When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip," stated Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces. Cheese dip is absent from the menu at Ignatius Eatery (3121 Magazine St., 504-899-0242; www.ignatiuseatery.com), but one dish at the restaurant might sate Reilly's craving: Ignatius' mac and cheese, a savory combination of sharp cheddar and provolone cheeses and bacon.
"A customer actually suggested the name Ignatius for the restaurant after the character in the New Orleans classic book," says owner and manager Jerry Roppolo. The restaurant's quintessentially New Orleans fare (red beans and rice, jambalaya, shrimp and grits) is consistent with the looming presence of a quintessentially New Orleans character: A statue of Ignatius Reilly stands near the bar, holding bottles. Quotes from Reilly fill the restaurant, and prayer candles offer a warm ambience.
It all adds up to an atmosphere that's "very New Orleans," says Roppolo, who also owns Rue de la Course with his wife. Roppolo got the idea for Ignatius at the coffee shop, and its former location houses the restaurant, which opened in 2012.
Ignatius was recently featured on the Travel Channel for its po-boys, which range from classic roast beef to grilled alligator sausage. For the latter, chef Blake McDonald won the $10,000 Golden Skillet award on the Travel Channel show Chow Masters. The restaurant makes its own remoulade and uses local crawfish in the etouffee.
The busiest times are dinner and weekend brunch, Roppolo says. Omelets, eggs Ignatius (two poached eggs atop toasted French bread, slow-cooked Angus beef and asparagus with hollandaise sauce) and eggs Neptune (two poached eggs topping shallot-fried fish, asparagus and Gulf shrimp with hollandaise sauce) are popular brunch menu items.
The restaurant also serves craft cocktails. Roppolo's favorite is House of the Rising Sun, made with tequila, orange juice and Peychaud's bitters in an absinthe-coated glass. Classic New Orleans drinks like Pimm's cups, gin fizzes and Sazeracs also are available. During the first week of July, the eatery will host a happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring $2.50 sliders, $2 martinis and $10 bottles of wine.
The dessert menu's two items are New Orleans standards: pecan pie and bread pudding. Naturally, the bread pudding packs a boozy punch: "It's a great bread pudding made with a thick bourbon sauce over the top," Roppolo says.