news, because I’d rather talk about my beloved city.
Isaac is my first NOLA hurricane. After the major community events of shopping for supplies and preparing the streets and houses for the oncoming winds and rain, the storm itself was a fairly isolating experience. We couldn’t leave the house for a couple of days, so when we finally took to the streets, it was wonderful seeing people. Swapping stories, we caught up with neighbors and even met a new neighbor.
Trees are down and debris is everywhere but the city is holding up well. In fact, by the time we made our way to the French Quarter (the best place to find electricity and food), the parking spots were all taken. As always, there’s a party starting. Southern Decadence is underway with scantily clad dancing and drinking men arriving daily. We were concerned only with finding a working TV to watch the Saints game. It was easy to spot the tourists, all boozy and optimistic, in the crowd of locals wearing house-dresses and galoshes.
Today, the French Quarter stands as an oasis of services in a region still fleeing flood waters. We went searching for a meal as tasty as the one we started the storm with during our private dining experience at Mia’s Balcony. We found it in the newly opened SoBou, owned by the same culinary geniuses behind Commander’s Palace. SoBou means “South of Bourbon,” as the restaurant stands on Chartres Street in the W Hotel.
Due to the storm, we were told the menu was limited but I was happy from the second I was offered a cold glass of water from a pitcher filled with fruit and ice while listening to local music from favorites like Trombone Shorty. The dining rooms are decorated with hundreds of glass bottles and a few of the tables feature beer taps. A gauge measures your pours for you and prices them accordingly.
I tried the tasty Pork Cracklins ($1) and the spicy 3 Melon Gazpacho with shrimp ($8). The Cochon de Lait Gumbo with potato salad ($8) was also delicious but the big treat was the little SoBou Burger – 1/4 lb griddled patty, bruléed onions, pepper jack cheese, pickled okra mayo, and cayenne ketchup served on a brioche bun ($6). What a wonderful way to fill my belly.