Photo | Dan Anderson
One of downtown’s newest spots, The Ruby Slipper Café, serves up an almost ridiculous amount of tasty fare, making sure you get plenty of bang for your buck.
So shoot me if I use the line “We aren’t in Kansas anymore,” but I finally got around to stopping by The Ruby Slipper Café. Never been? It’s a breakfast, brunch and lunch place that started in New Orleans a decade ago. They are now up to a total of 10 restaurants from Baton Rouge to the Gulf Coast, but the Big Easy is ever-present in each dish.
The Mobile location is still riding a wave of popularity and I don’t see it losing steam anytime soon. Unfortunately I missed out on all the pre-opening events earlier this summer due to a hectic schedule at the shop, but I’ve heard nothing but good things.
The missus and I went for a last-chance meal as a couple enjoying peace and quiet before our little one gets here. It was a quick decision on a day between maternity leave and actual delivery. I had skipped breakfast, taught a student or two and got in a couple miles before 11 a.m. I’m no exercise junkie, but if you intend to eat here I suggest you find a way to work up an appetite. New Orleans is a city of excess, and this restaurant, with its attachments to the Crescent City, preys on those of us who cannot get enough of its overindulging ways.
It was a weekday and I started with a glass of Natalie’s Grapefruit Juice ($4) but soon found myself admiring the cocktail menu. I don’t make a habit out of day drinking without football on the tube, but surely one wouldn’t hurt, would it? Brandy milk punch, morning margaritas, Irish cream coffee and bloody marys with bacon-infused vodka sound splendid, but I couldn’t shake the idea of the Ruby Slipper Mimosa ($10). This concoction was near perfect, with a strong dose of champagne splashed with orange juice. A bottom layer of pomegranate added color as well as a spectacular finish. If these were “bottomless” I’d be in trouble.
Katie stayed tame with a NOLA-style iced coffee ($4) made from French Truck cold brew with milk and cream.
With The Ruby Slipper being a breakfast/brunch/lunch place, you don’t really get the appetizer experience. There was, however, an “on the side” menu that could serve us well in that respect. Pig Candy bacon ($3.50) was a no-brainer. Two slices of bacon were glazed in maple syrup and otherwise served naked. Definitely oven-baked, as they should be. Corn beef hash ($3.50) is rarely ignored by anyone in my family. This was no doubt made from the corned beef served on their Creole Reuben. Potatoes and onions cooked to death (in a good way) begged for a dash or two of hot sauce. We were off to a good start.
For my lady, the Croque Madame ($12) was in order. If you take this one on, I might suggest you go ahead and unbutton your pants before it gets there. This glorified coffee-glazed ham and Swiss is served on brioche bread sliced thick enough to stack the sandwich four inches high. Topped with a fried egg (she rightfully ordered over-easy) and Mornay sauce, this lady sandwich was fit for a king.
With a choice of Creole slaw, fresh fruit or fries, you have to try the fries. What I’m going to say may surprise you. They were so close to McDonald’s fries, which are some of the best ever.
Personally I needed some Benedict in my life, but couldn’t decide which. Imagine my delight when I noticed the Trifecta ($20), a single serving of the three famous Benedicts: Eggs Cochon, Shrimp Boogaloo and Chicken St. Charles. You probably want me to tell you which was my favorite. I’m not sure I can.
Eggs Cochon begins with apple-braised pork debris, which accounts for its juiciness. Nothing dry about it, this pork could raise the dead. Served over half of a buttermilk biscuit and topped with a poached egg and hollandaise, this one is a winner.
Normally I’d project the Shrimp Boogaloo to be the victor, with its Creole tomato sauce and my beloved Tasso on a fried green tomato. Another half biscuit and poached egg soaked up the flavor. I was in love.
The surprise was the Chicken St. Charles. This biscuit and egg had the honor of supporting piping-hot fried chicken breast with a Tasso cream sauce. It was the surprise of the meal. Tempt me with pork debris or Gulf shrimp — it would be hard for me to say no. But after having this fried chunk of white meat it will be even harder to not order it on my next visit.
If you think I polished this off, then you’re crazy. Even with the three half-orders on one plate, I could stand no more than a fourth of each. Nor could Katie take down more than a quarter of her sandwich. It was all going home with us, but not before each of the sauces was tested with the french fries. Heaven.
If I was the kind of person who wandered in off the streets and custom-ordered a breakfast, it would be to smother a batch of fries with either of these three Benedict dishes. Is that a slight against the biscuit? Certainly not. Lovers of bread will be happy to know the biscuits here are some of the best in the city. My tastes may have been influenced by three fantastic sauces permeating the dough, but from where I was sitting I cannot remember a biscuit more noteworthy than these.
What’s the negative in all of this? The place can get crowded and they don’t take reservations. They also don’t seat parties that are incomplete. But the main complaint from me is the sheer terror of how much food they give you. It’s an uncomfortable amount. They’re making sure you leave with enough bang for your buck. If you can’t control yourself, then stay away.
If you can immerse yourself in NOLA goodness and climb back out unscathed, head there now.
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