ABOUT AND BEYOND
930 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans LA 70130
Monday - Friday 11:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M. $2 to $18
Saturday 5:30 P.M. - 10:00 P.M.
This venue is Donald Link’s latest venture. I don’t normally mention chefs but this man and this restaurant have a direct link to Southwest Louisiana. Donald was born and raised in the area. He learned how to cook at his grandfather’s side. This establishment constitutes his tribute to his grandfather and this region’s cooking. The co-owner Stephen Stryjewski is of the same mind as Donald in that they both embrace a snout to tail utilization of the pig. They bring in a whole pig and then do an in house boucherie turning out traditional product with a twist. The menu also encompasses the river, gulf, game, and farm animals of Southwest Louisiana.
They renovate an industrial structure on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Andrew Higgins. The three story brick building‘s sign proudly proclaims Cochon Cajun Southern Cooking. That is what you get in a surprising environment. One wall is brick and the opposite is clear pine slats. The front wall looks out through great glass windows and the back looks into the kitchen and a wood-burning oven over a counter. The walls feature pictures of Link family reunions and gatherings at the rice farm. The tables, chairs and booths are of that same clear pinewood fabricated by a local artisan. It all sits on a concrete floor.
On the table the condiments beside salt and pepper are in house red pepper sauce and pepper vinegar. The rolls in the breadbasket are old fashion yeast rolls like my maternal aunts used to make 30-40 years ago. This is an indication of things to come. The menu here is structured a bit different. I had the great honor to attend a pre-opening press party and then go there to lunch a few months later. I am going to tell about what I ate by menu category
First up is Small Plates. I ate Fried Chicken Livers with Pepper Jelly Toast (perfectly fried livers with crunchy exteriors and unctuous interiors on a piece of toasted white bread slathered with an in house pepper jelly). Next was Wood Fired Oyster Roast (plump juicy oyster on the half shell with a butter sauce cooked in the wood fired oven so close to the flames it picks up some smoke). Finally Eggplant and Shrimp Dressing consisting of chopped shrimp and eggplant made into a dressing and roasted in the oven. It held a crispy top and a moist succulent interior with a moderate level of spice.
Next menu selection is the Boucherie. I partook of Fried Boudin with Pickled Peppers (moderate spice and perfectly fried with more meat than rice and non-greasy), Spicy Grilled Pork Ribs with Watermelon Pickle (tender ribs covered with chopped sweet watermelon pickles made a sweet and spicy statement), and Headcheese with House Made Mustard. This proved to be more like pate in consistency and served with spicy whole grain mustard, toast and bread and butter pickles, a perfect taste combination.
In the Soup and Salad section I have dined on Chef Donald’s Black Eyed Pea and Pork Gumbo. It sounds a bit strange but take it from me it works. It possesses a smoky hardiness that is difficult to describe but easy to love. The other was Soup of the Day, a creamy wild mushroom with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled bacon. An earthy taste of heaven presented in a bowl.
The only Entree I have tried was Louisiana Cochon with Turnips, Cabbage and Cracklins. It consisted of a griddled pulled pork patty. While exterior parts were crusty and tasty I found the interior dry and a bit chewy. It sat n a broth of turnips, cabbage, and pickled peaches sprinkled with cracklins. This combination of flavors and textures excited my taste buds and proved the highlight of the dish. This section has many other wonderful sounding items that I hope to try in the future.
Last but not least a Lemon Buttermilk Pie that would have given my aunt's a run for the money. Buttermilk pie is an old fashion country dessert that you hardly see in a commercial establishment. The menu changes a bit with the seasons but retains that country feel. They also offer an excellent selection of beers and root beers along with their take on classic southern drinks.
You can contact me at [email protected]
with any comments, thoughts or suggestions
Arthur "The Bear" Hebert
Omnivorus and Loving It