930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans LA
I have to say, this trip to New Orleans was less of an exploratory venture and more of a Greatest Hits Parade. I was more interested in eating things I knew were good and that had occupied my mind over the past year, and less interested in the dark art of "experimentation." I knew Cochon Butcher was good, I wanted a delicious sandwich, and my boyfriend and I were meeting my parents for lunch. Done and done and done. Also, I was in dire need of a mimosa.
Cochon Butcher is beloved NOLA chef's Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski’s venture into the sammich shop and artisan meat genre, and it is has been pretty strikingly successful in the couple of years it's been open.
This is probably because 1. it's good, and 2. the prices are reasonable and 3. it's casual, order up at the front dining, which New Orleans doesn't have enough of.
Once you get past the hipsterish vibe and clientele (but NOLA hipsters are a lot easy to swallow then the regular kind), it's likely to be one of your favorite places to eat in town. There's also pick-up-yourself catering (they did a fabulous job for my graduation party last year) and a full assortment of cured meats, made in house. It's the South's riff on an old-world butcher shop, and it is good.
The menu revolves around a standard complement of sandwiches, boucherie sampler plates, a bunch of small-plate specials and some other random stuff they put on the board when they come up with it, as well as some side-dishes. There's also a full complement of alcoholic beverages - I mean, this is New Orleans - and some very interesting beers if you're into that sort of thing. We got mimosas. I love mimosas.
I had the pressed bacon and collard green BLT. A scandalously good sandwich, like the best grilled cheese ever, with big-thick bacon and lots of oozing, delicious Swiss cheese and some softly cooked collards to add a little bit of bite to the entire affair. I could eat this everyday.
My mom and my boyfriend both went for the North Carolina style pulled pork sandwich which my father, a Real Live North Carolina Boy deemed to be authentic - had a vinegar sauce on it and pickles and some coleslaw and a large soft bun, following protocol. Obviously slow-cooked for a long time. No bullshit involving cheese. Nicely done.
And then we ordered a muffaletta, as one does in NOLA, and it was also enormous, as they are supposed to be. I was never a huge muff (teehee) fan, mostly because they're too damn thick to get into my mouth, but this was a nice effort - I like how they get the bread a little toasted before slapping the entire affair together.
They also had boudin - Lousiana's beloved and somewhat curious sausage composed of rice and pork and spices - served with pickles and mustards, and it's some awfully tasty stuff. Something about the starchiness of the rice really works. They also had the relatively un-attractively named "beanie weanie" special - okay, did anyone else grow up with an intrinsic, horrified revulsion of beanie weanies? - but in this case, it was just red beans and andouille cooked together in a smoky barbeque sauce, and it was good. I just found it sort of hard to get over the name.
They didn't have them this time - damn it to hell - but the bacon praline they sell here occasionally is the most obscene thing I've ever put into my mouth. Interpret that as you'd like. Seriously, it's like watching an X-rated movie with really questionable morality, eating this thing. You're really enjoying it but you feel awful at the same time. You have to try this, just to say you did.