Sixty years ago I graduated from the Jesuit Hugh School of New Orleans. I still have deep family ties there. I thought I knew the city pretty well. But one day I was watching a travelogue on TV that was featuring great sandwich restaurants around the country. I knew that they would have to go to New Orleans and talk about Po-boys or Muffalettas. My bet was on the Central Grocery Muffalettas, a sandwich that I ate often when I worked at the Jackson Brewing Company.
Nope, it was the Po-boy. Now their are hundreds of neighborhood restaurants in New Orleans that do good Po-boys. Even some clubs and schools do pretty well. However, not only had I never heard of Domilise's, It turned out that I had never ever even been in the neighborhood. I immediately put it on the list for my next visit to New Orleans.
Every native New Orleansean would recognize Domilise's if he found it on the moon. The rest of you, just get over it. I got there just before the Friday noon rush hour and was immediately asked for my order. Shrimp, oyster, roast beef; large or small; dressed or not. I chose small fried shrimp dressed, an order I have placed hundreds of times. Now there are fried shrimp and fried shrimp; these were small too medium so that one could get a lot of them in the sandwich. "Dressed" means with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, and mayo or tartar sauce. At Domilise's it also means with hot sauce, an ingredient I had not counted on but, when I ate it, I loved.
Now the Po-boy sandwich relies on New Orleans bread. New Orleaneans do not really appreciate their bread. They have always had it and can be forgiven for believing that everyone fas bread just like it. Not so. We call it "french" bread, mostly to distinguish it from "sliced" bread but not even Parisians enjoy it. New Orleans bread is crispy on the outside, never tough or chewey, light and fluffy on the inside.
After my order was taken and I had been assured that they would call me when it was ready, I went to the bar and ordered my beer. It was served in a frosted schooner just like I remembered from my distant youth,
The young couple that sat next to me at the bar were also having the shrimp but he hated to have to choose it over the roast beef. Of course, he lives in New Orleans and go often. By the time I left, all the tables were full and there were a half dozen people waiting outside. It was going to be a brief wait and well worth it.
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