We ran by the brand new St Roch Market last weekend to survey the lay of the land, look into eating from the host of New Orleans chefs, cooks and con men who hoodwinked the brain trust running the market into letting them set up shop, and see if we needed to be worried about getting our asses shot off in the neighborhood that a few years ago was referred to as “the killing fields”
The 5th District is regularly getting its shit rocked by local thugs who prey on residents, visitors and passersby who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was just one year ago that nearby St Roch Tavern was robbed by two young gentleman who walked in with pistols and relieved the bar of its days proceeds as well as absconding with the belongings of three patrons.
But we’re a rough and tumble crew who regularly take our lives in our hands in the 9th Ward so it was just another day at the office for these young bucks.
Rolling up on the new market we were chuffed to see a marching band out front as well as a host of cheerleaders doing jumping jacks.
Our kind of scene.
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a brief pronouncement and we were off to the races. Over the course of the next two hours we ate at a handful of food stalls scattered across the facility. Here’s our take:
First the bad news: Elysian Seafood (run by Brandon Blackwell formerly of Upperline and Jennifer Sherrod x-Martinique Bistro) was one of the vendors we were most excited by but their food was the only disappointment in the room. Roasted Louisiana Gulf Shrimp sounded divine but the three small shrimp provided zero value for the just-under-ten-dollar tariff.These shrimps had been cooked, cooked, then cooked some more and had turned into a mealy mess by the time they hit our gullets. We have full faith in this restaurant and will give them another chance in the future. Let’s hope they have replaced the mini-shrimps with some big, plump 10-15 counts and get them out of the oven in a more timely manner on next visit.
Next up, PDR NOLA. The couple running this booth put the best plate of food we had all morning long in front of us. Billed as Curry Braised Chicken Wings, their bird was on point, perfectly cooked and served in a yeoman portion. Not pretty in the least but man did it eat good. We can’t wait to eat from the kitchen of Rita Bernhardt and William Barial again soon.
The best build-out in the entire market is the raw bar that houses Curious Oyster Company (Melissa Martin and Effie Michot).As soon as we sat down one of the ladies brought out a warm basket of Bellegarde bread with Steen cane syrup butter and two tall, cold glasses of water. Hospitality deluxe. We immediately vectored in on the marinated crab claws and raw oysters (Gulf-only please) and sat back as the oyster man provided steady patter about his life in the New Orleans restaurant scene. Cool cat, nice ladies; their food was bone-jarringly simple and delicious.
We grew up eating crepes and were chuffed at the prospect of sitting down at the table of Artis and Leslie Turner at the Dirty Dishes crepe stall.The couple had planned to make waffles at St Roch but waffle irons are forbidden at the market so the couple had to do an about face and come up with a new angle. We ordered the Dirty Cheesecake crepe and a few minutes later were on the business end of a massive, perfectly-cooked crepe stuffed with strawberries and cheesecake filling. We’re dyed in the wool gluttons and this sweet treat was an embolism to our consciousness. So good.
We visited a couple other booths that had promising sounding items that were unfortunately already sold out.We were totally sprung over the KFC Chicken at Koreole but the nice lady running the booth had already ran out of what we imagined was an homage to the Colonel himself.
Lagos, an African booth had run dry on their tankard of Cow Foot soup.
Something to look forward to in the future we reckon.
We eat off the King Creole food truck at least once a week so we felt no need to visit Chef Micah Martello’s stall.He’s putting out one of the best shrimp and grits in New Orleans and we can’t wait to try his high dollar ($22) muffaletta. If anybody can build value into that radical price it’s Martello as his portions border on the absurd.
We’re really looking forward to visiting Shank from charcutiere Kriss Doll. His meat cabinet was strung full of some gorgeous cured hog flesh and we know this man to be devoted to the craft. Plus he looks like a complete psychopath, something we find really charming in our butchers.
Coast Roast Coffee provided us with a dirt cheap, ice coffee. We’ve always marveled over how when coffee is turned from hot to cold all of a sudden it’s value increases manifold. Not so at Coast Roast. They’re not into screwing their patrons.
We missed out on visiting a few vendors at St Roch Market but we live in the neighborhood so it was no great tragedy.
But we couldn’t help but wonder how long some of the vendors would last in their new digs. Running any kind of business from 9am to 11pm 7 days a week is going to be an unbelievable grind unless you’re staffed to the rafters. Top flight, hardy, durable help is almost impossible to get in New Orleans these days with new restaurants opening each and every week.
It’s going to be interesting to look at the lineup in St Roch Market one year from now.