Road Trip: Breakfast at Stanley in New Orleans

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Photographs: Katie Walsh

We had to stop for NoLa breakfast on the way out of town—you just can't leave that city without a hot travel mug of café au lait. We'd done the beignets at the famed Café du Monde. We'd sat behind the counter over a plate of hot pecan waffles at Camellia Grill. But this year we were up for something new. Pableaux Johnson, our beloved local food guide (who also showed Ed and some of the other SE'rs around when they were in town), suggested we try Stanley Restaurant on Jackson Square.

Stanley was the first restaurant to serve fresh-made food after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. Chef Scott Boswell, who'd been running the highly acclaimed, upscale Stella, had been planning the unveil of its causal counterpart Stanley (and the "Stanley Burger"). But when the storm left Stella in shambles and the dining market in disarray, it became his only option—and Stella's saving grace.

Boswell opened Stanley with his mom's charcoal grill and a killer tenderloin burger recipe, and for two weeks served more than 500 burgers a day, even before the city was reopened to the public. Once formally established, as Santé reported in 2007, "Stanley saved Stella."

We took a quick look around and nabbed a cute little two-top window seat with a great view of St. Louis Cathedral. I could smell the mingling aromas of coffee and chicory even before I opened my menu. Yes please!

Pableaux had recommended the Breaux Bridge Benedict, poached eggs on French bread with boudin, smoked ham, American cheese and a Creole hollandaise. But we'd had our Breaux Bridge boudin fix. My dad ordered the Eggs Stanley, another inventive benedict with cornmeal-crusted oysters and Canadian bacon, served on an English muffin. I'd never had oysters and eggs before, but it's a great combination. The two have a really nice flavor balance and texture symmetry. It came with a side of Creole breakfast potatoes, home-fry style with skin on and lots of pepper and onion—which somehow kept sliding over to my side of the table.

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My irrepressible sweet tooth kicked in and I caved for the Bananas Foster French Toast, a sinful pile of battered French bread, sliced bananas, walnuts and foster sauce, topped off with a scoop of Tahitian vanilla ice cream. For breakfast. We wondered what it might've been like with pecans, but I happily plowed through the whole caramelicious plate, cutting the sugary goodness with sips of chicory coffee and stolen bites of Creole potato.

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Breakfast is served all day, but there are also some great lunch options on the menu. Along with their famous Stanley Burger, check out the Korean Barbeque Beef po' boy, made with tenderloin cooked bulgogi-style and served with kimchee.

I had my eye on the soft shell crab poboy, but my heart was set on another classic New Orleans sandwich as we headed out of town to Mississippi.

Stanley Restaurant

547 Saint Ann Street (map)
504-587-0093; stanleyrestaurant.com

About the author: Katie Walsh is a native Austin writer passionate about food and all things cultural. She holds a degree in sociology and Spanish from UT Austin and is both a columnist and senior editor for multicultural publication TODO Austin.

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