Dining Out: Dooky Chase’s

Every now and then, a hug is in order. Dooky Chase’s provides that hug and more. The history of Dooky Chase is iconic. Leah Chase has tended the fires, watched over the dining room and fed a multitude of historical figures for decades. Recently Mrs. Leah turned the pans and kitchen over to her grandson, Dooky Chase, who returned from an intensive program at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Normally lunch buffets are to be avoided at all costs. At Dooky’s, they use foods which hold up and even thrive from sitting atop a Sterno. Witness the red beans. Chunks of hot sausage hold court in rust-colored, soupy broth dotted with tender red beans. The spice level may be a little tame for some eaters, but the extra links of hot sausage will remedy that. Preceding the beans was a cup of corn bisque. The sweetness of the corn combined with the creaminess of a broth made the shards of bacon even more enjoyable.

A buffet presents a good opportunity to showcase slow-cooking, hearty vegetables. Collard greens, expertly cut to withstand the rigors of slow cooking, were sublime with whispers of their grassy origins and a tart shot of vinegar. My original diagnosis was that the pork loin would be dry, but my quarter-inch thick slice was juicy and topped with apricots.

Anytime you eat five servings of something, it has to be good. And so it was with the fried chicken. A careful watch of the movements of the kitchen revealed fresh, hot fried chicken every twenty minutes or so. Strike while the frying is hot.

No meal is complete without dessert. There beckoning a diner like the Sirens in the Odyssey, were playing card-sized chunks of brownies topped with a thick chocolate icing. As they were next to the fried chicken, it took a lot of willpower not to combine chicken and chocolate, but the brownies are a delight.

From the exterior, Dooky’s does not appear to be elegant. But the interior is stunning with boldly colored walls adorned with bright paintings from local artists. All of this—the food, the dining room, the sense of history—gives off a vibe that Dooky Chase’s is not resting on its laurels, but moving forward with a renewed sense of vigor.

301 Orleans Ave. (504) 821-0535. Open daily from lunch thru dinner