This photo is my gift to you. Fantastic, rich, tender roast beef and gravy over french fries, and it's not even a holiday...it's just another Sunday in the food capitol of my heart. I had to share.
My new Sunday favorite is Parkway Bakery & Tavern, at Bayou St. John. Our friend John Mark turned us onto this place a few weeks ago--our friend who was visiting. We didn't even know the riches that were waiting for us a mere football field away from our front door. Now we can't stop going. For the photo experience, order "fries with gravy." I know the photo doesn't look like fries with "gravy"--it looks more like your grandmother's roast beef--but that's what they call it, so just believe them. Parkway is famous for piling this roast beef onto po' boys, and for their metabolism-demolishing "surf-n-turf" po'boy, which is loaded with roast beef and fried shrimp. We haven't braved that combo yet, though we hear it's mighty good.
Two people can split an order of fries and a large po'boy (pictured below) and leave painlessly satisfied, which is something of a miracle. This is our oyster po'boy. The oysters have a light, breezy coating that's punched up with a little spice. These are some of the best fried oysters I've had in New Orleans; you can tell that whoever fries them has confidence enough not to overcook the little treasures, so they're like hot puffs of sea.
There's a coziness to this place that I adore. Old Dixie Beer signs, eye-rest-green paint in the front room, Barq's root beer, extra napkins on the tables. It's heavily windowed, so sunlight fills the space. You can look out and see the bayou, and it's on a lightly travelled street, so parking, though it can be less than ideal, isn't too much of a challenge. I'd bet that 75% of the traffic is Parkway-bound anyway.
The menu is filled with all sorts of po'boy stylings: hot sausage, bbq beef, hamburger, meatballs, alligator sausage, on and on. They offer a "gravy po'boy" for $4.95, which I suspect, if the gravy is the same as they douse on the fries, may be the best bargain in the city. Vegetarians: there's a caprese--the classic Italian antipasto of fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil--po'boy on the menu. They don't heat it, but apparently it's very fresh and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. I even heard someone order it without bread, so hey, if you're not into po'boys, you can still hang out with your friends who are.
Their original menu hangs on the wall. They note that these items aren't available any longer, but I really wish they were. Whatever happened to the tongue sandwich's popularity? I remember reading about it in 50's children's mysteries. And, if you happen to be in town on Monday, March 22, you can stop by Parkway for a taping of Food Wars. They're going head-to-head with Domalise's over shrimp po'boys, and I can't wait.