new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Franky and Johnny's and Giant Stuffed Artichokes

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Franky and Johnny's and Giant Stuffed Artichokes

Franky and Johnny's
Neighborhood Restaurant & Lounge
321 Arabella Street
New Orleans, LA. 70115
(504) 899-9146

Franky and Johnny's is a classic-style New Orleans neighborhood restaurant, featuring red checkered table clothes, large and stolid waitresses, and a menu hitting on just about every Louisiana-type treat there is. It's an excellent place to take company if you find them clamoring for a Real New Orleans meal: this is it, down to the electronic poker machines, the omnipresent Jager shots, and the crowds of folks horking down boiled crawfish when the season is right and Jupiter aligns with Mars. This is of course alluring, and thus, my buddy Cassidy, his (awesome) mother and our friend Pieter visited Frankie and Johnny's on a recent winter evening.

I love boiled shrimp to distraction, and Frankie and Johnnie's does the best version I've had in the area thus far. They pick extremely large shrimp, they keep them in the shell, and the spice combination used is just plain delicious. My only gripe is that I sure wish they served them warm - but it's damn hard to find a warm boiled shrimp in this city, unless you're at Big Fisherman at just the right time of day. What's up with that?

This monstrosity is a stuffed artichoke, which translates as "an artichoke coated in enough breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and herbs to kill most mammals." Needless to say it's a pretty tasty dish, although the breadcrumb filling can get rather monotonous after a few intensively carby bites. Here's the recipe, helpfully provided by the delightful Gumbo Pages. There's bacon involved. God bless Louisiana.

Red beans and rice with sausage, the classic, Monday-morning and evening succor, you get the picture. I'm going to fess up and say I don't quite get red beans and rice, not really. I'm not a big carbohydrate devourer, and as this dish is the epitome of inexpensive carbos, doesn't quite get my motor runnin'. But this was a pretty good rendition of such, with a good smoky flavor and a grainy, greasy and indulgent hunk o' sausage on the side. Could have been spicier but I guess that's why the baby Jesus invented Crystal hot sauce.

Gumbo, go figure, of course I'm going to get the damn gumbo. This was only okay: there was plenty of seafood in it, yeah, that was nice, but it was too thick and didn't quite possess the intense, deep dark flavor I demand from my gumbo. I might try it sans rice next time I'm here and see if that helps out with the texture any.

On the whole, Franky and Johnny's is a nice option for New Orleans food in the uptown Garden District, which can be curiously bereft of local-style food in the university area. It's an ideal place to screw around with a bunch of friends when you want some inexpensive local-style food and don't particularly care about the ambience, and we all need a little of THAT in our lives.

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