For Christmas, Flash the awesome Sous Chef gave Kitty and me tickets to see one of my favorite bands perform at the New Orleans, Lakefront Arena. The Lumineers headlined the bill that also included Kaleo and Susto. Needless to say, the show was magnificent. Thanks Flash. You rock.
The concert was the undisputed highlight of the trip, but in a close second place was the lunch that Kitty and I had at Turkey and the Wolf. Former Coquette Sous Chef (and running buddy of my son, Stuart), Mason Hereford opened this funky sandwich and cocktail joint about six months ago and folks immediately starting singing its praises. It’s not an easy place to categorize, but I’d describe the cuisine as “Chefy Stoner Sandwiches and Snacks” and I don’t think Mason would disagree.
The art (from the mural to the framed pics on the walls) takes its cues from Lee Quinones and Ed Roth and the food reminds me of a menu that might have been written in english, translated to Mandarin and then back into english by a German professor of linguistics. The decor could be best described as “70’s
Diner Meets Your Crazy Aunt’s Kitchen Table” complete with schticky salt and pepper shakers shaped like farm animals and mis-matched plates and silverware. Have you ever seen the old Andy Hardy movies where the main characters, wanting to raise some money to save an orphanage or whatever, exclaim “Let’s put on a show!” and gather up scenery from an attic and costumes from an eccentric aunt, write some musical numbers and wow the locals? This joint is the restaurant analog of that. When you place your order at the counter, you’re handed a plastic animal on a stick instead of a number. We got a bison, but I had my eye on the T-Rex riding a wolf. Maybe next time. And there will certainly be a next time.
We started with the “tacos inauthenticos” that proudly incorporated hog’s head cheese and American cheese with shredded lettuce (or “shrettuce” as they say) and hot sauce on hand-made tortillas. They were topped with something super-crunchy on top that had that fried pork smell and flavor. They could have been cracklins or chicken skins or even fried tortillas, who knows…whatever they were, they were crunchy and splendid. Kitty knows I’m a sucker for deviled eggs, so those had to get ordered. They were perfectly creamy with no sulphuric hint of over-boiling the yolks and to add just a few more calories and little more texture were crowned with a delicately balanced strip of fried chicken skin.
Kitty went with the meatloaf sandwich and started giggling after her first bite.
She passed it over to me and said, “It’s a crazy-chef, tarted-up Big Mac.” In-between the buttered planks of toasted whitebread were all the flavor notes of the McDonalds signature burger – American cheese, raw onion, pickles, ground beef, toasted sesame seeds and what Mason describes as “gravy mayo” playing the role of “special sauce.”
My lamb neck roti was a clever mashup of street food staples. The protein was braised, Indian-style, in caraway seeds and chilis but the accouterments were straight outta’ a Greek gyro cart. The spicy lamb in its braising gravy was perfectly balanced by the cool yogurt and the fresh notes of the mint and dill. The sliced, fresh cucumbers added the perfect amount of crunch, also echoed by the crisp edges of the warm roti flatbread.
Next time we visit we’ll plan ahead so we won’t be hitting up this spot before a long drive back to Jackson and we’ll be able to enjoy the cocktails that everyone else is raving about.