Which is why we made our way with a certain excitement to Tallulah’s, a wee cafe inside the Lava Supermarket on Broad Street in Mid City, New Orleans.
We’d been hearing good things about the pop up gone brick and mortar and wanted to see if all the fuss was worthy of a visit.
It pains us greatly to report that the kitchen was having a bad day.
The Thai chicken coconut soup is in serious need of some love. This is one of our favorite dishes and we are hopeful for the full range of Thai flavors to be on display, but sadly this is one lackluster bowl. We find ourselves daydreaming about the stash of Red Boat Fish Sauce we keep in our cupboard at home and are pining for a liberal dousing to breathe life into the dish.
A good benchmark for a cafe is the humble hamburger. It’s one of the easiest dishes to make, and make well and we’ve always wondered why more joints aren’t on the mark when it comes to putting out a delicious one.
Tallulah’s swings and misses.
The counterman/cook asks how I’d like my burger temped (always a good sign) and I give my stock response: medium rare. After rambling around the quick mart for a few minutes, I take a peek into the open kitchen and see my cook with a griddle weight putting his shoulder into my burger.
Fuck! I want to yell “don’t do it man, for the love of God don’t do that” but I keep my mouth shut and sure enough when the burger makes its way to table it is d.o.a. The hand-shaped patty has been wrenched off a well-tended cow but it’s been cooked within an inch of its life. Medium rare has been replaced with well done and this is one seriously dry hamburger.
The shining star of the meal is an order of hand-cut french fries that have been properly double-dipped and delivered piping hot with a side of decent Ranch dressing that we enliven with a healthy shot of Crystal hot sauce. In a city filled with freezer bag french fries Tallulah’s is to be commended for putting out labor intensive, handmade ones.
Service is amiable, the counterman/cook/waiter is certainly friendly enough and the food comes out promptly but unfortunately the multi-tasking must have taken a heavy toll on the young man as the cooking part of his role at the restaurant was of a decidedly low grade.
We’ll give Tallulah’s a few months to sort out the menu, figure out what works and what doesn’t, then pay a return visit and see if the ship has been righted.