With the Saints off to a franchise-best start this season, Black and Gold mania has made just about every local bar into a sports bar. Some have broken out their own forms of tailgating.
Whether you prefer the pandemonium of food and drink at Handsome Willy's every Sunday or the more plush atmosphere at Monkey Hill, which now offers a buffet during Saints games, anyone looking for a suitable game-watching plan is spoiled withchoices.
For some, just drinking and eating won't do when it comes to game-day rituals. That was the logic behind Mid-City resident Jeanne Vidrine and her friends' decision to start a bicycle pub crawl for Saints games.
"We all knew the Mid-City Bulldog, so we decided that was a logical starting point," she says. "Pub crawls are so hard to do in Mid-City, so we thought, why not go by bike?"
And just like that, a new Saints tradition is rolling. Vidrine gathered enough riders to convince the Bulldog to open earlier than usual to accommodate them. The group then pedals to the Mid-City Yacht Club, Liuzza's, Mick's Irish Pub and finally Finn McCool's. It finishes with a long ride down Cleveland Avenue to the Superdome, a ride the group has taken for every Saints' late-afternoon or night game.
"We would do it for every game, but some of us have families and kids we have to be with for the away games," Vidrine says.
Fortunately, there are other activities to keep Vidrine and company occupied. McCool's hosts a cooking competition every Sunday during the season. Multiple dishes are submitted each week during the Saints' season and patrons get an opportunity to judge the culinary works as they enjoy the game. The winning cook takes home a trophy. A two-time cook-off winner, Vidrine's winning "Meat Me In St. Louis" dish beat out other worthy competitors including "Silence of the Rams Stew" and "Missouri Mash" on a recent afternoon.
"It was just a three-and-a-half pound rump roast from Rouses," she says. "I just mixed it with the most delicious gravy I could come up with and people loved it."
Good food in mass quantities ensures there will be plenty to go around. The competition also allows people with special diets to find something suitable in the spread. On Nov. 15, Vidrine's concoction narrowly edged Shannon Cian's vegetarian "Squash the Rams" dish. Cian is a self-described "New Orleans vegetarian," or a vegetarian who eats fish, and all her dishes reflect her lifestyle. In contrast to Vidrine, Cian says her dish names are not ready for the playoffs.
"Our names suck," she says. "One was 'Bengal Barf' and another was 'Dirty Sanchez Casserole.'"
Game-day creativity has not been left to cooks alone. At Finn McCool's, Heber Dunaway of the band Sick Like Sinatra led a group of Saints fans in a sing-along of the band's new tune "Something about the Saints."
The idea for a Saints song had been brewing among band members for a year, but it wasn't until the team cemented its record-setting regular season start that the group finalized the track. The impromptu rally at Finn McCool's after the Saints' victory over the Rams marked the song's debut.
"I live right around the corner," Dunaway says. "They know me, and I knew they wouldn't object if I rolled in here and played it. It's already made the jukebox."
Indeed, half an hour after the post-game euphoria died down and the bar cleared out a bit for the late games, "About the Saints" could be heard over the bar's sound system.
- Photo by Jonathan Bachman
- Heber Dunaway leads fans singing his original tune "Something about the Saints" at Finn McCool's.