Feast Opens in New Orleans to Honor the Pig

It saddens me to report that this restaurant is closed. Read the review if you’d like but these gentleman have closed their New Orleans location. They still have a restaurant in Houston with the same name.

What better way to honor an animal than to eat it? Eat every last bite of the animal. Start with the tail…start with the snout…eat every single bit then take the hooves and make a lovely stock out of the creature’s feet.

Even in a city as obsessed with food as New Orleans the arrival of Feast and their take on nose to tail animal eating, is raising quite the kerfuffle.

Richard Knight and James Silk opened Feast Houston a couple years ago and garnered some hysteria-inducing accolades including Frank Bruni saying “[Feast] has no real peer in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities that pride themselves on their epicurean adventurousness.

So it’s with a quickening heart [ perhaps brought on by a 50 block stroll from the Marigny neighborhood ] that I stroll into the former Creole Skillet location at the corner of Fulton and Julia, dead in the middle of the soul-less Convention Center restaurant zone.

The rehab on the former tenant has went light with freshly painted cement floors, a few black and white pictures on the wall and warm amber lighting being the key features.

It’s certainly nice enough but you can tell the lads running the joint don’t care too much about the aesthetics of the front of the house.

The kitchen runs this show.

Does it ever.

The menu reads like a week of cooking in a peasant woman’s house in the 18th century with all the bubble and squeak, welsh rarebit, pork belly and roasted fat one could dream of or imagine.

I suppose if they had their liquor license there would be big horns of mead or grog served up by buxom farm wenches with questionable dental work.

As it is, you can order a half a cow or hog’s head [serves 2] for just under fifty dollars. I inquire as to whether the brains are extant and am informed that they are but I’d need a mallet and a chisel to get at them.

I silently note to come better armed next visit.

I understand Feast’s food to feature Herculean portion sizes so I limit myself to two appetizers and an entree.

I love a good plate of bubble and squeak and Feast’s version is admirable.

A big pile of airily mashed potatoes is topped with shreds of cabbage and brussell sprouts which have been cooked at high heat in a black pan. Little crusty black bits of vegetation play nicely with the creamed potatoes.

“Roasted fat” for a buck features three tiny cubes of pig fat, crispy on the outside with a near-molten center. It’s a naughty little enterprise portioned wisely. It would be tempting to eat a popcorn bowl filled with this delicacy.

My main of crispy pork belly shows the kitchen’s hand to be particularly strong as it maneuvers downward on the hog.

It’s simple, delicious and perfectly executed with a tawny crunchy hide giving way to a margin of melting lean, top notch pork. A few grains of salt positions it as one of the finest pork dishes I’ve had in 2010.

The kitchen has wisely cut the richness of this dish with slivers of apples and red cabbage.

Had the cabbage been pickled I might’ve been tempted to load up my plunder and move to Great Britain to improve my chances of eating like this as a lifestyle instead of a special night out.

While I’ve resigned myself to being served poorly no matter how nice the restaurant, I’m pleasantly surprised to be attended to by a professional waiter at Feast. My server doesn’t hover and he attends to my needs deftly without showing strain at this delicate task.

A major feat in 2010 I’m sad to report.

When the food’s this good they could hire somebody to stand outside the kitchen doors and just sort of heave the food in my general direction and I’d be happy as a clam anyway.

While it’s certainly nice to see soul food taking the big stage in modern cooking it’s long been the standard fare at thousands of tiny diners and cafes across the Deep South. Feast could open up in Tuscaloosa and run a daily lunch special for 5.99 and no one would be the wiser. It’s that good.

But it is amusing that a couple Brits cooking chitlins and roasting pig fat are bringing national media attention to a cuisine that traditionally has been one of the fortes of Black kitchens in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and a host of other states.

The good people of New Orleans are better off for it.

3*

200 Julia Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 304-6318

About the Stars:

4 **** Extraordinary, life changing

3 *** Excellent

2 * Very good

1 * Good

0 * Mediocre to Acceptable

Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating

About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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One Response to Feast Opens in New Orleans to Honor the Pig

  1. RL Reeves Jr says:

    http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/belly-of-the-feast/Content?oid=1458884

     

    Ian McNulty ate at Feast too. Maybe he reads Chowpapi?

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