912 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA (504) 412-8965
You’re tramping on a long diagonal course from one corner of the French Quarter to the other. The sun is hot. The temperature is somewhere in the mid-90s, but it feels hotter. The humidity makes you feel like your head is immersed exceptionally clear water. You’re losing much of your body weight by the minute through the sweat seeping out of every pore. The 900 block approaches and your zig-zagging through the Vieux Carré brings you now to Royal Street. Wait. Didn’t someone mention a good, moderately-priced place to eat on Royal toward Esplanade?
Suddenly, you see an opening in a leaf-cooled brick wall that makes you imagine a full-color version of the movie set for Streetcar Named Desire. Beyond the wall you see trees, you hear a bubbling fountain, and you feel the cool, refreshing breeze of air softened by garden greenery. An oasis in the middle of a sultry city.
Regardless of how delightful the garden looked, I decided to cool off inside the cafe, whose decor combined the best of the 1780s and the 1960s. The first thing I asked of my server was something to replenish my precious bodily fluids. She brought me a tall glass of freshly squeeze lemonade stained by lightly crushed blueberries and raspberries (see above). Then I had a bowl of very good chicken and andouille gumbo — not as complex and flavorful as the Commander’s Palace version, but authentic and tasty.
I could have sat there all day. The service was soothing; the food was unpretentious and good. A popular place patronized by locals and overlooked by tourists. I highly recommend it.