When it comes to the po-boy, there are time-tested classics — loaded with fried oysters, roast beef drenched in gravy or shrimp with remoulade — but in the past few years, the city has seen new versions emerge with creative twists. Such sandwiches have come from Killer Poboys, Bevi Seafood Co. and The Sammich, which now is shuttered.
At Seersucker Restaurant & Catering, a casual lunchtime spot and catering operation in Gretna, there's a foray into whimsical po-boy land, but the team doesn't go full throttle, instead balancing the menu with many traditional versions.
Owner and chef Jonathan Hostetler and business partner Blayne Bergeron opened the restaurant in 2015. What was originally imagined as a full-scale Southern-inspired catering operation also came to offer creative po-boys, platters and hot lunch specials. Christmas lights decorate the garage-like space and there's a playful, comfortable feel to the kitschy seafaring and Louisiana-themed decorations on the walls.
The team incorporates locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Po-boy bread is from Hi-Do Bakery in Terrytown. Sausage patties are from Schexnayder's Acadian Foods in Kenner, and pickles and sauces are made in-house.
In a fried green tomato and shrimp remoulade po-boy, the beauty lies in the details. Tomatoes are soaked in buttermilk before getting a healthy dredge and hitting the fryer, and the remoulade is brighter and toothier than most, chock-full of capers. Small plump shrimp are pickled in apple cider vinegar, lemon and honey brine and burst with a tart and slightly sweet flavor.
The 3 Little Pigs po-boy features a fiery sausage patty, crispy strips of bacon and as much sliced Black Forest ham as one would find in any East Coast deli sandwich. The medley is draped in melted American cheese, which oozes out the edges of the sandwich, giving it a decadent, diner-style patty melt allure.
Classic sandwiches re-imagined as po-boys include a roasted turkey and avocado BLT, dressed with shredded lettuce, mayonnaise and crumbled bacon bits.
Plate lunches run the gamut from fried chicken with waffles to hamburger steaks and smothered chicken thighs. A generous portion of fried catfish came with a side of cheddar cheese-topped jalapeno cornbread and creamy tartar sauce that carried a briny kick. The fish was cooked perfectly, and wasn't too heavily breaded or greasy but meaty and slightly muddy in a pleasing way. The flavor of the jalapeno cornbread was nice, but the bread was dry on one visit and didn't do much for the plate.
I was smitten with the onion rings, where the thinly-shaved rings are battered and fried until deliciously greasy and crispy-edged. Coleslaw features a refreshing mix of celery, carrots, shredded cabbage, scallions and celery seed. It is lightly dressed but still packs that deliciously creamy, picnic-time mayonnaise flavor.
For dessert, there's classic banana cream pudding, a creamy indulgence topped with vanilla wafers. It is sweet and simple, an example of a Southern dish that's been perfected and needs no tweaking.
The restaurant's name is a nod to the greater South, and while the food at Seersucker takes a playful approach to several dishes, there's a great appreciation for some of the regions' time-honored culinary traditions.