Isaac Toups, the beloved carnivore who runs an eponymous meatery in Mid-City, sat down recently for a little tête-à-tête with Gambit's Ian McNulty, and explained why he made the move away from fine dining to a more casual, neighborhood setting. Fine dining was great and all, said Toups, but he was really getting tired of the "fussiness" that comes with working (and eating) in a fancy upscale restaurant:
I loved what we did with food in fine dining — the attention to detail, the farm-to-table sourcing — but it was the fussiness I wanted to get away from. The staff wearing ties, the plate presentations. I want it to be like, here's the food, come in wearing shorts if you want and let's eat. I think that's why we've become a neighborhood spot. We get a lot of customers from the blocks right around us. Early in the evening there might be kids running around here. Heck, sometimes they're my kids.
Nothing says "neighborhood dining ambiance" quite like the sound of children running pell-mell around a restaurant, knocking cutlery over as they reenact the penultimate fight scene from The Avengers. Then again, Toups grew up swaddled in Cajun country cooking traditions, learning from his dad how to make "squirrel brain sauce piquante." There's something pretty special about sitting down to a meal where multiple generations are represented, even if some of those generations have convinced themselves that they're expert butter-knife fencers.
Isaac Toups. [Photo: Facebook]