Lunch at Coop’s Place
I had lunch at Coop's Place this afternoon- the dinner I brought with me on the plane froze overnight in the little hotel fridge. Coop's is a dive on Decatur Street in the Quarter, oriented mostly to tourists, no doubt, but the food is good and reasonably priced. I was first introduced to it on Mardi Gras day, 2006, when Eric took us there for lunch.
There's a cat sleeping soundly in her bed on the wide window sill. The couple who sat next to the window reached out to pet the cat. "Don't wake her 'til after lunch" the waitress called out, "otherwise she'll be dancin' on all the tables".
I was at Coop's last at the end of January 2007- the last time I was in New Orleans. It, and the Quarter, were virtually empty then, but today Coop's is full, and I can see the Quarter beginning to fill. Oops- the kitty has awakened. She's scratching herself and preening, stretching her body with front paws hanging from a pane, and peering out at the passersby outside her window. It is a wonder to me how she slept through all the commotion in here.
"What's the Redfish Belle River", I ask the waitress. It's on the blackboard, but not the menu.
"I don't know. What's the Redfish Belle River", she yells out to the manager/bartender.
"Cripsy fried filet topped with crawfish and – do you know what etouffé is ?" -I assure him I do – and served over rice".
Sounds good to me.
The service is pretty slow here today, not like the Mardi Gras day, when the place was packed to the gills. The waiter had plates stacked all the way up his arm and was snaking his way with a sinuous grace through the throngs waiting to jump on any table that might be opening up. You can read my description of our lunch there, and the waiter's great handling of the Mardi Gras crowd at Coop's Place at Blogstream Pain Perdu.
The kitty's name is Stella- an appropriate New Orleans name. She flounced around some of the banquettes, and got a belly rub from a gentleman at the table next to mine before going back to sleep.
The redfish was fabulous (although a wreck on my blouse) smothered with mushrooms, crawfish tails and a spicy sauce. And I'd forgotten how good the "Creole green beans" are- spicy with big chunks of tomatoes.
"What are you eating?" asks the guy at the next table, "it looks good".
"It is good, and way more than I can eat. Where can you go and spend less than $20 on a great meal, and have enough leftover to take for dinner? " I asked as I packed the rest to go.
"I always tell people about this place. I told someone in the airport yesterday. It's good to know that natives eat here, too" I said. I had been listening in on their conversation.
"You're not a native"?
"No, an expatriate. One of the many on that LA to L.A. path".
We chatted a bit about the places that everyone feels compelled to dine when in New Orleans, and their relative value, as opposed to an inexpensive find like Coop's.
Just about then his Smoked Duck Quesadilla arrived. "Wow- that looks good, too" I said.
"Yeah, and it's an appetizer, but enough for lunch."
I may just have to stop back tomorrow to try that, and I'll take a picture of Stella while I'm there.