Carnival is on!

Friday was another slow day in the Quarter, and after a stop at Harry’s and a good conversation with Tom Roby I went over to Molly’s. It was a little more crowded, but it was one large group of cruise shippers from New Jersey. I escaped to the Tayho Tavern, a place that had been on my list for a while. It is a divey looking spot on Decatur and Governor Nicholls, and has prominent signage that promotes dog rescue. I think I had avoided it in the past because I thought it was a pet store, or I had it conflated with the dog accessory store just down the block. As I walked in to the almost empty restaurant, I was greeted by Lauren, Cecile’s friend, who works there as a waitress. I recognized most of the people who work there from the R bar which made for a comfortable experience. They were doing a Happy Hour $5 shot and a beer, good for the Quarter. The menu is interesting for New Orleans, with Wagyu beef burgers highlighted, along with some interesting gumbos. The house burger has a fried egg on top, and is served with fries cooked in duck fat. They also had a couple of versions of mofongo, including a vegan one, and several dishes with slow cooked pork. I had a burger with an egg, and it was a good as suggested. The best burger in town? Maybe. It was certainly the best I’ve had in a while. A place to put on the “go back to” list.

Saturday was a whole different story. You could have gone bowling on Bourbon Street on Thursday, and today the streets were packed with people and cars. It was like someone turned on the Carnival faucet. The traffic patterns were disrupted for the evening parade and cars were directed into the Quarter, causing a minor gridlock. It seemed like there were a bunch of people pre-gaming Chewbacchus, but not yet in costume, and perhaps one or two more cruise ships than usual. The streets, out into the Marigny, were full of people. I saw Beverly riding her bike in full Mardi Gras costume on her way to work, and didn’t recognize her until she called me out. I took a walk to enjoy the change of pace, and stopped at the Crescent City Brewpub on Decatur for a lunch of oysters. The place is kind of a Disneyfied version of a brewpub/oyster bar with a jazz quintet playing and no one there had come for the music. It is decorated with Simon signs, and is big, clean and efficient, but missing the grunge that screams New Orleans authenticity. I hope that when Tujague’s moves across the the Quarter soon it does not go this far. That all said, a freshly shucked half dozen oysters and a tall Pilsner while listening to decent music and watching the hordes negotiate the narrow sidewalk makes for a good lunch. Bright and clean may not be a bad thing entirely when eating raw oysters.

I got dressed to go out to Chewbacchus, deciding on a Sith Lord costume. Darth Bob? Head to toe black, with a tuxedo cummerbund and a flowing floor length cape with a hood. No makeup this time, letting the bald head and mustache do the work. I headed out, stopping at the R bar. The bartender Jackie, a beautiful woman who often wears cropped t-shirts and shorts to show off her tattoos at work, was in costume, a body suit that consisted of one inch wide straps, a thong, and black electrical tape over her nipples so nobody would get arrested. Carnival is on!

The parade route was from Dauphine in the Marigny down Frenchmen and up Decatur and points further uptown. Frenchmen was like a funnel, with barricades on both sides, and people packed on the sidewalks. I walked up behind a family with a 12 year old boy, who saw me in full Darth Bob mode, and said “holy fucking shit”, which earned him a quick slap from his mom. It’s good to know when a costume works. I mingled with the crowd, taking lots of photographs, mostly of the spectators, as I worked my way down Frenchmen to Checkpoint Charlie’s and then on to Lower Decatur in front of Mollie’s. I didn’t get close enough to get any throws, but throws are not the focus of the walking parades. It was a good start to the season, and next weekend has three parades through the neighborhood, including Krewe d’vieux. It’s a marathon…

The Sunday crowd was a little lighter and more subdued as people got ready for the Super Bowl. It was a beautiful sunny day, pushing 80 degrees, and a good day for a walk through the Quarter. I was mentally fatigued, almost hung over, from the big crowds, late night,and sensory overload. I made some salmon dip and jerked a piece of coho for the grill and took it over to Ellen’s porch. We watched the game and grilled steak and fish. No one was following the game closely, and I was able to have a good conversation with Jill about Mardi Gras. She is a member of Cork, which has optional monthly meetings with excellent meals at some of the best restaurants in town with lots of wine, several costuming and throw meetings, and an all day party the day of the parade through the Quarter, ending at their ball. I like it because it is a daylight parade which makes photography a little easier. She also has specific spots, friends who host parties at their houses along the routes, to view the most fun uptown parades. I’m hoping she remembers she invited me along.

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