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The Eclectic T-Fitz Acid Test, Sammiches in Mid City

It's always a sad week when the Ed McMahon of New Orleans dining, Tom Fitzmorris, forgets to dole out his stars and instead shows up at the chef's door with a giant check written out to "you blew it with this dish." Such is the situation with this week's review of Serendipity, a mildly confusing account of "eclectic experimentation," the extent of which you probably haven't seen since college. T-Fitz practically ODs on the "eclecticism" of the "most eclectic restaurant in town," so much so that he starts waxing paranoid by the time the daring and "unlikely" cuisine hits the table:

Matters I would ordinarily complain about? the food never comes out hot enough, for example? make me wonder if the chef is just messing with me again.

That chef is Chris Debarr, regarded for the 'eclectic style' of cooking he honed at Delachaise (along with Serendipity co-owner Ed Diaz) and the 'exquisitely uncomfortable' Green Goddess. While T-Fitz calls DeBarr "unsettled" in a peripatetic eclectic kind of way, he does go on to say that "if he were to adapt the dish to mainstream tastes, the whole point of the place would be lost... I wonder whether any other restaurants in the city play this mind game."

So cue the mind games, John Lennon. Because this acid test has elevated T-Fitz' trip to full Wavy Gravy status, where visions of shrimp in grass skirts and "food you never imagined before" makes it nearly impossible to dole out stars, hipster bonus points, talk about room for improvement, or even complete more than five out of 10 Essential Dishes. T-Fitz ends with a lone psychedelic message "golden beet ravio," and it's super groovy, brother. [CityBusiness, subscription required]

Ian McNulty visits The Sammich inside Mid City music venue Chickie Wah Wah this week and finds a "po-boy menu like no other." Owner/chef Michael Brewer works out of a tiny walk-up kitchen creating po' boys that come off more like "entrees composed on a Leidenheimer loaf instead of a plate." Take for instance the fried lobster po' boy, per McNulty:

Big claw and tail chunks are fried just long enough to crisp the tempura batter before they're coated with a velvety, outrageously flavorful blend of butter, peanut sauce, Sriracha and mango.

Brewer also serves bar snacks like fries cooked in duck fat, rillettes, and roasted Brussels sprouts. And while McNulty finds that crowded shows aren't "always conducive to dining," The Sammich is home to many an inspired and worthy lunch or dinner and worth a shot. [Gambit]

· Eclectic Experimentation Works for Serendipity's Surprises [CityBusiness]
· Review: The Sammich [Gambit]
· All Week In Reviews [-ENOLA-]


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