Monday, March 5, 2012

So Long, Farewell

If you are a regular reader of Blackened Out, you probably are fairly knowledgeable of what's going on in the local restaurant scene. The biggest story in post-K New Orleans dining is not only the reestablishment of nearly all of the restaurants which were open before August 29, 2005, but also the proliferation of new restaurants. Despite a reduction in population, there are approximately 300 more restaurants open today in New Orleans then there were 6 years ago. And it seems like more are opening with every turn of the calendar.

Unfortunately, not all of the post-K restaurants have survived. This fact comes as no surprise to those of us who have a fundamental understanding of how supply correlates with demand. (I knew that Economics undergraduate degree would one day come in handy.) But sometimes we believe that our sense of taste will defy the odds.

On a recent weekend trip through Metairie, I faced the realization that my personal opinion on the quality and value of a restaurant's food does not equate with long term success or viability of a business. As we crossed the 17th Street Canal on our way to Lakeside, The Folk Singer and I had lunch on our minds. Who would have known that our first 3 choices had already closed their doors for good.

Mixed grill from Cyrus Restaurant.
 In our June 2011 Dining Out column in OffBeat Magazine, we predicted that Cyrus Restaurant, located on the former site of the Fun Arcade, would "soon become a destination for pleasures of the culinary variety." It was a bold conjecture. But unlike the guy who bet $1000 that a Giants safety would be the first score in the Super Bowl, our long shot did not come through. Despite serving delicious grilled meats and Middle Eastern dips far better than must gyro joints in town, Cyrus served its last order of lamb chops at the beginning of the year. My best guess as to why they didn't make it: prices were significantly higher than other restaurants in the same genre.

Our second option on this Jefferson Parish lunch excursion was Taco San Miguel, which had once been The Folk Singer's favorite carrot to place at the end of her proverbial stick which led the way to Lakeside Mall. Although we both were huge fans of San Miguel's no frills Mexican cooking, it had been quite some time since we last eaten there, opting instead for the close proximity of Felipe's to our home base. And apparently it had been much longer than we realized, because on this day the tiny building on 20th Street which once housed Taco San Miguel was now near the tail end of a renovation into some unknown eatery. A quick google search reveals that it may have closed sometime in 2010.

 Smokin' Buddha's brisket, pork, and sausage po-boy.
 With nachos now on the brain, we completed are reverse trifecta by making our way over to Smokin' Buddha, where a few weeks earlier we had noshed on a delicious pile of thick and crunchy flour tortilla chips which held up well underneath the weight of queso, sour cream, guacamole, green onion, chopped brisket and an unconventional dusting of parmesan cheese. Smokin' Buddha had garnered much attention from the Twitterverse and Yelpers who had proclaimed it as the only BBQ joint in New Orleans which imparted a true smoke flavor to its meats. I had only been once before, but I can safely say that the burnt ends alone were worth keeping this place open. And obviously, I was wrong about that too. Word on the street is that it may have been ownership and/or management issues which eventually led the Buddha to restaurant purgatory.

And so we ended up at Phil's Grill. You already know how that story ends.

Most everyone agrees that New Orleanians are eating better now then they ever have before. Still, it makes me sad to see a few of the better ones close their doors for good. Pour out a little liquor.


Frolic said...

Taco San Miguel became a Hondurian bakery (I think--never went) for a while. Guess that one didn't make it either.

Anonymous said...

The owners of SB BBQ had a flame war on Facebook, since taken down, and apparently that was it. Rumour is that they will open separate restaurant but the more important question is will they still participate in HFTC????

Ryan Waldron said...

I walked in to The Honduran bakery that became of Taco San Miguel once by accident (not noticing the new sign, but curious about the the odd availability of parking). I was assaulted by a woman who to whom I had much difficulty communicating that I didn't want fried dough,and would rather prefer tacos.

Marian said...

The BBQ place has morphed into a delivery service until they can get a place.

Tom said...

When will you young whippersnappers start listening to good old Father Tom? Don't go to newly-opened restaurants, and surely don't review them until they've passed the quiz (less strenuous than the test) of time. Those who prefer novelty above all else will keep such places open if they deserve to be. Those of us more interested in good food will be spared many flavors of disappointment--one of which you decry in today's essay.

Happy New Year!

Tastefully yours,
Tom Fitzmorris

Peter said...


Thanks for the info on NOLA Smokehouse. I need to checkout the Gambit article because I have been craving BBQ as of late.


I don't consider novelty and good food to be exclusive categories.


Grammatologist said...

re: "With nachos now on the brain, we completed are reverse trifecta..."

OUR reverse trifecta...