Tag Archives: lunch

Copeland’s of New Orleans: New and Improved

Picture it: I’m squiring a houseguest around town. Who is this houseguest? Doesn’t matter. Could be my parents, could be my husband’s parents, or my sister, or just someone from college who’s passing through Shreveport on his or her way to one of the coasts. We head down Youree and get to the Bert Kouns intersection. “Oh!” my passenger says. “Copeland’s. That looks…nice.”

And, indeed, it does look…nice. It reminds you of New Orleans in the same way that the Rose and Crown pub at EPCOT reminds you of England. Cleaner, newer, sanitized, accessible.

“It’s a prom night place,” I say, eyes fixed on the congested road ahead. And it is–perhaps a step up from Carrabba’s, Copeland’s is the kind of place frequented by teenagers of the upper-middle class, rolling up in rented limos (wait…you didn’t get a limousine on prom night? It’s OK, neither did I) or their parents’ freshly waxed Camrys. Inside, there’s the din that would be expected in a restaurant the size of Copeland’s. It’s not what someone would call “intimate,” and that’s alright, since intimacy isn’t too high on the high schooler’s list of restaurant must-haves.

Copeland’s was a place that I myself always seemed to overlook. Maybe I was just being snobby, but my idea of a special occasion dinner for grown-ups usually involves Line Avenue, not Youree Drive. My expensive taste, coupled with a desire to patronize locally-owned businesses whenever possible, didn’t really leave any room for a place like Copeland’s.

But you know? I had my 21st birthday lunch (less than five years ago) at The Cheesecake Factory. With its cartoonishly proportioned architecture, American-sized servings, and focused emphasis on cheesecake, The Cheesecake Factory is really just Copeland’s without the Creole accent. And heck, if I thought The Cheesecake Factory was good enough for a milestone birthday, then surely Copeland’s is good enough for similar celebrations. In fact, maybe that same oversized, opulent quality, that same whimsy, is exactly the point. Maybe these restaurants need an upgrade from “guilty pleasure” to just “pleasure.”

A day at EPCOT isn’t any less enjoyable because their countries are watered-down, climate-controlled versions of the real thing; instead, that scrubbed-up, family-friendly quality might actually be part of the fun.

Just this week, I attended a PR lunch at Copeland’s, in honor of the unveiling of their “new and improved” restaurant. After undergoing a $1 million renovation, everything about the Bert Kouns location seems to be new: new management, new decor, and a new approach to their food with fresher ingredients and proprietary recipes. Al Copeland Jr., who made an appearance, explained that the renovation aims to bridge the gap between the food at Copeland’s and the atmosphere. Once dissonant, with no discernible identity, the new decor at Copeland’s is a bit sleeker, more up-to-date, and has a distinctive New Orleans theme. They’re also introducing a Sunday (live!) jazz brunch, to be held each week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

My sample-sized portion of bananas foster cheesecake.

Since I wasn’t a paying customer during this visit, I won’t be doing a real review. But if you already liked Copeland’s, this is a good excuse to pay them a visit. And if, like me, you were dubious, let go of your pretense and your self-inflicted shame. Invent a special occasion and order yourself a 6-inch tall slice of bananas foster cheesecake. It may not be haute cuisine, it may not be “authentic” (whatever that means), and it’s definitely not kitschy enough to be ironic. But it’s damn delicious.

To borrow the words from my friend Tony Bourdain, “Good is just good. It doesn’t matter when or why.”

Copeland’s of New Orleans

1665 E. Bert Kouns Industrial Loop

318-797-0143

www.copelandsofneworleans.com

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Marilynn’s Place

If you’re ever puttering down Fern Avenue when your “check engine” light clicks on, you may be tempted to stop by a friendly-looking garage with green trim. Not too many cars there, you think, looks like there probably won’t be a wait. And look! It shares a parking lot with a sno-ball stand, which boasts an impressive list of flavors. Hmm…why haven’t you seen this place before?

Well, two things. First, you probably have, but ignored it. Until recently, the building was just another rundown garage, blending into the charming, tree-lined scenery where Broadmoor and South Highlands overlap.

Secondly, it’s not a garage at all. Well, not an operating one, anyway. It’s Marilynn’s Place, a new Cajun/Creole restaurant that features “organic when feasible, local when possible” food. It’s been generating some buzz among the under-40 set who seem to be drawn to quirky, locally-owned businesses with liquor licenses. “Out-of-the-way” is a spectacular understatement, and perhaps that’s part of its appeal. With no exterior signage or marketing to speak of, it feels like an indulgent secret–like only those “in the know”  (perhaps accompanied by a misguided few who simply needed oil changes), have been lucky enough to darken the doorway.

I’ve been to Marilynn’s Place a few times, now, and though service is consistently good, the food can be iffy. The restaurant takes a “fast casual” approach: order at the counter, and either wait for your name to be called, or for an employee to bring it to your table. I’ve had both happen, so I’m not sure what the typical protocol is for them. The menu itself is kind of a mixed bag. Familiar south Louisiana specialties like shrimp creole and jambalaya share space with a vegan brownie and a slow-cooked pork po’boy accented with pineapple.

The pork po’boy is listed on the menu as the cochon de lait. The term cochon de lait is usually applied to a traditional Cajun pig roast. Perhaps that ritual is the inspiration for Marilynn’s sandwich, but, as the first item I tried there, it left a lot to be desired. I was initially drawn to the pineapple salsa aspect of it. Pork and pineapple are a classic Caribbean pairing, and I knew the flavors would work well. However, when I received the sandwich–unfussily wrapped in butcher paper and masking tape–it was a soggy wreck. I was able to take exactly one bite before the bread disintegrated and I was forced to tackle it with a knife and fork. By then, the remaining bread had become an unappetizing paste. I poked around in the filling, which, admittedly, was very good.

Cochon de lait po'boy

The pork was tender and juicy, and the pineapple brightened things up. But I wouldn’t go down that road again–I had to go spelunking in order to get a forkful worth eating. The price, $7.95 for a half sandwich only, felt like a ripoff when all was said and done. (As an aside, I’ve been told that sometimes po’boys are messy–that’s the idea. But, in my opinion, once the services of a knife and fork are necessitated, a sandwich ceases to be a sandwich, and should market itself correctly. Soggy bread really isn’t my thing.)

In an uncharacteristic twist, my companion played it safe with an order of curry fried catfish. This was catfish done right: its curry-kissed cornmeal breading encased flaky, tender catfish–no hints of freezer or dirt flavors to be found anywhere. (Seriously, we’re in a sad state when people start to associate catfish with freezer burn and mud.) It’s served with its standard accompaniments of hush puppies, fries, and slaw. And while $11.95 would seem a bit steep for a plate of fried food, the quality of the fish and the size of the portion makes it worth it.

On our subsequent visits, we also ventured into traditional territory–shrimp creole, crawfish etouffee, and jambalaya were all sampled, as well as a side of dirty rice (because, clearly, our meals just didn’t have enough carbs). The jambalaya and etouffee lean towards the Cajun method of preparation, with less of an emphasis on tomatoes and more on meat. The jambalaya featured big, generous chunks of andouille–quite a treat when compared to the glorified rice some places try to pass off as jambalaya. The shrimp creole was rich and warming. Though I got the feeling that the shrimp weren’t as fresh as they could be, it hit the spot nonetheless. Living 250 miles inland, I’ll take what I can get.

The dirty rice, with a light sheen of grease and the perfect amount of heat, was some of the most flavorful I’ve ever had.

Curried catfish platter

A third companion chose the William Edward Joyce (WEJ) curried catfish po’boy.  Now this was a po’boy I could get behind. The drier filling (the same curried catfish that comes on the platter) ensured that the bread stayed intact, and a thin layer of mayo kept it from entering cotton ball territory. The menu claims it’s “so good it needs a publicist!” Though I wouldn’t go that far, it’s certainly a damn good choice when you’re craving something a little more satisfying than a few Mrs. Paul’s popcorn shrimp tossed on a hoagie roll.

Other items that piqued my interest are the veggie po’boy, dressed with hummus (perhaps that vegan brownie would make a nice little playmate), the shrimp remoulade salad, and the Irish Channel po’boy–with corned beef and cabbage!

With a nice selection of beer and an atmosphere conducive to lingering (something tells me the deck out front will be very popular once the weather turns tolerable), Marilynn’s Place will no doubt be a hit with locals looking for decent, homemade food right in their own backyards–if they can find it, that is.

Marilynn’s, I implore you. Invest in a sign. Maybe you’re trying to be subversive, riding on the coattails of pop-up restaurants and underground dinner clubs. Or maybe you’re just lazy. I don’t know. But it would be a terrible shame to see a good business go under because they didn’t know how to market. Word of mouth can only do so much.

Although, so far, it seems to be working for Marilynn’s.

Marilynn’s Place

4041 Fern Avenue

318-868-3004

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marilynns-Place/160460130668886

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Deli Tini

Deli Tini sits smack dab in the middle of my old ‘hood. Before I moved, I drove past it every day, wondering what the heck it was. Its darkened windows and mysterious “coming soon” banner opened the floodgates of my imagination: martinis and sandwiches? I was excited to see what they would conjure up. Olives on toothpicks are, after all, the common thread that binds cocktails and delicious, delicious lunch foods. It seemed a…unique pairing. But I like unique.

My companion and I finally ate at Deli Tini on their twentieth day of business. Many things indicated that they were still a fledgling restaurant–their menus, for instance, were two-page long Microsoft Word documents, stapled together like a college essay–but their food and service didn’t miss a beat.

While you may be disappointed to discover that Deli Tini does not actually serve martinis (I was, but only midly so), you will be equally interested to learn that the “Tini” in Deli Tini is actually a play on the name of the owner, Tini Casten. Tini is the daughter of George, owner of the locally famous George’s Grill, just down the street. One of the sandwiches on Deli Tini’s menu, “George the Generous Greek,” is named after him. I like George’s Grill; they have excellent pancakes and one of those whimsical, tiny parking lots that make you feel as if you’re in a quaint northwestern city. Full disclosure: I saw a roach there, once. The good news is that it wasn’t in my food. I’m probably a lot less squeamish about these things than I should be, but hey, this is Louisiana. So I cut them a break.

Anyway, I digress, as I am wont to do. On the day we went, Deli Tini was already running like a well-established restaurant. Prompt, easy service aided by friendly chitchat and a dining room packed equally with hungry newcomers and members of Tini’s inner circle. While Deli Tini promises to eventually serve salads and other lunchy options, in their early days they’re offering only sandwiches, both hot and cold. The decor of Deli Tini–white walls adorned with local art, plus neon and metallic tables and chairs–is reminiscent of a hip, urban hangout (I just realized how woefully unhip I sound for using the phrase “hip urban hangout”), but their sandwich offerings are enticing, fresh, and interesting without being totally bizarre.

Deli Tini offers a new sandwich special each day, drawing from a large pool of seasonal and homemade ingredients. Components like roasted chicken, dried cranberries, strawberry balsamic dressing, goat cheese, and chipotle mayonnaise come together in wild and woolly combinations, while traditional standbys are kicked up on their permanent menu–tuna salad on pita, for instance (“The Bush Doctor”), and an outrageous grilled cheese called simply, “The Big Ed,” with four cheeses pressed on cheese bread. Their irreverent sandwich names are just as quirky and memorable as the sandwiches themselves. Like any sandwich shop worth its salt, Deli Tini has a few vegetarian choices (see the “Shake Your Buddha Spencer”:  roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, spinach and artichoke hummus, sprouts, tomatoes, avocado and provolone on a whole wheat tortilla) and a build-your-own option, lest the ham and cheese people feel left out–but even they have choices: American, Swiss, mozzarella, pepper jack, provolone, Colby, Havarti, Gouda, cream cheese, sharp cheddar or goat?

Each sandwich is served with a few bread-and-butter pickle chips, and while I usually hate, HATE bread-and-butter pickles, these are crisp and fresh-tasting (and obviously homemade) without that creepy syrup that the jarred stuff leaves behind. For an extra cost, you can opt for fresh, in-season fruit, homemade potato or pasta salad, or a bag of chips to accompany your sandwich.

Generally, I was extremely impressed with Deli Tini. While Tini Casten no doubt had a few insider tips from her restaurateur dad, the friendly, prompt service lacked the crazed, disjointed feeling that so many new restaurants have. I look forward to the eventual expansion of their menu and their further establishment as a standby lunch or dinner spot in oft-overlooked Highland.

Deli Tini

520 East Kings Highway, Ste. 106

318-868-EATZ

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Bistro Byronz

…and that’s “Byronz,” sounds like “Tyrone’s.”

Our trip to Bistro Byronz was kind of a fluke, considering we ended up there after attempted lunches at two of our regular haunts. It was our first visit–Byronz is one of those places that, for us anyway (“us” being myself and my boyfriend, who is usually my willing companion on these outings), is perpetually on the “to-try” list but never quite crosses over.  Perhaps it’s the location: in a small shopping center on Line Avenue (shared only with a travel agency), Bistro Byronz is dwarfed by the bigger Line restaurants: Bistro 6301, Superior Grill, and the like. But don’t let yourself be fooled by its lackluster exterior; Byronz is a gem of a restaurant, so insanely delicious that we went back for brunch the next morning.

Bistro Byronz is decorated in highbrow minimalism–think Pottery Barn-meets-pub. White subway tile, antique mirrors, and not much else adorn the walls, while straightforward, naked tables remind you that you’re here to eat and socialize. I was a little dismayed, however, to see TVs mounted in a few corners; I’m of the opinion that a restaurant can’t market itself as a “nice place” if it has TVs on–and I don’t care what’s on them. Eating out means conversation and reinforcing bonds with your loved ones. It does not mean staring vacantly at sports while you ignore your wife.

Okay, rant over. On to the food!

With locations in Shreveport and Mandeville, in addition to the flagship restaurant in Baton Rouge, Bistro Byronz is a true Louisiana institution. Byronz serves up classic French dishes, tweaked to incorporate Louisiana-specific flavors.

My companion and I were greeted hurriedly by our icy waiter. Too busy and distracted to introduce himself to us, he seemed to have all the time in the world to make nice with our neighboring table, a large group of older couples. Our optimism was sinking. But we trekked on–after all, I needed material for this very blog.

Byronz has a well-executed lunch menu. Not too large to be overwhelming, they feature old lunch standbys (salads and sandwiches) along with some decidedly non-lunchy choices: cassoulet and pot roast, to name a few. Despite these tempting options, my companion and I were in a lunchy mood, so we opted for sandwiches. To start, we ordered their baked feta appetizer, which is as great as it sounds. We certainly didn’t expect what arrived moments later: a warm, lusty feta island in a sea (well, more like a pond) of robust, intense marinara sauce–served with parmesan toast points for easy sampling. My companion, unable to restrain himself, also ordered a cup of their sweet corn and crab chowder–chunky, sweet, and just the right amount of cream, it had me hearkening back to my days in Florida.

Our sandwiches were brought out soon afterwards by an inexplicably grim server, but we were so heartened by our appetizers that we couldn’t bear to concern ourselves. My companion ordered a Gruyère-stuffed turkey burger on a wheat bun, served with sweet potato fries. This burger may parade around like diet food, but it sure doesn’t taste that way. The turkey patty was flavorful and moist–everything a turkey patty usually isn’t. Frankly, it was downright beefy. I had a hard time tasting the Gruyère in the few bites I had of it, which was surprising because it’s such a hard cheese to miss. Topped with spinach and red bell pepper, the burger is a definite win.

Speaking of wins, my sandwich was just as good, if not better. Shrimp Louie, also on a wheat bun, is a sort of shrimp salad–boiled shrimp are tossed in a dressing similar to Thousand Island (sans the relish) and served with the obligatory lettuce and tomato. I chose something called “Zydeco pasta” as my side dish, and it tasted exactly as you’d think it would; tri-color rotini and big chunks of zucchini were tossed in a light, herby vinaigrette (rosemary came through the strongest). A dash of Tony Chachere’s gave it the “Zydeco” I was anticipating.

For dessert (of course there was a dessert, how else could I bring you an accurate review?), my companion and I split a piece of key lime pie. I was already waxing nostalgic about my years as a Floridian, so this was par for the course. Between you and me, readers, key lime pie is my absolute favorite pie, winning out over the equally strong contenders of peanut butter and blackberry. Byronz’s version is alarmingly close to homemade; instead of the angular, symmetrical, molded slices usually served up at restaurants of the same caliber, this one was soft, jiggly, and utterly delectable, with a remarkably mouth-watering lime bite. Accented by two little candy lime slices, it was also–I daresay–adorable. The crust was crumbly, toasty, and studded with coconut to expand on the tropical theme.

Our sullen server brought us our check, and it was only then that we learned his name, printed across the top: Taylor. At his best, he was chilly–but he brought us such tasty food, it was hard to be anything but miffed.

I am nearly ashamed to say we spent around $50 on a Saturday lunch, but remember, thrifty readers, we ordered an appetizer, a cup of soup, and a dessert in addition to our meals. Considering our minimalist meal at Sake Sushi cost about the same, we considered this a positive experience. Byronz’s lunches run between $5 (a grilled cheese sandwich) and $16 (seared tuna), so you can make your meal an experiment in ascetics, an exercise in opulence, or anything in between.

When you’re hankering for a taste of classic Louisiana without the “not another crawfish place” complaint, head over to Bistro Byronz. Try them for Sunday brunch–they make a ridiculous Bloody Mary that makes Sunday feel a little more like Saturday night.

Bistro Byronz

6104 Line Avenue

318-219-4848

www.bistrobyronz.com

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Good Eats Market

Today, Savoring Shreveport ventures across the Red River into the uncharted culinary culture of Bossier City. Good Eats Market is an oasis of fresh, clean foods on what is otherwise the barren wasteland (foodwise) of Airline Drive. Amongst the Pizza Huts, Dairy Queens and IHOPs sits an unassuming storefront that no doubt  has been passed over dozens of times in favor of Moe’s or Applebee’s, both just down the street. But venture inside and you’ll be rewarded with an extensive, lunch-centric menu focusing on sandwiches, homemade soups, and gigantic salads.

Good Eats is abuzz with local workin’ folks and stay-at-home Southern Belles during lunchtime on most weekdays, and with good reason. Old favorites like the Cobb Salad and BLT become jazzed-up versions of themselves at Good Eats. Regional specialties, like a variety of Po’Boys, also shine. But there is something special about the signature foods of Good Eats, which are both innovative and familiar. The Portobello Mushroom and Provolone panini (served on white bread instead of the traditional country Italian or ciabatta, but I’ll let it slide…), topped with roasted red peppers and onions, is a vegetarian treat, while a bowl of their unbelievable (and extremely popular) Tomato Basil Soup brims with creamy flavor and comfort. As a bonus, every sandwich comes with a fresh white chocolate macadamia or peanut butter cookie! Cookies, people. They can be a little heavy-handed with the meat on their sandwiches, though, so if a big, honkin’ stack o’ ham isn’t your thing, let them know to go easy.

Lest you think that Good Eats is a snooty, ladies-who-lunch type of place, be assured that the staff is always happy to see you, even in their busiest moments. Take a look at the menu on the wall and order from the counter–or grab something to go from the cooler in front. They also sell their salads by the pound to take home and enjoy in the comfort of your own couch.

Good Eats is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, 10:30-2:30. Their store and deli, however, is open from 9-7. They accept to-go orders via phone for quick pickup, and even do catering and customizable party trays!

Good Eats Market

2177 Airline Drive, Bossier City

318-741-4455

www.goodeatsbossier.com

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