In the age of the Double Down, the po’ boy is our cultural affirmation of carbs, a rallying cry for bread—big, chewy loaves swaddling breaded-and-fried fish. It is a sandwich that seeks understanding with rémoulade dressing, promises refreshment in the form of lettuce and tomatoes. Yet on paper, its dry cottony propensities always loom.
But you order it anyway. It arrives, an oversized catfish filet or cascade of hot shrimp, open-face on a roll of overly sufficient heft. With two hands you firmly press the top piece of bread on the bottom one, you lift the thing toward your mouth and you take a bite.
It’s all bread.
Only later (say, three bites in) will the bread weaken in the knees, giving in oh so slightly to the charms of the dressings. And only then will the balance of catfish—fried cracker-crisp in a batter pounded with salt-and-pepper—dressing and bread become one good sandwich.
At le Fleur de Lis, the spacious new restaurant in the former Negro League Café space in Bronzeville, a po’ boy just like this awaits. But it’ll take some waiting for, too. The service is attentive but the food comes out at a slow pace. Crab cakes? They’re formed to order: small pieces of bland crab meat barely bound together, ready to be dipped in the same reddish rémoulade as the po’ boys. Gumbo lacks that enticing texture of a rich roux, but instead, it offers a simple, light broth, full of tender chicken and spiced sausage. A hearty bowl of étouffée is redolent with Cajun spice, tender rice and teensy (and unappetizingly mushy) crawfish. The only thing that appears not made fresh are the defrosted-tasting french fries, which even a generous dusting of cayenne seasoning can’t salvage.
Desserts disappointed, from gooey cinnamon bread pudding still cold in spots to beignets that were still raw on the inside. Where I expected a momentary journey to New Orleans’ Café du Monde, what these little fritters most needed was a trip back to the fryer.
By Julia Kramer.
|Venue name:||Le Fleur de Lis (CLOSED)|
301 E 43rd St
|Cross street:||between Prairie and Calumet Aves|
|Opening hours:||Dinner, (closed Sun, Mon)|
|Transport:||El stop: Green to 43rd. Bus: 1, 3, 29, 39, 43.|
|Price:||Average main course: $14|
|Do you own this business?|