Southern feel

Po' Boys & Pickles gets it just right
By BRIAN DUFF  |  February 24, 2010

022610_food_main 
STRONG + CRUNCHY The blackened fish sandwich at Po’ Boys & Pickles.

As sandwich shops continue to proliferate during this down economy, the new Po' Boys & Pickles offers a formula for short-term buzz, and perhaps long-term loyalty: have a clear and distinctive vision and stick to it. In recent weeks, every time I mentioned Po' Boys someone piped up to say they have been wanting to try that place. And everyone liked it once they got there. Po' Boys gets the details of a New Orleans sandwich shop right, without an off-putting authenticity obsession.

You won't hear the sleepy tones of a Louisiana accent at Po' Boys, but the vibe is appropriately relaxed. The young proprietor moved to New Orleans after the hurricane, and while he did not stay more than a year or two, he clearly paid attention. There are few explicit nods to the Maine palate on the menu, though things have been tamed just a hair in terms of spiciness and depth of flavor.

This was clearest in the gumbo — a good stew filled with Maine shrimp, chicken, and sausage, but just a touch too mild. The broth's bite came more from pepper than from chili heat. Gumbo thickened with roux can achieve a dark-deep flavor that was not quite there at Po' Boys — they might be adding a bit of cornstarch. But there was no quibbling with the terrific biscuit — a seductive-looking square of pastry that was moist, buttery, flakey, and light.

The sandwich that gave the shop its name is piled high with pulled beef that had been slow-roasted until it was completely tender. There was just a hint of gravy but plenty of mild, creamy horseradish mayo. The all-important French rolls, slightly toasted, are soft but offer a good chew. The pulled pork had many of the tender virtues of the roast beef. There was still plenty of fat in the pork — just how I like it, though it's a matter of taste, as some folks like to render a bit more fat out with a longer cook — and the barbecue sauce was a great version of the thin vinegar-based Southern style that true connoisseurs prefer.

The best sandwich might have been the blackened fish. It had several big moist pieces of pollock, a fish whose strong flavor was balanced by a seared seasoning with plenty of cayenne, paprika, and pepper, topped by a crunchy slaw. The seafood on sandwiches with fried shrimp and fried oysters was expertly fried, though the breading-on-bread combination can get a little heavy. A creole sausage sandwich was surprisingly mild. The four thick patties tucked into the roll would have looked at home on a breakfast plate. The muffaletta sandwich offered a great salty combination of cured meats under a sharp olive relish, and came on the French roll rather than the round of Italian bread that gives the sandwich its name.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY BRIAN DUFF
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   START DIGGING HERE  |  October 03, 2014
    Because music is now basically free (thanks to torrents, Pandoras, Spotifies, etc.), the only way for musicians to make money is through constant touring and related merchandise sales. Or they can appear as a judge on The Voice. Food, on the other hand, will still cost ya...
  •   PICK YOUR POISON  |  October 01, 2014
    The National Institutes of Health just published a randomized study that confirms the rumors: carbohydrates are poison and should be avoided. So how should we feel about Slab Sicilian Streetfood?
  •   A LITTLE WHINE  |  September 05, 2014
    The lessons of Lolita are that something simpler and less challenging can be lovely, and that some cheap wine could really loosen things up.
  •   TACOS ON THE TOWN  |  August 31, 2014
    While there’s no class mobility in this town, we do have taco mobility—even taco-class mobility.
  •   COPING WITH ADULTHOOD  |  August 07, 2014
    The neighborhood’s newish Central Provisions is grown up. But it also embodies our ambivalence about adulthood, and our persistent hope that a few more drinks will help us cope with it.

 See all articles by: BRIAN DUFF