Last year, Mattel, Inc. had a huge promotional campaign to “Save the Bunny.” Not only was Mattel furthering its own agenda by increasing toy sales, but they used childhood obesity as an excuse for parents to forgo the tradition of chocolate Easter bunnies. Because folks like to “jump on the bandwagon” as it were, I’m willing to bet there were thousands of children who went to bed looking forward to a basket filled with jelly beans, Cadbury Creme-Filled Eggs, Peeps and, yes, chocolate bunnies only to wake Easter morning to discover a basket filled with plastic toys and stickers. Depressing.
In an effort to preserve the age-old tradition and to laugh in the face of Mattel’s marketing executives, I propose that this year we push a complete reversal. This year we eat the damn bunny … and not just the chocolate ones.
Over on the corner of Laurel and Webster, Restaurant Patois has a very interesting take on the beloved bunny. Acclaimed Chef Aaron Burgau offers a mouth-watering French “lapin,” a Mississippi Rabbit Terrine. Similar to pâté, terrines are lean meats emulsified with fat, but terrines differ only in that the ingredients are more roughly chopped as opposed to finely ground. Patois serves their delectable Mississippi Rabbit Terrine with an Alabama peach compote, a sprinkling of pistachios and a crunchy, toasted baguette. The restaurant doesn’t stop there when it comes to rabbit, they also have Mississippi Rabbit stuffed with boudin, wrapped in crispy chicken skin and served with roasted fingerling potatoes, but that dish is way out of our price range…perhaps you can bring a friend and split it?
Another great place to devour our cute, tender friend can be found at the Uptown neighborhood restaurant Brigtsen’s. For almost 30 years, Chef Frank Brigtsen has been serving up classic Creole cuisine out of his house-turned-restaurant in the Riverbend. Located near the corner of Dante Street and Leake Avenue, Brigtsen’s offers all manner of delicious fare from Cochon du Lait with cornbread dressing and cracklin’s to their famous, eponymous Seafood Platter with grilled drum, baked oysters (two ways) shrimp cole slaw and fat sea scallops. But we’re talking rabbit, and Chef Brigtsen doesn’t stint with his delightful Rabbit Tenderloin served with an andouille Parmesan grit cake, spinach and a Creole mustard sauce.
For some Cajun fare, head on down to the French Quarter to Coop’s Place. This Decatur Street drinking hole/restaurant has been a local favorite for years, catering to folks with little cash, but big love for everything New Orleans cuisine has to offer. At Coop’s you’ll find Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, Blackened Redfish, Shrimp Creole and some of the best jambalaya you’ve ever tasted. This mecca for bar food serves a Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya, a tomato-based version, with onions, bell peppers, Creole seasonings, boneless rabbit and smoked pork sausage. You can have a cup for under $6, a bowl for under $8 or their “supreme” jambalaya that has been kicked up with tasso, shrimp and crawfish for under $12.
The options for our humble hare can really be found everywhere, but there are certain spots, like Lüke in the Central Business District, where you’d hope to find something a bit different from the norm. Frankly, I’d be surprised if Besh’s Franco-German brasserie didn’t serve some kind of rabbit dish. Lo and behold, on their Express Menu, Lüke offers a Saturday lunch special of “Fricassée de Lapin” a.k.a. Slow-cooked rabbit with grilled peppers, fresh peas and tagliatelle pasta. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “fricassee” is simply a method of cooking where the meat is cut up, sauteed, braised and served in its own sauce. You also get a cup of soup (flavor of the day) with your fricasseed rabbit all for $15.
Although elusive, I cannot end my rabbit rec’s without mentioning Crabby Jacks. This wondrous sandwich does not make a regular appearance on the Jefferson Highway eatery’s menu, but if you’re lucky, you’ll walk in one of these days and find a Paneed Rabbit Po Boy served dressed with the addition of a house-made Creole mustard sauce on fresh French bread sourced directly from Gendusa’s Bakery in Gentilly. This traditionally fabulous po boy will only set you back around ten bucks, so I highly advise an order of their hand-dipped onion rings on the side.
After indulging in this delicious game, be sure to pick up a chocolate bunny on the way home from local sweet shops like Bittersweet Confections, Sucre or Blue Frog Chocolates. After all, there simply no reason for your kids to miss out on a delicious Easter again this year.
*Article originally published in the April 2014 issue of Where Y’at Magazine