Coops Place, New Orleans
1109 Decatur St,
New Orleans, LA 70116
photo jacked from Coop's website.
Coop's is a joint on Decateur that specializes in the good stuff: spicy fried chicken, rabbit jambalaya, and gumbo. God, I love a city that tells gentrification to suck itself. (Mostly.) It's definitely casual: Coop's is nuthin' more then a down and dirty bar with an excellent kitchen out back - you walk past the big gumbo pots to hit the bathroom. Bloody mary's, stiff drinks, and the latest depressing Saints game are all available for easy viewing as you eat your food.
We began with fried oysters and cheese grits, a special appetizer. The fried oysters were light and tasty and the grits were okay, if a little chilly - but the dark sauce that was drizzled on top was weird and rather bitter. The dish definitely would have been enhanced without it. Shoulda ordered the lamb ribs as an appetizer instead.
Things started looking up with the gumbo: a file-powder and okra rich brew, although with a bit too thin a texture for my liking. Props on the large amount of fresh and interesting seafood contained within the broth, although I coulda done with a little more quantity. Always nice to find a plump little nibble of crawdad inside one's gumbo.
I am postulating a New Orleans Theory: that one's grandmothers own gumbo is the gold standard by which all other gumbos are to be compared, and nothing in the entire universe will convince you otherwise. This has been shown to be true in my own gumbo experiences: I could eat the most transcendentally fantastic gumbo on the face of the planet, a veritable champion among gumbos, and I would still sigh and consider the perfection of the stuff my grandmother turns out. I cannot explain this.
(The Habanero Ro-Tel we use may be part of the mystery. Perhaps I will document how we put together a gumbo in our family someday if I do not perish of laziness. Which could happen.)
The fried chicken was the star of the show, and I failed to get a photo because it was very delicious looking and we could not resist devouring it immediately. Sorry. The light and spicy crust was in essence Popeye's gone upmarket, and what a glorious thing that is. Might taste even better if consumed directly from a bucket but that is debatable. The rabbit jambalaya served on the side was also delectable, with a rich, tomato-infused flavor that is rather hard to describe but entirely addictive. I also liked the chunky and not too heavy cole-slaw served on the side. Yow.
Definitely hit up Coop's if you find yourself having a fried chicken need in the Quarter that cannot be quite met by the always-available Popeyes. Just tell them to leave that damn sauce off the oysters.