No offense to all those rabbit-food lovers out there, but I could never be a vegetarian. To be perfectly honest, I don’t quite understand the appeal of that type of diet. Humans have eaten meat for a very long time. If we are indeed all natural herbivores, as a lot of vegetarians and vegans claim in a strange blind-to-scientific-facts kind of way (i.e. using data to suit their vegetarian agenda), wouldn’t we be naturally opposed to it? Wouldn’t the texture, taste and smell be utterly unpalatable? We’re omnivores people! Whatever. I won’t apologize for my mini-rant, in fact, I deleted several paragraphs after reading some of the crazed online vegetarian “literature” out there, but I will step down from the soap box…for now.
Me? I most definitely eat meat. I love meat. I love fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains as well, but meat does something primal to me, satiating my hunger in a way no plant could ever accomplish. I crave meat and I certainly had a yen for some serious animal flesh last week when my friend Casey, John and I lunched at Toups’ Meatery
We stepped inside the spanking new restaurant on the corner of N. Carrollton and Dumaine in Mid-City and immediately admired the clean, simple decor with an abundance of light wood and white walls. But, it was a gorgeous day, not scorching hot and the restaurant offered plenty of shady tables outside that we just couldn’t resist. It took us a while to finally place an order because everything on the menu looked so damned good. Unlike most first-timers to Toups’, we didn’t order the foie gras or Meatery Board (we hemmed and hawed about it plenty), but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be going back again soon. At long last, we opted to not order everything on the menu, but we did made a fairly good dent.
Our three appetizers arrived in good time, served up by the effervescent and witty co-owner Amanda Toups, whom I thought was super cool and reminded me, quite a lot, of my good friend Lorin Gaudin. But let’s get back to the meat of the matter (tee-hee). Sharing every dish that came out, we started by diving into a cup full of cracklins — Cajun seasoned bits of crispy, fatty pork heaven replete with chewy edges of meat still attached. A plate of fried boudin balls disappeared just as quickly, each of us lavishly smearing our bites in Creole mustard before gobbling while sighing appreciatively. We also inhaled a plate of meatballs that featured a fabulous, ginger-lemongrass BBQ sauce, melted shavings of Gruyere cheese and a few leaves of wilted arugula that sopped up the tastiness left on the plate after the meatballs vanished into our greedy bellies.
Our appetites whetted, we eagerly awaited our entrees and were not disappointed when they arrived. John got the Braised Spare Ribs that were blackened with a cafe brulot glaze and served on top of some delicious root vegetables. The beef was moist, flavorful, fell off the bone and was quickly and efficiently inhaled, leaving nothing but bones behind.
Casey chose the Slider Trio featuring a thick crab cake, chipotle pulled pork topped with pineapple chunks and lamb belly with fresh mint. We tasted all three and had differing opinions of what was our favorite, but we agreed that all three were wonderful without hesitation. The crab cake was loaded with crab (not soggy breadcrumbs) and the pork was incredibly tender and flavorful, but my choice was definitely the lamb belly…WOW!
My unavoidable dish of choice was the Double Cut Pork Chop that had a small drizzle of Steen’s Cane Syrup gastrique and was served atop a huge pile of dirty rice. Although the thick chop wasn’t as sweet as I expected, it was still utterly moist and delicious, not to mention that it rested upon a large pile of what was easily the best dirty rice I have ever eaten in my life, a fact we all heartily agreed upon. It was so freaking good that my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
As you well know, we couldn’t leave without dessert and ordered a slice of Doberge cake, lovingly baked by Debbie Does Doberge. Shortly after Casey instructed me on the correct pronunciation (it’s not “doe-bearj,” it’s “doe-bash!”), a huge slab of Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter and Bacon Doberge cake arrived. If you’ve never enjoyed this distinctly New Orleans dessert, know that it is a multi-layered cake (this one had eight) with alternating layers of pudding or custard, iced with butter cream frosting and covered with a fondant shell. Although we were all quite full, we still had no difficulty finishing the whole, scrumptious slice.
I can’t wait to go back!