NEW ORLEANS, Monday – If you want full honesty on up in here, I was looking for Coop’s Place when I came to Gallier’s, and even after walking in I wasn’t set on staying. But I did, and when the grilled oyster appetizer arrived I regretted I wasn’t with at least one other human to share the heaping platter of tawny-crispy succulents with me.
Isadora, my sweet Serbian server, said sometimes when it gets past the peak dinner hour the cooks just load up the plate. Too bad for me.
The gumbo hadn’t even come to the table at that point. When it did I was sure I’d need a take-home container, but I was well on toward eating every last oyster by then, as if it had ever been a question, and I never stopped with the gumbo until I’d spoon-scraped the sides and bottom of the bowl and conceded that even where I come from licking it clean isn’t cool.
I’m finding Coop’s, like tomorrow, but I’m definitely finding time to find Gallier’s again. Isadora said I should come at happy hour. Whatever she says.
Tuesday – I did find Coop’s Place, but not before a late-afternoon stop at Gallier’s and a Sazerac and a cup of red beans and rice that was quite a little bit better than okay and some oysters on the half laid on me just because. Isadora wasn’t there but Perry and Rashad were, and lagniappe was, and it’s a real thing.
Coop’s is a small cramped dark place with old bricks on the floors and walls so I think the building is much older than the establishment, which the sign says opened in 1983. I knew going in I would order the Taste Plate – shrimp Creole, Cajun fried chicken (their signature), red beans and rice and rabbit-and-sausage jambalaya – all kicked off with a cup of gumbo that was different than Gallier’s – better? Not a night for judgments.
It was harder than it should have been to find Coop’s because it’s pretty much a straight shot, but the Quarter streets are confusing, like it is with a spouse on the last vacation before you call the lawyers, where being lost you find some places and find out some things you never knew you ever would and while you still might call the lawyers, you won’t forget the walk, and when the food’s this good you’ll find some little give in your heart even if it never makes it into the legal papers because it’s hard to hate a person when you finally find it and it’s this good and you went there together.
I’m not calling a lawyer anytime soon, not on purpose, and I’m not over with this city. I hear there are other places to eat.