I’m in Louisiana for work and took the opportunity to meet one of our volunteer leaders and his wife for an early dinner in New Orleans. Jack and Mimi are incredible preservationists who enjoy life…and especially the part of life that involves good New Orleans food. What could be better?
They took me to a neighborhood restaurant named Clancy’s. It has been a favorite of Mimi’s family for decades and Jack sent along the following review to let me know where we were headed:
Classic New Orleans restaurants fall into three basic categories: Originators, Innovators and Upholders. Originators have been around as long as the trees and specialize in dishes of the same vintage. Stimulated by the originators’ example, innovators create food that in some instances barely resembles its inspiration. Upholders are the bridge between the two. They are created by restaurateurs and chefs who express their passion for traditional New Orleans cuisine by giving diners another outlet for enjoying it. In the process, these restaurants develop specialties. Some are personalized versions of established regional classics — shrimp and grits, say, or crawfish etouffee. Some are house originals such as fried oysters draped in melted brie or cold-smoked fried soft-shell crabs. All are dishes you can find at Clancy’s, an Upholder whose central premise is described above. The restaurant is essentially the sum of the personalities you find in it, from the loosened-up establishment crowd and tuxedoed floor staff to institutional fixtures like long-tenured chef Steve Manning, owner-vinophile Brad Hollingsworth and maitre d’ Nash Laurent, a man whose hand seems to be permanently clasped around that of a good customer. There is no official timeline that marks the spot where a great New Orleans restaurant becomes a classic. Whatever the line is, Clancy’s has crossed it.
Upon Mimi’s recommendation I had the fried oysters covered with melted brie cheese for an appetizer. Oh my! How can you describe delicious? But then it got even better, with a fried soft shelled crab covered with lump crab meat.
My Southern roots are kicking in. Thanks to friends like Jack and Mimi for sharing such special places.
More to come…